I’ll be perfectly candid – of all HOKA running shoes, the Bondy has always been one of my least favorites. It’s not a bad shoe, otherwise it wouldn’t be HOKA’s bestseller or one of the most popular models for marathon runners. With the new Model 8 comes a change.
I’ve always found the wide, oversized profile of the Bondi feel awkward and cumbersome to complete my process. But after testing the Bounce 8, I withdraw my previous comment. In the right use case, I found the all-new Bondi 8 to be one of the best shoes in the HOKA line.
In short: If HOKA’s previous Bondi models have never been your favorite, this review is for you. Here’s why I changed my mind.
HOKA Bondi 8 review
Bondi 8 Specifications
- Lester: 10.8 ounces (men), 8.9 ounces (women)
- Drop: 4 millimeters
- stack height: 33mm/29mm (men), 31mm/27mm (women)
- Price: $165
Bondi 8 review
Out of the box, the Bondi 8 is a much better (dare I say less daddy) shoe. The mesh upper is a cleaner, more cohesive pattern than the Bounce 7while deep horizontal grooves in the midsole with a beveled heel give the new Bondi a more modern look.
One of the most noticeable changes from its predecessor is the flared midsole, especially under the heel. We’ve seen this design on several HOKA models before, including the Bondi X, Mach 5and Carbon X 3and other brands.
From a design and function perspective, a wider footprint makes for a more stable shoe when you land. This is especially important for soft midsole shoes, like the Bondi. The addition of mostly horizontal grooves in the midsole provides a smoother experience for heel strikers.
I found the new puffy geometry to give the Bondi a more stable and grounded feel, which heel strikers and taller riders 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 was huge, the Bondi 8 feels slightly larger.
HOKA lists the stack heights as 33mm/29mm for men and 31mm/27mm for women, which really surprises me. He feels much bigger. By today’s standards, where running shoes are thicker and thicker thanks to lighter foams, 33 millimeters (31 mm for women) under the heel barely qualifies as maximum cushioning.
To put that into perspective, compared to the maximum cushioning shoes from other brands, the Brooks Glycerin 20 and Asics Novablast 3 have 38 millimeters, and New balance 1080 v12 at 34 millimeters. Despite that, I thought the Bondi 8 still felt a lot like a max-cushioned running shoe.
Access comfort is exceptional, which I think explains 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 reinforces the padding all over the tongue for comfort when the laces are tight.
Who is Bondi for?
The Bondi 8 is by no means a fast and responsive shoe, nor does it try to be. Its sweet spot is the leisurely running 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 expected.
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 gaits. Once I embraced that 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 most cushioned shoes you can buy, and the Bounce 8 follows suit. Personally, with my 5’8″, 135lb frame, the Bondi 8 is way too much of a shoe for me to use as a daily trainer. I much prefer the Clifton 8 to run every day. I found the Bondi 8’s sweet spot as a recovery running shoe.
Its soft underfoot feel and stable platform is just what I need when my legs are sore and sore from the heavy workout the night before. Not to mention that it is one of the most comfortable walking shoes.
That being said, if you’re a bigger runner (than me) or love the Bondi 7, you’ll love the Bondi 8. The updates give it a smoother, more stable ride with a more comfortable upper, especially around the heel collar and tongue. It also has a cleaner, more modern aesthetic.
I would just warn those with wider feet to consider buying the wide (EE) or x-wide (EEEE) versions, as the regular Bondi 8 (D) is quite narrow.
Check price for men on HOKACheck price for men on REICheck price for women on REI