Today, I’m going to be comparing two stability shoes by Hoka, the Hoka Arahi vs Gaviota.
I’m actually comparing the latest iterations of both shoes, the Arahi 5 and the Gaviota 3.
In case you didn’t know, the Arahi 5 is really the stability option to the Clifton and the Gaviota is the stability max cushion version of the Bondi.
But why would Hoka have two stability shoes in their lineup?
That’s what we’re going to find out.
Hoka Arahi vs Gaviota
The Hoka Arahi and the Gaviota are two shoes that I think many of the overpronators and stability shoe lovers out there will enjoy because of the shoes’ inherent stability.
The Gaviota 2 had been around for two years and so it was ready for some improvements to it.
Again, the Gaviota 3 is really the partner to the Bondi which is Hoka’s plushest premium cushioned running shoe and the Arahi is the training partner of the Clifton.
In a hurry? These are the main similarities and differences between the Hoka Arahi and the Gaviota…
- Arahi is the stability partner of the Clifton.
- Gaviota is the stability partner of the Bondi.
- Arahi is for mild-to-moderate overpronators.
- Gaviota is for moderate to severe overpronators.
- Arahi is lighter than the Gaviota.
- Gaviota is more cushioned than the Arahi.
- Both have a 5mm drop.
- Arahi has a curved platform and the Gaviota has no curvature.
- Both use a dual-density EVA midsole (firmer in the heel and softer in the forefoot)
- Arahi is wider and more breathable than the Gaviota.
- Gaviota is more premium and has a lot more padding.
- Gaviota has a standard heel and the Arahi has a heel flare.
- Both have a sturdy heel counter.
- Arahi has a semi-gusseted tongue and the Gaviota has a fully gusseted tongue.
- Gaviota provides more overpronation control through the outsole.
- Arahi is cheaper than the Gaviota.
For women’s size 8, the Arahi is 8.1 oz (229 grams) and the Gaviota is 10 oz (283 grams).
As you can see, the Gaviota is a lot heavier than the Arahi, but that’s because of all the built-in features we’re going to talk about in a minute.
Stability shoes come with a reputation of being a little heavier because of all the extra technology used to make sure the foot doesn’t roll in on the medial side. But I was really impressed with how light the Arahi feels coming right out of the box.
Stack Height & Drop
The Hoka Arahi 5 has a 29-millimeter stack height in the heel and a 24-millimeter stack height in the forefoot for that 5mm heel-to-toe drop.
The Gaviota 3 has a lot more foam underfoot. It has 34 millimeters stack height in the heel and 29 millimeters in the forefoot for the same 5mm offset from heel to toe.
The 5mm drop means these shoes have sort of that natural midfoot strike sensation.
As you can see, the Gaviota offers a lot more cushioning especially in the heel.
|Hoka Arahi 5||Hoka Gaviota 3|
|Everyday training||Everyday training|
|Men (size 9)|
→ 9.6 oz (272 g)
|Men (size 9)|
→ 11.1 oz (314 g)
|Women (size 8)|
→ 8.1 oz (229 g)
|Women (size 8)|
→ 10 oz (283 g)
|5mm drop||5mm drop|
|True to size||True to size|
|Arch: Medium||Arch: Medium|
|Midfoot: Medium to low||Midfoot: Medium to low|
|Toebox: Medium||Toebox: Medium|
|Heel: Medium||Heel: Medium|
Hoka is using the same approach to add some inherent stability to these shoes:
- J-Frame system (it’s in the shape of a J).
- Dual-density EVA midsole.
Because of Hoka’s innovative J-frame stability technology, you don’t have to worry quite as much about having that really solid extra hard posting on the medial side to cover up that arch.
So as you roll through your gait cycle from your heel to your toe-off, you’re going to find that that more dense EVA foam is going to slow that ankle roll and bring you back into a healthy level of pronation.
And if you have a history of Plantar Fasciitis or maybe you’re wearing your shoes on the inside, then the Arahi and the Gaviota are great shoes to pull.
But while both shoes use that same J-Frame technology across the board, it’s also what separates both shoes a little bit.
Looking at the outsole, you can see that the darker colored foam is the more dense rubberized EVA foam which runs on the medial side down around until about the midsection of the lateral side.
However, the J-Frame is more dominant in the Gaviota, which means the Gaviota is going to offer a little bit more protection and correct your overpronation more than the Arahi 5.
Overall, I think Hoka is doing a great job with the J-Frame technology and I think it is innovating the support market to a good extent.
So, what are you looking at when you look at these two shoes?
Related: Hoka Bondi vs Clifton
Who Are They For?
You’re looking at premium cushion with pronation control.
If you’re the kind of runner who’s always needed a stability shoe and you’ve been looking for a stability shoe from Hoka, then the Arahi and the Gaviota are the two options you want to look at.
But why would you choose one over the other?
If you need just mild-to-moderate stability, then I think the Arahi 5 is going to be the better choice for you. It fills in the arch area just right, it doesn’t get in your way, and it adds just enough for when you’re feeling tired at the end of your run.
