Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 Review - Same Great Ride and Traction, Improved Upper

Article by Jeff Valliere, Dom Layfield, Dave Ames, and Cheyne Inman

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 ($140)
Editor’s Note: Our reviewers include Jeff Valliere who is daily and fast on the steeps of the Flatirons above Boulder, Colorado, Dom Layfield an accomplished and speedy ultra runner based in Southern California, Dave Ames a run coach in SoCal who stays in sub 3 shape and who is training for his first Ultras, and Cheyne Inman also in SoCal who is a 1:07 half marathoner mainly focused on the roads. Their full run bios can be found here.

Jeff:  The Speedgoat 2 (RTR review) was one of my top 2 shoes of 2017, top pick if I wanted max cushion and my choice for all of the trail races I ran, including the Pikes Peak Marathon.  The light weight, max cushion, good traction and good response was a winning combination and a marked improvement over the first version of the Speedgoat.  The Speedgoat 3 retains all of the good qualities and improves upon what were really my only minor concerns, the fit and durability of the upper. These two concerns came to the fore long after my SpeedGoat 2 review was published and I will elaborate further on them below.

Dom:  I was never as enthusiastic as Jeff about the Speedgoat 2, but nevertheless selected it several times to run 100-milers (including twice for UTMB).  The forefoot was too narrow for my taste, and the sole stack was so thick and stiff that I could barely feel the ground underfoot. For daily running, it was the antithesis of what I was looking for.  However, for epic race efforts like UTMB, this was an absolutely bulletproof and extremely competent shoe at a really competitive weight.

Dom:  Although Hoka don’t do half-number revisions like Altra, the Speedgoat 3 should really be called the Speedgoat 2.5, as not much has changed.  Nothing at all (that I’m aware of) in the sole, and relatively minor updates to the upper to fix a few problems identified with the SG2.

Cheyne: This was my first time trying the Speed Goat, and although it wasn’t what I was looking for in a trail shoe, I was pleasantly surprised with the comfort and durability of this shoe.

Dave:  Like Cheyne, this is my first look at a Speedgoat.  Cheyne and I both were buried in trail shoes from Skechers Performance in the past when we both worked there in the run division, so this opens up some great opportunities to try out Hoka in the dirt.  Hoka has really come alive in their trail division the past 2 years. I am obsessed with the Torrent trail racer and the EVO Mafate did not disappoint on longer days out in the trails. The Challenger ATR 5 (just out in limited release, coming January everywhere) is so far a favorite, and I was excited to see what the Speedgoat 3 brought to the table.  

Compared to the ATR 5, which has a bit more roominess in the toe box and overall volume in the shoe in general, the SG3 fit my foot a bit more snug.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, I just feel a bit more tight in the shoe. I am able to wear a thinner Stance or Zensah quarter sock in the SG3, whereas I wear a thicker quarter in the ATR 5.  My size 9 is spot on and it laces up quite nicely. Love the look and the sweet Hoka call out on the midsole side wall.

Official Weight: 10.3 oz/292 g US M9, 9.1 oz/258 g US W7
US M9:  10.1oz/285g (w/ sockliner) - - 9.3oz/262g (w/out sockliner)

US M10: 10.9 oz (310 g)
Stack Height: 32mm/28mm, 4mm drop
Standard $140. WP breathable SkyShell $150 (not tested)
Available January 2019


Jeff:  The upper of the Speedgoat 3 has been revamped and improved over version 2, with modified welded overlays for added security, improved flexibility (adding comfort and improving fit) as well as increased durability.

Jeff:  Like the Speedgoat 2, the Speedgoat 3 has an engineered 3D Puff Print mesh upper, which offers good breathability, flexibility and comfort.  
New for the Speedgoat 3 is an integrated tongue, somewhat reminiscent of the Salomon Sensifit for improved security, comfort and step in ease, helping to hold the tongue in place.  The tongue is moderately padded and lays more evenly with the help of the Sensifit like integration.
Dom:  The tongue of the Speedgoat 2 was one of the items that I really wanted Hoka to change.  I found the SG2 tongue would gradually migrate laterally over the course of several hours, exposing the top laces to rub and chafe.  It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was annoying, and easily fixed. Hoka have added a lightweight mesh that connects the tongue of the SG3 down to the sole.   

