When HOKA reached out to me to test out their latest hybrid road/trail running shoes, the Stinson 7, I was very excited to test them out around my local mountain trail route here in Northern California and to see how they compare to other HOKA running shoes for the trails like the Challenger 7, and Speedgoat 5.
Oh, fun fact… Stinson Beach (the place these shoes were named after), is just over the other side of my local mountain, we sometimes do a long run over to it!
For anyone who runs on a total mix of road and trail surfaces in their daily run, whether by choice or necessity, due to having to run to a trailhead (like I do), then the HOKA Stinson 7 hybrid running shoes will be a total game changer for you.
The HOKA Stinson 7 will take the road-to-trail running experience to a whole new level for some runners.
However, there are some things that you need to be aware of before you hit that buy button, all of which I’m going to share with you in this HOKA Stinson 7 review.
This HOKA Stinson 7 review, like all our outdoor gear reviews, is in no way sponsored by the brand but HOKA did send us the shoes to get our honest opinions in this review – and maybe even take some advice on where to take the Stinson 8 next season.
HOKA Stinson 7 sizing and fit
The Stinson 7 fits true to size (as most HOKA running shoes tend to do so) when compared to other popular running shoe manufacturers like Brooks, On Running, Nike, Adidas, and Salomon to name a few brands that you may already run in.
They are extremely comfortable the first time you wear them, with no breaking-in period necessary – as there shouldn’t be with a well-designed and manufactured trail running shoe nowadays.
For on-foot video footage, watch my Stinson 7 video below where I also share my initial thoughts on these trail running shoes while running one of my local trail shoe test routes here in Northern California.
The materials used in the Jacquard mesh upper are very soft and breathable too, and there’s plenty of padding in the walls – all of this contributes to a feeling of comfort that can strangely be rare to find.
Key specifications of the HOKA Stinson 7
- Price – $170 at hoka.com
- Usage: HOKA’s Swiss Army Knife of running shoes – a door to trail running shoe much like the Challenger ATR 7, can be used on anything including road. Good for heavier runners due to the wide outsole, plush midsole and stability features. A great entry level hybrid running shoe for those learning to trail run.
- Sizing and fit: true to size, medium width with room for wider feet.
- What’s new: Softer foams for a more cushioned ride, new H-frame for stability, deeper Active Foot Frame, taller stack height, and increased traction.
- Weight: 12.1 oz (343g) for a size US(M)9 (my pair)
- Drop: 5mm
- Toe box width: medium to wide
- Stability: very stable – it’s a stability shoe, thanks to the h-frame structure on top of the midsole
- Cushioning: plush
Key features worth knowing about
Let’s go over some of the key features in more detail then.
HOKA Stinson 7 weight
It weighs 12.1 oz (343g) for a size US 9 men’s which is is actually quite heavy for a shoe, especially when you compare it to the Challenger 7 (another hybrid running shoe from HOKA).
Yes, the Stinson 7 has more stability and cushioning in the midsole but I do wonder how it got so heavy. Either way, runners with a heavier build may not notice the extra weight, and they’ll be thankful for the extra cushioning and stability.
Stack height, drop, and stability
The Stinson 7 has a fairly high stack height, meaning the midsole is quite thick, offering extra cushioning and protection from sharp rocks and other objects underfoot when trail running.
Even though the stack height is high, they still offer incredible stability, thanks to the H-Frame support that is essentially the top layer of the midsole. You can see the outside of it in the picture below; it’s the blue part of the midsole.
Anyone who has followed Trail & Kale for a while and all my running shoe reviews over the years will know I’m not a fan of very high-drop shoes, especially when it comes to running technical trails, as you lose so much control.
Not only does it give you a better feel for the trails but it puts you in a more natural running stance, resulting in a better running form; and so I love how most HOKA running shoes have a lowish drop of 5mm.
Stinson 7’s midsole plush cushioning
This midsole has an awesome amount of cushioning to provide comfort underfoot while at the same time a good amount of responsiveness as you leap over rocks, as you can see in my YouTube video below.
What’s most impressive however, is how stable they remain when running over uneven terrain, I mean it’s actually very difficult to roll and ankle, even if you tried to do so!
There’s plenty midsole protection in the stack height to stop any spiky rocks on the trails from actually being felt when you run over them.
