HOKA Speedgoat 4 Review | Great Technical Trail Shoe
Hoka Speedgoat 4 offers a highly cushioned, technical running shoe with a medium-tall stack and aggressive lugs
Named for Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, the Hoka Speedgoat 4 are a time and trail tested model now in their fourth iteration. This is a narrow to medium-width ultra-padded shoe that features a heavily cushioned midsole and a deeply lugged, Vibram Megagrip outsole. The Hoka Speedgoat 4 shoes offer plenty of protection from rocky, rough trail, and solid wet and dry traction for steep ups and downs. This is a shoe for going the distance—an all-around model with proven durability, protection during long days on the trail, and all-around comfort and traction. Plus, they come in some of the best colorways on the market.
Field Testing of Hoka Speedgoat 4
I field-tested the Hoka Speedgoat 4 right out of the box on the 223-mile Ouachita Trail in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The trail was non-technical, but the tread was quite challenging. Much of the trail was covered in deep layers of slippery leaves, and there was a 40-mile section with angled rocks and slick, untamed trail. The weather varied from 60 degrees and sunny to 40 degrees and rainy, with much of the trail wet and chilly. I was doing between 18 and 23 miles per day for 11 days in a row.
Compared to the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6
We’ve also been testing the HOKA ONE ONE Challengers, so check out our full review HOKA Challenger ATR 6 Review | Great All-Purpose Trail Shoe
Key Specs | HOKA Speedgoat 4
Design: Low-rise, cushioned trail running / hiking shoe. These specs are for the non-waterproof version of hoka speedgoat 4
Features: Aggressive outsole, updated mesh upper, maximum cushioning through the midsole, secure mid-range fit, 4mm heel-to-toe drop.
Weight: 10.8 ounces (Men’s 9) | 9.6 ounces (Women’s 8)
Type: Trail runner, low-rise hiking shoe
Stack Height Heel: 32mm (Men’s)
Stack Height Toe: 28mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Overview of the HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4
The Hoka Speedgoat 4 is the newest iteration of one of HOKA ONE ONE’s most popular trail shoes. This is a do-it-all shoe with a snug, secure fit, deep lugs for loose and muddy trails, and the extreme cushioning that HOKA shoes are known for. The ultra-cushioned midsole helps protect from uneven, rocky ground. The shoes have a 4mm heel-to-toe drop. Though they look almost absurdly tall, the midsole rise is actually higher than your foot sits, so your feet are sitting lower in the shoes than it appears from the outside. The update also has a wider forefoot. The shoe felt somewhat narrow when I first tried it on, but the flexibility increased after a day or two of wear and it ended up feeling secure, but not constricting.
This is a fairly aggressive outsole with deep, 4mm lugs and a Vibram Megagrip rubber. The lugs are multi-directional for good traction going up and downhill and have strategic material placement based on stride and necessary support.
HOKA updated the midsole foam for the Speedgoat 4s, but since these are the first HOKA shoes I’ve worn, I can’t compare them. This foam is lighter and “more responsive” than previous iterations. This means you lose less energy with each step. Hikers who have had issues with overuse on joints and experiencing foot pain will appreciate the extra protection and cushioning.
You won’t be sliding around in these shoes, but you also won’t feel constricted. I’ve worn Altra shoes for the past four years, and this was my first pair without the ultra-wide toe box. I was worried my feet would feel constricted, but they just felt secure. The tongue sits snug and has cutouts to avoid rubbing. The wider toe box of this edition offered some extra foot space during long days.
Quick-Dry and Breathable:
HOKA updated the mesh for the Speedgoat 4, which helps the shoes dry out after a wet day. If the shoes were still wet in the morning from a rainy day and damp night outside the tent, they were guaranteed to dry out within an hour of wearing them in the morning. My feet were never sweaty, and the shoes breathed well during 12-hour days.
Solid Wet & Dry Traction:
The Speedgoats perform almost equally well on wet and dry. Slippery rocks will never stop being nerve-wracking, but after months of sliding around on worn-out tread on my other shoes, the Speedgoats were a huge relief in security and stability. They grip slippery piles of leaves and dig deep into the dirt on steep uphills while providing good stopping power on aggressive downhills.
Might Feel Somewhat Narrow:
The HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 shoes have a tall stack height and are somewhat narrow. Some hikers might be prone to rolling an ankle as they get used to the feel of these shoes, coming from something with less cushioning. They might not be ideal for people with a wider foot, or someone who likes to allow their feet to spread out with a wider toe box during a long day of hiking. HOKA offers wider models like the Challenger ATR.
Tongue Cutouts Might Not Work for You:
The cutouts in the tongue fit against my ankle well without rubbing, but I’ve seen other users have issues with the cutouts not sitting right. They worked for me, but this is something to be aware of.
Compared to the Competition
Shoes for Hiking & Backpacking
The field of highly padded, thick midsole, aggressively-lugged trail running shoes is quite competitive with many options. That being said Hoka was one of the fist to enter/create this category of trail shoe and they have a number of strong offerings including the Speedgoat. And again, we find that light, low top trail runners make the best shoes for backpacking and hiking.
The Olympus is the maximum-cushion offering from Altra. The shoes come in almost a full ounce heavier than the Speedgoats (Men’s 9 weigh 11.6 ounces), and the stack height is a hair taller at 33mm. Note that since the Alta is a zero drop shoe, that means it has the full 33mm in the forefoot as well making its stack height in the front of the shoe a full 5mm more than the Speedgoat.
Altra has experienced some heat in recent years for an outsole that wears out quickly and an upper that disintegrates before the usual 450-500 lifespan of a shoe. Durability is a question with the Olympus (Altra seems to have made some gains here recently), but fans of the wide toe box and zero-drop design from Altra can use the Olympus as a good alternative with a lot of cushioning. They’re also expensive compared to other options. Women’s here.
Brooks Caldera 4
The Brooks Caldera is a plush model from the more standard lineup over at Brooks. They have the same 4mm drop as the Speedgoats, and weigh almost a full ounce less, at 10 ounces. The Caldera doesn’t include the same name-brand Vibram outsoles, but the TrailTack Sticky Traction rubber offers a solid, moderate grip across a variety of tread.
HOKA ONE ONE EVO Mafate 2
HOKA’s closest competitor to the Speedgoat will probably be another HOKA shoe. The Mafate 2 is a level-up in specialized trail shoes. With deeper and even more aggressive lugs than the Speedgoat, the Mafate is made for tackling rugged terrain. These shoes have excellent traction on wet trails and a 5mm heel-to-toe drop. They weigh 10.3 ounces, just barely less than the Speedgoats.
Note: If you don’t need the huge traction they provide in mud and other very loose terrain, deep lugs can be a liability on firmer and better footing. That is a shallower lugged shoe is generally lighter, and provides better performance on smooth trail and rock — more typical hiking and backpacking conditions. In fact, we’ve found a number or shallower lugged “road-running” shoes make excellent trail shoes — being light, super comfortable, and providing more than adequate trail grip and durability.
Conclusion | HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4
The HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4’s are an excellent all-around trail shoe that excel in loose muddy conditions. Comfortable for extended days on the trail, these shoes provide cushioning, support, and traction on a variety of terrain and tread. Updates to the mesh upper offer a more breathable, faster-drying shoe, and the new midsole is more responsive than other iterations. While the stack height might look extreme, your foot is sitting lower in the shoe than the midsole makes it look, so you feel protected from the ground without losing stability on a tall shoe.
We’ve also been testing the HOKA ONE ONE Challengers, and we’ll be reviewing those next, then publishing a comparison post between the two models.
Read our complete guide | Best Hiking Shoes