Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Review

“If it is not broke, don’t fix it,” would seemingly be the message Hoka One One is trying to convey with the fourth iteration of the Speedgoat. The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 ($145) is a model that is ever present across all levels of runners in the trail running world and arguably one of the most present models seen standing on the start line of an ultramarathon (current COVID-19 pandemic times aside). It would make sense for Hoka One One to just leave this model alone, but there are some meaningful tweaks here that make version 4 an improvement over the previous ones. The 4, in my opinion, is the most accessible Speedgoat to date with enough updates to fit an even wider array of runners while maintaining the shoe’s core purpose: going long, going fast, and doing so in rugged terrain. [Buy now on Amazon.com.]

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Review

Hey and welcome to Trail Trials, a video review section of iRunFar. My name is Travis Liles and in this video we’re going to check out the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. Let’s dig into the specs first.

It’s one of the most popular shoes out there in the world of ultrarunning and trail running. You see them all over the place. This is a maximal-cushion shoe with aggressive traction that is absolutely built for the long distance and the long haul. I’ve done the previous reviews on the 2 and the 3 and if you haven’t seen those before, we’ll make sure to get those linked up in the video. The main thing to know is that subtle updates have been made here compared to our previous generations. So always refining, not too much of a drastic change, but even in this update while not a wide and generous shoe, it definitely fits more of the standard foot size.

So let’s get into the specs. This is a men’s size 9. This comes in at 10.8 ounces. In the women’s size 7, you’re coming in at about 9.2. Again, max cushion. A 4mm heel-to-toe drop. Aggressive tread. Updated mesh. Some other things we’re going to talk about as well. Let’s get into it.

The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. All photos: iRunFar

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Outsole

Let’s start off with the outsole because that’s probably the thing most the same on this shoe. When we turn this over, we see a very familiar pattern on the lug side. Really good, solid traction. It’s not the best for super muddy things. It’s not something that when it’s really slick out that this performs well on. It’s Vibram Megagrip. It does a really good job across a lot of different terrain, so it’s not a specialized outsole. It’s something that if you’re doing really rocky stuff, it does pretty well. If you’re doing some slick stuff, it does pretty well. If you’re running on a road, it does pretty well. So it’s one of those things that it’s not really excelling at anything specific but that’s not really what it’s built for. It’s built to be a really strong general-purpose outsole and it does that really well. A solid piece that if you’re not quite sure what you’re getting into, it’s going to do pretty well regardless of what that looks like. This outsole is the same outsole that I wore at the HURT 100 Mile. Slick and rocks and roots and did fine. That’s a really gnarly course that has a lot of different types of wetness and rocks and sharpness and roots and all kinds of stuff. And this shoe held up and performed really well at that race. So I think that’s a fairly good testament to the fact that this can do well on things like that.

There are some slight updates here, just on the heel. These downhill lugs are a little bit different than in the previous generation. Everything else is almost identical. So if you liked that lug pattern on the Speedgoat 3 and even the Speedgoat 2 for that matter, you’re getting effectively the same thing here.

The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 outsole.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Midsole

Moving onto the midsole here. Looking at it visually, it looks exactly the same. The printing is almost exactly the same as what was in the Hoka Speedgoat 3. Hoka puts on their website that they’ve updated the foam here and that the foam is slightly more responsive. I don’t know that I can tell a huge difference in versions 3 and 4. I don’t think the underfoot is significantly different. It wasn’t an unresponsive midsole, at least to me, to begin with. So I think this is a really good midsole. It does a really great job of absorbing rough terrain. It’s got a good rocker shape that you can kind of see here. When I hit my hand on it, the heel’s not really touching. The toe’s not touching. It’s a good midsole. I think it does, again, a lot of things really well. I wear this shoe for when I don’t know what’s coming and you’ll probably hear me say that continually throughout this video. Whether it’s a road run, a beach run, a mountain run, a combination of all of those types of things, this shoe just really excels well. A lot of this midsole, because it’s maximal cushioning, it absorbs well, but it’s also a responsive cushion. It’s not a sloppy cushion. It’s not an overly soft cushioning so it’s that more firm type of cushioning that gives you the impact resistance that you are wanting in a maximal-cushion shoe, but it’s not so squishy that when you do things like go uphill, that it feels like it’s zapping the energy away. And then you combine that of course with the rocker midsole and just the design here, it makes for a fast-feeling shoe that you can really do a lot of different things in. And then from the stack-height standpoint, you’ve got a 4mm drop here in the shoe and then your foot sits about right here and that’s pretty consistent across it. Like you are inside of this line. So you take that, you combine that with this upper, and you’ve got a nice, locked-in feel that comes out of this shoe. So again I don’t see any major updates here in the midsole compared to say the last version.

