Despite all of the buzz surrounding barefoot running at the moment, French footwear company HOKA has decided to go in the opposite direction. Called Hubbles, HOKA's new line of super cushioned trail shoes will debut in May 2010, with the Mafate edition the first to be released.
HOKA was started by avid trail runners Nicolas Mermoud and Jean Luc Diard. The pair were tired of rigid trail shoes and wanted a shoe design that would help them run more naturally with a feeling of freedom, speed, comfort and performance.
The Hubbles have a rounded sole shape for a continuous and natural heel to toe transition. The front of the shoe tips up for aid in push off. The underside of the sole is etched much like winter tires-each of the lugs morphs to the terrain, orienting itself for the best possible grip.
The key innovation in the Hubbles trail shoes is the dynamic cushioning property of the sole. As you run, the super cushioned sole morphs to absorb the uneven ground, leaving no impact on your foot. You feel as though you are running on flat ground. As you run downhill, the heel compresses, putting your foot in a more natural position. As you run uphill, the forefoot compresses to do the same.
I tried on a pair of Hubbles at Outdoor Retailer. Those of you from Wisconsin will understand this reference- they feel like running on a pair of Cheese Heads. I would agree that you feel more stable running over uneven ground but it takes awhile getting used to being so high off and somewhat disconnected with the ground- much like it takes you awhile to get used to wearing MBT shoes.
I would love to hear your thoughts- which way do you think the footwear industry should be heading? More minimal or more cushioning? Is it really about the shoe or is it simply about teaching people to run with a front first versus heel first landing for more efficiency?