Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE EVO Speedgoat Multi Tester Review: Light, Super Cushioned, Long Haul Comfort, Home Run Trail Race Machine

Article by Dom Layfield, Jeff Valliere, Jacob Brady, and Sam Winebaum

Hoka ONE ONE EVO Speedgoat ($160)
Jeff:  The Speedgoat 2 and 3, as well as the EVO Mafate 1 and 2 have been some of my favorite shoes and have consistently occupied a permanent spot on my top shelf of first pick shoes. I have used the Speedgoat 2 for racing mountain trail marathons and half marathons, but do admit that on longer distances, they can start to feel a bit snug as my feet swell, even on my somewhat slim foot.  The EVO Mafate and especially the revised EVO Mafate 2 have upped the game, with a very secure/durable, yet comfortable Matryx upper, with now a bit of give now due to the small stretch section just ahead of the lower lace eyelets (breathable vamp it is called).  
I have not raced in a bit, but if I were, the EVO Mafate 2 would be my pick over the aforementioned versions due to its much more responsive midsole.  The EVO Speedgoat retains the proven cushy midsole and outsole of the Speedgoat 2 and 3, yet completely re-tools the upper to the Matryx material in the EVO Mafate 2, a more pliable, thinner softer version of the fairly dense and scratchy Matryx material found in EVO Mafate 1 .  The kevlar fibers woven into Matryx upper makes them very light, breathable, non moisture absorbing and secure, without the need for postings and overlays. For some, depending on positioning, postings and overlays can cause discomfort, create a structural weakness, add weight and decrease flexibility with the Matryx upper is intended to remedy all of that.

Dom:  The elevator pitch for the EVO Speedgoat is this: the upper of the EVO Mafate 2 meets the sole of the Speedgoat 3.   If you’re familiar with both shoes that’s really all you need to know.  Otherwise, read on.
Dom:  The Speedgoat 2 was the shoe I chose to race at UTMB in both 2017 and 2018.  And I was fully expecting that the updated Speedgoat 3 would be my choice in 2019.  I have a complicated relationship with these shoes. For daily running, they are not to my liking: the sole stack is so thick and stiff that ground feel is all but non-existent; the upper feels like it clamps my foot to the sole.  However, for long races like UTMB, the fact that the Speedgoat is bulletproof, secure, and utterly dependable, all while clocking in at a competitive weight, trumps comfort and other considerations.

Dom:  Hoka’s original EVO Mafate had a similar stack height to the Speedgoat, but with a softer sole, having that signature Hoka ‘marshmallow’ cushion versus the firmer ride of the Speedgoat.  With the EVO Mafate 2, Hoka tweaked the upper, crucially adding a stretch panel across the forefoot that made the toebox more accommodating, and (for me) much more comfortable. I liked the EVO Mafate 2 enough to use it in the 5-day Dragon’s Back Race in the UK. I chose the EM2 because I thought the pillowy sole would be the most forgiving option available to run for ~9 hours/day.  I think this was largely true. But I also found that the traction from the partial-coverage outsole was disastrously unreliable. This, combined with instability from the tall, soft stack caused several hard falls, ripped hands, and broken poles. In retrospect, I have to conclude that the EM2 is a much better choice in gentler terrain. I had previously used this shoe to race at the Canyons 100k race in California, and experienced no problems at all.

Dom:  If you made it through the long-winded discussion above, you’ll understand why the prospect of a EVO Mafate 2 upper (comfortable, durable) connected to a Speedgoat 3 sole (grippy, stable, durable) is an enticing prospect, potentially leveraging the strengths of both shoes.  In my opinion, the EVO Speedgoat delivers on this promise. Not only does it find a happy synergy between the characters of its parents, but also it does so at a notably lighter weight than either: in my size (US M10), the Speedgoat 3 weighs 310 g per shoe; the EVO Mafate 3 is 305 g; the EVO Speedgoat is 285 g.

Jacob: The EVO Speedgoat is the next progression of the Speedgoat line, transforming a rough-terrain, descent-blasting, long-distance trucker—the Speedgoat 3—into a true race-class shoe. The EVO Speedgoat boasts a significant weight drop due to a very lightweight and breathable Matryx upper, alike to Hoka’s other max-cushion trail shoe, the EVO Mafate (1 and 2). The Speedgoat 3 (SG3) has been my primary trail shoe for the past few months and carried me through both my first ultra and mountain race. I choose the SG3 over the EVO Mafate as the foothold is top notch—unbeatable for the often unmaintained and very rooted trails of the northeast US. I love the SG3 though weight is its primary weakness, so the release of a significantly lighter version with the same out/midsole is exciting stuff! 
Sam: I was very intrigued to test the EVO Speedgoat. After much success by Hoka elites in the EVO Mafate in 2018, I was surprised to learn that Jim Walmsley set the Western States 100 record as well as 3d place at the very fast course Sierre Zinal 30K in this evolution of the Speedgoat.

