Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 GTX Review

Article by Dominique Winebaum and Canice Harte

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX ($160)
Dominique: From running road, hiking, and recently to recovery with the ORA slides, Hoka ONE ONE has been a favorite of mine as I am all about taking the maximalist road when it comes to running or hiking shoes.  Ultra comfortable, super cushioned, and lightweight, I enjoy the smooth ride and rocking feel of a HOKA. 
The Speedgoat 4 GTX is my first pair of HOKA trail running shoes . It is built to navigate steep, rocky and muddy trail terrains in all kinds of weather conditions.  This is a trail-focused shoe in a GORE-TEX version for long distance and technically oriented runners. Though I don’t exactly fit the profile of the hardcore trail runner, I am enjoying my Speedgoat 4 GTX, especially as winter is here!  

Geometry: W 30mm heel 26mm forefoot, M 32mm heel 28mm forefoot
W 10.2 oz. 290g, M 12.2 oz. 348g
Sample Weights: 
Size M10 weighs 12.25 oz / 350g, W8.5 10.82 oz / 307g
The non Gore-Tex Speedgoat 4 in men’s size 10 weighed 11.25 oz / 318 g
Available January 2020. $160 

Tester Profiles
Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100, Western States 100, and Leadman as well as many other Ultras. He regularly competes in Expedition Length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles as well as traditional road races and triathlons.
Dominique has run for over 40 years, consistently about 25 miles per week at paces these between 10 and 11 minute miles. She races rarely, but always surprises more hard core runners in her age group when she does. She has a 1985 marathon PR of 3:16 in her second marathon which at the time put her on the top 10 Swiss women’s lists. She is the mother of two grown children, both runners post college, and enjoys nordic and alpine skiing, hiking and trekking, and gardening. 

First Impressions and Fit
Dominique: As a rule I don’t experience sizing issues with other shoe brands, however, this is not the first time that I have had to size down with HOKA. Almost always a women’s size 9, I am wearing a size 8.5 Speedgoat 4 GTX and the fit is appropriately snug where it should be for a trail shoe.  At first, I wore a thin sock but as they stretched a bit moved on to midweight socks, the Drymax SPEEDGOAT, which is my favorite sock -- and Speedgoat Karl’s signature sock! In short, the fit is just right as both the heel and midfoot are snug and my toes have enough wiggle room. 
The new Speedgoat model (4) has a wider forefoot for a more accommodating fit, which I really appreciate and is conducive to a better fit overall.  I like the gusseted tongue which is designed to keep dirt, debris, and water from penetrating into the shoe while being breathable. 

Canice: If you like Speedgoat and you’re looking for a waterproof version, you’ll love the Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex. It’s a tad heavy at 12.25 ounces in my size 10, so an ounce heavier than my size 10 Speedgoat 4 without Gore-Tex  but you don’t notice it and it’s every bit as comfortable as it’s non Gore-Tex counterpart and performs incredibly well.
Quite often when a manufacturer inserts a Gore-Tex bootie the fit will change. Usually it becomes snugger and generally speaking not as comfortable as the non Gore version. But with the Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex you’ll enjoy the same fit and comfort with the only noticeable difference being the upper material. 

Dominique: The Speedgoat 4 that I am testing is the GTX or GORE-TEX model, doing double duty as it is a trail running shoe that can be worn in all kinds of weather, including snowpack conditions. The GORE-TEX technology is a welcome addition to a high performance trail running shoe, and according to the specs, it is lightweight and waterproof as very breathable .  Added protection from the waterproof GORE-TEX is a game changer in wet and wintry conditions as my feet are staying dry and warm when running on snowpack trails. With winter season soon in full swing, my Speedgoat 4 GTX will get a lot of wear as I hit the trails -- running, walking, or snowshoeing. Even in cold weather, feet can get hot and sweaty; and thus far, my experience has been a positive one in terms of the breathable waterproof membrane.  The upper features a new 3D printed overlays keeping the midfoot securely in place and are barely noticeable on my model -- anthracite/dark dull gray. 
Canice: The upper of the Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex is very comfortable. You can definitely tell the is a Gore-Tex membrane in the upper as it’s a bit stiffer, but when you’re running, you don’t feel it. What you will notice is that your feet are dry and the Gore-Tex is incredibly breathable.

Canice: The tongue is gusseted which keeps water, snow and ice out of your shoe and the printed overlays along with the last of the shoe do a great job holding your foot securely in place. It’s a bit hard to see in the photos but the is a clear protective coating over your toes and around your heel.
3D printed overlays provide additional midfoot support and lockdown for a more secure feel
The Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex like the non Gore-Tex version features a wider forefoot with offers a more stable ride and accommodating fit.

The midsole features a new lightweight foam for a more responsive ride
Canice: The Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex has the same midsole as it’s non-Gore Speedgoat 4 counterpart which has plenty of cushion and absorbs the impact of most anything you can throw at it. The material itself is lighter than previous versions and shows no sign of compression 65 miles in on the test pair.

