Hoka Trail Code GTX Review

The distinctive Hoka Trail Code GTX offers a winning combination of low weight, comfort and great water resistance. They’re not rigid enough for some applications, but they’re a great choice for general hiking and walking.

Hoka Men's Trail Code GTX Lightweight Hiking Shoes (Castlerock/Persimmon Orange, us_Footwear_Size_System, Adult, Men, Numeric, Medium, Numeric_8)

Great news: This hiking boot is also available in women’s fit.

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent grip
  • Great water resistance

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • You might think the styling is a bit over the top
  • Some durability concerns – especially with the mid-sole

Hoka have been making waves with their distinctively styled footwear for some time. However, their products aren’t just about looks, and the distinctive, oversized soles they use contribute towards the comfort and performance the brand is well-known for. Hoka’s Trail Code GTX is aimed squarely at hikers and would also be suited for non-competitive trail running. Some may find the look of these boots is a bit too much, but we think they look good. Aside from the brand’s well-regarded comfort, these mid-high boots offer excellent water resistance and durable build, making them a very compelling choice.

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: 

Salewa Men's Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX Boots
Hoka Trail Code GTX
Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid
Asolo Fugitive GTX
Scarpa Rush TRK GTX
Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2
Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry
Skechers Relment-Pelmo
Teva Grandview GORE-TEX
Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof
Salewa Men's Alp Trainer 2 Mid Gtx - Raw Green/pale Frog - 14
Hoka Men's Trail Code GTX Lightweight Hiking Shoes (Castlerock/Persimmon Orange, us_Footwear_Size_System, Adult, Men, Numeric, Medium, Numeric_8)
KEEN Men's Targhee 3 Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boots, Black Olive/Golden Brown, 7 US
Asolo Fugitive GTX Hiking Boot - Men's Wool/Black 8.5
SCARPA Men's Rush Trk GTX Waterproof Gore-Tex Hiking and Backpacking Boots - Dark Anthracite/Black - 8.5
ALTRA Women's AL0A7R7J Lone Peak All-WTHR Mid 2 Trail Running Shoe, Black - 5.5 M US
Oboz Men's Bridger BDRY Hiking Boot,Sudan,7 M US
Skechers Men Relaxed Fit¿: Relment - Pelmo Chukka Boot, Khaki Suede, 6.5 US
Teva Men's Grandview GTX Hiking Boot, Chocolate Chip, 7
Timberland Men's White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, Wheat, 7
Buying Options
Our Ratings
Best Overall Men's
Most Stylish
Best for Long Distance Trails
Most Breathable
Best for Winter/Cold Weather
Best Lightweight
Best for Backpacking
Pros
Excellent comfort. Great combo of breathability and water-resistance.
Excellent Grip. Excellent water resistance
Excellent comfort. Great durability
Tough and durable. Great water resistance.
Excellent durability (including ability to be resoled). Excellent ankle support
Very light. Extremely comfortable
Tough build. Great fit and comfort
Very comfortable. Reasonably priced.
Comfortable. Looks good
Often very inexpensive. Offered in a wide range of sizes.
Cons
Can be pricey. May be a little tight if you have very wide feet
The styling is not to everybody's taste. Some durability concerns
The loos are a little dated. Are relatively expensive outside of the USA
Some may find the upper too flexible. Can be expensive.
Can be pricey. A little heavy
Long term durability concerns. Not well suited to more technical terrain
A little heavy. Not the most breathable
Not suited to technical hiking. Styling is a little dull.
Some durability concerns. Not suited for more extreme trails
Low water resistance. Less ankle support than others.
Traction
Excellent
Excellent
Very Good
Excellent
Excellent
Very Good
Very Good
Very Good
Very Good
Good
Breathability
Excellent
Good
Very Good
Good
Low
Excellent
Low
Low
Good
Low
Ankle Support
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Very good
Excellent
Good
Very Good
Good
Good
Average
Arch support
Regular to good
Regular
Regular
Minimal
Minimal
Regular
Good
Good
Regular
Regular
Fit
Fits true to size available in a single width
Fits true to size. Available in a single width
Fit true to size. Available in normal and wide fit and with a wide range of sizes
Fits true to size. Available in standard and wide fit.
Fits true to size. Available in a single width.
Fits true to size. Available in a single width
Fit is true ot size. Available ins standard and wide versions.
Available in a wide range of sizes with several width options. sizing may run large.
Fits true to size. Available in a single width
Runs small. Available in regular and wide fit.
Materials
Suede leather upper and synthetic
Full synthetic
Leather upper and synthetic
Suede leather and synthetic
Suede leather upper with synthetics
Full synthetic
Leather upper with synthetics
Suede leather upper with synthetics
Leather and synthetic upper
Leather and synthetic upper
Appearance
Modern hiking boot
Modern sports shoe inspired hiking boot
The design is a little dated
The design is a little dated
Modern hiking boot
Modern sports shoe
The design is a little dated
Regular hiking boot
Retro inspired modern hiking trainer
Traditional hiking boot
Durability
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Very Good
Good
Good
Water Resistance
Gore Tex membrane
Gore Tex Membrane
Keen.Dry' breathable waterproof membrane
Gore Tex Membrane
Gore Tex Membrane
In-house waterproof membrane
B-Dry Membrane
Water-resistant treatment and possibly a water-resistant membrane
Gore Tex membrane and water resistant treatment
Water resistant treatment and sealed seems
Weight (pair)
1.04kg/2lb 05oz
868g/1lb 14.6oz
970g/2lb 2oz
1.39kg/3lb 1oz
1.19kg/2lb 10oz
856g/1lb 14oz
1.08kg/2lb 06oz
964g/2lb 02oz
Insoles
Modular insole system to fine-tune fit
Padded removable insole
Padded removable insole
Padded removable insole
Padded removable insole
Padded removable insole
Shaped 'O-FIT' insole
Air Cooled Memory Foam Insole
Padded removable insole
Padded removable insole
Break-in Period
Minimal
Minimal
Very minimal
Minimal
Short break in required
Very minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Lacing system
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Regular laces
Toe Protection
Reinforced rubber rand on toe
Reinforced toe section
Leather reinforced with rubber toecap
Reinforced toe section with rubber rand
Reinforced rubber toe cap
Rubber reinforced toe
Reinforced rubber toe cap
Rubber rand at toe
Reinforced rand and rubber toe cap
Sole extended up to form a small toe cap