But if you’re looking for that shoe for your long stuff, if you are somebody who severely overpronates, you’re going to get great life and you’re going to get good miles out of the Gaviota 3.
Also, all of those built-in functions make the Gaviota 3 the perfect shoe for anyone who’s spending a lot of time on their feet whether that’s running, walking, or standing all day.
Again, if you want a ton of pronation control but in something even more cushioned, then you’re looking at the Gaviota 3.
Related: Hoka Mach 4 vs Hoka Clifton 8
Again, Hoka is utilizing a dual-density EVA midsole giving you stiffer foam in the back and squishier foam in the front.
The biggest change from the Arahi 5 to some of the previous models is more cushion underneath particularly under the forefoot.
The Arahi has got a wider base, which keeps your foot from moving too much on one side or the other.
Again, it has this more rubberized foam around the outside of the shoe that keeps the foot from moving too much in either direction. It just guides your foot from the heel to the toe in a straight line.
Similar to the new version of the Arahi, the Gaviota 3 has a little bit more cushion underneath, but the thing that really makes this shoe special is the amount of support that it provides.
The shoe’s wider base really gives the foot a good solid platform to sit on and that rubberized foam is even more prevalent in this shoe.
On top of that, the Gaviota also has a midfoot wrap that keeps your foot from moving around in any kind of direction that it shouldn’t be moving in.
So in terms of cushioning, as long as you’re landing on that softer EVA in the mid to forefoot, the shoe feels pretty soft and cushioned. And the more that you land in the heel on that darker harder more dense EVA foam, the less cushioned it’s going to feel.
But that’s the nature of a stability shoe. In order to be able to correct your overpronation, stability shoes have to have a more stout EVA foam to help bring you into that healthy level so you’re not rolling inwards.
The downside to that is, it’s not a plush feeling when you land back on your heels on either shoe compared to other shoes in the market.
But between the two, if you are a heel striker, I did find the Gaviota 3 to be a little bit more comfortable.
Compared to other shoes, the energy return in these shoes is not quite there. I’d say these feel far more like very standard everyday shoes and you’re not going to get a ton of pop out of this thing.
But if you get the Arahi or the Gaviota, you’re really just going to want to go log the miles and feel protected.
Related: Hoka Clifton 7 vs 8
Early Stage vs Late Stage Meta Rocker
The Gaviota 3 has got a late-stage meta rocker, which means that the curvature of that foam is a little bit more flat and there isn’t as much of rocker compared to the early-stage meta rocker on the Arahi 5.
The Arahi 5 has an early-stage meta rocker, which is more along the lines of what you might feel like if you were in the Rincon or another shoe that has an early-stage meta rocker.
This simply means that they started curving that EVA foam a little bit earlier much closer to the metatarsal head, which means the Arahi has a smooth heel-to-toe transition.
So this curved rocker geometry just makes the Arahi more nimble and a little more responsive through your gait cycle.
Also, some stability shoes can sometimes feel too stiff in the midfoot and you can feel yourself kind of slapping the ground when you run. But the Arahi’s early-stage rocker should help the shoe roll with you smoothly as you’re going through the platform.
Again, the Gaviota 3 feels a little more comfortable than the Arahi 5 when I landed on the heel. But both feel pretty cushioned, comfortable, and soft as long as you’re landing on that softer EVA foam in the forefoot.
Hoka is laying its base with a standard engineered upper mesh material which fits really well. I think the instep feels very smooth and frictionless although you won’t be swimming around in there either. The lacing system also feels really good and really smooth.
The tongue is semi-gusseted and it feels super comfortable and it doesn’t sway back and forth on the top of your foot.
With the amount of space that you have up in the toe box in order to splay your toes, both shoes are pretty equivalent.
Even when you pull out both insoles and just overlay them with one another, you can see that there’s really no difference in the cut of the insoles of the shoes. I can’t tell them apart honestly other than by color.
The only thing I will note though, in terms of differences, is the insole in the Gaviota 3 is a bit more cushioned than it is in the Arahi.
Fit & Lockdown
Both shoes are true to size and I really enjoyed the amount of space in the toe box area. I was able to get a nice snug feeling across the midfoot on each of these shoes even though they have different eyelet chains, which we’ll talk about in just a minute.
The one thing I will note though is the Gaviota 3 is more narrow than the Gaviota 2 and I did find the Arahi to fit a little bit wider than the Gaviota 3.
The Arahi 5 feels a little wide for runners with narrow feet, but I think for most people with a standard width or a wider foot, you’re going to be okay in this shoe.
In terms of lockdown, when going downhill, your feet want to slide forward across that midfoot, but I didn’t have that issue with either one of these.
Each of these shoes do a terrific job in creating a nice heel pocket for you to set in, and with that lockdown feel across the midfoot of the shoe, you’re not going to have to worry about your heel slipping either side to side or up and down in either one of these shoes.
Again, both of these shoes are very accommodating and they both come in wide widths. So whatever your foot shape is, these shoes should fit your feet.
If you’re sort of oscillating, you should feel pretty good in the standard width and not feel that you have to go up to a wide in the Gaviota.
