Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Hoka One One Mafate Speed 3 Review

Article by Jeff Valliere

Hoka One One Mafate Speed 3 ($170)


Building upon the maximally cushioned, yet fast and responsive EVO Mafate, the Mafate Speed 3 is the 3rd iteration, with a revised name, new upper and a 0.7 oz/ 20g weight gain.  There was a Mafate Speed 2 but it was not available in the US (or very limited in availability) and I did not test. The new upper is a subtle improvement over the previous EVO versions. It  will be applauded by those with wider feet. While those who are gram counters may prefer to stock up on version 2 for the majority of runners the improvements to the upper will be  welcomed.

Pros: More accommodating fit, security, comfort, cushion, traction, response.

Cons:  Weight gain, tread wear, some may find tippy in technical terrain


Weight: men's 10.7 oz / 303g (US9)   women's 8.9 oz  /  252g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  / US Men’s Size 10: 11.5 oz. / 325 g

Stack Height: 33mm/29mm, 4mm drop

$170 - Available Now  

Tester Profile

Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

First Impressions and Fit

With maximum cushion, excellent response, low weight and great traction , the EVO Mafate 2 has been not only one of my favorite Hoka’s, but all around favorite trail shoes, particularly for going fast over longer distances or for long downhills.  

The Mafate Speed 3 has a flashy, modern looking new upper that is attention getting and sleek.   Fit is noticeably wider than previous EVO Mafate versions and was confirmed when trying them on side by side with the previous version.  The weight gain of 0.7 oz. in my US men’s size 10 is noticeable in the hand and somewhat on the foot.  Otherwise, the midsole and outsole look/feel/are identical.

Fit is true to size with a secure midfoot and heel, yet with a slightly more roomy toe box to allow for a little more splay and swelling, while still retaining very good security. 


The upper is the big and notable change here.  Gone is the Matryx  material of the previous versions with now a sustainable mesh upper made from recycled polyester with TPU overlays for added protection and secure support.

I liked the Matryx material used in first EVO Mafate, as it was comfortable and accommodating, though I found that when combined with fit and tall stack height it struggled a bit in technical terrain.  Fit and security of the EVO version 2 was improved significantly, while still providing a little stretch and forgiveness.  

The new upper on the Speed 3 is more static with less stretch with  the toe box a bit roomier leaving a little room for splay and swelling while still providing great security when pushing the shoe to it’s limits on technical terrain, off camber and fast cornering.

While the stack height is tall and platform narrower than say, the Speedgoat 4 or EVO Speedgoat, I find that the security of this new upper goes a long way towards keeping the shoe under control in technical terrain and is an improvement over the previous two versions.  I have run on steep, loose, off trail, off camber and rocky technical terrain with no issues or notable trepidation.  

Ventilation seems comparable to the previous and I would say is moderate.  Given my test/review period for this shoe is mid Winter, I cannot yet comment on how cool they remain in summer conditions, but I will say that they do not feel overly cool/airy as a very well vented shoe may feel.

The tongue is semi gusseted as in the previous, but is a little thinner, and is protective from the laces with a more anatomical shape to better accommodate a forward ankle flex.

Laces are a bit thin for my preference and I note a touch of rope burn when really cranking them tight, but overall effectiveness is good and this a minor quibble.

The toe bumper is flexible, yet effective and integrates with a durable 360 degree protective rand.

The heel counter is similar in structure and stature to the EVO, however the heel collar padding is slightly thicker and is a slightly different shape at the point of contact with the Achilles.


The Speed 3 has the same midsole as the EVO Mafate and EVO Mafate 2, which is superb for running high mileage at just about any speed on a wide variety of terrain.  I find the Speed 3 to be very fast and lively (despite the weight gain), uphill, downhill and on the flats they want to go fast.  As mentioned above, some may find that stability is compromised by the tall stack on top of tall lugs, which took me some getting used to at first with previous versions.  The Speed 3 however feels more stable to me, some of which is my increased familiarity to previous versions, but also because of the upper improvements (see upper description).  Though ground feel is muted by so much cushion, I find that my need/desire for ground feel is reduced, as I am comfortable just steamrolling over and through just about anything underfoot.  I have recorded several downhill PRs over varied terrain in previous versions and expect more of the same with the Speed 3.


