Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Review

If you’re looking for a versatile hiking boot that puts comfort at the forefront and provides a great solution for day hikes and longer trails combined, then we think you’ll be impressed with the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX hiking boot.

HOKA ONE ONE Womens Kaha 2 GTX Nubuck Black Black Trainers 5.5 US

Please note: we’ve reviewed the women’s fit, but great news, this hiking boot is also available in a men’s fit.

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Looks stylish

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Takes a while to break in
  • Feels cold after heavy rain and a little warm in hotter temperatures

Hoka have a reputation for making comfortable footwear and we found that the Kaha 2 GTX certainly lived up to expectations. More comfortable boots mean less foot (and knee, and leg!) fatigue and in turn, you should be able to hike longer and further.

Comfort aside we found the Kaha 2 GTX to be extremely versatile hiking boots, well suited to a wide range of different types of terrain. They are expensive, but they also have excellent build quality, good waterproofing and we think they could certainly last for many years. All of these factors will surely make them an attractive proposition for many hikers.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our guide to the best hiking boots, be sure to check out the rest of this guide for our top buying tips:

Compare to Similar Products: 

Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GTX
Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof
Salomon Quest 4 Gore Tex
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped
Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX 
Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
Hoka Kaha 2 GTX
Vasque Breeze Waterproof Hiking Boots
Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots for Women - Waterproof, Durable Suede Upper, Breathable Lining, Triple-Density Footbed & Vibram Traction Outsole, Chocolate Chip/Golden Oak - 5 M
Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, Altitude, 5
Salomon Quest 4 Gore-TEX Hiking Boots for Women, Slate/Trooper/Opal Blue, 8
Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped, Elk/Mountain Red, 9
Zamberlan Women's 996 Vioz GT Hiking Boot,Dark Brown,37 M EU/6 M US
Salomon X Ultra 4 MID Gore-TEX Hiking Boots for Women, Ebony/Mocha Mousse/Almond Cream, 5
Lowa Women's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot,Stone,10 W US
La Sportiva Womens Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots, Oak/Topaz, 7
HOKA ONE ONE Womens Kaha 2 GTX Nubuck Black Black Trainers 5.5 US
Vasque Women’s Breeze Hiking Boot, Cappuccino, 6 Medium
Buying Options
Our Ratings
Best Overall Women's
Most Comfortable
Best for Mountain Walking
Best Budget
Best Waterproof
Best for Summer/Hot Weather
Best Leather
Best for Day Hikes
Pros
Extremely comfortable. Wears in quickly. Excellent fit for wider feet
Excellent comfort. Excellent durability
Sturdy and ready to take on anything. Good toe placement and great ankle positioning
Very comfortable, pretty much straight out the box. Great price point
Excellent build quality. Can be resoled
Low weight. Good build quality
Available in three widths and a variety of sizes. Extremely comfortable
Cutting edge materials, good breathability to waterproofing ratio
Extremely supportive and comfortable. Stylish.
Excellent durability. Rigid build
Cons
Not great for narrower feet. Sizing for buyers outside the United States can be limited
Slightly confusing product range. The design looks dated.
Break in takes a little while. Rigid.
Isn't as breathable. Could do with a more robust sole
Expensive. The design may be too utilitarian for some
Ankle cuff not as supportive as some others. Wider toe box may not suit those with very narrow feet. New
Expensive. Isn't visually that striking
Expensive for what they are. We don't find them suitable for longer treks
Expensive. Leather feels cold after walking through significant water.
Dated design. Stiff upper may not be to everybody's taste.
Traction
Excellent
Very good
Medium/deep thread pattern
Good - but not as good on technical terrain
Excellent
Excellent
Vibram outsole - excellent
Excellent
Excellent - uses Vibram Megagrip
Very good
Breathability
Good
Very good
Gore-Tex upper and well insulated
OK
Low
Good
Good
Excellent
OK
Very good
Ankle Support
Good
Very good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Excellent
Arch support
Regular to good
Good
Average
OK
Average
Good
Average
Regular
Average
Average
Fit
Fits a little large, size down a half size if in-between, available in a single width
Fits true to size. comes in standard and wide widths
Suits normal to wider feet
Standard fit, runs small - best to go up a half size
Standard fit - runs small
Fits true to size. Comes in standard and wide widths
Comes in standard, narrow and wide fit options and wide range of sizes
Runs narrow
Standard fit
Runs a little small. Available in standard and wide fit
Materials
Grain leather upper, metal lacing hardware and synthetic/rubber soles
Synthetic and pig suede upper.
Leather and synthetic
Upper leather and suede and synthetic
Mostly leather with synthetic lining and rubber sole
Fully synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Nubuck leather and synthetics
Appearance
Modern hiking boot
Slightly dated design
Modern
Modern hiking boot with traditional feel
Traditional hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot/trail hybrid
Slightly dated design
Durability
Excellent
Very good
Excellent
Sole feels quite lightweight
Excellent
Excellent
Good
Average
Good
Excellent
Water Resistance
Gore-Tex membrane
In-house waterproof, breathable membrane
Gore-Tex membrane
Waterproof (Omni-Tech)
Gore Tex lining and water resistant coating
Gore Tex membrane
Gore-Tex membrane
Gore-Tex Surround membrane
Gore-Tex lining
In-house waterproof, breathable membrane
Weight (pair)
900g/2lb per pair
800g/1lb 12oz
1070g/2lb 6oz
791g/1.8lbs per pair
1.28kg/2lb 13oz
740g/1lb 10oz
950g/2lb
900g/2 lb. 1 oz
1015g/2.5 lbs
990g/2lb 2oz
Insoles
Standard insole
Padded insole
Padded insole
Standard insole
Padded insole
Padded. shaped insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Padded insole
Break-in Period
Minimal
Minimal
Some break in needed
Very minimal
Some break-in required
Minimal
Minimal
Slightly longer than average
Minimal
Medium
Lacing system
Regular laces with metal lacing hardwear for durability
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard/regular laces
Standard/regular laces
Standard laces
Standard lacing system
Standard/regular laces
Standard - eyelet with grip lacing around the ankle
Standard laces
Toe Protection
Rubberized toe rand
Rubber rand around toe and small toe cap
Rubberized toe rand
Rubberized toe rand
Substantially reinforced toe offers excellent protection
Rubber rand on toe and small toe cap.
Substantial rubber toe rand
Rubberized toe rand
Rubberized toe rand with reinforced stitching
Rubber rand around toe and small toe cap