While we’re on the subject of the wide Gaviota, it is available in wide and standard in both the men’s and the women’s. However, unlike the Bondi 7 that does come in super wide on the men’s, the Gaviota doesn’t.
For the time being on the Arahi 5 and the Gaviota 3, you have a standard B and a D on the women, and on the men, you have your standard D and a 2E. If you want a 4E, you have to go all the way to the Bondi 7.
The Gaviota 3 has got tons of padding all the way around. It’s got a nice place for your Achilles to sit there and I found it to be really comfortable.
There’s lots of material and lots of structure back in that heel counter to help keep your heels locked in so that it can correct some of that overpronation that you may have.
The heel counter is a traditional heel counter and it does have a pull tab to help you get your shoes on.
The Arahi 5 does have plenty of padding but just not as much. I found it to be very comfortable and more than adequate when I was out running.
Another cool update to the Arahi 5 is this popular new heel cup that’s designed to get you in quickly and easily as you’re going out of it. This anatomically correct heel flare, which is reminiscent of the Hoka Mach 4, really does feel like it’s minimizing any friction on your Achilles tendon.
The Arahi doesn’t have a traditional pull tab, but you can actually use that Achilles heel flare as a pull tab.
With the Arahi 5, I feel like there’s just a little bit more airflow going on thanks to the few more perforations up in the toe box. The upper also feels much lighter because there’s not a whole lot going on in terms of plastic overlays.
Talking about overlays, you have some plastic overlay in the heel counter and that’s just to give some stability to the back area.
The Gaviota 3 is very similar in terms of the fit, but the material that they make the upper out of is quite a bit different. I feel like this has a more plasticky feel to it and I didn’t feel like it was nearly as light as it is in the Arahi 5.
I guess the Gaviota is much more of a luxury shoe and you can see that both in the upper material as well as in the padding and things of that nature.
While the Gaviota doesn’t have a ton of plastic overlays necessarily, the upper material just feels thicker and it doesn’t seem to allow quite as much airflow when you’re running as the Arahi.
While I am able to get a nice secure lockdown feeling on both shoes, they go about just a little bit differently.
With the Arahi 5, it’s a very traditional eyelet chain with some plastic overlays just to give it a little extra durability around the eyelets. It also has some material on the inside cage as well.
Other than that, it’s a pretty traditional lacing system and I didn’t have any issues with that at all.
With the Hoka Gaviota 3, it’s a little bit different.
The shoe has a winged system, but the wings kind of set in between the outer upper material and the inside tongue material because it is a fully gusseted tongue. Those wings go down to the midfoot section of the shoe so you get more of a banded feeling across your midfoot.
Hoka did something similar to that in the Gaviota 2 only these wings were really situated on the outside of the upper. Again, on the Gaviota 3, they moved them on the inside between the upper material and that gusseted tongue.
The Arahi 5 has got a semi-gusseted tongue and plenty of padding to keep you comfortable. Because it is semi-gusseted, it didn’t migrate around and I didn’t have any issues with that at all. And I didn’t feel like the laces were digging in at any time across my midfoot.
The Gaviota 3 has a lot more padding built into it just everywhere, and the tongue is no exception. The tongue is fully gusseted and so you’ve got more of a bootie feel to it. Again, the tongue is just plush with padding all over it.
Just like the Arahi, I didn’t have any issues and I didn’t feel those wings or the laces digging into the top of my foot. And because it’s a fully gusseted tongue, it didn’t migrate around at all.
The Arahi 5 has blown rubber in all of the high-abrasion areas including around in the heel and then up in the forefoot. I wouldn’t say that it’s overly done, but it’s probably just about the right amount.
The Gaviota 3 has pretty much the same type of pattern. It’s got blown rubber in around the heel as well as up in the forefoot, again, in those high-abrasion areas.
This rubber setup in both shoes adds a little bit of durability to your shoes, a little bit of traction, but a little bit of weight as well.
However, I think they could probably strip back some of that rubber in the forefoot area just to decrease the weight even a little bit more.
But I think Hoka wants to protect the EVA midsole just enough and add plenty of extra grip and plenty of extra durability to get it done on the roads.
The Gaviota 3 is comparable to the Asics Kayano and the Brooks Transcend, which is now the Brooks Glycerin GTS.
All in all, if you need maximum stability, then I think the Gaviota 3 is your go-to shoe as long as you don’t mind a little extra weight.
Or, if you’re a heel striker and you need maximum stability, then the Gaviota is definitely a good choice for you.
Continuing to be one of the lightest and softest running shoes offering mild-to-moderate stability, the Hoka One One Arahi 5 is the perfect trainer for overpronators looking for extra underfoot protection.
The Arahi and the Gaviota aren’t trying to be anything they’re not. These are just your standard go-to daily training shoes with some packed stability.
I think for a support shoe that’s going to get you upwards of 500 miles and bringing to the table some super reliability, I think both shoes are a great choice for that price point.
That’s it for our Hoka Arahi vs Gaviota comparison. Have you run in one or both of these shoes? Please share your experience with us down in the comments.
Until then, I’ll see you in the next one 🙂