Thursday, August 18, 2022

Hoka Mafate Speed 4 Multi Tester Review: 9 Detailed Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaski and Jeff Valliere

Mafate Speed 4 ($185)


Mike P:  I’ve run in every version of the Mafate Speed, from the first two “EVO” versions to the last “regular” Mafate Speed 3.  While the first EVO Mafate was really a game changer in ultra running, and a big part of Jim Walmsley’s winning run at Western States, I found V3 to be the best of the bunch.  It essentially retained the same midsole & outsole as the first two versions, but the upper was the perfect blend of security from V1 and comfort from V2.  

The new version is a complete redesign - finally a different midsole/outsole combination, newer foam, and upper design more in line with recent Hoka models.  The character of the shoe remains the same, but there are some slight differences.  I believe it will be a more accessible shoe for big-cushion fans looking for a Speedgoat alternative.

Jeff V:  Like Mike, I have run in all versions and enjoyed the Speed 3 the most, finding them to be much faster, agile and responsive than their weight might suggest. They were excellent for moving quickly over  long distances and on a wide variety of terrain, with the sweet spot being moderately technical hilly terrain, but easily handling some technical trails as they were surprisingly stable despite the tall stack and relatively narrow platform.  The Speed 4 is completely reworked from the ground up, dropping some weight in the process, improving traction/durability with the new Vibram Traction Lug outsole design and with a new secure, yet compliant, breathable upper.


Traction in loose terrain - massive & deep outsole w/ Traction Lug “nubs” Mike P/Jeff V

Still rides faster than its weight, but this version feels lighter too Mike P/Jeff V

Comfortable upper w/ space across the forefoot Mike P/Jeff V

Softer PROFLY+ cushion (and lots of it) should also be resilient Mike P/Jeff V

Much more flexible than previous versions Mike P/Jeff V

Improved rear foot fit & heel hold Mike P/Jeff V

Regular, padded tongue Mike P/Jeff V


Tail “scoop” achilles collar (why???) funnels debris into shoe Mike P/Jeff V

Less stable than V3, with softer cushion and a less structured upper Mike P/Jeff V

Not as absolutely bombproof rock protect as previous V1-3 Mike P/Jeff V

Tester Profiles

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike recently won the Standhope 100 mile trail ultra and was 3d at the Scout Mountain 50 mile trail ultra. Mike shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, with plenty of forefoot space, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

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


Sample Weights: men’s US 9.5 10.7 oz  /  302 g, US 10 11 oz  /  312 g

Stack Height: 

men’s 33 mm heel / 29 mm forefoot :: women’s 31 mm heel  / 27 mm forefoot

Available now including at our partners at end of the review. $185

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Mike P:  The main first impression is that the Mafate 4 is that we have a complete redesign from the ground up.  The first 3 versions shared identical midsole/outsole combinations, with Hoka flip-flopping the upper design from very stiff with rough fabric (V1) to lighter, but less secure (V2), back to more security, with overlays instead of stiff material (V3).  In my mind, they never quite found the ideal match for the depth of cushion and stiffness of the midsole.  With the release of their flagship carbon plated racer the Tecton X (RTR Review), the time was right to overhaul the Mafate Speed and find a new niche.

Fit I would say is true to size based on recent Hoka models.  I received a size US 9.5, and found they have just a touch more comfort all around in the toe box.  I also have V3 in size 10.0 for longer races, and I would definitely go with a size 10.0 in V4 for a 100 miler.  Midfoot hold is very good - on par with previous versions.  

The big improvement for me is in the heel area.  They feel much more secure, even with the dreaded tail “scoop”.  I’m pretty torn on that feature - on the one side I always felt like previous versions wrapped too tightly around the collar, especially at the Achilles.  On the other side, the “scoop” clearly acts as a funnel, allowing debris to get into the shoe - I experienced this in my testing.  I think previous versions had to really wrap the collar around the heel tightly because the midsole was so stiff.  This version, being much more flexible (more below), allows much better heel hold without having to wrap a tight collar around the heel.

[The tail “scoop” obviously allows more debris into the shoe.  Gaiters are a must for racing]

Overall the upper is without a doubt the most comfortable of the 4 Mafate versions.  There seems to be just a bit more “give” all around and less of a strapped down feel - especially in comparison to V1 and V3.  I’m happy to report that forefoot width is just right - I noticed no squeezing across the forefoot as with the new Speedgoat 5.  Looking down at the shoes on my feet - they actually resemble the shape of real feet, as opposed to the torpedo shape of the Speedgoats.  

I do think a bit of security has been lost in the upper, but I’d say that’s part of  the direction they went with the general character of the shoe.

[Padded ! Cushioned ! tongue]

Lastly, it must be pointed out that they went with a “generic” tongue.  Thank you Hoka!  All 3 previous versions had some variety of a thin/lightweight “race” tongue which basically equals lace bite, or the top edge eventually slicing into the front of your ankle.  Note to manufacturers - please keep the comfortable tongues coming and we’ll worry about shaving that extra .05 oz somewhere else in our gear.

Jeff V:  I agree with Mike on most points, however I have not had any trouble with the heel collar on previous versions.  The new upper on version 4 is completely redone and more refined, offering a bit more room and comfort in the toe box, but still not necessarily wide, just enough for splay and swelling without feeling confining.  

Fit is true to size and I find my normal size 10 to be consistent with previous versions, other Hoka models and most other size 10 shoes.  

The mesh, while tightly woven, is a little more porous than the previous version, allowing for slightly better ventilation and water drainage.  On a recent warm day in the mountains, without sandals and needing to take a dip in the rocky bottom lake, I just plunged in with the Speed 4 and they seemed to drain just fine afterwards.  As far as ventilation goes, they are not the most airy shoe, but even running on days in the 90s, my feet never felt notably hot.

