Struggling with plantar fasciitis pain? Looking for attractive, comfortable, supportive shoes that will see you through the day with little to no pain? It’s worth checking out Kuru vs. Hoka shoes.
While Hoka is known as a maximalist running shoe brand, Kuru is a less well-known brand that makes casual-style shoes designed to help reduce foot pain. Both have some advantages for plantar fasciitis sufferers, but they’re quite different.
This comparison should help you to decide which of the two shoe brands’ sneakers is right for you. Both should help your plantar fascia pain, but you’re likely to favor one over the other depending on your taste and how you plan to use them.
Main Similarities & Differences
Hoka is known as an active brand. They make shoes for walking, road running, trail running, spikes, hiking, and gym. You’ll also find some orthopedic shoes, lifestyle shoes, and sandals, but they’re less common.
Kuru is more of a lifestyle brand, but they place a lot of emphasis on designing shoes to ease foot pain. You can search their shoes by type of foot pain, by activity, or even by career to make sure you get what you need.
Despite Hoka’s chunky cushioning, Kuru shoes tend to be a little heavier. Hoka shoes are likely to be more expensive but are geared specifically toward sports.
Interestingly, the Hoka and Kuru brands are close to the same age. You’re likely more familiar with Hoka shoes if you’re a runner. But if you’ve been looking for a solution to foot pain, Kuru may have come up on your radar.
Kuru began in 2008, launched by Bret Rasmussen, who had been designing shoes since he was in the 5th grade. He planned to design shoe tech that provided all the benefits of a custom orthotic but built into a shoe that was shaped to each unique foot placed in it.
It wasn’t Bret’s intention to solve foot pain, but after designing, manufacturing, and selling shoes, he began getting feedback that his shoes were changing the lives of people with foot pain.
Hoka—previously known as Hoka One One—specializes in creating running shoes. The two founders both previously worked at Salomon, so they have expert knowledge of what makes a great shoe.
The company began in 2009, so they’re a year younger than Kuru! Their shoes have become popular among marathoners looking for well-cushioned yet lightweight shoes.
Many Kuru sneaker shoes feature breathable mesh uppers, leather for a more professional look, or canvas in various colors. Many of them have synthetic overlays for a bit of added external support.
Some of their shoes feature an integrated tongue, making the shoe an easy slip-on style. Others have separate tongues, but both styles are plush and comfortable. Some have rubber eyelets, others metal.
Hoka uppers are made from a single piece of breathable mesh to allow your feet great airflow as you’re running. Most of them feature light overlays and flat laces that allow you to get a great lockdown on the foot.
All Hoka uppers are plush and comfortable. The thickness of the tongue varies, with some shoes featuring a plush tongue and others a thin tongue that molds to the foot when the shoes are tied. Some feature an elf ear tab at the back, which takes the pressure off the Achilles.
Kuru shoes use unique KURUSOLE technology to provide support and comfort to the feet they’re on. It’s designed to flex dynamically with every step you take, so it continually hugs your heel, providing unparalleled support and cushioning.
This is excellent news for anyone with plantar fasciitis. There’s enough cushioning under the heel to absorb shock effectively, and the constant flexing of your foot means your heel is always well-protected.
As well as heel support, it also offers great, dynamic arch support for various foot conditions. This is thanks to the Ultimate Insoles, which use your body heat to mold to your feet and provide custom support.
With KURUCLOUD EVA foam in the midsole, you’ll also get a nice bit of energy return on every step, although it may not be enough to run a marathon comfortably.
Hoka shoes are known for their thick, chunky midsole. Most of their shoes feature unusually high stack heights, so you get plenty of shock absorption. This is also where you can tell that Hokas are made for long-distance running!
Older shoes used single-density EVA foam. But their newer designs use Profly foam, which is dual-density—firm in the forefoot and soft in the heel. This provides good comfort underneath the heel, absorbing shock on the landing and easing the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Active Foot Frame technology creates a bucket-seat-like design that cradles your foot comfortably. Some of the latest Hokas also use rocker technology, which can help to reduce foot fatigue, especially over longer runs.
You’ll also find that some of the newer Hoka shoes contain a carbon plate. If you’re looking for a stability shoe, they offer a range of shoes that feature J-Frame technology, a dense medial post on the inside of the midsole that stops your foot from falling over.
Kuru shoes feature a full-length tacky rubber outsole that offers good grip on multiple different surfaces. Most sneaker-like shoes feature small, cube-like tread dots, morphing into a honeycomb-like pattern on the heel.
Their fitness shoes also deliver full-length rubber, but the tread pattern is a little different, and they include flex grooves in the forefoot and down the middle of the shoe to allow for increased flexibility of the foot.
On the other hand, their deck and court shoes feature a different, softer rubber with a wavy tread pattern. Whichever casual shoes you’re looking at, they’ll do a good job of keeping you safe on your feet and preventing tweaks to the plantar fascia that can occur during slipping.
In contrast to their noticeable midsoles, Hoka’s outsoles are quite minimalist. None of their shoes feature a full-length protective rubber outsole, but rather they all place small bits of high-abrasion rubber in strategic, high-wear places.
This helps to lessen the weight of the shoe, which is handy considering the heavy midsole. However, it does mean that they’re likely to be less durable.
Some of the Hoka outsoles feature a swallowtail at the heel, which is excellent for heel strikers as it offers great cushioning under the heel, which can significantly reduce heel pain.