I for sure couldn’t see that kind of speed attained in the regular Speedgoat. I never much cared for the Speedgoat 1 and 2, the two versions I have run. Stiff, squishy, quite snug especially upfront unless the terrain was super technical they felt more like hikers than trail runners. I really enjoyed the Torrent for some 25K trail races last year as it had just enough cushion and plenty of traction at a much lower weight. The EVO Mafate 1 was a rocket for me on smoother terrain and even some road but its upper was a bit scratchy and stiff up front. I also wished for more flexibility in both the Speedgoat and EVO Mafate. Along comes the approximately 1 ounce lighter EVO Speedgoat, pretty much matching the Torrent in weight. A more pliable comfortable upper than the others (I did not test EVO Mafate 2 with its similar Matryx material). Check! More flexibility. Check! Lots of softer cushion and a great stabilizing and grippy outsole. Check! Time to test.

Jeff/ Sam/Dom/Jacob:  
Light at 9.3 oz for all the cushion/protection, about an ounce lighter than Speedgoat 3 and EVO Mafate 2 with similar stack heights
Increased comfort and easier on the toes front fit compared to Speedgoat 3, 
Breathable, non moisture absorbing, rapid draining  
Responsive for a maximal soft cushioned shoe, 
Traction & Durability
Sam: a great blend of soft bouncy all day, any pace any terrain comfort, flexibility and decent response from the outsole.

JeffSome may find them to be a bit hard to handle in technical terrain
Sam: Toe box while incredibly comfortable lacks side of bumper overlays and the soft flexible midsole makes off angle front landings not as secure and stable for more technical terrain.
Jacob: Foothold on technical terrain is a step down from the Speedgoat 3

Tester Profiles
Dom 47, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.  
Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 
Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He runs every day and averages 50 miles per week. He recently ran a 2:54 marathon and completed his first ultra, a 50km trail race.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

EVO Speedgoat Weight: men's 9.3 oz / 264 g(US9)  / women's / (US8
Speedgoat 3 Weight: 10.3 oz / (US9)) men’s   
9.06 oz / 257 g (US8.5), 10.9  oz / 310g (US12), 10.13 oz / 287 g (US 10), 10.1 oz / 285 g (US M10) 
Stack Height: 32mm heel, 28 mm forefoot, 4mm drop
Available now, $160

First Impressions and Fit
Jeff:  Slightly lighter and better looking in person than I expected and very familiar if you run in the Speedgoat 3, or the EVO Mafate 2, it is as if the two shoes got together and scrambled their DNA.  The Matryx upper is very thin, light and breathable with a stretchy section of material in front of the lowest lacing area to the toe (breathable vamp as they call it) to offer just a touch of give without compromising (much) security and control.  Fit is true to size and the shape/width is consistent with the Speedgoat 2 and 3. Before elaborating more, I’ll just cover in the upper section below.

Jacob: The EVO SG has a sleeker style than prior shoes in the Speedgoat series with minimal overlays, a largely single piece upper, thinner tongue, lower/more flexible heel, and a rockin’ yellow colorway. Compared to a road racer, the EVO SG isn’t light, but when I slipped them on it definitely felt like there was not much on the foot—they are noticeably lighter than the SG3. The upper conforms to the foot well making it feel secure but not tight. It feels like the air could blow right through the toe box, which is different than the thicker and heavily overlayed (though still breathable) engineered mesh of the SG3.
Sam: While the last does not appear to be broader than Speedgoat 3, the fit, due to the far more pliable Matryx upper and essentially no overlays of consequence anywhere, including up front, is super comfortable and true to size for me. I was at the limit (small) at true to size in the Speedgoat 2 and fine in the EVO Mafate 1. The look retains some Hoka canary yellow towards the rear and at the sole but doesn’t scream. I can say that mud looks great on this shoe! They dirty super well retaining the yellow black contrast with mud on board without looking like you have plowed through a bog.   