The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 lateral view.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Upper

I think the majority of updates really come on the upper for the Speedgoat 4. So, 3D overlays here. I mentioned that with kind of being in conjunction with this sunk-in footbed that your foot rests inside. This upper really does a good job of gripping your foot, wrapping it in, and giving you some good control when you’re climbing and descending or turning tight corners. This shoe, I feel like, is a fast fit. Meaning it feels like a shoe that you don’t have to worry about, if I corner too hard I’m going to slide around over the top of it, or I’m going downhill on an aggressive incline and my foot’s banging up against the toebox. At least for my foot, I get locked in really well and this is a shoe I don’t have to think about, which is obviously what you want. You want your shoe to just do what it does: provide grip, provide traction, provide cushion. You don’t want to have to worry about blisters. You don’t want to have to worry about, “Ooh I’ve got to slow down here because my shoe is a little bit goofy.” I feel like for me, and I think for a lot of people because this is a popular shoe, that the Speedgoat provides that and does that in a fairly good way.

Some of the updates I’ll call out here that are different, especially when we talk about in comparison to the Speedgoat 3, which I happen to have an example of here, is heel cup. So the heel cup as you see here is a little more generous looking than what we had in the Speedgoat 3. The Speedgoat 3 was a much more V shape, tapered, kind of aggressive. And then even on the height of it and the way it sort of poked in, maybe for some people provided a nice little notch for the Achilles. I always found this was a little bit too high and when I was descending would sort of go up and hit my Achilles a little bit. In the 4, they’ve removed that V and that notch type of shape and it’s much more a rounded and I feel like more comfortable and probably going to fit more people.

Staying in this area, here is the tongue. The tongue is mostly paper thin. If we look here, you can see this visual from the top. It is really thin. It gets slightly thicker at this fold here. It probably doubles in thickness. There’s probably a little tiny piece of foam that they have sandwiched in here. Maybe triple the thickness, but it’s thin. It’s a really thin tongue. Doesn’t provide much protection whatsoever from these laces.

Two last things that I’ll call out here are the changes here to the mesh. So you can see on the Speedgoat 3, more of a traditional mesh was used. Here we have a much more modern-looking type of mesh. So it’s got colors built into it. If you’ve worn any of the EVO-type style of the Hokas, this is a similar feel to what that mesh is. This isn’t quite as thick as that Kevlar-feeling stuff that’s maybe not quite as breathable, but I haven’t really noticed it in the heat to be problematic in terms of letting heat out or any of those types of things. But just a new, modern type of mesh that at least visually and in wear seems a little more durable in terms of holding up compared to the Speedgoat 3.

The last thing that I’ll call out and probably the thing I dislike the most about the previous version is a major update here on this tag. So this whole area of the shoe, while it doesn’t look like it maybe while sitting like this, you have a lot more room in the toebox than what you had in the previous version. So while this one looks like it’s visually a little bit taller, this is maxed out. And it’s because of a couple of things. One, it’s because this mesh is a little more restrictive. And then the last part is this fabric-like piece that existed on the Speedgoat 3. And you can see sort of when I pinch this, it creates a very specific–you might even be able to hear a sound from it. It’s fairly firm and rigid and my big toe would always sort of catch underneath this and it wouldn’t let my foot come up very high because it’s this thick, sort of odd–I don’t know what the purpose of this thing was, but it bothered me. I went through a lot of different things in the Speedgoat 3 to file it down, try to get it to delaminate. I did a whole bunch of stuff. In some cases when I was going some really long distance, basically just went up a half size in the shoe to avoid my toe catching on this. This looks like a lower toebox but it’s actually more. You have a higher toebox because all of this is just more flexible. So even this tongue thing here, it’s just a more pliable material that’s here and then the toebox overall, the fabric is a little bit looser in the Speedgoat 4 so your foot’s got a little bit more room to move around. It’s just slightly taller. Visually it’s hard to see but it’s absolutely noticeable when you wear it. And then I would say the other hack you can do here is if this thing is really annoying, you can heat it up and just peel it off. In fact, the first pair of Hoka Speedgoat 4s that I had this year, this had a slight, like the glue didn’t have it down all the way, and I was able to just peel that thing off altogether.