Jeff: The toe bumper has also seen some minor revisions, as it is slightly more substantial and more continuous, integrating better with the also more continuous rand.  
The rand in the Speedgoat 2 has several notches to allow for flex, but instead created a weakness and subsequent tearing.
Speedgoat 2
It is hard to predict this early on, but I think that this problem will be mitigated, if not remedied with the revisions in the Speedgoat 3.

The heel counter is semi rigid, with a little flex and is very secure.  The heel collar is of medium height and well padded, perhaps a bit more than is necessary, though not problematic.

The laces are a bit thicker and more textured, which I appreciate, as I find them to be a little easier to tighten, slightly more secure, and less likely to come untied.

As in the previous version, the upper provides a very secure feel, which is essential on a shoe with such a high stack.  I can run them over rocky, steep technical terrain with steep sidehilling, at fast speeds, with no hesitation or worries of my foot sliding unpredictably.

Fit is the same as the Speedgoat 2, true to size with a secure heel and midfoot and a somewhat narrow toe box.  I have a slim foot and rarely have an issue with a narrow toe box, but with the Speedgoat 2, over time and on longer runs, I did experience some discomfort on either side of the widest point of my foot. I attribute this not only to the shoe being narrow there, but also the way in which the upper/rand flexed and pinched my foot.  So far, I have found the Speedgoat 3 to have better stretch and flex in that area and have not experienced this issue.

Dave:  There is nothing too fancy about the upper other than it just plain works.  I did not run in previous versions, so it is hard for me to chime in on the tweaks, but I can tell you with the added overlays, nice lacing system and a heel collar that doesn’t flare up my calcaneus, this is a pleasure to run in.  My feet really enjoy the SG3. Like Cheyne and Dom, I also live in SoCal. The miles I have put in so far on the shoe have been extremely dry and dusty single track and wide open cruisers with good climbs and fast descents. The upper holds my foot in very well and there was no jamming of my toes on some fast descents on a long run last Saturday (11/10) in the mountains above Laguna Beach.  A pretty nasty 16 miler on dead legs from a back to back with 4000+ of climbing was the first long run on the SG3 for me and the upper performed beautifully.

Right: Speedgoat 3                                                      Left: Speedgoat 2
Cheyne: I live in Southern California where the weather is sunny and 75 year around. I was pleasantly surprised that the upper did not feel like it had too many overlays and it was protective, but breathable. As mentioned above, the sewn in tongue and durable laces were definitely added bonuses. I felt very secure in the shoe without any rubbing or uncomfortable creases.


Jeff:  Identical to the Speedgoat 2, no changes here.  The midsole looks large (and is large), but as is the case with the majority of Hokas, the foot sits much deeper within the shoe than the sidewall height suggests, enhancing stability due to the Active Foot Frame technology.  The Speedgoat 2 runs like a much slimmer shoe, more like a shoe with ~10 less millimeters of stack height, as it is impressively agile and nimble.
Cushioning is plush, yet firm enough to not feel squishy and marshmallowy.  The Speedgoat 3 is responsive for a maximal shoe, enough to not feel at all sloggy and this is enhanced by the Meta-Rocker, helping to pitch the foot forward while running.
Cheyne: The midsole felt cushioned yet responsive for a max cushion shoe. I did not feel like I could get up and go fast in this shoe, but it is great for the long haul when your legs are tired. I feel it could be the perfect hybrid shoe because it is cushioned enough to protect you on the trails or roads, but rugged enough to tackle the trails.