Jeff:  The “only” real change is with the upper, but a significant and very welcome change which I suspect will open up the Speedgoat to a much wider customer base than previous models.  
As mentioned in the introduction, the Matryx upper is a carbon infused weave that is extremely supportive and durable, which eliminates the need for overlays and postings.  It is thus lighter, more breathable, more flexible and overall is more comfortable. I think a selling point for this shoe is all of the benefits of the Matryx upper previously listed, combined with the little bit of dynamic stretch that is felt upon lacing the shoe.  The stretch is subtle and took me a few tries to find a snugness that works for me, as on my first run,  2,300 foot/2 mile technical trail ascent of Green Mountain in Boulder I found them to be a bit loose. On the summit, I re-tied them tighter for the descent, but then found them to be too tight, so then had to adjust again.  As I got more familiar with the lacing, I was able to achieve a fit that was secure enough for most of my running without feeling constricting. Even so, I feel like security in technical terrain (unless I over tighten the shoe uncomfortably so) is not quite as solid as with the Speedgoat 3, as I do experience my foot moving around inside the shoe some on steep downhills, when side hilling or running fast downhill on even moderate grades.
LEFT: EVO Speedgoat                                RIGHT: Speedgoat 3
The heel counter is semi flexible and heel collar is more minimal than the Speedgoat 3 with less padding, though is very comfortable, stable, protective and secure.
Like the Speedgoat 3, the EVO Speedgoat also has a gusseted style wrap tonge (similar to Salomon Endofit) to enhance comfort and security.
The toe cap is very thin and minimal,  limited to the very tip of the shoe, but has yet to be an issue.
LEFT: EVO Speedgoat                                RIGHT: Speedgoat 3
Dom:  The shape of Hoka shoes has never been as good a match to my feet as Altra or Topo shoes, but the stretch panel on the top of the EVO Mafate 2 transformed the shoe, making it more comfortable than the original EVO Mafate, particularly for runners with wider feet.  In the same way, the new upper of the EVO Speedgoat makes the shoe much more accommodating in the forefoot. I’ve never felt tempted to use the Speedgoat 2/3 as a daily training shoe, but the EVO Speedgoat is comfortable enough that I might do so. (Although outside of long races, this much cushion isn’t really my cup of tea.)
BOTTOM: EVO Speedgoat               TOP: Speedgoat 3
Dom:  The race-oriented EVO upper is pared down compared to the Speedgoat 3.  The laces are skinnier, the tongue and heel collar less padded. The toe bumper is downsized.  There’s no rand around the perimeter to protect the upper fabric. Personally, I didn’t notice much compromise in comfort.  The only question really is how much the EVO upper has diminished the foot retention of the Speedgoat 3. The answer is “a little”: I did notice my forefoot sliding sideways in off-camber terrain.  If I were boulder-hopping or charging down rubble, the rock-solid foothold of the SG3 would be preferable. But for almost every other use, my choice would be the extra comfort and softer ride of the EVO Speedgoat.

Jacob: The most dramatic changes from the SG3 are in the EVO Speedgoat upper. The EVO Speedgoat uses Hoka’s Matryx upper, seen first on the EVO Mafate. The material is very thin (I wore bright socks and they were visible through it), and feels light and airy, though the weave is composed of thick fibers and likely very durable as the Matryx upper has proven to be in the EVO Mafate.
Jacob: There are no overlays on the mid and forefoot which allows the shoe a lot of flex as the upper has very minimal structure. Though there is little give to the Matryx material, the tongue, material above the toe box, and laces all have a lot of stretch which allows for a comfortable and accommodating fit. The upper locks the foot to the sole well without putting pressure on the foot anywhere in particular. While I’d imagine the stretch and lack of overlays will allow the EVO Speedgoat to be comfortable for more foot shapes, the shoe is narrow overall and there is still notable pressure on the outside of the widest point of my feet, as in the SG3.

Jacob: While great on less to moderately technical terrain, on jagged rocks and roots the dynamic nature of the upper allows the foot to shift in the shoe. The midfoot lock is great and I didn’t feel any front to back motion, but my forefoot would slide off the midsole platform just a bit when running on an angled surface or when I landed on roots a certain way. I experienced a similar shifting in the heel when landing near the edge of the heel platform on a root or rock point. Because of the stretch of the upper this didn’t seem to be able to be remedied by a tighter lace, at least not without discomfort. This contrasts with the SG3’s rigid laces and extra-secure foothold (with a tight lace). I never experienced any foot sliding in the SG3 with its higher collar and more significant heel counter.

Jacob: The foothold is still great overall and for the majority of surfaces the EVO SG upper is superb—preferred over the SG3—as it is comfortable and free-feeling, but it does not have the same ability to truly lock the foot in and blast technical terrain as does the SG3.

Sam: The Matryx upper leans towards more minimalist speed oriented comfort than super technical near hiker of the Speedgoat 2 and 3. Agreeing with fellow New England roots and rocks traveler Jacob it lacks a touch of front of the shoe hold when landing angled up front. 

Part of the reason for this is of course the very pliable soft Matryx upper material and the Lycra panel;  but also the toe bumper is short with no overlay wings as EVO Mafate 2 (left below) with its similar upper material has. 
LEFT: EVO Mafate 2                       RIGHT: Speedgoat 3
On the plus side this toe box is incredibly comfortable with more than adequate hold and room for swelling feet. And bonus, all that more open, overlay free, lycra vamped toe box certainly and finally helps the EVO Speedgoat flex unlike the SG 3 or EVO Mafate 1.
One of my tests was an 18 mile faster hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We had at least 12 over the ankle big stream crossing. I decided to skip the rock hopping and plow through the water at each crossing. Arrived at the other side and off I went I can say they drained incredibly well, within less than a minute with only a bit of “squish” felt from the Ortholite sockliner. While they do not dry completely particularly fast, the Matryx upper absorbs very little water compared to more conventional mesh from what I can tell and is of course also single layer and a more open mesh. For sure it is very breathable as well.

