Mallorca is known to many cyclists for its smooth roads and picturesque climbs but did you know there's also some incredible hiking trails to explore? HOKA's Gavin Thompson shares his experiences.
The Dry-Stone Walking Trail in Mallorca is one of Europe’s most beautiful routes. It spans 140km and typically takes 10 days. We were lucky enough to have 2 days on it in March 2022 with Soller as our base. The terrain is predominantly rock paved paths and cobble mule tracks, winding through the Serra Tramuntana mountain range a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is stunning.
It presented an excellent opportunity to test the Hoka Anacapa Mid Gore Tex hiking boot. I’d used them extensively through the English countryside this winter and found them excellent. A big day on rough, hilly terrain would pose a different set of demands.
I am not a whippet thin mountain goat. I am a 50 plus year old Physiotherapist with a damaged meniscus in one knee, bandy legs, flat feet, and a few kilos more than is ideal. I’m relatively fit to the point I walk / jog around 20 km a week. A standard bloke rather than an elite athlete.
I have spent my Physio life looking after distance runners. I see people from all over the country and I have worked with the best the U.K. has produced for 25 years. I have a good working knowledge of walking / running gait and of shoes and have seen the evolution from Dunlop Green Flash to where we are now, via the barefoot and minimalist scene.
Hoka, in recent years, have been my go-to for people needing to alter their gait from a ‘traditional’ shoe and who need cushioning. Most people with injuries, or a western lifestyle, need cushioning. I am not a barefoot advocate. My clinic has been full of people who have injured themselves using them. That is for another day though.
Hiking is my passion and I have always used decent traditional hiking boots. However, the blending of Hoka cushioning into a weatherproof hiking boot is where my Physio mind’s desire has been for years. Hoka do it brilliantly. What is noticeable is just how much better the feet and knees feel with a Hoka boot on when covering tough terrain.
The GR221 provided a great test as the terrain is stones, loose scree and the cobble tracks which were not flat but slippery and uneven. The Anacapas performed really well giving solid ankle stability. A slight concern when you look at a Hoka boot and you are used the ankle solidity a traditional thick leather boot provides.
The lacing system is also notably good. The hook system at the front of the ankle really holds the foot in place on the downhill and sideways sections but is easy to change if you need flexibility. I often would add a twist knot in the laces of a traditional boot at the front. I didn’t need to with the Hoka Anacapas.
The grip from the Vibram sole worked well on wet slippery cobbles. I noticed some of my companions in traditional boots were slipping. I didn’t and I think the softness in the sole helps as your boot shapes around the stone.
This does not mean the stones push into your feet, far from it. With the Anacapas the cushioning was the star. The underfoot conditions were hard, occasionally sharp, and unforgiving. You really noticed the shock absorption they gave you. This was particularly evident on the downhill parts and the drops from steps/ rocks. When you know your knee is dodgy you are wary of dropping down hard. After a few trials it was clear the shoes took most of the stress. Going up and then down from one of the highest points on the island there was a lot of knee loading and the shoes were very protective of the joints.
The fit is a little small. I am a standard 9 UK but found I needed a 10 UK to give the width my feet need. Especially with my preferred thick socks.
To round it off, when walking back at home yesterday, having covered nearly 30 miles with 1500m of elevation the weekend before, my knees and feet felt better than before the trip.
My next trip is the Western Highland of Scotland. A different trip and terrain entirely. I will be testing out the Hoka Sky Kaha walking boots across a couple of days and nights on the Cape Wrath Trail. I will also be using some Stinson ATR 6 whilst providing Physiotherapy services for the Highland Kings Ultra distance race.
Words by Matt Thompson, marketing manager at HOKA and physiotherapist. Find out more here:
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