The Vibram outsole is unchanged from the previous version.  The sharp 5mm lugs are effective at providing very good traction on a wide variety of surfaces, loose dirt, off trail, snow, etc…  

The lugs  are very pronounced in shape and I am very aware of them underfoot, mostly on hard surfaces like rock, pavement and very compacted dirt. 

As before in the EVo tread durability on rough terrain is less than average. I  have found that on previous versions, tread wear seems to level off after ~80 or so miles and the shoe actually performs better as the tread wears down, allowing for faster movement and less resistance over the majority of trail surfaces.  

The rubber compound is grippy on rock and slab, but as the lugs are so pronounced it can feel awkward, but improves as the lugs wear down.


In part due to the Meta Rocker, the Mafate Speed 3 has a very quick and smooth transition, with the stiff midsole adding response.  Unlike many other maximal cushioned shoes, the Speed 3 feels surprisingly lively, giving a refreshing and surprisingly amazing blend of all day cushy comfort and race day speed.  They just roll along easily and encourage forward motion.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Speed 3 is a worthy upgrade over the previous with an even more forgiving, spacious forefoot, upper refinements and added security.  All of the other great qualities: fast smooth ride, response, max cushion and traction have been retained which makes the Speed 3 an ideal pick for anyone looking for a long distance racer, up tempo trainer, or just a maximally cushioned trail shoe for any distance at any speed.  With excellent traction, the Speed 3 is versatile over a wide range of terrain, but really shines at speed on long, fast downhills that are moderately technical to smooth, though it can easily handle technical terrain with some finesse.  My only complaint would be the increase in weight, however it is less noticeable on the foot and not much of a factor when running downhill.

Score: 9.7/10 

Ride: 10 Fit: 9.5 Value: 9 Style: 9.5 Traction: 9.5 Rock Protection: 10


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka EVO Mafate 2 (RTR Review) - compared pretty heavily above EM2 is significantly lighter with the same midsole/outsole.  I like the upper of the Speed 3 better, but debate if it is worth the weight gain.

Hoka Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review) - SG4 has a bit more of a secure, precise fit (less accommodating toe box), but a wider platform for stability and a more durable/versatile outsole.  The Speed 3 is a bit more responsive and is an overall quicker shoe on moderate terrain, but in more technical terrain, the SG4 would have an advantage.

Hoka EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review) - The EVO Speedgoat is lighter weight and a fast shoe, but I find the upper to be not quite secure enough for technical terrain, though it does shine on less technical terrain.

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 (RTR Review) - The Challenger ATR 6 is lighter weight, with less cushioning and a less aggressive tread, and is better suited for buffed out trails, door to trail, fire roads etc…  The Speed 3 has more aggressive tread for more technical terrain, more cushioning and a bit more room in the forefoot.

Salomon S Lab Ultra 3 (RTR Review) - The Salomon has less cushioning and has firmer feel with an 8mm drop vs. 4mm for the Speed 3.  The Salomon is lighter weight, but perhaps not quite as responsive as the Speed 3, though it is more agile, stable and is better suited for technical terrain, with a more versatile and longer lasting outsole.

Saucony Xodus 10 (RTR Review) - The Xodus 10 weighs more than an ounce more, but it is hard to tel thatl when running in them.  With 1.5 mm stack less than Speed 3 (with same 4mm drop), the Xodus offers a competitive well cushioned and smooth ride, with excellent versatility and all terrain technical performance.  The Speed 3 is quicker and more responsive, with a more plush midsole for all out downhill running, but is not quite as versatile or adept in technical terrain as the Xodus 10, nor can it match the Xodus 10 on the road.

