Gear Review: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4

Named for HOKA Athlete Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer—known for his insane number of 100-mile race wins and former record holder on the Appalachian Trail—comes the HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4. The fourth iteration of the Speedgoats include updated breathable mesh on the forefoot and 3D printed overlays in the midfoot for additional support and more secure fit. They’re now available in wide sizes.

The step-in feel is soft, but the cushy midsole is what makes the Speedgoat 4s such a smooth ride. They’re built for long trail races and technical terrain, but these shoes make an argument for themselves as a fantastic thru-hiking shoe.

HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4s At-a-Glance

In one word: CUSHY. Photo: Nico Doyle

  • MSRP: $145
  • Style: Non-Waterproof Trail Runner
  • Intended Purpose: Ultrarunning, Fastpacking
  • Weight: 10.9 ounces (M), 9.2 ounces (W)
  • Drop: 4mm
  • Midsole: EVA Cushioned
  • Outsole: Vibram MegaGrip rubber

Who Are The Speedgoats Best For?

This shoe is built for long days and big miles over more technical terrain. Long-distance runners and hikers will appreciate the comfort and cushion provided by the Speedgoat 4, but anyone new to a high-stack shoe might feel a bit awkward. Hikers and runners with past knee or leg injuries may particularly like the added support of the Speedgoats.

Circumstance of Review

Spring in the Northeast means wearing a shoe that can handle mud, ice, snow, and everything in between. Photo: Nico Doyle

This spring, I’ve been putting miles on the Speedgoat 4s near my home in Maine. They’ve been my go-to on multi-hour runs and hikes where I want some extra cushion. Most of these ultrarunning miles have come within the White Mountains, where I was able to test the Speedgoats on highly technical terrain in very mixed conditions. I had intentions of more multiday adventures in them, but quarantine didn’t allow for that.

Features 

  • Sizing variability – now available in wide sizes
  • Breathable upper mesh – drains and dries fairly quickly in wet conditions
  • 3D printed midfoot –  provides additional support for a more secure feel
  • Winged component laces – ensures a secure fit
  • Lightweight midsole – new foam design offers a more responsive ride
  • Wider forefoot – offers a more stable ride and accommodating fit
  • Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole – provides grip in wet and dry conditions
  • Beefy lugs – 5mm “stepped” lugs for support and stability

Pros

Comfort 

The ultra-soft midsole and overall cushion of the Speedgoat 4s make for maximum comfort during longer days on the trail. During hikes and runs over 20 miles (especially with a pack on), where I may normally start to feel every root or rock underfoot, these shoes absorbed the impact and left my feet in better shape. The addition of wide sizes with this variation of the Speedgoat will offer additional comfort for some. 

“They’re like walking on pillows.” – everyone you see on the trail wearing HOKAs

Grippy Outsole

Between the Vibram megagrip rubber and 5mm lugs, I found these shoes to be very reliable on slippery rock and a variety of conditions. The lugs are spaced out enough to quickly shed mud and snow. Usually February-April in New England is a tricky time to find trail runners that can handle the variety of trail conditions, and I was really happy with the traction and drainage abilities of these.

Durability

Traction for days. Photo: Taj Doyle

The Speedgoats have enough cushion and stiffness to hold up for the long haul. I’ve put 200 miles of pretty rugged trail on these shoes so far, and they show little wear. While I can’t say with entirety certainty yet, I’d consider these a shoe you could comfortably wear for 500+ miles.

Cons

Clunky Design

The Speedgoat 4s are a LOT of shoe. I typically prefer a more minimal trail shoe, even for thru-hiking, especially on the technical trails in the Northeast. After breaking my foot in late December, I’d hoped that the added cushion of the Speedgoats would help ease the discomfort as I got back into things. It did just that. However, these are real beefy and I felt like that held me back (and required adjustments) when running on more technical rooty or rocky sections.

Runs Large

I can’t speak for the men’s sizes, but I felt the women’s were too spacious. With the exception of Altras, most brands are too narrow for my feet, so I opted for the wide version of these. While the toebox was nice, my heels were swimming. I was worried about having issues with heels rubbing, but as long as I kept the laces pretty tight, things were snug. Next time I’d go down a half size.

Heavy

Due to the extra comfort and thicker midsole, the Speedgoats come in at 10.8 ounces for men’s and 9.2 ounces for women’s. Certainly not the lightest, but not the heaviest either. The extra weight may not make them the best choice for shorter trail runs or speedwork.

Overall Value

The Speedgoat 4s have a superb lacing system, which was necessary since I had more than enough room in them. Photo: Nico Doyle.

For hikers and runners who appreciate a more minimalist approach to footwear, this may not float your boat. However, if you’re looking for a mega comfortable shoe to run and hike longer distances, the Speedgoat 4s fit that bill. $145 is at the upper end of the range you may pay for trail shoes, but the added durability means you’ll get your money’s worth. I’ll certainly keep these shoes in my rotation for longer, more technical days or fastpacking adventures in the White Mountains and beyond. 

Shop the Speedgoat 4 (Men’s) Here || Shop the Speedgoat 4 (Women’s) Here

Comparable Trail Running Shoes

Altra Olympus 3.5
MSRP: $150

Brooks Caldera 4
MSRP: $140

HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR 5
MSRP: $160

This product was donated for purpose of review.

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Comments 2

  • swish2018ATnobo : Apr 29th

    I thru-hiked the AT in 2018 in Hoka Speedgoats with Columbia Montrail Insoles. Also, I’ve been trailrunning in Speedgoats (without the insoles) since version 1. They are my only hiking and trailrunning shoe. I would highly suggest anyone with old joints and bones to try the speedgoats, the extensive cushioning really helps protect your hips, knees and ankles and one recovers much quicker. Also, the bathtub footbed cradles your feet into the midsole, giving you a supportive platform. Truthfully, I didn’t want to feel every rock, root or whatnot under my feet. I replaced my shoes every 500 miles or so even though they could of lasted longer. I did use a shoe silicone glue a few times to keep them in good condition. When I do my next thru-hike, I will most definitely be using Speedgoats.

    Reply
    • Stephen Marsh : May 3rd

      How stable are they? I’m curious as to that as lateral stability in Merrills resulted in my no longer rolling my ankles.

      I’d love that information as it tends to get left out of reviews

      Reply

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