This review is in partnership with Running Warehouse, which provided products for testing. Salty Running receives a commission on sales made via our Running Warehouse affiliate link, used throughout this post.
The Tracer is the Hoka One One version of a lightweight performance trainer, retailing at $130. The Hoka brand is famous for their “maximalist” design, meaning thick, pillowy midsoles that somehow deliver a light weight. The Tracer, however, is slightly lower-slung and boasts a shoe weight in line with many racing flats. As one of the last minimalists standing, this is not really my typical shoe!
I have spent the last 10 years almost exclusively training in racing flats. My favorites include the Nike Streak LT and the Adidas Adios for distances all the way up through the marathon. However, I love to try new brands and have been pleasantly surprised before by some trainers, like the Sketchers Go Run (won at a race) and the Adidas Boston (suggested by a friend at the local running store), so I was open-minded when the Tracer arrived on my stoop.
I immediately slipped the Tracer on for my first run but had to pause the Garmin to deal with fit issues almost immediately. The right shoe particularly was slipping quite a bit in the heel area. I tightened the lacing system but the slipping persisted and it wasn’t until I had over 75 miles on the shoes that I finally got the right combination of lacing modification and tightness to eliminate the sloppy feel. The Tracer does seem to run a little long as well so perhaps going a half size smaller would solve this problem. I typically wear a 6.5, occasionally a 7, and would get a 6 next time!
I typically do a set of strides a few times a week whenever I get outside for a run but I was a bit hesitant to go faster in these shoes. They just didn’t feel fast despite the light weight (advertised as 6.9 oz in standard size 8). Maybe it was the chunkiness? But I was surprised later to read that the midsole height is really not too much different than the Adidas Boston, although the heel-toe drop is less. What it seems to be is that the midsole cushioning in the Tracer is much firmer and that, combined with being a touch too big, reduced my foot’s ability to flex and find my natural speedy stride, up on my forefoot.
I’ve now put 120 miles on the Tracer and overall it is a good shoe. I’m particularly pleased that they seem to be quite durable. My weak link is typically the outsole but it’s holding up well. The cushioning feels the same as it did day one and the upper shows no signs of wear – not even any visible dirt. This is great considering the price tag is slightly higher than many comparable shoes.
I will continue to lace up the Tracer on medium and short distance easy run days; I’m still not loving the lack of flexibility and ground-feel for speed and it takes some precise tightening for a firm fit for speed or long runs when everything needs to be perfect.
Bottom line: The Tracer is for you if you are looking for a featherweight shoe with significant cushioning. It would be better for the midfoot or heel-striking runner. Consider purchasing a half size smaller than your typical shoe for a better fit.
Have you tried the Hoka One One Tracer or a similar shoe?