Brooks Caldera 5 (RTR Review) - The Caldera 5 is a bit lighter with nearly as much cushion (just 1mm less), same 4mm drop, costs $30 less and has a similar fit.  I find the Speed 3 to be a bit more sporty and fast, with better grip with the deeper lugs, but for all around versatility and comfortable relaxed cruising, the Caldera 5 is a very good pick.

Available now including at RTR Partners below!

Products reviewed were provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles
Road Running Shoes HERE
Trail Running Shoes HERE
RTR Contributors Best of Run 2020, Year in Review Articles

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Anonymous said...

Hate to throw a spanner in works but I believe the Mafate Speed 3 is in fact the follow-up to the Mafate Speed 2, not to EVO Mafate 2?
I could be wrong! But I thought the EVO Mafate was much like the EVO Speedgoat; a concurrent race version of the trainer.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
You are right in a sense. I don't think the Mafate Speed 2 was available in the US or very very limited and EVO Mafate 1 and 2 is what we had and we didn't test Mafate Speed 2. Evo is the race versions of the regular SG and Mafate Speed.
Sam, Editor

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks for the info. Either way essentially the next upgrade no matter the name, but would be interested to hear Hoka's reasoning on naming convention.

Anonymous said...

Another great review, thanks! And again the Exodus 10 comes out on top. I have over 200 miles on mine now and using them with screws in as a winter shoe. They are so durable and versatile. Hoping the upcoming Exodus 11 material will soften up a touch in the ankle area, snug up the mid foot and loose a bit of weight.

Wes Arnold said...

You are right. I have had both the Mafate speed 2 and Evo Mafate 2. Both same midsole but definitely different in their own line of shoes. This is definitely the next iteration of the Speed line and not the Evo line.

70's Teen said...

How would you compare the ride to the NB More Trail?

Anonymous said...

You wrote "The new upper on the Speed 3 is more static with less stretch... providing great security when pushing the shoe to it’s limits on technical terrain, off camber and fast cornering." That's great news--one of the things I love about the SG4 is how little lateral give there is in the forefoot, which contributes to its great performance on technical terrain. How, specifically, does the MS3 compare to the SG4 in this way?

Also curious how the MS3 compares to the Stinson ATR6 for forefoot cushioning. Haven't had a chance to try the Stinson, but one of the things I like about the Evo Mafate 2's midsole (identical to the MS3's) is that it provides outstanding forefoot shock absorption on descents -- which is not just about the thickness, but also about the material. Too soft, and it bottoms out, reducing shock absorption. Too firm, and it doesn't compress enough, also reducing shock absorption. The EM2/MS3 midsole seems to have achieved that Goldilocks middle.

Plus, based on cutaway views of the Stinson, it seems to have a lot of forefoot taper in the midsole. So, based on all of this, I'm wondering if the MS3 might provide equal, or better, forefoot shock absorption than the Stinson, in spite of the specs.

Stability is also an interesting question. The Stinson is a few mm taller than the EM3, but its base is a lot wider. So I'm wondering how their lateral stabilities compare

I will say I don't like the EM2/MS3 outsole as much as the SG4's. The SG4 has a continuous run, front to back, of the sticky Vibram rubber along both sides of the shoe. And the heel is as grippy as the forefoot. That makes its outsole reliable and predictable. The EM2, by contrast, has a very grippy forefoot, a someone grippy heel, and a marginally grippy middle. That makes it unpredictable on technical terrain—I've found, depending on how you land, it can do a "slide and catch", especially if you initially land mid-foot on a protruding rock, where it will slide before the heel grabs. And sometimes if you're sliding on sand, and bring your feet back under you, the forefoot can catch suddenly. I didn't, however, have a problem with the length of the forefoot lugs per se -- I haven't noticed they create instability the way you did.

Skidad said...

