While the HOKA ONE ONE Clayton is a shoe that hints at traditional running footwear, the forthcoming HOKA ONE ONE Tracer is more difficult to distinguish from existing shoes in the market place. Whereas the Clayton is purely HOKA with a great stack height to weight ratio and a dynamic foot cradle, the Tracer is a new animal for HOKA. It is a streamlined, closer-to-the-ground, go-fast shoe.
On the surface, with a 2mm thicker stack height (24:20) and heel-toe offset (4mm) equal to the Saucony Kinvara and Brooks Pureflow, the Tracer appears to be a lighter weight direct competitor with these two shoes. The Pureflow gets heavier but more flexible in 2016, while the Kinvara adds new technologies and appears to be more responsive for next year. These changes exemplify some of the differences between these two shoes, where the Pureflow leans more toward comfort and the Kinvara leans more toward speed. The HOKA Tracer looks to inject even more speed into the low weight, low offset category.
Upon further examination, the Tracer isn’t simply a lightweight trainer. It appears to be a fantastic racing flat. It is lighter than the adidas adizero Adios Boost 2 and Mizuno Hitogami 2 but has a thicker forefoot. This means it has plenty of underfoot padding for long races without a weight penalty. The shoe is built with a PRO2LITE (reads pro squared light) concept, in which the focus is on protection and propulsion. Protection comes in the form of a softer rear foot and propulsion comes from a firmer forefoot. This set-up provides a responsive feel for midfoot strikers and a “safety-net” for latter stages of races or longer runs, where the runner tends to move more rearward with their foot-strike.
Even though the Tracer is hard to classify, it successfully spans the use of lightweight daily trainer to regular uptempo workhorse to long distance racer. Hence, the Tracer is poised to be one of the most versatile lightweight shoes for 2016.
Preliminary Tech Specs
Stack height: 24mm heel, 20mm forefoot, 4mm heel-toe offset