Analysis and Test Results

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is a great all-round boot for hiking and trail walking – though if you like to venture onto more technical terrain, then a more specialized boot may serve you better. We can’t talk about Hoka’s footwear without mentioning their distinctive, chunky, soles and, whilst some may not like the look of these, they are the key reason for the brand’s well-regarded comfort (on the flip-side, and proving the point that everything comes with a trade-off when it comes to outdoor gear, the outsized sole can also present a tripping hazard on uneven terrain).

These boots are a premium-priced product, but none the less we think they will hit a sweet-spot for many hikers and could well be the only pair of boots that many need to own.  

Performance Comparison

Traction

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX feature a Vibram ‘Megagrip’ outsole with an aggressive lug pattern that provides excellent traction over a wide range of different surfaces. Our reviewer found that these boots inspired confidence and lent themselves well to fast and light hiking. Of course, some surfaces like slick mud, smooth and wet rock and ice will thwart the even the grippiest of soles, so you should still proceed with cautiuo0n when you encounter these conditions.

Whilst not strictly related to traction, Hoka’s trademark oversized soles can cause a problem on more technical terrain. Put simply, the oversized sole extends out from the boot more so than the sole on a more traditionally styled boot and it can snag on rocks, roots and so on. Most of the time, this is just a minor inconvenience, but at worst, it could cause a fall. Whilst they didn’t experience this, our reviewer felt it was a possibility.

If you routinely hike over more technically demanding or uneven terrain, then a boot with a more conventional sole like the Salewa Alp Trainer 2 might be a better choice.

Breathability

An area which we found the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX let down a little was in terms of breathability. Of course, waterproof hiking boots are never going to be as breathable as their non waterproof counterparts.

The waterproof membrane makes a huge difference here, and in warmer temperatures, these hiking boots start to feel very warm very quickly.

Ultimately, you really want to decide what is most important to you – if you know you’re going to be hiking somewhere without a huge likelihood of rain or wet weather, then these may not be for you.

However, if you are, the breathability that is lost is justifiable for the gain of having waterproofing.

Ankle Support

The ankle support offered by the Hoka Kaha is similar to a lot of modern hiking boots – by way that it feels more like a shoe made into a mid than a really traditional rock solid boot.

With that in mind, there is some cushioning around the collar, but it is fairly flexible and doesn’t protect greatly from ankle rolls – no more so than many of the other boots in this kind of style.

That said, if you’re going to be sticking to well looked after trails and more popular routes rather than going off trail deep into the backcountry, you will likely find that these hiking boots give more than enough protection.

Arch Support

An area that Hoka does extremely well is arch support with some of their hikers being recommended medically for people with arch concerns and problems.

The Kaha offers something around a mid level of arch support, slightly more than most but if you have high arches for example, you will still want to look at replacing the insole with something more specific to your needs.

This is where the deep lug and the chunky springy sole really come into their own – not only do they offer comfort to the whole foot, the arch is well supported and positioned the whole time making for a much more comfortable experience all round.

Fit

These hiking boots do tend to run a little on the large size, so we’d recommend going down a half size to get a fit that is likely true to your normal size.

Depending on your foot shape, you may find that they feel a little long. If you have wider feet, you may find they’re pretty much perfect for you too.

We found generally that the lacing system is incredibly important in getting the Hoka Kaha to feel right for your foot and tailoring your lacing system was paramount.

Materials

The main materials used in the Hoka Kaha are nubuck leather – which is extensively used on the upper. The rest is made of 71% polyester face fabric, and this is also included in the Gore-Tex lining. The midsole and outsole are made of CMEVA.

