Being a big fan of 2011 Mafate, I was excited to put some good mileage on the 2012 Stinson EVO to see how they compare. (For a background on Hoka One One check out our review of the Mafate) First of all, I tested these exclusively on trail and in varying conditions from dry canal road to sopping wet technical mountain trails. Being that I am strongest on the downhill, (I'm aware that sounds funny to some people) I have been especially interested in the HOKA's for their ability to take the pounding before it reaches my knees. Simply put, less fatigue on the downhill means I have more energy on the uphill.
I have also been impressed with their ability to absorb rocks and terrain making rough trail much more accommodating and a lot faster. The Stinson is no exception to the Hoka One One model. The sole on the Stinson is a little more firm than the Mafate, but loosened up as the shoes wore in. Even though the Stinson looks lighter, both come in at 11.3 oz. It feels far lighter than they appear and isn't a deterrent on a steep grade. While the upper is a different material than the Mafate, I found it very durable and for the most part, still looks new after putting in some moderate mileage. I'll be sure to update this review if anything comes up as I wear them out.
I've read in a few forums that the Stinson comes in as a more narrow shoe than the Mafate, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference when wearing them and I have an average foot width. I have to wonder if the extending lacing, (sort of a thin cord as opposed to traditional laces) are being laced a bit tighter by the wearer. They do come with standard laces as well in case you decide to switch them out. They've also included two different choices of insole; one thick and one thinner to adjust for maximum comfort. It leaves a few options to help the shoe fit snug.
As a rule of thumb, I'm pretty careful not to get my shoes too tight to allow for swelling, and I didn't feel any difference between the feel of the Mafate vs the Stinson, however, the toe box appears more tapered at the toe on the Stinson. Again, I felt no difference in the toe box between the two when running. Since Hoka doesn't offer wide widths, if you have wide feet and require ample room for splay, I would make sure you try them on in a store where they will allow you to take them for a short jog before purchasing. Often, a half size larger or replacing the laces will solve the issue. It's certainly not a problem that would keep me from buying a pair.
The lugs have been updated this year and are more prominent for muddy days. They're not the most aggressive lugs I've run in, but with the combination of sticky rubber, they worked fine for me in the glorious slop. The updated materials in the sole this year have made the Stinson more durable, but seem to have contributed to the slightly stiffer ride at first. It's going to come down to preference if you're a big Hoka fan already.
The biggest difference I found between the two is the bottom width of the sole. To accommodate for the danger of ankle twisting due to the higher-than-average cushion of the sole, Hoka's have a 'foot bucket' as well as tapering out slightly. (As a side note, it took only a few steps to adjust to the extra thickness when I first started wearing the Mafate.) Comparing women's size 9.5 at it's widest, the ball of the foot, the Stinson comes in at 11 cm and the Mafate just shy of 13 cm.
With the Stinson EVO, Hoka One One has added another great option for off-road. I believe the differences between the models make it easier for runners to cater to their preference. I loved the choice of laces and insoles included with the shoe and the elastic loops to keep laces under control were a nice bonus. If you've been wanting to try Hoka's, the Stinson EVO is a great choice. I've heard mention, they're especially great for injured, new or aging runners. However, I think any runner who would like to preserve their tendons and ligaments, to enjoy running for a long time to come would be wise to consider the Stinson as an option. Their website put it well: "Hoka shoes are designed with a 40mm high sole design and a 13 cm rocker profile that extends over the front half of the shoe. Those unique design attributes allow for a fluid stride and a plush ride with natural transitions that lessen the movement of the knee by as much as 20 percent, thus increasing efficiency and decreasing the possibility for injury."