Hoka’s well-loved lightweight trainer has a slightly updated upper from last year, but the tri-specific features and springy cushioning remain.
Lightweight, cushy without being unresponsive, ready for T2, budget friendly
Still some durability issues on the outsole
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Available: August 2020
Last year, Hoka released their new Rincon—a lightweight trainer/medium-weight racer that took a lot of the cushioning queues from the rest of their line and then put itself on a diet. Triathletes loved the fact that you could wear this sockless, there was a huge heel pull tab, and that sweet spot between light weight and cushioning meant that you could wear this for long-course racing if racing flats weren’t your cup of tea. There wasn’t much to complain about, except for durability, so Hoka didn’t really do much on this update, with one small exception.
Hoka Rincon 2: The Good Stuff
Though this isn’t exactly a flashy pair of shoes, the Rincon 2s do their job and get out of the way. While they’re not as plush as a shoe like the Clifton (knowing that the Clifton is also not even Hoka’s plushiest shoe), somehow Hoka is able to pack a good amount of cush into a shoe that weighs under 8 ounces. Despite the notable absence of much outsole, we also found that the tread still works well, even on dry trails—which is surprising. The “big” update on this pair is actually not particularly big at all: a slightly redesigned upper. Though most of the changes in the upper are basically “under the hood,” Hoka has gone from a very simple single-layer of mesh to something a little more tech-forward with specifically mapped zones to help with durability and breathability. Though few had complaints about the latter in the Rincon 1, the former was definitely a sticking spot for a few wearers. Another great side-effect of Hoka’s efforts inside the shoe is the fact that the interior really has only three seams—one on each side of the foot, in a low-rub area and one that connects the upper with the tongue. This is a further boon for triathletes who might want to save some time, weight, and comfort when running in these sockless on race day.
Hoka Rincon 2: The Ride
Not only is it fairly plush, but the amount of energy return on this shoe is somewhat surprising out of the box. Hoka doesn’t make a huge deal about how responsive the Rincon 2s are, but we found them to be very energetic (more so than the Clifton, for instance) and bouncy—transferring energy off the pavement, not just absorbing. Again, this is why the Rincon 2s are perfectly made for tempos of any distance as well as well-supported race days. That said, this is not a particularly structured shoe, so don’t expect as much support as you would with something more substantial. Still, not many sub 8-ounce shoes give any support at all and far less cushion than the Rincon 2, and Hoka’s flared-out midsole does help with a bit stability, just not in targeted areas. In fact, the lack of any structure made our IT bands and medium-sized stabilizers in our hips slightly sore after a first (and albeit fast) longer run. Nothing serious, but there isn’t much mechanical guidance built in.
We also found that this shoe—like the original Rincon—feels best at a tempo-and-above pace. While it wasn’t bad to run slowly and on our heels with this shoe, there are shoes that do that better. As it’s just foam, the bounce on this midsole is really tuned best from the midfoot and forward, as the rocker is not enough to forcefully draw you from your heel to your pushoff.
Hoka Rincon 2: The “Meh” Stuff
Before we get too far into the durability discussion here, it’s important to know that Hoka does not consider this necessarily to be an everyday running shoe for everyone. As such, they’ve priced it quite a bit lower than their other offerings. Hoka did try to make the upper more substantial on this revision, in an effort to meet wearers halfway and not have a single mesh upper that wears through quickly (though I never had that happen). The true durability issue for me has always been on the almost entirely unprotected outsole. While Hoka does place some rubber pads in key areas, this also assumes that you wear your shoes out in a predictable pattern that follows the placement of the black rubber. If I had one other “mehplaint” it would be that the Rincon’s tongue is still decidedly old school and that by making it a bit slimmer and more modern, they might make this even better for triathletes who dump water or sweat down to their shoes and save even more weight in the process. Maybe even take a weight withdrawal from the top of the shoe and deposit it on the bottom.
Hoka Rincon 2: Conclusions Are Happening
The biggest takeaway for this mild update is that if you liked the Rincon 1, you’ll probably like the Rincon 2 only slightly more. There’s nothing divisive or revolutionary about this version of a well-loved shoe, and that’s ok. On the other hand, if you didn’t like last year’s Rincon for some reason, it’s unlikely this one will move your dial (unless you tore apart the upper quicker than the outsole/midsole wore out). Think of this as a pair of shoes that’s made for your more efficient, more uptempo days when you’re running with purpose, rather than just logging miles or churning through a slower long run. That said, this is a great option for those who want a little more shoe when they race at the half-iron distance or longer.