Canice: Vibram’s Megagrip outsole is well tested and anyone that has used it will tell you, it has great traction. And with the new design 5mm “stepped” multi directional lugs (you can see the stepping in the photo bellow if you look closely at a single lug) you get plenty of bite in soft terrain such as snow. 
Canice: As it relates to snow specifically, the shoe could use deeper lugs but not by much as it really does get great overall traction. Just know in the snow you’ll have great traction most of the time and every once and awhile you’ll look for a bit more. Of course add your Microspikes and you’re all set.

Dominique: Like my other HOKA, the shoe is extremely comfortable and the ride is smooth and stable.  The outsole and midsole (26mm of it upfront) is plenty protective against rocks without a rock plate.  I have yet to run muddy terrain, which is not really my cup of tea, to fully test the outsole’s Vibram Megagrip rubber and lug pattern.  In comparison to the Topo MTN Racer and the HOKA Sky Toa, I find that the Speedgoat 4 is not a shoe that transitions well from trail to road running .  The Topo MTN Racer transitions fairly comfortably from trail to road, and this despite its 5 mm lugs. It might be that the Vibram MegaGrip on the Speedgoat 4 is made with a rubber formula that is harder/firmer than the one used on the Topo MTN Racer (RTR Review) and clearly Speedgoat is also stiffer.  In the case of the Speedgoat 4, deep lugs (5mm) and this MegaGrip rubber equate to better traction but they are not ideal to run on very hard surfaces such as pavement..  

Dominique: During a two-week stay in Geneva in early December, I wore my Speedgoat 4 GTX when walking in the country-side and in the city in lieu of winter boots.  Even though I find it difficult to run in them on the road, I actually enjoy walking in them on hard surfaces. Super cushioned and snug, the shoe is extremely comfortable.  However, I noticed that the left fold of the tongue on the right shoe started to rub a bit as I wore a different type of sock. 

Canice: The Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex has the same great ride as it’s non Gore-Tex sibling, which is ideal. It has lots of cushion and with a slightly firmer ride you still get some ground feel. Now with the slightly wider platform you also have plenty of room for your toes during your longer runs.

For my part I do not feel much difference between the Speedgoat 3 and Speedgoat 4 ride, and as it relates to this Gore-Tex version, it’s feels like the non Gore-Tex Speedgoat 4. So if you’re running a Speedgoat 3 and you’re thinking of switching to a Speedgoat 4 or Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex, you’ll find the “Ride” to be pretty much the same. Both have plenty of cushion but unlike the Stinson or Mafate, the Speedgoats have a firmer ride and better ground feel.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Dominique: I am truly grateful for my sleek looking Speedgoat 4 GTX -- Anthracite/Dark Gull Grey!  It is a shoe that is inspiring me to tackle more challenging terrain and that will keep me running trails this winter, and come spring, hiking them in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to see how they compare to my Hoka Toa and Topo MTN Racer, both shoes I have extensively hiked in!   Even though I can’t compare it to prior Speedgoat models, I find this GORE-TEX edition to be a reliable and multi-functional trail shoe, i.e. running on snow and in other wet conditions. 

Canice:  In the world of Gore-Tex running shoes, the Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex is best in class. Traction and comfort for days and all the weather protection you’ll ever need. Though the sample test pair I have is dedicated to my running line-up, I purchased a second pair for town use. I live in Park City, UT and here in the mountains, this is a go-to running shoe as well as a daily wear town shoe.
Canice’s Score: 9.4 
(Ride 9.5 / Fit 9.5 / Value 9 / Style 9 / Traction 9 / Rock Protection 9.5 /  Weight 8)


Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat 3 and 4 (RTR Review)
Canice: In 2019 I ran lots of miles in my Speedgoat 3’s, including competing in Leadman (Leadville Marathon, Leadville 50 mile and Leadville 100) and I loved every minute in the shoes. I did switch out of the Speedgoat 3’s at mile 62.5 Twin Lakes to the EVO Mafate because my feet were soaked and I have to say I love switching into warm, dry shoes that were softer and most notably wider. So when the Speedgoat 4’s dropped I was happy to find more room in the toe box. Not a lot, but just enough to maintain a precise feel while running yet giving you enough wiggle room for your toes to relax and feel comfortable.

The Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex gives you much of the same fit and benefits as you won’t really notice the Gore-Tex in the shoe but consider size depending on the sock you wear. I wear a Men’s 10 in the Speedgoat 3, 4 and Gore-Tex. I run a thin wool blended sock from CEP in all three and the fit is great. If you decide to wear a thicker sock in the Gore-Tex version then think about sizing up.

Salomon Snowspike (RTR Review) and La Sportiva Blizzard GTX (RTR Review)
Canice: (This comparison is only for someone looking to run on snow) The Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex is a wonderful shoe and I’ve run lots of miles in the snow with it and loved the shoe. But if snow is your thing then either go with the mid top Speedgoat 4 Gore-Tex (RTR Review soon)  and look at one of these two shoes. The warmth and comfort you get from the build in gaiter is awesome and in the case of the Salomon Snowspike and La Sportiva Blizzard GTX you get carbide tips embedded in the shoe which provides amazing traction. For all other uses, ignore this comparison.
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
The Speedgoat 4 GTX General Release January 2020. Available now at REI HERE

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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