So major, major improvement in my book here. Much, much better toebox feel for me. Much looser in this area. More room for my toes to splay out, and even a little more room for them to move up and down. So with the overview there of the shoe, let’s get back and let’s talk about final impressions.

The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 medial view.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Overall Impressions

In closing, I think this is going to be an update that a lot of people are going to be happy with. For me, the most annoying part of the shoe has been addressed. There’s more toe room. That’s really what this comes down to. So you’ve got a slightly taller toebox overall, and then the fact that this is just a much more flexible overlay, which I wish they would just get rid of altogether, but it’s less of an annoyance than before and in fact it’s almost gone altogether. You have a little bit more rounded heel compared to the last generation. And then the tongue, you’ve got more space for your foot to sort of go up in the shoe because the tongue is less padded. This is a thing that’s happening across trail running shoes where the tongue is getting thinner and thinner and I think that’s fine. Except for me, I’m somebody that has a little bit of a high portion of my foot here, and I’ve had some issues with tendons before, so by taking some of that tongue thickness away, it means possibility of more pressure on the top of my feet. I haven’t had the opportunity to wear the 4s in a 100 miler or something of that long distance, but I’ve had them on my feet for nine-plus hours and I didn’t have that type of situation come up on me. But it’s a much more streamlined fit so if you didn’t like that sort of thickness that existed before, it’s gone.

So that’s it: the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. Lots of different colors now that we’re past the second colorway drop. It’s a good shoe. I wear it for everything: trails, hiking, roads, beach, whatever. This is one that just kind of works for it all. With all that said, thanks for watching, and we’ll catch you next time.

Call for Comments

  • Leave a comment if you’re running in the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4!
  • What do you think of the changes which have been made here and there around the shoe from previous iterations, including changes to the heel lugs, midsole composition, heel cup, and toebox area?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 top view.

Travis Liles

resides in Portland, Oregon where he is a husband, father, and a technical specialist for a software company. In his spare time, he is exploring his new home in the Pacific Northwest, getting more vertical but still not living in the thin air, while producing "Trail Trials with Travis Liles" video gear reviews for iRunFar.

There are 15 comments

  1. TylerLahti

    I’ll be excited to try these at some point. I finally started wearing my Speedgoat 3s after they sat unused under my bed for a while because I kept using other shoes I loved. After I broke them in, I fell in love though.

  2. Michael

    Great review! I have had the 2s and 3s and just ordered my first pair of the 4s. A lot of folks are complaining about the toungue, which you hit on. Curious to see how they feel once i’ve put some miles on em. Appreciate the write up!

  3. Tropical John

    Excellent review, good work, Travis!

    The toe box has gotten a little wider with each new edition. Speedgoat 1 & 2 were very narrow, the 3s still somewhat narrow. (Like Meltzer, I have a narrow foot so that was ok by me. But for many, the first couple of versions were too pinchy.) Excellent traction on almost all surfaces, especially good in loose dirt. Outstanding cushioning.

    In my estimation, the Speedgoats are the best trail shoe ever made. (YMMV) Hoka has hit a home run here.

  4. Shaun

    I was pretty disappointed with the 4th iteration of the Speedgoat. Can’t improve this shoe if you increase the weight. Thin tongue is no good but you touched on that. I also was not a fan of the new upper material, it’s some pretty stiff stuff. I did enjoy the little extra toe box room. Still up there with the best of the max cushion trail shoes regardless of the negatives. Just shows you how good this shoe is and been. The Evo takes the cake as far as speedgoats go. Unfortunately they are just about impossible to find right now. I will say that I have owned about 4 pairs of the 3s, one pair of the 4s and 2 pairs of the Evos. I live in AZ and this rocky terrain just eats shoes up.

  5. JFrench

    I’m tired of the thin tongues. I can’t cinch my shoes as tight as I could with the more cushioned tongues without getting a blister on the top of my foot due to the rubbing of the thin tongue/laces. Bring back the padded tongue.

  6. Ash

    The tongue is not only too thin but too stiff. End of only a 6 mile run on my first time wearing these and I had two deep bloody gouges in the front of my ankle. While the solution could be to wear taller socks, I’m not wanting to change my entire sock collection to compensate for a poor shoe design choice. I’m not switching back to speed goats until they go back to the normal tongue design.