Jeff:  As far as I can tell, the midsole of the EVO Speedgoat is identical to the Speedgoat 2 and 3, responsive given the maximal stack height and about as good as it gets for all day, long distance comfortable cushioning.  

The lighter, more minimal and more flexible upper however change the flexibility and overall characteristics of the shoe.  Side by side, the EVO Speedgoat feels more flexible, agile and responsive, where the Speedgoat 3 feels more stiff and with less ground feel.  Both have the same Meta Rocker, but to me the Meta Rocker feels more pronounced (and useful) in the Speedgoat 3 because of it’s overall stiffer ride.

Dom:  I’m not completely sure that the EVO midsole is unchanged compared to the SG3.  Certainly the molds are identical, and there’s no discernible difference when pressing on the midsole.  But I wonder if Hoka may have softened the midsole foam in the EVO Speedgoat. Underfoot, the EVO Speedgoat feels softer than the stiffer SG3.  But some or all of the perceived difference may just be due to the stretchier upper.

Jacob: The EVO Speedgoat midsole is certainly similar to the SG3 with bottomless cushion, measured softness (not overly soft), and good response given the high stack. It is also visually identical. The midsole is built for the long haul and ripping down mountains. The max cushion and stable platform of the Speedgoat (all models) allows me to truck across any terrain like no other shoe I’ve run in.

Jacob: I’m very used to the feel of the SG3 midsole after a couple hundred miles in them, and during sections of my test runs in the EVO Speedgoat it felt like I could be wearing the SG3—very similar feel. However, the EVO Speedgoat midsole feels softer and more flexible. Whether this is due to the lighter and stretchier upper or an actual change in the foam is uncertain.

Sam: While I found the Speedgoat 1 and 2 midsole outsole combination a not particularly effective to run combination of squishy softness and stiffnes,s here the increased flexibility makes the EVO Speedgoat highly satisfying to run even on flatter trail terrain at pace. I do wish the platform was a bit firmer and more responsive approaching the EVO Mafate but not quite getting to that level of firm.

Dom:  The outsole of the Speedgoat 2 was pretty damned good.  I’ve found its grip to be reliable and predictable in all conditions -- and over the last couple of years, I’ve accumulated a lot of miles in the shoe in diverse terrain.  Durability is also excellent. Hoka wisely left a good thing unchanged in the Speedgoat 3, and then again in the EVO Speedgoat. Given that this is a partial-coverage outsole, with areas of exposed midsole foam, there may be shoes with grippier and/or more durable outsoles than the Speedgoat but there’s nothing to touch the combination of cushion and traction at this weight.
Spot the difference: EVO Speedgoat top, Speedgoat 3 below
Jeff:  I agree with Dom’s assessment above, as the outsole here is tried and true, a very good all around tread pattern/compound that not only gets by, but performs very well on a wide range of terrain and conditions, with great longevity to boot.
Jacob: Unchanged from the SG3, the EVO Speedgoat outsole provides outstanding grip and inspires confidence on whatever surface you’re running on. In combination with the high, soft stack the EVO Speedgoat can cruise through any terrain without worry of foot-slips. My testing period for the EVO SG was in the summer so I didn’t get to take it in any brutal slop, such as springtime in the Northeast, but I’ve had the pleasure of putting the same outsole to the test by way of the SG3 in a huge variety of terrain, including sand, deep mud, seaweed covered rocks, and granite boulders—it’s been great on everything. This wear rate is also reasonably slow. 10/10 outsole.
Sam: The MegaGrip here is outstanding. Our hike had slippery water covered rocks, a very steep loose slide, and many miles of flat old rail trail and everywhere grip was secure. On my more mellow single track plus some road test loop grip was equally fine. The loop even included some road where the outsole produced decent response but not quite at the level of EVO Mafate. I would add that on firm they are very noisy. 

Dom:  I felt the ride of the vanilla Speedgoat to be somewhat stiff and numb.  There’s a lot of foam (32/28 mm stack) between your foot and the ground, so you don’t feel any rock penetration.  But ground feel is almost non-existent: the Speedgoat 2 rolls over rough terrain like a tank. I prefer to have more sensation under my feet.

