HOKA Speedgoat 5 Review | Great Technical Trail Shoe
Hoka Speedgoat 5 offers a highly cushioned, technical running shoe with a medium-tall stack and aggressive lugs
Named for Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, the Hoka Speedgoat 5 are a time and trail tested model now in their fifth iteration (Shop Speedgoats). 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 5 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 5
Adventure Alan and crew have been testing Speedgoats around the world for the past few years and all have been very happy with performance. We’ve worn them on a number of famous trails including the ~50 mi Huemul Circuit in Patagonia, the 90 mi Wonderland Trail circumnavigating Mt. Rainier, and the 223-mile Ouachita Trail in Oklahoma and Arkansas. On these trails, we’ve walked over pretty much all types of terrain including granite, hardpack trail, scree, mud, leaves, snow, loose dusty slopes, and miles of slippery leaves.
HOKA Speedgoat 5
M’ Weight: 10.3 oz | W’s Weight: 8.5 oz
Heel-Forefoot-Drop: M’s 33-29-4 | W’s 31-27-4
Lugs: 5 mm | Rockplate: No
Width: Average | Overall Fit: True to size
Wide Sizes Available: yes
On Trail/Off trail? Either
HOKA Speedgoat 5 is the trail runner we love most! We find it to be very comfortable and grippy in all situations, and the fifth edition is a big improvement over the fourth, making it lighter and more breathable. Alan and Jaeger were both hiking in Speedgoats as their trail running shoes of choice for going over snowy passes on the Wonderland Trail in 2022.
With a heel stack height >30, this is the tallest and most cushioned pair of trail running hiking shoes on our list, but aside from the excellent comfort that it provides, you would hardly notice it to be thick and clunky. Rather, we find walking in it to be pleasant, and that our steps are accurate and precise. Speedgoats have a 4mm drop, which we find to be a sweet spot. Adding to the comfort is a widened toe box , though the entire footbed is narrower than Altra Lone Peak’s, so those with average width feet won’t slosh around as much in technical terrain.
The tread might be our favorite part of this trail runner. 5mm of Vibram Megagrip with traction lugs do an excellent job on dirt, rock, mud, grass, and anything else you might walk on. We rarely ever slip or slide when wearing Speedgoats. Our only complaint is that the tread wears out a bit faster than average, and worn tread is the most likely reason you would need to replace a pair. We expect this trail running shoe to last a few hundred miles, less if you’re constantly on scratchy/rocky terrain.
As hiking shoes go, the mesh upper is very comfortable, quick drying, breathable, and doesn’t rub or chafe at all. The toe cap is reinforced and has yet to fail us. The laces are simple, but seem to grip themselves well and never come undone. We love the extended heel tab, which makes sliding in and out a breeze.
HOKA Speedgoat 5’s are an incredible, effective, comfortable trail runner, at home on or off the trail, no matter how gnarly the terrain.
Overview of the HOKA Speedgoat 5
Version 5 dropped in 2022: Lighter CMEVA midsole compound shaves 1/2 oz off of shoe weight. Traction Lugs increase grip. More durable mesh on upper. Late-stage Meta-Rocker profile keeps your forefoot on the ground for a slightly longer period to enhance stability and provide a smooth toe-off
The Hoka Speedgoat 5 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.
Other Model Options
The Speedgoat 5 series also comes in a mid-rise boot version, an EVO version, and a GoreTex version.
This is a fairly aggressive outsole with deep, 5mm 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 5. 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 and was very comfy.
Quick-Dry and Breathable:
HOKA updated the mesh for the Speedgoat 5, 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 Speedgoat 5 shoes have a tall stack height and a medium fit. Compared to wider shoes like the Altra Lone Peaks, some hikers might be prone to rolling an ankle as they adapt to the more secure fit with less room to for the foot slide or adjust inside the shoe itself. If you have a wide foot, we recommend ordering the wide size Speedgoats. While Speedgoat 5 features a wide toe box, that is great for average feet, it might not feel wide to those who have wide feet. If you like an extra wide toe box, perhaps look elsewhere.
Tread can wear down quickly
One hopes to get a few hundred miles out of any pair of trail runners. But with Speedgoats, we find that the tread is the first failure point. The 5mm lugs are in a sharp and aggressive chevron pattern, so they tend to wear down and lose their edge quickly. After hiking a bit less than 100 miles in Patagonia, the lugs had worn down about 30%.
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 Challenger. And again, we find that light, low top trail runners make the best shoes for backpacking and hiking and are far superior to traditional boots.
HOKA Challenger 7
M’s Weight: 8.9 oz | W’s Weight: 7.3 oz
Heel-Forefoot-Drop: M’s 31-26-4 | W’s 29-24-4
Lugs: 4 mm | Rockplate: No
Width: Average | Overall Fit: True to size
Wide Sizes Available: Yes
On Trail/Off trail? On Trail
Pros: Lightweight. Perfectly cushioned. Wide toe box. Excellent on trail.
Cons: Modest traction.
Alan has previously described the Hoka Challenger 7 as the Goldilocks of trail running shoes for hiking. This is because it’s perfectly cushioned, lightweight, durable, long lasting, and such a comfortable and well-rounded pair of hiking shoes.
We would describe the cushion as solid and comfy, large but never too large to get in the way. It’s basically our dream cushion, perfect all-around. If we could switch every other pair of trail running shoes’ cushion out for Challenger 7’s, we probably would.
Compared to other trail runners on our list, Challenger 7 has a slightly less aggressive tread and with 4mm, instead of 5mm lugs, and flat spots under the midfoot for improved energy return. But it’s still incredibly effective and more than grippy enough for crushing long mileage days on most trails. Adding to that is its low total weight per shoe. Lighter trail runners, even if only by one ounce, help hikers walk faster.
Like its more aggressive sibling the Speedgoat, Challenger 7 uses a quick drying, super breathable mesh with a reinforced toe cap. It meets and exceeds our highest expectations in terms of comfort and durability. Plus, we love the extended heel tab for ease of on/off. Taking off the ol’ hiking shoes to let your feet breath during lunch is highly recommended.
Fit is fairly straight down the middle as trail running shoes go, and it includes a wide toe box which we love. Wide sizes are also available.
The Challenger 7 is an exceptionally great trail runner for hiking on most trails, and we feel it is the hypothetical best pair of hiking shoes for the typical hiker on a typical hike.
Altra Olympus 5
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.
Brooks Caldera 6
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 4
HOKA’s closest competitor to the Speedgoat will probably be another HOKA shoe. The Mafate 4 is a level-up in specialized trail shoes. With deeper and even more aggressive lugs than the Speedgoat, the Mafate is made for tackling extremely 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 5
The HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 5’s are an excellent all-around trail shoe that excel in loose muddy conditions, or wherever traction is needed. Comfortable for extended days on the trail, these shoes provide cushioning, support, and grip on a variety of terrain with its impressive tread. Updates to the mesh upper offer a more breathable, comfier, 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 Challengers which compared to Speedgoats, offer a better on trail performance, at the expense of a less grippy tread.
Read about more of the best trail runners for hiking in guide to the Best Hiking Shoes of the year.
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