Hoka Zinal 2: Tech Specs and Performance

Hoka Zinal 2 outsole

The Hoka Zinal 2 offers an even lighter weight compared to its predecessor, making it an excellent choice for runners who seek a swift experience on smooth dirt and grassy paths.

The Hoka Zinal's second edition caters to trail runners seeking swiftness over gentle landscapes and shorter routes. It also serves as a suitable choice for mid-week speed training.

The shoes are not suitable for those who are fond of challenging trails or those who crave extended adventures.

Hoka has introduced the Zinal, an innovative trail shoe that provides runners with a lighter and faster option. The Hoka Zinal 2 is an excellent choice for trail runners who desire a swift shoe designed specifically for navigating gentle trails.

The revised version of the shoe maintains a comparable height to the original. Its lugs have been enhanced from 4mm to 5mm, accompanied by a fresh lug design. The new footwear possesses a distinctive appearance, incorporating certain elements reminiscent of Salomon, although not including their distinctive lacing pattern.

The initial Zinal shoe was highly impressive and served a valuable purpose. As previously stated, these shoes are ideal for quick runs on gentle trails, lasting no longer than a few hours. They could be suitable for a half-marathon trail race on even, dirt or grassy trails, although I would probably opt for alternatives like the Hoka Challenger or Nike Terra Kiger. However, for individuals participating in a cross-country race primarily on grassy terrain, the Zinal would be an excellent choice. It is important to note that these shoes may not perform well in muddy conditions due to their 5mm lugs.

In my limited experimentation with water crossings, the Zinals proved to be reliable. After subjecting it to a sequence of creek crossings, it effectively maneuvered through the watery terrain and swiftly dried off.

Kudos to Hoka for their impressive feat of creating an even lighter shoe. The Zinals have shed some weight, weighing in at 8 ounces for men’s size 10 (down from 8.5 ounces) and 6.7 ounces for women’s size 8 (down from 6.9 ounces).

Hoka Zinal 2 heel counter

The Zinal has undergone a significant transformation with its new Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole and 5 mm lugs. A departure from its predecessor, the original Zinal utilized a two-part Vibram outsole.

Hoka shoes deviate from the norm once again with their unique upper design. Instead of the usual material, these shoes feature a flexible, knitted wrap-around upper. Although it may take some time to adjust to, the narrow opening eliminates the need to twist and manipulate the tongue. Take a look at the back of the shoe, where Hoka has cleverly added a finger-loop for easy shoe-pulling.

In an effort to accommodate the sizing of the midfoot, Hoka has incorporated the lacing system at the top of the knit. This innovative technique applies pressure and provides support to the midfoot. While it may not be my preferred method of shoe fitting, it is evident that Hoka is experimenting with a novel concept.

After covering a distance of 50 miles, the Hoka Zinal 2 showed no signs of any noticeable flaws and remained in good condition.

I should mention that I ran my longest distance of approximately 8 miles. Throughout my run, I covered a variety of terrains such as gentle dirt trails, grassy areas, and some sections of crushed gravel. Additionally, I ran about a mile on pavement. It's important to note that the shoe was not put to the test on highly demanding surfaces.

If you use the shoe as intended, on the appropriate surfaces (not literally sticking to them), it will perform admirably and should last between 400 and 600 miles, which is a common range for this kind of footwear.

Hoka Zinal 2 toebox and pull tab

The primary focus of Hoka's Zinal is speed, nothing more, nothing less. It effortlessly allows me to reach maximum velocities on smooth terrains. Negotiating twists and turns on trails is a breeze with these shoes.

However, when you encounter roots, rocks, and muddy terrain obstructing your path, the Zinals lose their effectiveness. It all boils down to understanding the purpose and limitations of these shoes. The Zinals excel in aiding midweek speed training for endurance runners. Additionally, they can prove valuable during a leisurely trail run aimed at recovery.

I didn't particularly enjoy wearing the Zinals for walking on paved surfaces before transitioning to trails. My feet often caused problems when I wore them for short distances, but this could be due to my personal foot issues and past injuries rather than a flaw in the shoes themselves.

The Zinals might pose no problem for other runners who can seamlessly include brief stretches of pavement in their adventures.

The fit of the Hoka Zinal 2 is unconventional. Imagine a foot that fits snugly in the heel and toe, but has some extra space in the middle section.

The Zinal shoe provides a snug fit that may feel uncomfortably tight for certain runners. This is why I believe it is not suitable for long-distance runs or races that go beyond a half marathon.

It is important to note the upper section of the shoe. The top part of the footwear has a knitted material that provides cushioning for the foot, without causing any discomfort. I would suggest that those who are interested in the Zinals should visit a nearby running shoe store and personally experience how the shoe fits, in order to determine their own preferences accurately.

Hoka Zinal 2 upper

To start with, the Zinals' second edition showcases smart enhancements compared to the initial model. In my initial evaluation, I provided a comprehensive overview and rating. It's not suitable for everyone to wear on a daily basis, but it certainly fulfills its specific purpose effectively.

Fans of the original Zinals will surely embrace the modifications made in this updated version. If you are new to the Zinals, I suggest assessing whether this specialized trail running shoe is truly necessary for your needs.

The Zinal 2 is a reliable choice for shorter trips on smooth and speedy terrain. Its reduced weight and various improvements contribute to its overall performance, not only when you're picking up speed on the trails.

  • Price: $160 (Hoka)
  • Colors:
    • Diva Blue / Lettuce
    • Black / Ceramic
    • Black / Sherbet
  • Usage:
    • racing
    • trail on gentle and grassy terrains
    • weekly speed training
    • leisurely recovery trail run
  • Constructions & Features:
    • Heel pull tab
    • Stretch-knit collar
    • Light, responsive EVA midsole
    • Vibram® Megagrip with Litebase and Traction Lug (5mm lugs)
    • Weight: 8.00 oz
    • Heel drop: 5mm
Hoka Zinal 2 midsole