Dom:  Whether due to a softer midsole foam or just the stretchier upper, the EVO Speedgoat feels slightly softer underfoot than the SG3.  For me, that nudges the needle in the right direction, making the ride more forgiving and more pleasurable. Don’t get me wrong: this shoe still has tons of rock protection and the ground still feels distant.
Jeff:  I find the ride to be buttery smooth, but, unlike Dom, did not find the Speedgoat 3 to be harsh necessarily, though I do find the ride of the EVO Speedgoat to be much more refined.  I think the majority (if not all) is due to the more minimal and streamlined upper in this case, which allows the midsole to more easily work with your foot and contour over the terrain, vs. the more rigid “rocking chair” nature of the Speedgoat 3.
Sam: The ride of the EVO Speedgoat is far more runnable on faster more mellow terrain than the regular Speedgoat. It is soft and easy on the legs, maybe a bit too easy and soft with plenty of get-up-and-go.  I agree with Dom that the regular Speedgoat is stiff and numb with not much if any get-up-and-go beyond plowing with confidence through the roughest terrain. The EVO Speedgoat is considerably more lively and nimble and its ride was great on moderate terrain taken fast. It was also great hiking on both flats and very technical terrain both up and down. I did find that on more technical terrain taken on the run the front upper’s superb comfort from the soft Matryx, lycra insert, and minimal overlays along with their decent flexibility made them not quite as stable and secure at the way front as I would like. There are always trade-offs and here I think Hoka did the right thing in this elite focused “race” shoe prioritizing a fast lighter ride over bombproof stability and security. There is always the regular Speedgoat for that and in Spring 2020 it will be available in wide.

Jacob: Though there’s a lot of shoe underfoot, the EVO Speedgoat feels relatively lively and quick, notably more so than the SG3, which is sometimes dull on the ascents/when going slow. It’s built with racing ultras in mind, but I’ve been choosing it for everything recently, from short, easy morning runs on tame neighborhood trails to heavily rooted, technical mountain running. The midsole rocker is just amazing and makes it easy to keep rolling forward—running is such a smooth cruise in the Speedgoat.

Jacob: The light, flexible, and free-feeling Matryx upper makes the EVO Speedgoat even easier to turn over than the SG3 and more fun as well. I was surprised by how energetic the shoe felt on my first run. The max cushion and wide platform lets the shoe cruise across anything with confidence; to some degree, it makes a moderately technical trail feel as if it were a dirt path. I’m going to race these on my next trail race, regardless of the distance. I agree with Sam that Hoka’s decision to sacrifice some foothold for all the positives of the Matryx upper was a great call for this shoe.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Dom:  I was excited about the concept of the EVO Speedgoat as a mix of the EVO Mafate 2 and the Speedgoat 3.  In reality, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts: the EVO Speedgoat exceeded my expectations, being both lighter and nicer to run in.  Compared to the Speedgoat 3, the stretchy forefoot makes the shoe more comfortable. Compared to the EVO Mafate 2, stability and outsole grip is better.  And remarkably, the EVO Speedgoat ends up being significantly lighter than either of its parents. In one swoop, Hoka have leapfrogged the competition: there is nothing to touch the EVO Speedgoat’s performance at this weight.  This is the shoe I will wear at UTMB 2019 in a couple of weeks. 

It’s hard to find fault with a shoe this good.  Despite the stretch of the upper making the EVO Speedgoat more comfortable than the Speedgoat 3, I would still prefer the shoe to be wider in the forefoot and narrower in the midfoot.  But that’s because my feet are not shaped like the Hoka last. Your mileage may vary. I also prefer shoes that are less stiff in torsion and with a less built-up heel, even for ultramarathon use .  But this too is a matter of preference.
Dom’s score: 9.8 / 10.  A home run for Hoka.  

Jeff:  I really like what Hoka has done here with the EVO Speedgoat, mating the revolutionary Matryx upper previously found on the EVO Mafate with the midsole/outsole of the venerable Speedgoat.  Hoka is onto something here by creating a Speedgoat, one that may not be ideal for everyone on all terrain (of course there is no such thing), instead providing another option for those who want to love the Speedgoat, but find it too constricting and stiff.  If you are running long distances in training or racing, on terrain that is moderate mostly (though some technical is fine) and want a bit of extra room/forgiveness for splay and swelling in the forefoot, then the EVO Speedgoat will be a great choice. If you tend to run on more technical terrain, steeper grades and want a more secure upper, then I would certainly suggest the Speedgoat 3.
Jeff’s Score: 9.4/10
Ride: 9.5 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9 (10%)  Style 8.5 (5%) Traction: 9.5 (15%) Rock Protection: 9.5 (10%)
My only true performance deduction would be foothold in technical terrain, but I simultaneously recognize that it is the more relaxed upper that makes the EVO Speedgoat stand out.  

Sam: Hoka put some fast fun and speed into the Speedgoat with the EVO, an elite inspired and now proven race shoe all of us can also enjoy. The Matryx upper, the key highlight  here, enables the reduction in weight, the breathability/drainability, flexibility, and comfort 
Those top Hoka athletes are onto something by requesting comfort, cushion, light weight, and agility in a maximally cushioned race shoe. At 9.3 oz this is a lot of shoe for th weight in terms of:  cushion stack at a massive 32mm/ 28m, all terrain MegaGrip outsole and overall utility. As a result it is fun and versatile trail runner and I would also say fast hiker for the rest of us. 

