Hoka Boots vs. Russell Moccasins: Which is the better boot?

Hoka Boots vs. Russell Moccasins: Which is the better boot?

Today, we're going to dive into a comparison between two iconic boots: Hoka and Russell Moccasin. It's a clash of innovation versus tradition, cutting-edge technology versus timeless craftsmanship. Both have their unique strengths, so let's break down the nitty-gritty details and find out which type of boot might be the right fit for you.


Table of Contents

  • Overview: Hokas and Russell Moccasins
  • Which boot is more comfortable?
  • Durability: Hokas vs. Russell Moccasins
  • Waterproof Test
  • How long will they last?
  • Which boot is better?

Hoka Kaha GTX 2 Boots & Russell Moccasin Backcountry Boots

Hoka is known for its oversized foam sole and innovative design and sponsors professional athletes worldwide. The Hoka Kaha GTX 2 boots cost $240 and are available on Huckberry's website. On the other hand, Russell Moccasin Backcountry boots, priced at $685, haven’t changed their design in 100 years. This boot has been worn by Charles Lindbergh, King Edward VII, President George H.W Bush, President Dwight D Eisenhower, General Norman Schwarzkopf, the King of Nepal, Harrison Ford, and Robert Redford. They were even the first boots to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Today, we're going to discuss the durability, waterproofness, comfort, and lifespan of both of these boots, and talk about why a 100 year old pair of boots may be the only pair that you ever need.



Russell Moccasins use true moccasin construction, which gives the wearer an amazing ability to feel the ground. It’s the leather sole that allows you to feel the terrain beneath your feet and lets you walk on uneven trails very comfortably. And, unlike many leather boots, these boots are quite breathable.

Hoka’s more innovative design is especially impressive when it comes to downhill trekking. Their "swallowtail" feature cushions and stabilizes your strides, while the “metarocker” technology in the middle of the sole helps in forward propulsion. While all of this extra cushioning is nice, it definitely prevents you from getting that tactile connection with the terrain you’re walking on.



Russell Moccasins are built to last, with a foam slip sole that has been proven by Russell Moccasin to resist breakdown for decades. The premium leather used in these boots is thicker and generally of better quality than the leather that Hoka uses. This helps them take on wear and tear from rocks, water, thorns, and other things you might encounter when hiking.

Hoka, on the other hand, sells a lot of different boot models, but the Kaha GTX2s are claimed to be the most premium of their offerings and their most durable boot. They say that what makes them so durable is their nubuck leather outer. In the end, their materials will perform very well in the short term and are built to last, but are not necessarily designed for several decades of wear and tear like the Russell Moccasins are.


Waterproof Test

The true moccasin construction that Russell Moccasin uses helps with waterproofness. The way the fabric curves around the sole of the foot and is carefully stitched around the toe box leaves virtually no way for water to get in. A waterproof inner piece adds an extra layer of protection because, even if water does get in through the seams, it will sit on top of the toe box on the inner waterproof piece rather than penetrate through to the inside of the boot. This makes these boots exceptionally water-resistant.

Hokas, on the other hand, rely on an inner Gore-Tex booty for waterproofing. Gore-Tex is arguably the most effective material used to repel water that is also breathable (i.e. rubber may be more waterproof than Gore-Tex, but it really isn’t breathable at all). However, Gore-Tex tends to delaminate over time and may not hold up as well in the long tun. Overall, Hokas will be significantly more waterproof and probably a but more breathable in the short term, but Russell Moccasins will outlast Hokas in this department.



In terms of lifespan, Russell Moccasins stand out as a clear winner. The combination of premium materials and true moccasin construction makes these built to withstand the test of time. And, their leather ages more and more beautifully with each wear.

Hokas, though built with care and quality materials, are not necessarily designed for decades of use like the Russell Moccasins. While they may stay very waterproof for a while thanks to the inner Gore-Tex booty, it will most likely lose its effectiveness over time. The other materials Hoka uses (e.g. recycled polyester, soybean webbing, abrasion resistant toe cap and heel) are also used well in the construction of the boot and are indeed durable, but they're not necessarily meant to be durable for 20 or 30 years. They will break down eventually.


Which Is the Better Boot?

In the durability department, Russell Moccasin beats Hoka with their timeless craftsmanship and choice of materials. The materials used may be similarly durable to Hoka’s in the short term, but the Russell Moccasins are a boot that will outlast Hokas and age gracefully.

Hokas cutting-edge technology offers superior comfort, especially when walking downhill. While their innovative features are awesome, in reality, things like “swallowtails” and “metarockers” might be reinventing the wheel… We have muscles and ligaments in our bodies that we use and strengthen every day to walk on all types of terrain. So, it can be argued that it is best to use the natural components of our own bodies to help us move with ease and comfort, rather than let a shoe do all the work for us.

In the end, the choice between Hoka and Russell Moccasin boils down to your priorities. If you value tradition, durability, and a tactile connection to the ground when you’re walking, Russell Moccasins may be your best bet. However, if you're interested in maximum seeking comfort and an innovative design, Hoka might be more appealing. Ultimately, it's a matter of personal preference and your budget, and both boots have their own unique charm.


The Iron Snail is a men’s fashion vlog starring a young man named Michael and featuring a snail no bigger than a quarter. The two are set on taking over the world of fashion by creating a clothing line to end all clothing lines. Until then, we’re here to tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about the best clothing out there, from the highest quality raw denim jeans to the warmest jacket to the sturdiest boots…the Iron Snail has got you covered.

Taylor Hale is your friendly neighborhood tea enthusiast, amateur knitter, skincare nerd, clothing thrifter, regular flosser, accidental teapot collector, vintage IKEA lamp hunter, overzealous plant owner, beeswax candle-lover, gal pal, and obviously, very serious academic. She writes for the Iron Snail, as you can see.

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