Analysis and Test Results

The distinctively styled Hoka Trail Code GTX is a very interesting hiking boot. Borrowing from the design language of trail running shoes, this boot offers fantastic grip, very low weight and excellent water resistance. We’d imagine that many hikers would be very happy with these as their only hiking boots. The design choices Hoka have made with these mean that they wear more like a pair of trainers than hiking boots and whilst that’s an advantage in many circumstances, we think that once the trail gets more demanding and technical, then a more rigid pair of boots might be a better option. However, provided you are aware of this limitation, then these remain a compelling option.

Performance Comparison

Traction

Traction is one area where the Hoka Trail Code GTX scores very well. The boots feature an appropriately named Vibram ‘Megagrip’ outsole with a deep thread pattern that offers excellent grip in a wide range of conditions. Of course, there are some surfaces such as wet grass, slick mud and ice where even the best grip will fail, but, with this caveat in mind, the grip on these boots did not fail to impress us and they provided a sure footing over a range of surfaces.

Whilst the grip is generally excellent, the distinctive sole of these boots extends out the back, and in use, this can sometimes snag on things like roots or rocks. This could become an issue on more technically demanding trails – though you could also argue that this not the intended use of these boots. 

Breathability

Breathability in footwear is almost always a trade-off with water resistance and that’s the case here. The Hoka Trail code is designed to prioritize water-resistance and, as such, it is not the most breathable boot we have assessed. If you tend to hike in very hot, dry places, then a better ventilated, less waterproof boot would likely make more sense, but if your hiking happens in places where it rains, even if only occasionally, then we think trading off some breathability for water resistance is a no-brainer.

And, whilst these boots do prioritize water resistance, that is not to say they are not breathable, and the Gore Tex membrane used in their constructions does a good job of allowing air to circulate. The socks you wear can also make a big difference to how hot and sweaty your feet will feel after a long hike and socks made from naturally moisture wicking materials like Merino wool are a good choice to help keep your feet comfortable.

Ankle Support

The Hoka Trail Code GTX is a mid-high boot. It has a substantially padded ankle cuff and the lacing system allows you to adjust the tightness of this. Lightweight boots like this will never offer the same degree of ankle support as more heavy-duty technical boots, but none the less, the support these boots offer is noticeable and big step up from shoes. 

Arch Support

The Hoka Trail Code GTX offers fairly neutral arch support out of the box. There is some anecdotal evidence that the rocker-style sole used in these boots can provide greater walking comfort for those who need extra arch support. However, claims like this are very subjective and Hoka themselves do not make them. If you find that you need more arch support than these boots offer out of the box – and it can make an enormous difference to comfort for those who do – then the supplied insoles can easily be switched out for a set that improves support.

Fit

These boots are offered in sizes from US 7/UK 6.5/EU 40, right the way up to US 14/UK 13.5/EU 49.5. They are offered in a single width and are generally regarded as fitting true to size. Whilst it wasn’t relevant to our reviewer, who has slightly narrower feet, we’ve heard some reports that these boots can be a little restrictive if you have wider feet. 