It is s a more versatile option than the near hiker regular Speedgoat, the somewhat less protective and about equal weight Torrent, and rthe firmer more responsive but for me somewhat less stable EVO Mafate.  Is it ideal on all terrain? Probably not, but that also depends on how hard you push technical terrain (Speedgoat) or the flats (EVO Mafate). I would like to see some light pliable overlays extending further back from the toe bumper to provide a touch more front security and stability and a slightly firmer midsole to deliver more responsive pop but that’s it.
Sam’s Score: 9.3/10
Ride: 9 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9 (10%)  Style 10 (5%) Traction: 9.5 (15%) Rock Protection: 9.5 (10%)

Jacob: The EVO Speedgoat is a fantastic addition to Hoka’s trail line, providing the same smooth-riding max cushion and top-class grip of the Speedgoat 3 in a lighter, more comfortable, and livelier shoe. The EVO Speedgoat feels powerful, fast (given the stack/cushion), and is fun to run in on nearly all terrain. It doesn’t have the same exceptional foothold as the SG3 (though still very good), but the increased comfort and flexibility is a bigger positive for more types of trails.
Jacob’s Score: 9.6 / 10
Ride: 10 (30%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 9 (10%)  Style 10 (5%) Traction: 10 (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)
Watch our Initial Video Review

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Speedgoat 3  (RTR Review)
Jeff:  Midsole and outsole are identical.  EVO Speedgoat has a more relaxed and accommodating fit, where the Speedgoat 3 has a more secure upper (though a little less forgiving).  Each has its trade off, EVO Speedgoat for less technical trails and perhaps faster running, especially with weight savings, but Speedgoat 3 for more technical trails due to more locked in and secure upper.
Dom:  I don’t have much to add to what Jeff says above, and the extensive discussion in the main article.  This is a lightened version of the Speedgoat 3. The addition of a stretch panel (“vamp”) in the forefoot makes the shoe more comfortable, but less secure.  The weight savings (50 g per pair) are significant, taking the mid-weight SG3 into a more competitive weight class.

EVO Mafate 2   (RTR Review)
Jeff:  The EVO Speedgoat upper and EVO Mafate 2 uppers have the same Matryx material and general design, though the EVO Speedgoat has a little more give, which will be a bonus for those looking for a more accommodating forefoot.  I find the EVO Mafate 2 to be more responsive and faster overall, though the EVO Speedgoat is no slouch and has plenty of get up and go. The overly pronounced lugs on the EVO Mafate 2 can be bothersome at first, but once they start to wear some, are less noticeable and traction on both shoes is excellent.  The EVO Speedgoat has a slightly wider platform and 1 mm less stack front and back, which helps with stability (and weight) yet with a still very substantial 32mm heel /28 mm forefoot. 

Dom:   As I mentioned above, I first wore the EM2 to race at the Canyons 100k in California and had zero problems.  Subsequently, I wore the same shoe at the Dragon’s Back race in the UK. On the much more technical Dragon’s Back terrain, I found the EM2 to be quite hazardous.  Most notably, the lack of outsole coverage under the middle of the shoe really limits grip and caused me several unexpected falls. After that experience, I would recommend the EVO Mafate 2 only for moderate terrain.  (At which it excels). The EVO Mafate 2 sole feels softer and squishier than the Speedgoat. The Speedgoat sole has more predictable grip and a slightly firmer ride that makes it more stable when pushed. Given that the EVO Speedgoat is also lighter (by 20 g per shoe) than EVO Mafate 2, I consider it to be a better shoe, period.

Hoka One One Torrent: (RTR Review)
Dom:  The Torrent is very different in character to the all the Speedgoat variants.  Hoka shoes are stereotypically super-cushioned (the signature "marshmallow"), but the Torrent bucks this trend: it is a spartan, lightweight, and moderately-cushioned trail shoe.  While the nominal stack heights are not hugely disparate (Torrent is 26/21 mm, Speedgoat is 32/28 mm), keep in mind that nearly all of that difference is in the midsole, which is roughly twice as thick in the Speedgoat.  The Speedgoat feels far more cushioned and protective -- but also higher and more insulated from the ground. The Torrent upper is roomier, but with less stretch in the forefoot. Remarkably, the EVO version of the Speedgoat is not much heavier than the Torrent.  In my size (US M10), Torrent weighs 279 g (9.84 oz) per shoe, and EVO Speedgoat 285 g (10.05 oz). I would pick Torrent for daily training or short races (up to marathon distance), but EVO Speedgoat for the long haul. 

Jacob: I only ran in the Torrent a handful of times but the fit was too imprecise for me. It had a lot of room in the heel and the upper didn’t really lock my foot to the sole well in general; I never seemed to be able to get the lace tightness right. The stretch of the EVO Speedgoat provides a comfortably snug fit that requires minimal effort to find a balance of comfort and security; certainly superior. However, the shoes have a very different feel and intended purpose; they’re in a fairly different class overall. The Torrent is firmer and lower, and thus more responsive with more ground-feel. I wanted to like the Torrent as it felt quick and the ride was fun in a different way than the plush cruising style of the EVO Speedgoat, but I couldn’t get the fit to work for me. I’d try both; they’d both be good shoes to have in the rotation.