They feel relatively well made and stood up against some of the other hiking boots in their price point, they feel like they sit well with their competitors. As said above, the waterproof nature of this hiking boot does make it feel less breathable.

Appearance

We generally always find we air on the side of thinking that Hoka hiking shoes and boots look really cool. Of course, this is personal preference and ultimately, how a boot looks should never really be your only deciding factor. The sole on Hoka boots and shoes is generally quite polarizing – some love the exaggerated outsole, whereas others find it clumsy.

We think that these hiking boots handle perfectly for more well-maintained trails, but if you’re looking for something for scrambles or more technical approaches, you would be better at looking at some of the other more low profile and sleeker options in our comparison table above.

They are also a great hiking boot to go from the trail in the day time to town in the evening, and they stay looking great with some minor work to look after them, for some time, even after heavy usage.

Durability

We have no real durability concerns about the Hoka Kaha, and they feel like they sit in terms of longevity against their other popular hiking shoes and boots out on the market today. We think that the price tag is at the premium end, and you can tell when you look at the boot – it feels that way too.

These boots also make use of well-known and well respected materials such as Vibram Megagrip rubber and Gore-Tex liner which add to the premium and well made feel. You’ve also got a really strong, hard wearing toe cap, well made sole and heel. We think these boots will have you feeling confident that they will stand the test of time.

Sustainability

Hoka have made some good moves with the sustainability credentials of the Kaha. Firstly, the DWR used is free from problematic, microplastic based chemicals and substrates. They also have made use of plant based oils in the sock line. Internal mesh areas feature recycled materials (though the actual figure is not entirely transparent). The Gore-Tex membrane and material used also makes use of at least 45% recycled material.

Hoka on the whole have made some pretty serious statements and commitments to becoming more environmentally focused, and in turn, this will have an impact on their sustainability in general. It is good to see them making moves as a cutting edge manufacturer and we hope to see even more improvements to materials used in further generations of the Kaha.

Water Resistance

Up to ankle height (where the tongue meets the boot) you will get good waterproofing from the Hoka Kaha 2. If you want to extend this further, and know this will be needed for your adventures, you could look to add a gaiter to increase waterproofing.

Whilst this hiking boot does perform well in heavy rain, light stream crossings and through puddles the leather can feel quite cold (and does absorb) when tested against heavy water, so this is important to keep in mind.

Weight

Coming in at the heavier end of our reviews and hiking boot line up at 1015g/2.5 lbs, the Hoka Kaha doesn’t feel as light to wear as some of its competitors. With that in mind, and given their similar construction, we feel that if lightness and waterproofing are of high concern for you, that you may be better suited to the Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GTX, our overall winner in women’s hiking boots.

Though it should be said, in the Kaha’s defense that it is very far from feeling like a heavy hiking boot – it is still lightweight, we need to remember this in relative terms!

Insoles

The Hoka Kaha 2 comes with a simple, fairly standard insole, which is pretty comfortable and will suit most hikers. If you have any specific concerns, you can easily replace the insole provided in these hiking boots. 

Break-in Period

Due to the fact that they make use of leather, they do take a little bit more time to break in than some of the synthetic hiking boots we’ve reviewed, but also the break in process is still quite minimal and once they are broken in, they feel extremely comfortable.

With most leather hiking boots, it’s worth taking them on a few training hikes first to get a feel for where any touch points might be. You should always do this on shorter trails so that if there are any pressure points, you don’t get blisters or sore spots on your feet.

Only take your hiking boots out on a longer trail when you feel truly confident that they are broken in and feel very comfortable.

Lacing System

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX makes use of an eyelet and plastic pull round system for its lacing, but in essence is a fairly standard lacing system. This allows you to get a good grip in areas you need it and loosen off in other areas to give a really specific and tailored fit.

These hiking boots do extremely well when laced in the various different lacing patterns you can adopt to help for your foot shape and this will allow you to get a fit that feels really right for the way you walk and place your feet.

Toe Protection

This hiking boot comes with a pretty substantial rubberized toe rand that is actually more obvious than some of its competitors and it does a good job of keeping your feet well protected from any bumps and knocks you can expect to experience in any general or normal hiking situation.

That said, we feel like it’s needed, due to the chunkier sole, and depending on the type of hiking you’re doing, you may well find yourself bumping into things a little bit more purely due to the size of the sole. Though, once you’ve got used to the excess size, you should not experience any problems.

Conclusion

We think that the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is an excellent choice for an all-round hiking and walking boot, though if you regularly venture onto more technical terrain, it’s worth bearing in mind that the oversized sole can get in the way, and even present a tripping hazard.

However, with that caveat in mind, these boots are super-comfortable once bedded-in, durable, offer good water resistance and the grippy sole inspires confidence and fast progress on a wide range of surfaces. These are a premium-priced product, but we think that their impressive combo of features, made even better by Hoka’s good environmental credentials will see them appealing to a lot of hikers.

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