Totally agree with what Mr. Anonymous above said about the sole. Just way to much exposed material not covered in Vibram MegaGrip compound. And I’ve seen this complaint elsewhere as well. For a $170 shoe they should have made that entire figure 8 lug pattern on the bottom Megagrip and what OMG added a few grams to the weight. It’s a shoe for technical running so for Pete’s sake make it that way. I gotta wonder sometimes the logic behind a choice like that when clearly it would be a better shoe with that VERY simple change.

giokal said...

Nice review. I enjoy my Mafate Speed 2 and I am looking for a road equivalent. Any recommendations of road shoes with similar amounts of cushion, firmness and response?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi giokal,
Many have equivalent road feels but the first that comes to mind are the Saucony Endorphin Shift with its firmer rocker based ride and neat final toe off roll which Hoka lacks. In Hoka,the Bondi can be thought of as the road equivalent.
Link to reviews below.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our index page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
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Jeff Valliere said...

Anon, the Stinson 6 has a more cushioned/protective feel, definitely a more maximal shoe and much more ponderous, did not really even think to compare them.

I too prefer the Speedgoat outsole in general, as the tall skinny lugs of Speed 3 can feel awkward on hard surfaces, but like them more as they wear.

Moths said...

Jeff V 9.7 2021 trail shoe of the year already 😂

Jeff Valliere said...

Moths, haha, yeah, definitely top shoe of 2021! (Not to mention the only shoe I have reviewed this year).

LA Runner said...

Hey Jeff. " the Stinson 6 has a more cushioned/protective feel, definitely a more maximal shoe and much more ponderous, did not really even think to compare them."

When you did the Stinson 6 review, you did compare it to Mafate (the Evo 2 version), saying the Stinson 6 was more stable. So it's natural to wonder if the increased stability you found with with the Speed 3 version of the Mafate makes its stability equal to or better than that of the Stinson 6.

I'll call myself "LA Runner" so you don't have to reply to "Anonymous" :)

Jeff Valliere said...

LA Runner, I would say the Stinson 6 is still more stable, primarily due to the added width and is a real tank of a shoe. The Mafate 3, while I find the stability to be improved because of the better foothold, is still relatively tall and narrow. The new upper is more secure, which helps with keeping it in check, still requires a bit of a learning curve, strong ankles, finesse and perhaps some added caution on really technical and especially off camber terrain. Hope this helps.

LA Runner said...

Hi Jeff. Thanks for your answers to my questions. Let me return the favor by giving you my impressions of the Mafate Speed 3 (MS3), which I've been using for about a month: I and agree with everything you wrote, but more so. I find that, for steep/technical/off-camber terrain, it's not merely better than the Mafate Evo 2 (ME2), but night-and-day better. Indeed, while I can tell the MS3 isn't quite as stable as the Speedgoat 4 (SG4), I've had no stability issues with it. The ME2, by contrast, was a bit scary. In fairness to the ME2, there are likely two reasons I found a much bigger improvement in stability in going from the EM2 to the MS3 than you did.

First, I supinate, which means I'm already tilting towards the outside. Thus any lateral stretch in the upper is a deal-breaker. That's what also made two earlier shoes, the HOKA Speed Instinct 2 and the Asics Gel Fujilyte Trail, unusable for me.

Second, I always take a men's 7.5 in HOKAs, so I ordered the EM2 in that size. But (and maybe this is particular to the smaller sizes), I found the EM2 ran 1/2-size long. So I got the MS3 (which is built on the same last) in a 7, and it was a much better fit.

One thing I don't like about the EM3's fit, even in the 7, is the forefoot height. The SG4 has a nice low forefoot, which helps keep my forefoot locked down. I can get equivalent lockdown with the MS3 but, even though it's a 1/2-size smaller than my SG4, its high forefoot means I have to crank the laces pretty hard, compromising comfort.

Still exploring these shoes. The traction is more consistent on the SG4, but I have noticed that I can mold the MS3's softer midsole around irregular rock protrusions, which may improve contact and thus traction.

Jeff Valliere said...

Great feedback, thanks!