Kuru outsoles are likely more durable than Hoka, thanks to their full-length, thick rubber construction. You should be able to get more miles for your effort out of these shoes without wearing them down as quickly.
On the other hand, Kuru’s insoles seem to be a little less durable than Hokas. However, insoles are easier to replace than outsoles, so this shouldn’t be an issue.
Hoka’s sparse outsoles may make them less durable on the road than Kuru’s shoes, especially as they’re designed for a lot of activity. However, their insoles seem more robust, lasting longer than Kuru’s.
Kuru shoes feature KURUCLOUD, an EVA foam with an excellent balance between comfortable cushion and energy rebound. It provides a great combination of comfort and shock absorption.
Hoka’s shoes come in three cushioning levels: responsive, balanced, and maximal. You can choose a shoe based on this, depending on what you need from your shoes.
Most new shoes feature Profly cushioning, which is softer on the heel and snappier on the forefoot for a quick toe-off.
Overall Fit and Comfort
Kuru shoes are known to fit true to size. Their uppers are plush and comfortable on the feet, heat-moldable, so they hug every curve, and feature an athletic fit designed to be easy on the feet.
In terms of heel comfort, the Kurus have a leg up. Their unique dynamic heel cup is a huge advantage for those with plantar fasciitis, making the comfort factor even more pronounced.
Hoka’s thick midsole isn’t always soft and cushy. Depending on the shoe, it can also be a little on the firm side. However, the shock absorption is fantastic, and they generally do an excellent job of reducing foot fatigue, thanks to their rocker sole.
The thick cushioning under the heel is great for those with plantar fasciitis, as it stops shock from jarring the bone and causing pain. They may run slightly tight, so we advise a half-size up from your usual.
Kuru’s sneaker-style shoes range from $135 to $160, which is the price tag on their most popular Atom. You may get more for your buck with Kuru if you’re on a budget.
Hoka’s shoes are priced from $110 for entry-level running shoes to over $200 for their carbon-plated offerings. In comparison, they’re a little more pricey than Kuru shoes.
Kuru vs. Hoka is a hard choice if you’re looking for a sneaker-like shoe to help reduce plantar fasciitis pain. But they’re different enough, so you should have a better idea of what would work for you after reading this comparison!
If you’re planning on running in your shoes, you can’t go wrong with Hoka shoes. They’ve got decent padding in the heel, and their shock absorption protects your heel.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more casual, Kuru’s offer more style options and have better durability. In the end, Kuru shoes are also made specifically to alleviate foot pain, so they may be the better option for everyday shoes.
Either way, they’re both excellent shoe brands, and your feet will thank you for choosing either one!
1. Hoka Clifton 8
The Clifton 8 is one of Hoka’s most popular shoes. It’s a max-cushioned shoe with soft, cloud-like cushioning and offers amazing cushioning for high arches. Keep this in mind if you have medium arches!
Adding to its plush feel is a bucket-seat style footbed and a meta-rocker in the sole, helping you to move with ease and keeping your foot in the right position without the threat of rolling.
A gusseted tongue, extended pull-tab, and strategically-placed high-abrasion rubber on the sole finish it off nicely.
2. Hoka Bondi 8
Hoka’s most cushioned shoe, the Bondi 8 is perfect for those who need a lot of cushioning and don’t mind a slightly stiffer feeling underfoot.
The thick cushioning effectively absorbs impact, preventing extra strain on the plantar fascia. It also offers great arch support, which takes the pressure off the plantar fascia.
A beveled heel and rocker sole make every footstep easy, and you can expect your feet to feel fresher after a run than they would in other shoes. Even the upper is plush, so you can enjoy a luxurious feeling when wearing the Bondi 8.
3. Hoka Arahi 6
The Arahi 6 is an unobtrusive support shoe that’s a great choice for those with low arches, fallen arches, or high arches that lead to overpronation.
A J-Frame in the midsole provides light but effective support in the medial side of the shoe, stopping your foot from falling over as you put your body weight on it.
With 30+ mm of foam underfoot and a plush, hug-like upper, you won’t find a more comfortable stability shoe than the Arahi 6!
Best Selling Kuru
4. Kuru Atom
The Atom is Kuru’s best-selling and most-loved shoe. With a light, airy mesh upper that’s designed in a slip-on, single-piece style, it’s easy on the feet and has a traditional lacing system, so you can get a great fit on your foot.
A midfoot cage with rubber eyelets wraps around your foot to provide support from the outside in. The upper isn’t as plush as the Hoka shoes, but it’s ideal for a close, sleek fit.
The full-length, stick rubber outsole keeps you safe wherever you walk. Between that and the built-in arch support, your feet will be well-supported, and there should be noticeably less pressure on the plantar fascia.
5. Kuru Quantum
The Kuru Quantum is a casual trainer that can be used for various applications. Whether you want to take a quick jog, hit the gym, or take an easy hike through a national park, this shoe can do it for you.
With a wide toe box, spectacular arch support, Kuru’s EVA foam, and their classic dynamic heel cup, you can expect your feet to feel better in these. After wearing these, you may notice less pain in your heel in the morning!
6. Kuru Chicane
The Chicane doubles up as a trail runner for technical trails and a hiking shoe. It has a rugged, unique look and comes in either a leather upper or a mesh and synthetic upper design.
An unusual feature is the curved, asymmetrical tongue, which follows the curve of your foot and lowers the chance of chafing. Exceptional arch, heel, and ankle support make this a great choice for those who wish to do some rougher adventuring.