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2  (RTR Review):
Jeff:  The S/Lab Ultra 2 has superior fit and foothold, where there is never a need to re-adjust lacing based on terrain, my foot feels comfortably locked all of the time.  For more technical, shorter runs, I would pick the S/Lab Ultra 2, however for longer runs (exceeding 6+ hours) on more moderate terrain, then the EVO Speedgoat would be advantageous.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
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Martin said...

What about heel counter inner material? I´ve weird shaped both heels, so after several 100s of kilometers I usually destroy inner heel material of any shoe. I was surprised with durability of EVO Mafate 1 upper, which was obviously made for a war (over 400 kilometers with no rip in heel counters at all). But I was also unfortunately surprised with EVO Mafate 2 upper – I´ve destroyed inner heel material (clearly thinner/lighter than in version 1) in both shoes after 200 kilometers. So… Is inner material of the heel counter in EVO Speedgoat same as in EVO Mafate 2? Thanks!

Morgan said...

Any reason it’s a limited edition & will it still be on sale to compare to SPG4 ? Thanks

Bobcat said...

Maybe useful if you guys got a Durometer to test the foam hardness between models. For instance the Sense Ride 1&2 also seem like identical midsoles, but I swear the 2 is firmer. Maybe the same is true of ESG vs. SG3?

Anonymous said...

In general I find Speedgoat's to be the best shoe for ultra running you can get, & so far I'm liking the Evo Speedgoat with its lighter yet softer upper. My only criticism is that I find the laces too stretchy, thus making it harder to get a solid lock-down! I may swap them out with my SG3 laces!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Morgan,
It is an EVO edition which is Hoka's race tuned series. Not sure it will be on sale when SG4 comes out spring 2020. We do know see our YT preview here: that the Speedgoat 4 will have a slightly wider forefoot platform, will gain some weight as a result to 10.8 oz and will also be available in Wide sizing. So clearly the SG4 retains the heavy duty plow through anything purpose while the considerably lighter EVO is the face flavor.
Sam, Editor

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Bobcat,
I do have a durometer gauge. There is what I assume is a QC durometer measurement hole through the board in many shoes. I did just now re measure SG 2 (don't have 3) vs EVO SG and get about the same 31-32 which is for sure on the soft side of foams but given nature of my gauge should be considered approximate. The feeling of "softness" especially up front can in my experience also be heavily influenced by flexibility and here the EVO is clearly more flexible than SG 2.
Sam, Editor

Jeff Valliere said...

Martin, I have a knobby heel and occasionally wear through the padding on the inside of a heel counter in various shoes, but have not had that issue yet with any of the above listed shoes. It should be noted however, that it is quite rare for me to ever surpass 150 miles in a shoe, given the number of shoes that I review. On the times that I have worn my knobby heel through the padding in a heel counter, I have not experienced any blistering, discomfort or pain, just at most a shoulder shrug and "oh, hey, I wore a hole in those shoes". By the time that has occurred on those occasions, I felt like the shoes were nearing the end of their prime active running life anyways.

Martin said...

Thanks for answer! One more question regarding fit... What about heel and midfoot widht compared to EVO Mafate 2? Is EVO SG wider, narrower or same as EVO Mafate 2? Because in SG 3 I think, that heel cup is much narrower than in EVO Mafate 2, while midfoot seems same... Thanks!

Morgan said...

Thanks Sam very helpful 👍

Unknown said...

I know I mentioned it in a comment to recent Salomon shoe and you said you'd look into it but I'd be very interested in seeing a review of the VJ Sports Maxx and XTRM in comparison to this shoe as I'm weighing up whether to go Speedboat or VJ Maxx for my first Ultra next year.

Telemarker said...

Hi Martin,
When I did a side-by-side run with EVO Mafate 2 on one foot and EVO Speedgoat on the other, I found that the heel retention in the EVO Speedgoat was actually better, despite the fact that the EM2 has more padding around the heel collar. I attributed that to the EVO Speedgoat heel collar being slightly narrower (in the sense of the upper edge being folded in more in its relaxed state). The midfoot width felt about the same.
-- Dom

Anonymous said...

Hi great review! What do you think about this shoe compared to the Topo Ultraventure? I am trying to decide which one to go with for my first ultra...Thanks

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks! A good comparison. I would say not much context, EVO Speedgoat. At about an ounce lighter with a similar stack the EVO has more protection up front if a bit stiffer. The reason to lean towards Ultraventure would be if you have a broader forefoot even though the soft pretty much overlay free toe box of the EVO will handle somewhat broader feet OK.
Sam. Editor

Unknown said...