  7. George Forman

    The only problem I’ve had with the Speedgoat 4 is the same problem I’ve had with the ATR Stinson: the leading edge of the heel portion of the outsole (just behind the groove that crosses the outsole) begins to peel back after only about 200 miles on Marin and Tahoe trails, and then starts snagging on any protrusion on the trail surface. This either is a design flaw, unless it’s intended to accelerate the wear-out of the shoe, stimulating more sales.

  8. Austin

    I had rubbing/blister issues in the toebox with both the SG 1 and SG 2, but I love the damned shoes. Would you recommend the SG 4 or the EVO SG as a more generous toebox that’s less likely to cause blister issues?

  9. Al

    This is the shoe of the year and could be for the next 5+ years. No flaws in 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s. Too many complainers on here. Go back to your zero drop shoes then. Leave more shoes in stock for those of us who enjoy short shoe break in times and easy rides. Speedgoats for the W!

  10. Todd

    Thin tongues are fine for a lot of running, but rocky beast coast with lots of steep descending requires laces to be clamped down tight. No padding will lead to real bad lace bite and even potentially long term tendon cysts on the top of the ankle there. Strange, 100% of the focus of cushioning is for the bottom of the foot, but zero consideration to the top. The few extra grams of padding in a tongue are absolutely more than worth it for what mountian running requires. The extra weight of tongue padding just means you get a tad better workout. Ok maybe 5 seconds longer time on a hundred miler; let’s not becomeTour de France weight weenies please. The main issue might be that they keeping cutting production costs (though less than other companies I think). That is why the tongue is low quality IMO. Glad they rock for so many people – stock up.

  11. Amanda

    I’ve just spent a week running in the Lake District in these shoes, which is my first time using Hokas. I found the size guide on the website too generous but eventually found a men’s fit to be most suitable for my wide feet, however there’s not much height in the toe box and no give in the material if you need a little more room to wiggle your toes like I do.

    It’s a good achievement for me to find a shoe that accommodates my wide feet and that was only because Hoka make men’s fit in small sizes (most brands start at a UK size 8 which is too big). Hoka do have a wide fit but the women’s wide fit seemed a bit too wide, plus I got the impression they might be discontinuing that range.

    For the first 6 miles I suffered from uncomfortable aching on the soles of my feet (which I’ve also experienced with shoes lacking rock plates) and they didn’t feel very responsive or fast, despite being fairly lightweight compared to other shoes I’ve tried. It was a bit like they zapped some of the rebound energy, which I didn’t expect given the use of the rocker sole. The bulkiness of the sole makes it a bit tricky to place your feet on rocky technical ground, however I felt fairly confident on wet rock, so these are shoes you can put a fair bit of trust in, but just be wary of wet steep grass and mud.

    Yes the tongue is thin but I didn’t have any issues with it. A little more padding would have been nice, as would longer laces.

    A small issue I did find was that I started to get niggly pain in one calf after 4 days and after seeing my physio she mentioned that it had become incredibly tight and my back muscles had become incredibly sensitive and painful. She thought this could be due to the lack of good arch support in the shoe, but of course this could be due to a week of condensed running (although that’s something I do now and again and generally have no issues). I want to try them for a couple more weeks and see if I get used to them.

    I experienced no doms in my quads or general muscle soreness even after a fairly big week in the hills. After the initial foot aching, they seemed OK and I had no blisters and my feet didn’t feel as bashed as normal after a day in the hills. I considered perhaps using them to do big training miles, but reverting to something a bit faster for racing trail marathons and ultras.

    I’m of a mixed opinion…the fit and performance on rough ground isn’t quite as good as the old model of the Saucony Peregrine (model 7 and those before it plus the ISO model which has been discontinued) and the even older Mizuno Wave Ascends, however the grip on wet slick rock seems better than a lot of shoes I’ve tried over recent years (and believe me I’ve tried a lot of shoes, including most of the Inov8s and those brands using Vibram outsoles).

    I’ve since ordered the Torrents which look to have a more aggressive sole and possibly better for technical ground and racing, however I can see that the sole isn’t Vibram like the SGs? This surprises me as it looks like it could be a great shoe, however I’m not confident that it will perform well on slick rock (which is the issue I’m finding with a lot of trail shoes recently). I’m not sure why you’d put a Vibram sole on the goats but not these, given that they both seem to be trail shoes?

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