Gear Review: Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 Trail Runner
I tested the Hoka Speedgoat 3 over the last two months and discovered many reasons behind their popularity: comfort, stability, a wide toe box, and great traction all combine into a surprisingly lightweight trail runner.
Hoka One One was founded in 2009 by French trail runners Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard. What began as an idea for a minimalist running shoe company evolved into something completely different—a maximalist shoe for ultra cushioning for the feet.
Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 At-a-Glance
Weight: 9.10 ounces
Heel-toe drop: 4.00mm
Hokas are designed and known for a thick cushion for enhanced heel support. The first time I saw a pair of Hokas, I giggled at the prominence of the thick cushion along the bottom of the shoe that is more sizable than any I’d seen on a trail runner.
Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, an ultrarunner with the most 100-mile trail race wins and a onetime fastest known time (FKT) on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2016, was the inspiration for the earliest and subsequent iterations of the Speedgoat line. In this video (at minute 10:43) he calls the Speedgoat “a badass shoe that can handle any terrain.”
Anyone already familiar with Hokas or the Speedgoat line will feel familiar with this third generation model. This was my first time wearing Hokas and the Speedgoat 3 impressed the heck out of me.
Perhaps most noticeable when putting on a pair is the ultra-cushioned feel around and under the feet. The Speedgoat 3 is made to cradle the foot with oversized EVA midsoles, major cushion, and wide toe box, so feet are protected and comfortably spaced.
The Speedgoat 3 includes a wider midsole and toe box than other models, enhanced heel support, a “midfoot lockdown” near the toes and a “seatbelt” support on each side, which helps keep your foot stable along the trail.
The outsole of the Speedgoat 3 is a Vibram MegagGrip sole. Vibram soles are durable and offer terrific traction for slippery, wet, or technical terrain. The MegagGrip is special to Hoka One One, giving footing enhanced precision on uneven or technical terrain or variations in wet, dry or slippery conditions.
With a mesh construction to maximize breathability and support, feet have light ventilation in dry weather and good airflow to dry out from rain or wet creek crossings.
The shoe’s outsole is “TPU reinforced” (TPU = thermoplastic polyurethane) which allows it to be durable and resist abrasion or splitting, like wear from twigs, craggy rocks, snow, mud, or technical terrain. The soles looked practically new after testing them, with only slight wear on the toe area.
Circumstances of Review
I tested the Women’s Speedgoat 3s for two months of daily hikes and trail runs in Northern Virginia and weekend backpacking along nearby sections of the Appalachian Trail (AT). I tried them on a variety of East Coast terrain—soft dirt, roots, rocks, grassy meadows, soggy muddied trail, rolling hills and steep climbs.
The feel and reliability was equally good on the majority of terrain I tested them on, including uneven ground, roots, rocks, grass, dirt, gravel, grass, and a late-spring snow.
The Speedgoat 3 offered a steady, secure, and joyful feeling on my feet all day long on each mile I hiked or ran in them. And the SKYSHELL™ waterproof membrane allowed them to dry easily when becoming wet by rain or a misstep in a creek.
Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 Features
- SKYSHELL™ waterproof membrane with full-bootie construction.
- Gusseted tongue to mitigate tongue migration and reduce trail debris from entering the shoe.
- Open engineered mesh construction to maximize breathability and support.
- Reinforced TPU midfoot overlays to help ensure a secure fit.
- Textured TPU toe reinforcement for added durability.
- Oversize EVA midsole provides lightweight cushioning.
- Wider platform designed to provide a more stable base on varied terrain.
- CMEVA foam midsole absorbs impact points and offers stable footing.
- Vibram® Megagrip hi-traction outsole with 5mm lugs.
- Multidirectional lugs for supreme grip on varied terrain
- More durable outsole design.
Comfort: The technical design of the Speedgoat 3 makes it very comfortable and smooth even while moving over rugged terrain. My feet were comfortable hiking or running all day long and never ached even after a long 18-mile day on the AT.
Stability: Hoka calls the Speedgoat 3 a “neutral” shoe on its scale of “neutral/moderate/stable.” As someone prone to rolling their ankles, I found them reassuringly stable, including when scrambling and trail running on boulders.
Cushion: Hoka classifies the Speedgoat 3 as “balanced” in the mid-range of stability range of “responsive-balanced-plush.” The thick cushion provides great heel support and keeps feet well padded with the feel of walking on bouncy clouds. This extra padding and heel support kept my feet comfortable on trail but also left them feeling fresh when unlacing for the day.
Vibram® Megagrip High-Traction Sole: This sole allows for increased traction with each step and on different terrain including mud, rock, snow, dirt or rugged trail.
CMEVA foam midsole: The foam absorbs shock and has impact points for added stability. Hoka calls the cushioned midsole as “marshmallow soft” which I found to be an accurate description of the soft, dreamy feel they provide the feet no matter how tough or technical the terrain is.
Toe box: The roomy toe box is great for walking and hiking on flat or uphill ground; but if moving downhill I found my toes slide slightly more forward than in a small toe box. This didn’t bother me; however, if you prefer a snug fit around your toes, the Speedgoat 3’s wide toe box may frustrate you on a downhill.
Price: As trail runners go, the Speedgoat 3 is in the mid to high range at $140/pair.
Overall / Value
New hiking boots or trail runners usually run anywhere from $100-200. Hoka One One’s Speedgoat 3 are right in the middle. Shoes are one of the most important investments for comfort while hiking and paying a little more for shoes can translate into happy feet, which translates into happy hiking.
I am a true Hoka fan after testing these and know why they are a popular, practical, and reliable choice on trails today.
A Few Comparable Items
Comparable versions of trail runners include Salomon XA Pros or Altra Lone Peaks, or Brooks Cascadias. While none of these will have the same amount of cushion as the Speedgoat 3, they are similar in price, comfort, and popularity among hikers.
Disclaimer: This product was donated for the purposes of review.
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