Gear Review: Karhu Ikoni Shoes

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Ever since I tried on my first pair of Hokas, I’ve understood the importance of a good pair of shoes.  They can make all the difference between a comfortable, happy walk and a frustrating, painful one.  Since then, I’ve found quite a few shoes that I’ve loved…plenty that I liked…and one that just puzzled me: the Karhu Ikoni.

I wanted to love these shoes.  I really did.  In fact, they were a pretty big motivator behind my registration for a race series last spring: sign up for two races for $100, and we’ll throw in free shoes.  And not just any free shoes—free shoes that had been developed with help from thousands of foot scans.  Sounds like a dream, right?  So I counted down the days until I could head to my local running store and pick them up.  But over my miles of experience, I’ve struggled to find the right words to describe them.  They’re just so…weird.

These shoes were baffling from the start.  I’m a pretty consistent size 8, but these were too small, so I went up to an 8.5.  But those slipped around too much on my feet, so the sales associate helped me adjust the laces using one of those fancy lacing tricks to get the 8.5 to work.  Kinda.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about having to use lacing tricks to make a shoe almost-fit, but I tried to remain optimistic.

Despite the frustrating first impression, I was eager to take my new shoes out and give them a try.  They were…okay.  The cushioning was relatively comfortable (though far from the cushiness of my beloved Hoka Cliftons), and they didn’t feel as bulky as they seemed.  But the fit just never worked for me.  The toe box is extra roomy—but so deep that my toes felt like they were lost in there.  And no matter how many times I would tie and untie and retie them, I could never find a comfortable fit.

I had a couple of friends who also signed up for the free-shoes race, and they had a better experience with the fit—possibly because they both have wider feet.  But while they both loved the shoes at first, it wasn’t long before they were going back to their old favorites.  They said the fit just wasn’t quite right—and the shoes didn’t hold up with more wear.

It was the same for me: it wasn’t long before I switched these shoes out for new go-to shoes.  They’re now my a-couple-of-miles-around-the-neighborhood shoes—and that seems to be a decent use for them.  But even after a couple of hundred miles, I never settled into the fit of these shoes.  I still grumble about them every time I put them on…and then untie them…and then tie them again.  They were so close to being great shoes—and they could possibly be great for a different foot—but they just didn’t work out for me.

– Roomy toe box
– Moderate cushioning
– Comfortable fit for wider feet

– Fit isn’t true to size
– Toe box may be too roomy

You can try the Karhu Ikoni for yourself at your local running store – or find it online at Amazon.


Kristin has been hitting the trail (or the treadmill) for a walk almost every day for the past several years, and she recently completed her first half marathon. She loves sunny fall days, cushy walking shoes, and coconut caramel iced coffee from Dunkin.

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