The distinctive oversized sole that’s become a hallmark of Hoka footwear is also worth a mention here. This is classed as a ‘rocker’ sole and whilst they have bene around for some time, they are starting to become more of a common sight in performance oriented footwear as there are plenty of claims – some backed for rigorous studies – that they can reduce fatigue, increase comfort and even performance during hiking and running.

Materials

As is becoming increasingly common with hiking footwear, these boots are made form 100% synthetic materials. This choice of materials allows the Trail Code GTX to strike a good balance between comfort, lightweight, water resistance and durability.  

Appearance

Hoka’s footwear is certainly distinctive, and the Trail Code is no exception here. These are thoroughly modern looking boots – their design owes more to trainers than it does to traditional hiking boots and of course, they feature the oversized sole that has become a trademark of Hoka’s footwear.

These boots are offered in a wide range of colorways, including all black, a few more muted options and also plenty of vivid combos. These looks will be divisive. We think these boots look great, and we like the more vivid color options, but we’ve also met plenty of people who find these boots to be over the top and garish. The fact is, though, the design of these boots is informed by their function and the large, oversized sole is actually key to the comfort Hoka’s footwear is well-known for.

We think there will be plenty of people who might not be a fan of the looks of these boots but will still happily buy them once they experience their fit and comfort. 

Durability

The Hoka Tail code GTX are well made boots: the quality of their build is clearly visible and they feel like a premium product. Whilst we have no doubt that they could last a long time indeed, it’s worth bearing in mind that they will not be as durable as more heavy-weight, sturdy hiking boots. The soft foam used in the mid-sole is one area that could potentially get damaged or abraded easily on more technical terrain – though this would likely just be cosmetic damage at least in the first instance, and not impact the function or performance of the boots.

Sustainability

Hoka make use of fabric made from recycled material in the upper of these boots: the ripstop fabric used in the upper is made from 100% recycled material and the inner has 71% recycled content. It’s good to see a brand being so up-front about the quantities of recycled material used in their products. Beyond this, Hoka are committed to reducing their use of water, fossil fuel sourced textiles and carbon in their manufacturing processes and also to ensuring the welfare of the workers in the East Asian factories where their products are made.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is one area where the Hoka Trail Code GTX do very well. The boots have a Gore-Tex membrane that extends up high to the heel cuff and they do a great job of keeping water out. This means the boots can be expected to keep your feet dry in the rain and if you need to cross shallow streams or encounter deep puddles.

Remember, though, that water can still enter the boots if it goes above the heel cuff – and can also soak in through your socks.

Weight

Weighing in at 868g/1lb 14.6oz for a pair, these are amongst the lightest boots we’ve assessed and in the same league as the trail-running focused Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR. Those who value low weight will certainly be interested in the Trail Code GTX and we’re pleased to report that these boots do not appear to sacrifice much in terms of durability or water resistance to hit this low weight.

Insoles

The Hoka Trail Code GTX comes with a fairly generic set of padded insoles. We think that most buyers will be perfectly happy with these, but, if you want additional padding, to add some extra arch support or just fine-tune the fit of your shoes, then these can easily be swapped out for an after-market alternative.

Break-in Period

We don’t think that any footwear is completely without a break in period, but these Hoka boots come pretty close and we feel we’d be happy to wear them out on a long hike after a minimal period of wear around our home, or jus tone or two shorter local walks to ensure they fit OK. These are certainly a world away from the stiff old hiking boots many of you surely remember.

Lacing System

The Hoka Trail Code GTX boots use regular laces. This might not seem particularly exciting, but aces are actually a fantastic way to fine-tune the fit of your boots. It’s also possible to switch to a different lacing pattern entirely to further adjust the fit of your boots.

Toe Protection

These boots have a rubberized section around the toe and the sole also extends up to form a toe cap – which in this case is slightly more substantial than we’ve seen on some competitors. Whilst the toe area is reinforced and this will soak up some of the knocks and bumps you encounter on the trail; the toe protection is not in the same league as what you’d find on more rugged (and heavy!) technical boots. 

Conclusion

The Hoka Trail Code GTX is a very interesting proposition: it combines low weight, flexibility, comfort, water resistance, excellent grip and good durability in a package that’s often quite attractively priced. It seems like there’s no down side!

If you walk, hike or even do a bit of recreational trail running on better developed trails, then these are a very compelling option. However, we feel that if you often venture onto more technically demanding trails, then a more rigid and rugged (and almost certainly heavier!) boot might make for a better option. Provided you are aware of their limits, though, these are excellent boots and we can imagine that many hikers would be very happy with them.

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