I’ll be perfectly blunt— of all the HOKA running shoes, the Bondi has historically been one of my least favorite. It’s not a bad shoe, or it wouldn’t be HOKA’s bestseller or one of the most popular models for marathoners. With the new 8 model comes a shift.
I’ve just always found the large, oversized profile of the Bondi to feel clunky and cumbersome to carry through my gait. But after testing the Bondi 8, I retract my earlier comment. In the proper use case, I found the all-new Bondi 8 to be one of the better shoes in the HOKA line.
In short: If the prior models of HOKA’s Bondi were also never your favorite, this review is for you. Here’s why I changed my mind.
HOKA Bondi 8 Review
Bondi 8 Specs
- Weight: 10.8 oz (men), 8.9 oz (women)
- Drop: 4 mm
- Stack height: 33mm/29mm (men), 31mm/27mm (women)
- Price: $165
Testing the Bondi 8
Out of the box, the Bondi 8 is a much better (dare I say less dad) looking shoe. The mesh upper is a cleaner, more coherent pattern than the Bondi 7, while deep horizontal grooves in the midsole with a beveled heel give the new Bondi a more modern look.
One of the more noticeable changes over its predecessor is the flaring midsole, especially under the heel. We’ve seen this design across several HOKA models now, including the Bondi X, Mach 5, and Carbon X 3, and from other brands.
From a design and functional standpoint, a wider footprint makes a shoe more stable as you land. This is especially important for shoes with a soft midsole, like the Bondi. Adding predominantly horizontal groves throughout the midsole provides a softer experience for heel strikers.
I found the new billowed geometry to give the Bondi a more stable, grounded feel, something heel strikers and bigger runners will appreciate. At the same time, the wider footprint also increased the mass of an already oversized shoe, so if you thought the Bondi 7 felt huge, the Bondi 8 feels slightly larger.
HOKA lists the stack heights as 33mm/29mm for men and 31mm/27mm for women, which is really surprising to me. It feels much taller. By today’s standards, where running shoes are getting thicker and thicker thanks to lighter foams, 33 millimeters (31mm for women) under the heel barely qualifies as maximum-cushioned.
To put this in perspective, compared to other brands’ maximum-cushioned shoes, the Brooks Glycerin 20 and Asics Novablast 3 have 38 millimeters, and New Balance 1080 v12 has 34 millimeters. Despite this, I thought the Bondi 8 still felt very much like a maximum-cushioned running shoe.
The step-in comfort is off the charts, which I think is why it sells so well. Your foot is immediately welcomed with an ultra-soft Ortholite sock liner. It still has a memory foam heel collar but beefs up the padding throughout the tongue for added comfort when the laces are cinched tight.
Who the Bondi Is For
The Bondi 8 is not a fast, responsive shoe by any means, nor does it try to be. Its sweet spot lies in the leisurely run pace to the walking range. This is where I went wrong with previous versions of the Bondi. I was judging it based on a faster pace than it was intended for.
Due to the large mass of the shoe, it lends itself to a short-cycle leg swing rather than the high-leg swing I have during my normal paces. Once I embraced this and slowed my pace down to a shorter leg swing, the Bondi 8 really came alive.
The HOKA Bondi has always been one of the best-cushioned shoes you can buy, and the Bondi 8 follows suit. Personally, with my 5’8″ and 135 lb frame, the Bondi 8 is way too much shoe for me to use as a daily trainer. I much prefer the Clifton 8 for everyday running. I found the Bondi 8’s sweet spot as a recovery run shoe.
Its soft-underfoot feeling and stable platform are exactly what I need when my legs are sore and achy from the previous day’s hard workout. Not to mention, it’s one of the most comfortable walking shoes.
With that being said, if you’re a bigger (than me) runner or liked the Bondi 7, you’ll love the Bondi 8. The updates give it a touch softer, more stable ride with a more comfortable upper, especially around the heel collar and tongue. It also has a cleaner and more modern aesthetic.
I would just caution those with wider feet to consider purchasing the wide (EE) or x-wide (EEEE) versions, as the regular (D) Bondi 8 runs quite narrow.