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Hoka Kawana 2 Performance Review

Hoka Kawana 2

Two years ago, Hoka jumped into the hybrid runner/cross trainer market with the original Kawana. It was a solid shoe but suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Was it trying to be a running shoe first or a cross trainer first? Hoka is much more straightforward with the value proposition of the Hoka Kawana 2 calling it both “a transitional daily trainer” and “an accessible trainer” to emphasize its primary use case.

I’m guessing the customer feedback on the first Kawana was similar to what I wrote in my review. It wasn’t cushioned enough to be a reliable running shoe in the mold of Hoka’s best running shoes. Hoka is now leaning into the trainer aspect and positioning it as something you would buy alongside reliable running shoes like the Hoka Clifton 9 or Hoka Mach 6

That’s for the best as there was no reason to recommend the Kawana above any of Hoka’s running shoes. But we do lots of cross trainer reviews here at WearTesters so we still have high expectations in that category. Can the Hoka Kawana 2 pass our tests?

Hoka Kawana 2

Release Date: February 15, 2024

Price: $140

Weight: Men’s 11.1 oz., Women’s 8.9 oz.

Drop: 5mm

Sizing: True to size

Buy Men's at Hoka Buy Women's at Hoka
  • Rundown: The Hoka Kawana 2 is a cross trainer for Hoka lovers.
Hoka Kawana 2 lateral view

What Changed?

Not much changed between the Hoka Kawana 2 and original Kawana. The midsole and outsole remain untouched from the first version but the upper gets a makeover. The heel collar stays the same but the laces, lacing system, mesh build, and tongue all change. The shoe also gets the welcome addition of a heel pull tab.

The tweaked upper doesn’t make any difference in the forefoot but the tongue and rear feel more plush. There’s also a thin internal bootie added for comfort and lockdown. It delivers added comfort and lateral lockdown. The new laces are more substantial and the lacing system with gillies is much more efficient and reliable.

The changes didn’t address a couple of our cons from our review of the original, the CMEVA midsole and the wet traction. Both remain subpar. But they’re also not as important if the primary function of the Hoka Kawana 2 is for working out in a gym. Stay off the roads and both of those issues won’t be a problem.

The Hoka Kawana 2 is going to perform adequately in the gym as long as the goal isn’t heavy weightlifting. The midsole is too squishy to get the ground feel needed for lifting heavy weight off the floor and above your head. You won’t feel enough connection to the ground for complete confidence in olympic style lifts. The Kawana 2 is better built for HIIT and workout type classes. Even better if the class involves some running (but not too much). The lateral support also works well for agility drills and plyometrics.

The Hoka Kawana 2 will do the majority of what you need in the gym but isn’t above average at any particular thing. If it’s comfortable for your feet and you’re not often lifting to PR, it might be the perfect shoe for your gym routine.

Hoka Kawana 2 upper view


  • Plush, comfortable upper
  • Thin, helpful internal bootie
  • Contoured footbed
  • Lacing system and lockdown
Hoka Kawana 2 outsole traction


  • CMEVA midsole
  • Wet traction
  • Not built for heavy lifting
Hoka Kawana 2 laces up close

Is the Hoka Kawana 2 wide foot friendly?

The Hoka Kawana 2 is not wide foot friendly and wide sizing is not available. I’d recommend that interested wide footers try them on or buy from a website with a great return policy (like Running Warehouse). Wide footers will need to go up at least a half size to make the Kawana 2 work.

Hoka Kawana 2 medial view

Is the Hoka Kawana 2 worth $140?

In both the running and cross training segments you can find more value for $140. Take a glance at our Best Running shoes and Best Cross Training shoes lists for more guidance as we’ve got several picks in each category that are priced the same or better than the Hoka Kawana 2 with much better all around performance.

Hoka Kawana 2 in hand

Hoka Kawana 2 Summary

The Hoka Kawana 2 is more of a cross training shoe than a running shoe. Grab it if you love the Hoka fit and feel and need something for HIIT classes or basic exercises at the gym.

How does the Author Run?

Drew Whitcomb (age 42, 6’6″ 195lbs): Runs daily with a once a week rest day. Runs a lot of miles due to testing needs and a growing affinity for long-distance races. Regularly competes in marathons, half-marathons, 10k, and 5k races.


While Hoka did send a pair of the Hoka Kawana 2 to facilitate this review, they had no involvement in this review, didn’t receive an advance look at it, and have not attempted to influence it.

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