Dave:  We used to say this at Skechers about some of the max cush stuff, “it’s like sitting in a bathtub.”  Exactly that. The SG3, via the Active Foot Frame, wraps the foot very well. When combined with the rockered midsole, I found myself transitioning quickly from heel strike to toe off and landing each and every time, mile after mile on the midfoot to forefoot.  The forefoot then pops ever so softly allowing your legs to stay fresh mile after mile. Something I unfortunately cannot say about some of their road shoes such as the Clifton….which are far too soft. Maximalism should be firm and responsive in my mind and the trail department gets that at Hoka.  While the shoe may be a tad more chunky given its giant stack, it can cruise. I found myself really enjoying the 50 or so miles I have put on it in the last week for general aerobic days and a long run, all on the dirt.

Jeff: The Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole (along with the upper and the midsole) is one of the best aspects of the Speedgoat 3.  The lugs are deep and arranged such that they provide excellent traction in a wide variety of conditions. The Megagrip sticky rubber compound grabs well on dry rock, wet rock, snow, mud, off trail, loose dirt and just about anything else you can step on.  Outsole wear rate and durability on version 2 has been extremely good, as should be the case with version 3.

Dom: As Jeff says, there really wasn’t anything to fix with the Speedgoat outsole, and Hoka wisely left this alone.  In my long experience with the Speedgoat 2, I found that the grip was excellent in all conditions. I raced this shoe in snow and rain, in hot and dry, on rough and smooth ground, and never found it wanting.   Durability has also proven impeccable. Expect the same from the Speedgoat 3.

Cheyne: As Jeff and Dom mentioned, this outsole is an A+ for trail shoes. It grips great on any terrain, but the lugs are not so deep that they throw the balance of the shoe of the shoe off.

Dave:  Vibram Megagrip is aces.  Man can this shoe grip! Now, to be honest, I run SoCal trails. To be fair, I have not taken this baby through snow, ice or rain, so I’ll leave that to my esteemed colleagues Jeff and Dom, but on the dry stuff, whether in the steeps going up, or the rocket ship single track going down (Mach 1 or Rattlesnake...2 of my favorite trails in Crystal Cove State Park with epic ocean views), I never lacked confidence in what was on my foot.  Very well done outsole by Hoka. Hoping to get some to Central NY at some point for some winter trail miles and put this thing to the test.


The Speedgoat 3 is ideal for day to day training on just about any terrain and races well too.  Though my first pick for racing last year, especially on courses with a lot of downhill, the recently released EVO Mafate (RTR review here) has eclipsed the Speedgoat for pure performance and relegated it to an easy day trainer.
Ground feel is a bit muted, as one might expect with a shoe with so much cushion, but I have not found it to ever be a problem, as I find myself skipping rock to rock with ease and the rest of the terrain between the rocks, I hardly need to feel, as I am just steamrolling over it.  The Speedgoat 3 is notably wide on the ground and combined with such a locked in and performance oriented upper, stability is remarkable, even when pushing hard in rocky, technical terrain. Flexibility is good enough for contouring over rocks and obstacles, with no feeling of tippyness.  I tried the Speedgoat 3 out on the roads and they performed reasonably well, but overall, I found the lugs to be a bit large and sticky and thus hampering efficiency some. The plush cushion is well suited for road/sidewalk use, but this is a pure trail shoe in my opinion.

My only minor concern for the Speedgoat 3 has been the increase in weight, gaining nearly an ounce per shoe over the previous version in my US Men’s size 10.  I do appreciate the improvements to the upper, but comparing versions 2 and 3 side by side, there is little indication as to why the newer version should be that much heavier.
Jeff’s Score:  9.6/10
-0.2 for added weight over previous version (Speedgoat 2 in US Men’s Size 10 is 10 ¼ oz. vs. 11 ⅛ oz for the Speedgoat 3).
-0.2 for narrow forefoot

The Speedgoat 3 is truly a maximalist, max cushion shoe.  Jeff describes the ground feel as “muted”, which I thought was a lovely understatement.  I find that the sole stack to be so immense that you can barely feel anything underfoot. But because of this, you can thunder down heinous rubble with reckless abandon: the rock protection is unparalleled.  Although not a light shoe (at 10.9 oz, 310 g for my US M10 sample pair), there is nothing to touch the Speedgoat in terms of bang per gram.