Even though this midsole does have a relatively high stack, no stability or control is lost – I just love what they’ve done with it.
The outsole is very effective on most terrain thanks to the multidirectional lugs and tread pattern. The outsole is also particularly wide, which gives it a lot of surface area to gain traction on the trails, and also to provide a high level of stability for heavier runners.
With that said, if you enjoy running on really technical trails with steep up-and-down hills with mud patches and slick rocky sections then I’d recommend learning more about the Speedgoat 5.
Here’s a closer look at the Durabrasion rubber outsole on the Stinson 7 road-to-trail running shoes.
Tongue and lacing system
The tongue has lots of padding and feels very comfortable while running (like the Challenger 7) and the laces are simple but very effective at what they’re designed to do, which is ‘do up’, stay ‘done up’, and provide a small amount of stretch as your feet move during a run.
I did however have to use the top lace hole in order to get a secure fit on my feet; I share more on that in my video below.
Let’s talk about that extended heel pull and Achilles support
There’s no finger loop at the rear, unfortunately, which can help get the shoes on nice and easy BUT, the Stinson 7 does go on very easily due to that extended heel pull feature at the rear – which I love for another reason…
The awesome ‘backstay’, ‘heel counter’, or ‘extended heel pull’ that HOKA likes to call it is such a great way of supporting the Achilles heel while running.
If you’ve ever had Achilles tendinitis in the past, you’ll love this feature! There are more pictures of this heel support feature in the gallery below.
There’s also a very solid toe cap at the front that will protect your toes if you stub any rocks or roots – I demonstrate this in my video below too.
HOKA Stinson 7’s Upper construction
The upper is very well made, highly durable, and has a nice design. It’s also breathable, however, it’s not the most breathable shoe out there because of how thick it is.
The fact that they aren’t super breathable makes them the perfect shoes for shoulder season running, running in cooler conditions, or simply if you prefer to keep your feet at a mild temperature, rather than cool while running.
HOKA Stinson 7 performance review
I took the Stinson 7, Hoka’s latest hybrid trail-to-road running shoes on one of my favorite local trail routes, which is the perfect testing ground for all the trail running shoes that get sent my way by brands.
The route is 10 kilometers long, mostly trail, but there are some road surfaces as well, including a 1km road run to get to the trailhead from my front door.
There is also about 300 meters of vertical ascent on the route, just to set the scene for you – my video below shows the type of terrain and beautiful Northern California scenery in more detail.
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I love doing this run because it gives me a perfect trail loop that incorporates tons of different types of terrain. There’s gradual and steep climbing, steep downhills, and flat sections.
These flat sections really allow me to unleash top speed in running shoes that I’m testing.
So, how do the HOKA Stinson 7’s actually perform while running different types of trails? Watch my video above to find out, and continue reading for my final verdict on these running shoes.
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How do they compare to other trail running shoes available at the moment?
The Challenger ATR 7 is it’s closest contender in the HOKA lineup. It is certainly targeted at heavier runners or new trail runners who want a safer shoe that provides stability when running on trails.
The Stinson 7 also has better outsole traction to go with that stability, it does however weigh more, which to me was quite noticeable; to a heavier runner it probably won’t be, however.
Are they worth your hard earned money?
YES, for the right runner… You’re going to love running in the HOKA Stinson 7 if you want to run a mixture of roads and trails and you want maximum stability to help ensure you don’t roll an ankle while out there having fun.
They’re also great for runners who have a larger build and need maximum cushioning and protection underfoot on the trails.
For very lightweight runners, these will not be for you because they’re relatively heavy, and you’ll feel it when attempting to be agile over technical trails, however, I also believe these shoes are better for light trails or beginner trails rather than anything technical.
So, you can see it’s certainly targeted to a specific runner in mind and there are PROS and CONS to choosing it. Hopefully you should now know if the Stinson 7 is for you or not.
I hope you enjoyed reading this HOKA Stinson 7 review – leave a comment down below if you did and join our Newsletter for more outdoor gear reviews just like this one.
Still not sure which HOKA running shoes are for you? Head over to our Best HOKA Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide next.
HOKA Stinson 7 review summary (rating with pros and cons)
There are more photos of the Stinson 7 below; enjoy, and see you on the trails!