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The Speedgoat 4 Is a Softie—Which Makes it Ideal for Ultrarunning

The fourth iteration is still a monster on the trail, as well as a plush pillow on your feet.

Footwear, Shoe, Orange, Yellow, Running shoe, Athletic shoe, Outdoor shoe, Walking shoe, Sneakers, Cross training shoe,
Lakota Gambill

The RW Takeaway: The cushy Speedgoat 4 is tenacious on technical trails and made for running hundreds of a miles (all at once).

  • Updated mesh upper provides more breathability and better drainage
  • Vibram MegaGrip outsole and 5mm lugs deliver superior traction
  • The somewhat heavy shoe posted moderate energy return in lab testing

    Price: $145
    10.9 oz (M), 9.2 oz (W)

    Buy Men’s Buy Women’s More Images

    Last year, the Hoka One One EVO Speedgoat had a triumphant reception, lauded and awarded for its winning formula of all-weather grip, lockdown fit, and lightness. But it’d be a mistake to overlook the Speedgoat 4, which incorporates all of what we originally associated with the Speedgoat’s name for a lower price. Like the previous version, the 4 has a Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole patterned with 5mm lugs.

    Lakota Gambill
    Speedgoat 4

    • Ultra-soft midsole
    • Grippy outsole with 5mm lugs

    • Moderate energy return
    • Very stiff

    Over most surfaces—including slippery rock—the shoe held firm with its tacky traction. With the Speedgoat 3, a minor complaint was that it needed more protection under the heel. This seemed to no longer be an issue with the 4. “Rocks and roots are eaten up like a blender grinding food,” said one tester, who regarded the Speedgoat’s cushioning as his favorite feature.

    While testers unanimously agreed they liked the midsole for its comfortable—and protective—softness, some had polarizing opinions on how this affected their performance on the trail. “Yes, the cushioning is truly amazing,” said a tester, “but it’s like having underinflated mountain bike tires; it’s less reactive.” On the other hand, another tester found the Speedgoat befitting for a 50K, despite its heavier weight compared to other shoes he’s tested (like the lightweight Topo Athletic MTN Racer).

    Footwear, Orange, Shoe, Walking shoe, Sneakers, Running shoe, Cross training shoe, Outdoor shoe, Tennis shoe, Athletic shoe,
    Lakota Gambill

    Supremely Soft

    Consistent with its predecessors’ shoe lab results, the Speedgoat 4 measured very soft in the heel and forefoot of both the men’s and women’s models. For long stretches on the rugged trail, this feature is forgiving on the legs and feet, but not necessarily advantageous when you have the need for speed.

    Past experiences with “traditional” Hokas (marshmallow plushness, maximalist profile) always felt like sofa cushions on my feet, and it’s the same with the Speedgoat 4. The rebound is there (lab results showed moderate energy return) but these wouldn’t be the first shoes I’d choose for a 10K race or shorter on the trail. As with any piece of gear, however, there’s a time and place for it; short to medium distances may not be the Speedgoat’s calling, but it’s the GOAT when it comes to ultras.

    Footwear, Shoe, Red, Brown, Cleat, Maroon, Carmine, Hiking boot, Athletic shoe, Nike free,
    Lakota Gambill

    “I wouldn’t use this shoe for speedwork,” one tester said. “They are a bit heavier than your typical shoe but that is of course the price you pay with the comfort they give you. I have used this shoe during a 50K and they held up very nicely. I didn’t have any problems with the technical trails.”

    Mud-Repelling Upper

    The new upper’s mesh is even more breathable, with 3D overlays providing structure and a secure hold. The women’s shoe runs large, however, so you may want to bump down half a size.

    Footwear, Yellow, Shoe, Sneakers, Athletic shoe,
    Lakota Gambill

    The shoe proved effective with stream crossings, its drainage not leaving wear testers waterlogged when they couldn’t skirt around creeks. Those pronounced, spaced lugs also shed mud easily, providing sure footing when the trail is both mucky and slippery.

    The Speedgoat is also available in Gore-Tex ($160).

    More Wear Tester Feedback

    Mike R., tester since 2013
    Arch: High | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Forefoot
    “I would (use) these shoes on a number of trails. Even on some of the less technical trails you couldn’t tell they had big lugs on the bottom. This feature is one of my favorites on the Speedgoat; it really is one of the best (shoes) I’ve ever ran in. Although I have previously liked the mesh on the older models the new material certainly seems to hold up better. With that being said, the shoe is a bit heavier—at least it felt that way—but I guess that’s the price you pay to have a shoe that may last a bit longer.”

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