HOKA Speedgoat 5 Review – A Great Technical Trail Shoe
Pillowy cushion meets aggressive lugs
Named for ultra runner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, the HOKA Speedgoat 5 are a time-tested trail running shoe in their fifth edition (shop now). This is a medium-width, ultra-cushioned trail shoe that features a thick midsole and aggressive, 5mm lugged Vibram Megagrip outsole. They offer great protection, exceptional traction, supreme comfort, and come in some of the best colorways on the market. They are equally as good when worn for trail running as they are for hiking and backpacking.
Quick Summary: The HOKA Speedgoat 5 is our editor’s choice model, as you can see in our guide to the best trail runners. This is truly an exceptional shoe thanks to its comfort and traction, and we recommend it extremely highly.
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HOKA Speedgoat 5 Stats
- Price: $155
- 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/Pavement? Yes/Yes/No
- Pros: Comfortable. Great Traction. Very cushioned. Breathable. Very grippy. Durable upper.
- Cons: Might be too much cushion for some. Lugs wear down a bit too quickly.
Field Testing For Hoka Speedgoat 5 Review
The Adventure Alan & Co crew have been testing Speedgoats around the world for the past few years and we’ve been extremely happy with the performance. We’ve run trails in these shoes. We’ve worn them on a number of famous hiking trails, including the ~50 mi Huemul Circuit in Patagonia, the 90 mile Wonderland Trail circumnavigating Mt. Rainier, and the 223-mile Ouachita Trail in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
On these trails, we’ve walked and run over pretty much all types of terrain, including granite, hardpack, sand, scree, mud, snow, loose dusty slopes, and miles of slippery leaves. And the HOKA Speedgoat 5 were near perfect across the board with great traction on all surfaces.
What changed between V4 and V5
Version Five of the HOKA Speedgoat released in 2022. Updates include a lighter CMEVA midsole compound, which shaves a 1/2 oz off of shoe weight. Traction lugs increase grip. More durable jacquard 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. Extended heel tab for easy on/off.
The HOKA Speedgoat 5 have the type of fit that feels both very secure, and very comfortable. It’s truly something of a Goldilocks shoe. The forefoot is widened, but not excessively. The heel cup and midfoot and are standard width. This shoe works very well for those with narrow or standard width feet, and a wide fit version is available to those with wider than average feet.
While the elongated heel tab and giant cushy midsole give the impression that this shoe will lift your foot way off the ground, looks can be a bit deceiving. Three ridges at the intersection of the mesh upper immediately below and to the right of the HOKA logo rise above where to the foot actually sits on the insole. While you will certainly ride higher than you would in a minimalist shoe or a traditional running shoe, you won’t feel disconnected from the trail or lose touch with the ground.
Lastly, we’ll note that this shoe is immediately comfortable out of the box, requiring no break in whatsoever.
Midsole & Drop
HOKA updated the midsole CMEVA foam for the Speedgoat 5. This foam is lighter and “more responsive” than previous iterations. This means you lose less energy with each step. Runners and hikers who have had issues with overuse on joints and experiencing foot pain will appreciate the extra protection and cushioning.
We will note that the CMEVA foam tends to quickly accrue scrapes, chips, and dings, and is likely going to show the most wear and tear of anywhere on the shoe. This is purely an aesthetic issue, so don’t stress over it too much. It’s still doing it’s job just fine.
With a heel stack height of 33m for men, and 31 for women, this is a cushier than average shoe. Described as “moderate cushion” but in our opinion, it’s definitely on the cushier side of moderate. That said, it is not excessive, and like we mentioned, you won’t feel disconnected from the trail. The HOKA Speedgoat 5 have a 4mm drop, which is less than average, but enough that people used to traditional running shoes with much higher drops will feel comfortable for a quick transition, as will people coming in having used zero drop shoes. 4mm is a very universal drop, and is our most preferred amount.
The double layer jacquard engineered mesh is breathable, comfortable, and durable. The author of this review is on his 4th pair of HOKA Speedgoat 5 having never torn or ripped the upper even once. The mesh is static and has little to no stretch, so you needn’t worry about a loose sloppy fit.
While the mesh upper is double layered, we find it is very quick to dry, and does an excellent job of venting. It is quite breathable. This is encouraged by a few sections of the upper in which the outer mesh layer has a more open design, with holes woven in to encourage airflow.
We love the laces on the HOKA Speedgoat 5, and all HOKA shoes for that matter. They are flat and never ever seem to come untied. They sit over top of a virtually uncushioned tongue that
A protective toe rand spanning the front protects the most abrasion prone area. The extended heel tab looks a bit silly, but is immensely helpful when sliding you foot in and out of the shoe.
Ah the Vibram Megagrip outsole, one of the very best and most beloved features of the HOKA Speedgoat 5. The lug shape is hard to describe, perhaps a chevron with a mushroom growing off the top? Regardless, they are extremely grippy and have never failed to provide adequate traction on any surface we’ve tested them on. This a rubber outsole, which covers about 80% of the bottom of the midsole. Valleys, notches, and slits allow water to escape out the sides ensuring your lugs will make maximum contact.
This shoe is built with a “late stage meta rocker” which enhances the efficiency of your stride while both running and walking. Note how the bottom of the shoe rises at the toe and heel.
Perhaps our biggest complaint and the number one reason you’ll need to replace a pair of speedgoats is that the lugs wear down. While this is true of all running shoes and all lugs eventually wear down, the exceptionally agressive shape of these lugs expose more corners directly to the trail. What gives them their exceptional grip is also what causes them to deteriorate. We would say the lugs wear down a tad faster than the average trail running shoe, but not exeptionally quick. We estimate you will get 200-400 miles out of a pair, depending on how frequently you run or hike on sharp, rocky surfaces.
Pros & Cons
- Pro: Extremely grippy lugs give excellent traction on difficult terrain
- Pro: Well-cushioned and comfortable for long mileage days
- Pro: Universal fit and drop appeals to all
- Pro: Mesh upper is breathable
- Pro: Toe rand adds durability
- Pro: Flat tongue gives secure fit
- Pro: Extended heel tabs give easy on/off
- Pro: Great colorways
- Pro: Effective laces
- Con: Lugs are prone to wearing down
- Con: Average weight, lighter is preferred
- Con: Sides of foam midsole are prone to getting scraped up, though it’s purely aesthetic
Compared to HOKA Challenger 7.
Compared to HOKA’s other most popular trail running shoe, the Challenger 7, Speedgoats 5s are grippier and more durable, but also heavier and less breathable. Learn more in about the Challenger 7 in our full length review, or decide between them with our direct comparison article.
HOKA Speedgoat 5 Review Conclusion
The HOKA Speedgoat 5’s are an excellent all-around trail shoe. They excel wherever traction is needed most, thanks to the Vibram Megagrip outsole with 5mm lugs. What’s more, they’re extremely comfortable thanks to the cushioned midsole, breathable and quick-drying upper, and universal fit and forefoot drop. At time of publication, the HOKA Speedgoat 5 are our go-to trail running and hiking shoe, and we recommend them extremely highly.
Read about more of the best trail runners for hiking in guide to the Best Trail Running Shoes