The upper is narrow and stiff, which it really needs to be in order to anchor your foot to such a  thick stack. However the shoe remains surprisingly comfortable, and is extremely competent in all areas.   I don’t like the Speedgoat as a daily training shoe: I prefer something with more flexibility, more ground feel, and more space in the forefoot.  On the other hand, the Speedgoat is an outstanding shoe for long, mountainous ultramarathon races.

There wasn’t much wrong with the Speedgoat 2, and in the update to version 3, Hoka have wisely left almost everything the same.  The upper of the Speedgoat 2 had minor durability issues that should be fixed by the continuous perimeter overlay. The revised tongue seems to have fixed the lateral migration I experienced in the Speedgoat 2.  There’s also slightly enhanced toe bumper in the 3. The only downside is that the weight has increased by 25 g / 0.9 oz per pair.
Dom’s Score:  9.5 / 10
-I’m pleased with the minor improvements that Hoka made to version 2, but wish they could have kept the weight gain smaller.
-I still want more forefoot space.

Cheyne: If you are a Hoka fan you will love the Speedgoat 3 as your trail shoe. It is cushioned and durable, yet does not feel overly clunky. It is a versatile shoe that someone who does half their runs on the trail and half their runs on the road could easily make as their only trainer. My only issues with the shoe were that it was a little heavier than I would have liked, and the massive amount of cushioning made it tough to get up and go. For a max cushion shoe, it felt very stable and secure. For the amount of protection and cushioning this shoe offers it is on the lighter end of the spectrum. If you are looking for a trail shoe that will get you through the miles on any terrain without feeling the pounding then this shoe is for you.
Cheyne’s Score: 9.5/10
-This is a great shoe all around, but if Hoka could cut down on the weight it would be even better.

Hoka continues to knock in out of the park with their trail line for 2018 and now into Spring 2019.  The SG3, as Jeff says, is definitely the all around trainer for the trails. But, even with the added weight, I’d be safe to say if you are racing 50 miles or more, this can be a great race day shoe for you as well.  It boasts plenty of cush, a snappy and quick landing/transition and long story short, it keeps your legs fresh! That protection and cushioning are extremely important for trail running long distances on rough terrain, as Dom found out, and is why this shoe can be quite the wise choice for long and tough terrain  SG 3 will definitely be in the cards for my next 50 miler.
Dave’s Score:  9.60 out of 10
-.20 for a bit narrow in the toe box
-.20 for weight.  Would like a tad lighter

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 vs. Speedgoat 2 (RTR review here):  
Jeff: Documented above, but the improved upper of the 3 is more durable, secure and comfortable, otherwise is the same shoe.  The upper improvements make the 3 worthy of recommendation over version 2.
Dom:  What he said.  Same shoe with improvements to the upper.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 vs. Challenger ATR 5 (RTR review upcoming):  
Jeff:  The Challenger ATR 5 has a more roomy fit, yet consequently is less secure on steep and/or technical terrain.  The Speedgoat 3 is more stable and secure and thus I find it to be a faster shoe on technical trails, though the Challenger 5 is lighter and more responsive, but mainly excels on less technical terrain.

Dom:  I totally agree with Jeff.  The ATR is lighter and softer, and feels flimsy in comparison to the armored SG.  The ATR also has a roomier upper.

