Two very different-looking hiking boots for two fairly similar hiking scenarios, the Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX and the Columbia Facet 45 are both lightweight boots at the trainer-end of the scale, designed for fast and casual rambles.
The Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX has more of a trail-running pedigree, while the Columbia Facet OutDry 45 comes from more of a hiking shoe background. Aside from the striking looks on show, there's plenty of boot here for most trekkers and hikers to get their teeth into, whichever choice you make.
Both the Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX and the Columbia Facet 45 are available now – for a wider selection, check out our full guide to the best hiking boots (or for ladies options, our best women's walking boots).
Hoka One One vs Columbia Facet 45: Design and features
The Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX certainly brings a laundry list of features to this shootout, most noticeably that Hubble Heel unit, dramatically overhanging the back of the boot. Elsewhere though there's a decently supportive ankle, Gore-Tex membrane and an enormously plush energy-return sole. That heel design is certainly eye-catching and unique, but beyond that the rest of the boot is relatively practical, light but robust enough for the job at hand.
The Columbia Facet 45 is no shrinking violet though, serving up a potent mix of light weight, 'kinetic lacing' and a woven, sock-fit upper. Distinctive and futuristic looks are married with a decent sole unit, providing plenty of grip as well as a surprising amount of rigidity. An in-house Outdry membrane aims to keep damp outside rather than in, aided by the breathable mesh upper and the judiciously-placed armoured panels that offer protection from passing rocks and general wear and tear, without compromising the airflow too much.
Design and features winner: Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX. A unique design - whether you like it or not - and solid trail heritage puts the TenNine well in the driving seat here.
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Hoka One One vs Columbia Facet 45: Comfort and performance
The key to both of these boots is comfort, so there's plenty of that on offer across the board, but the Columbia Facet 45 does really lay down a solid marker here. Not only does that sole unit deliver plushness and depth – aided by FluidFrame technology and a Techlite lightweight midsole - but also decent support for day hiking activities.
A HGS heel stabilising system coupled with substantial internal padding does indeed trap the heel while walking, reducing heel lift and associated friction to a minimum. There's enough flex in the trainer-style sole to contribute to this too - unlike a stiffer winter boot, for example – giving a substantial level of comfort overall. In addition, the knitted sock upper and those 'kinetic lacing' bands combine to really trap the midfoot too, all working in tandem surprisingly efficiently.
On the other side of the coin, the Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX is almost entirely designed around energy return and all-day comfort. That ludicrous heel enables the biggest of heel-strikes to be easily absorbed into the stride, and the fact that the heel area is bigger than the forefoot gives even more surface area to distribute load and grip the ground.
The overall result is fantastic on well-built trails, letting the wearer really motor along in bouncy, heady comfort. The Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX's high, deeply padded ankle support and hook/eye lacing helps the boot stay put in use, adding to a bulletproof feeling as you stride forward at pace.
Comfort and performance winner: Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX wins on performance, but the Columbia Facet 45 just edges the comfort rating, so we're going for a tie on this one.
Hoka One One vs Columbia Facet 45: Price and verdict
Price is where things go a little awry for the otherwise strong Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX. An RRP of £220 is very much on the saltier end of the hiking boot market. Indeed, it's very much into specialist mountain boot pricing, which does raise questions – mainly, do you really need that heel-strike energy return? Meanwhile, the Columbia Facet 45 weighs in at a comparatively reasonable £145 RRP, which as an all-rounder outdoor hiking trainer/shoe/boot is justifiable. However, the Hoka TenNine is something of a racehorse to the Columbia's pony – high performance, specialised, and ill-behaved when the conditions don't suit it (such as very rocky ground).
So which should you buy? Well, the better boot for outright speed and comfort on the flat/good paths and trails is undoubtedly the Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX. That said, for most people, most of the time, the Columbia Facet 45 will do an excellent job of hiking the trails in an informal, fun kind of way.
Indeed, the Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX is such a stand-out design that you'll draw a crowd in the carpark – not always ideal. From a purely technical point of view, though, the Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX is quite an achievement, bringing a breath of fresh air to a sector that all too often has only identikit products to consider.