close up of author's feet in Hoka Cavu 3 on sidewalk

HOKA Cavu 3 Review: Responsive Trainer for the Running Masses

A new road-running shoe for spring 2020, HOKA ONE ONE’s Cavu 3 updates a popular road runner with a more responsive midsole.

The Cavu 3 from HOKA is the third iteration of this shoe model, with updates to both the design and physical construction of the shoe. We tested out the new shoe’s performance both in the gym and outside while putting down some miles.

A Lightweight Running Trainer

I wore these shoes for a variety of shorter-distance runs (10 miles and under). I also ran on a variety of terrain: gravel, pavement, and a treadmill. The Cavu 3s are superlight at 5.2 ounces per pair for a women’s size 7. They were easy to chuck in a gym or work bag and didn’t feel like they were weighing down my heels on runs.

“Moving to the stretch-knit upper helped to shave about a quarter of an ounce off the previous version,” wrote HOKA’s product team. Now HOKA’s lightest trainer, the Cavu 3 is definitely a nice addition to the brand’s usually chunkier and more supportive running shoe lineup.

Performance on the Road

The Cavu, a hybrid road runner and trainer, has an updated midsole and upper as well as a new design to the shoe’s rocker profile. I found it easy to find a nice pace while running in this shoe. The Cavu 3 has more of an up-tempo feel and is a slightly softer ride. It was also very responsive and offered good, neutral support.

The Cavu 3 has no tongue cutout within the stretch-knit upper, which means no tongue slipping or shifting. Despite having no tongue, I found the Cavu 3’s “slip-in” style to have just enough room to get your foot in but not an excessive amount that causes too much stretch in the material. Simply put, the new stretch-knit upper made the shoe comfortable and easily adjustable.

Hoka Cavu 3

Lastly, they performed best on pavement and other flat surfaces, which isn’t surprising as HOKA markets these shoes as trainers for road runners. Overall, these shoes ticked all my boxes: comfortable, light on the feet, and they got the job done.

Performance on the Treadmill

After testing, I agree with HOKA that this shoe is 100% a trainer. It can handle longer runs on pavement or road. But it also performs really great in the gym: for running on treadmills and ellipticals, and even for weightlifting.

Author wearing the HOKA ONEONE CAVU 3

The pair has enough support for all of those activities while remaining light, making them easy to pack for travel. Especially if you travel for work and frequently run on paved city trails or in indoor facilities, these shoes are a great, packable option that still performs well.

HOKA ONE ONE Cavu 3 Specs & Pricing

  • Materials: Stretch-knit upper, EVA midsole and outsole, HOKA’s ProFly technology in the midsole
  • Weight per pair: 5.2 oz. women’s/6.9 oz. men’s
  • Drop: 6 mm
  • Heel height: 24 mm women’s/26 mm men’s
  • Price: $120

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Mary Murphy
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Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.