During past years I´ve run more than 1500 kilometers in Speedgoat 2/3, Evo Mafate 1 and here´s my comparison between Evo Speedgoat (ESG) and Evo Mafate 2 (EM2) from perspective of 190 lbs runner with very-low volume foot (searching “too narrow” written in cons of any review is my proved shoe finding technique… :-) ). I run mostly in slower paces during long hauls. Sole – both are great, in dry conditions ESG is better / smoother, however in muddy and wet terrain there´s nothing to beat EM2´s deeper lugs. Midsole – ESG is softer but also far less responsive / slower for my weight category and somehow less stable in forefoot, also medial thicker profile of R-bound layer and deeper active foot frame shape in EM2 seems to add more stability in downhills, here EM2 clearly wins. Upper – heel cup is narrower and has better hold for me in ESG, forefoot is almost identical but little less dialed in ESG. But, where´s deal breaker difference for me, is midfoot. ESG is much wider than EM2 - just try to measure length of kevlar fibers between midsole and laces in both medial and lateral side of ESG and EM2. EM2 is in this way even narrower than its predecessor. Foothold for me was so compromised in technical terrain (for sure not extremely difficult trails), that I´ve to stop running in ESG due to pain in ankles and beaten calves. EM2 keeps my legs fresh for several hours. Also in Speedgoat 3 or in little more relaxed Evo Mafate 1 I had no problems with foothold at all. So… If you´ve low-volume foot and you´re “big guy” like me try ESG carefully on your foot… ;-)

Gavin said...

Hi I have just returned the Mafate 2 shoe as it was a bit sloppy on my foot in in an 8.5. I just couldn't get the lacing correct. I am considering an 8 but may be a bit small on length. However now I have seen the Evo Speedgoat I think I would prefer this so taking this into account would I be better with an 8 or 8.5 in the Speedgoat? Is the fitter snugger in the Speedgoat? Many Thanks!!

Jeff Valliere said...

Hey Gavin, thanks for reading. I think that the EVO Speedgoat has a bit more dialed upper than the EVO Mafate 2, but that said, I find that the EVO Speedgoat upper has more give to it than the EVO Mafate 2 and foothold overall is not as good. For less technical trails and flatter terrain, this may never be an issue, but was noticeable to me running fast on technical/steeper technical terrain. As far as sizing down to compensate, you may be able to pull that off, but am always reluctant to suggest, as there are so many variables at play. Maybe try a thicker sock? Sometimes just going from a very thin sock to a more midweight, padded/cushioned sock can make all the difference.

WAK Studios said...

Thanks so much Jeff! I did wear I mid sock but it was just sloppy in the heel and a it loose overall I have had Speedgoats before and was hoping the snugger fit in the same 8.5 may have hugged my feet a little more than the Mafate 2 but now not too sure! Thank You again.

Marios said...

Hi from Cyprus!

Great review guys!

I have a question though:

Are the insoles of EVO Speedgoat removable? As far as I realized from photos are not.

If I need to use custom made insoles will I need to go a size up from my HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 5 (EU 44 2/3) since the EVO Speedgoat are true size?


jugha said...

Thanks for the review. A questions here about sizing: normally I wear 9.5 in hokas (Clayton 1 and 2, Mach). Nevertheless, I have settled with size 10 in both Mafate 1 and 2. Where does ES stand compared to EMs in terms of sizing? thanks, Davit

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Jugha, I would lean 9.5 in EVO as the stretch gusset gives a bit more width and they are also more flexible

tom said...

Thanks to all for these very helpful reviews.

Jeff, I have a question for you, since you seem to be the more technical-off-trail member of the testing team: How "deficient" is the Evo on technical runs? Would you choose the Goat 4 over the Evo?

The cons for the G4, to me, are the weight, lack of drainage, and breathability. They run rather hot, I find. The EVO looked too good to be true, and sounds like you are saying yes, it is too good to be true for the technical crowd.

Look forward to your response and thanks for tremendous insights here and on your site/blog.

Jeff Valliere said...

Hey Tom, it kind of depends on how technical the terrain is and how fast you run. For my typical use, steep (sometimes as much as 30-40% grade), but often 15-25%, rock gardens, rock hopping, sidehilling and often moving fast, I much prefer the Speedgoat 4 for the better foothold. I find the ounce plus penalty per shoe to be a non issue. If less steep (up to ~10%?) and or less technical (some rocks/roots underfoot, but nothing sustained), the EVO Speedgoat works great and is a faster, more responsive shoe in those conditions. As far a breathability, I find both the SG4 and EVO to be good, but neither great.

If you are pushing limits in the techy stuff, I would stick to the SG4.

tom said...

man thanks for that great response and so fast! It's pretty treacherous where I run and 30-40% grades, rocks, slabs, rock hopping, sidehilling, downhilling (onto rocks at the bottom before a hop to a slippery bridge!) and roots from hell are the norm... and really that's why I love it. Never the same. Never a dull moment.

I will stick with the SG4 and my guess is that sooner or later we will see an iteration with some drainage and breathability.

Many thanks!!

Jeff Valliere said...

Tom, our conversation prompted me to run in the SG4 last night on a very steep route and they really are awesome. With EVO SG, I would have never had enough control/confidence on such a route. SG4 rocks!