Dave:  Tough call here, because I really love both.  It really depends on what you are getting yourself into. Having logged decent miles in both now, I’d look to the ATR5 to be more of a recovery day shoe and the Speedgoat 3 for when I need to be much more aggressive.  That’s not to say the ATR 5 cannot handle a tempo or Fartlek in the trails….because it definitely can. But if the dirt is rocky or a bit more unstable, go with the SG3.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 vs. EVO Mafate (RTR review here):  
Jeff: Both are great shoes, but the EVO Mafate is lighter, faster and has a superior upper and better fit, while still being secure.  For racing the EVO Mafate is the clear winner. Even for training it is the clear winner. This said it is $30 more than the Speedgoat.
Dom: I have to differ with Jeff here.  For me, the EVO is not a clear winner. In character, the EVO is closer to the ATR 5, but with a slightly narrower forefoot.  For long, technical races, I’d choose the bulletproof Speedgoat. For a softer, more comfortable ride, I’d pick the ATR 5, which in my opinion eclipses the EVO.  The EVO might be preferable for runners with narrow feet.
Dave:  EVO Mafate is a great shoe!  But it’s a tad heavy and doesn’t transition as well for me from heel to toe as the Speedgoat 3.  Should I need a shoe to log those really really long trail miles runs during a 50 - 100 miler, EVO is the choice, but remember the trail pace is far slower than road.  Want to go a bit faster? I say Speedgoat 3.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 vs. Hoka One One Torrent (RTR review here):  
Jeff: The Torrent is lower to the ground and less Hoka like, super fast and geared toward pure performance, while retaining an adequate level of cushion/protection and is also lighter with a more generous fit.
Dom:  Although both trail shoes from Hoka, these are very different in character.  To echo Jeff, the Torrent is lower and less cushioned, with a roomier fit.
Cheyne: I agree with Jeff and Dom on this comparison and I would add that if you are looking at the Speedgoat 3 because you are a Hoka max cushion fan, then the Speedgoat is the shoe for you.
Dave:  Torrent for 50K and below / trail workouts.  Speedgoat 3 for 50K + and slower cruiser miles.  Far more underfoot in the SG3. Buy both. They each serve a purpose and you won’t be disappointed!

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 vs. Salomon Ultra Pro (RTR review here):  
Jeff: The Speedgoat has better cushion for longer days, but the overall fit of the Ultra Pro is much more comfortable and forgiving and it has a superior outsole with better traction.

Speedgoat 3 vs Topo Ultraventure (RTR review here)
Jeff: The Ultraventure is the closest equivalent to the Speedgoat 3 from Topo’s lineup.  Both are shoes have plenty of cushioning, but the Speedgoat provides a lot more protection.  Ultraventure is more comfortable, more spacious (particularly in the toe box), and slightly lighter. SG3 stack is 32/28 mm; Ultraventure 30/25 mm.  

Speedgoat 3 vs Altra Timp 1.5 (RTR review upcoming)
Jeff: With a 29 mm stack, the highly cushioned Altra Timp 1.5 is a similar height to the Speedgoat 3 (32/28 mm), but is very different in character.   The Altra fit is much wider, and the sole is softer and more compliant than the Speedgoat’s. On technical terrain, the snug and much less elastic SpeedGoat upper holds the foot more tightly and feels more secure than the plush and forgiving Timp. Timp weight is 13 g (about ½ oz) more per shoe.

The SpeedGoat 3 will be available January 2019
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere, Dom Layfield, and Cheyne Inman
The product reviewed in this article were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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Lightning said...

The later versions of the Speedgoat 2 (at least by my mid-2018 version) had already fixed the notched forefoot overlay/upper tearing issue by making it continuous vs. notched. So maybe the Speedgoat 2 is better than Speedgoat 3 by virture of being lighter and more likely to be on sale.

I found that I really don't like how the Speedgoat 2 runs. I really can't get it up to faster speeds for things like ripping sub-5 mile pace on downhills as easily as I can in shoes like the Challenger ATR 1 or Clifton 1. It's strictly a jogging pace shoe for me. It feels like the geometry of the sole is different. It's only a tiny bit thicker so I don't think it's that. The midsole seems to taper in thickness quicker under the toes than those other shoes I mentioned, so I can't engage my toes the same way, is the sensation I get.

Σπύρος said...

Good that they made the tongue gusseted. Toebox could be wider. The rand doesn't cover both sides of the shoe. As you can see in the sixth picture there is a gap between the rand and the overlays, there is only mesh. In version 2 this gap was covered by the rand.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent review. How does the SG3 compare to the Xodus ISO 3?

VeganTrailRunr said...


What is the material on the outside back of the heel? It looks like suede. Is that the case?

Thank you.