“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.
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.
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.
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.
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!]