The promise of cooler weather around the corner has me dreaming of my favorite kind of fall day: A few hours on the trails in the morning, traipsing around a cute town for lunch and shopping, and a stop at a brewery on the way home.
A dream day, but one that usually comes with some outfit dilemmas. Do I trust that my hiking apparel will be acceptable for stopping in town? One thing is almost always for sure: I’m going to end up awkwardly swapping out my beloved but bulky hiking boots for some everyday sneakers in the car.
Well, this fall, I’ll no longer be packing an extra pair of shoes. That’s thanks to Hoka’s new Skyline-Float X ($175), a versatile new shoe they’re dubbing a hybrid hiker.
Hoka Skyline Float X — $175.00
Available sizes: 5-11, in half sizes
Weight: 12.6 oz
- Cushioned for all-day comfort
- Pebax plate adds propulsion
- Made with lots of plant-based materials
- Stylish enough for versatile wear
- Breathable upper
- Not waterproof
- Thin laces make getting a locked-in fit challenging
What the Skyline-Float X feels like to wear
The Skyline-Float Xs are Hokas at their best: A thick stack of cushion that’s comfortable but not so soft as to sacrifice stability on the trails, and still propulsive and responsive thanks to the 90 percent bio-based Pebax plate in the midsole. (If you see an “X” in the name of a Hoka shoe, that means there’s a plate—the Pebax ones are used in some faster running shoes but are much lighter and more forgiving than a carbon plate).
Ever been passed by an intense hiker who seems to be race-walking the trails? The Skyline-Float Xs made me feel like I could be that person, if I wanted to be (though, personally, I’m a proponent of slow-and-steady and lots of stopping to look at weird mushrooms). Even with all that cushion, they don’t feel heavy or bulky.
My only complaint: It’s hard to tie the thin laces tight enough to get a secure fit—I’ve felt some heel slippage a few times during my hikes and had to stop and re-tie.
So far, I’ve only taken the Skyline-Float Xs on dry, relatively light terrain (mostly packed dirt and leaves with some rocky sections) but they seem to have some of the best grip in the biz with their Vibram rubber outsoles. But what I like most about the shoes is that between their comfort, their versatile look and their (relatively) light weight, I felt like I could be on my feet in them all day, from the trail to wherever.
What the Skyline-Float X is best for
Hoka says that the Skyline-Float X is a hybrid shoe, and some reviewers online seem to interpret that to mean that it’s a combo trail running/hiking shoe. But I wouldn’t recommend taking out the Skyline-Float X if you’re planning to run. (Hoka has plenty of great trail runners for that purpose.) Podiatrist Brett Sachs, DPM, FACFAS, of Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Center in Colorado, recently explained to Well+Good the difference between a hiking shoe and a trail running shoe—hikers are going to be heavier, stiffer, wider, and more stable—and the Skyline-Float X falls pretty squarely in the hiker category.
To be clear, Hoka describes these as crossover shoes because they’re meant to seamlessly transition from the trails to the street so you can easily end your day hike in town. And in my experience, they do just that brilliantly.
However, these likely aren’t the best choice for rocky, rugged terrain where you’ll want more protection from ankle sprains, and will probably want to opt for a full-on hiking boot. And since they aren’t waterproof, I wouldn’t recommend them for muddy hikes or trails that have you traversing streams.
But for the everyday hike-to-anywhere-else adventure? I know what I’ll be reaching for this fall.
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