I was mostly indifferent to the flared heel collar in the Speedgoat 5, but over time and with testing, the Speed 4 with the same heel flair, I have come to not prefer it. As Mike mentions, it collects dirt and debris.  I didn’t really notice this early on testing the SG5, but now that it is summer and I am getting into the higher mountains and more scruffy terrain, it is a bit of a bother (gaiters recommended if you are running in loose stuff).  Otherwise the heel counter and collar fit very well, are secure, stable and protected.

The “normal” tongue is very much appreciated as well.  I never had trouble with the Speed 3 tongue, but it was somewhat thin, short and hard to keep in position. The new tongue of the Speed 4 is more padded and stays in place better.

The toe bumper is semi flexible, but sturdy and well protected.


Mike P:  The Mafate Speed 4 clearly feels softer underfoot - the two-part Profly midsole follows a similar tack as the Tecton X, with a lighter and more responsive foam directly underfoot, and a slightly firmer variety closer to the ground.  There are clear similarities between the two shoes, but the Mafate has a much more cushioned feel, whereas the Tecton X with its carbon plates in the mix  is tuned for responsiveness.  I’m not sure if the foams are different but it is our understanding the lighter Tecton X has a supercritical lower foam layer, but there’s definitely more of it underfoot in feel with the Mafate, plus you have a much more substantial outsole, which also contributes to the cushion factor.

[Again - lots of space in between that “tail scoop” and the heel for stuff to get in.  On the plus side, Achilles collar irritation is not an issue]

Visually, the platform looks wider and more substantial than previous versions.  But when stacked on their sides next to each other, the platform width is the same.  The middle of the midsole just bulges out a bit, giving a visual impression of more heft.

[The upper layer of the Profly midsole (softer red part) bulges a bit, but the platform width remains similar to previous Mafate versions]

With the enhanced softness of the new midsole, also comes much greater flexibility.  One feature of V1-3 was quite a stiff midsole, which in turn led to a quitefast ride, especially in less technical terrain.  This version is clearly more flexible - you can flex and twist the midsole in hand where previous versions felt like a loaded spring.  On the run, it seems to me that a little bit of speed is lost with the added flex, but not much.  It’s hard to discern, as the shoe is also a bit lighter, which may help to make up for some of the speed lost to added cushion and flex.

Protection-wise, the new midsole-outsole combination feels just a cut below previous versions.  That’s not to say you will feel any impacts getting through to your foot.  You’ll more likely notice contours of terrain underfoot due to the increased softness and flexibility.  It remains one of the most protective ultra distance cruisers out there - but whereas previous versions would rate at 100% bombproof, I’d rate V4 around 90-95%.  

[The “X” shaped midsole grooves at the midfoot of the MS4 are deeper than those of V3 - which contributes to flexibility.  Tecton X uses a somewhat similar design - with the plates sandwiched in there for protection in that area]

Also of note - as with the Speedgoat 5, Hoka switched from an Ortholite insole to a standard foam insole.  The foam insole is lighter, and also does not absorb and hold water.  I typically swap out any Ortholite insoles for racing due to the water factor. 

Jeff V:  Mike sums up the midsole perfectly.  The new midsole feels softer to me and overall the shoe feels more flexible and more plushly cushioned.  I wouldn’t call it sluggish, but when compared to the Speed 3, I don’t find it to be as fast or responsive, despite it being ever so slightly lighter.  As Mike says, this may be due to the added flex, but I also wonder if the more beefy outsole may also come into play as well.  

I did not find the Speed 4 to be less protected per se, but it definitely flexes and contours over the terrain underfoot.  That said, despite the flexibility and contouring, I find the Speed 3 to be more stable and agile when running in technical terrain with the firmer, more predictable foam and better held upper.


Mike P:  If you checked out the Running Warehouse initial video review - Hoka pro Hayden Hawks refers to the outsole as “bad”.  Yes - “bad” in a good way.  It is definitely one beefy looking, take-a-bite-out-of-the-trail kind of outsole.  5mm of lug depth, with layered steps of Hoka’s Traction Lugs - more like “nubs” (but I guess that doesn’t sound as cool).  I found traction excellent in any type of loose terrain.  

The layout of the outsole, and especially the layered texture of the lugs themselves, seems to bite into loose terrain while at the same time still feeling smooth on firmer, flatter ground.  The previous outsoles also featured tallish lugs - which also had good bite in loose terrain.  But they tended to feel a bit like cleats on firmer ground.  Hoka definitely refined the design for the better.

[Multi-leveled lugs, each with Traction Lugs.  Loose terrain is no match for this outsole]

Of course the Mafate Speed 4 retains Vibram’s Megagrip compound - with Litebase construction.  Essentially this means a thinner base for the rubber itself is embedded into the midsole, which saves weight.  This construction is proven to be durable and the rubber itself is also proven to be durable and long-wearing.

[Outsole comparison to Speedgoat 5 (right) - SG5 has no segmentation, especially at the midfoot, and is a less flexible shoe]

Jeff V:  The outsole has improved tremendously!  The Vibram Megagrip compound with Litebase and Traction Lugs make this one of the best treaded shoes out there.  

The Traction Lugs with the stepped nubby knobs, improve traction on loose terrain and the Vibram rubber compound is exceptionally grippy on any surface, with notably good wet traction, as I was able to test on a rainy day and sloshing over slippery rocks in a lake with no slips or trepidation. 

 I also tested along the rocky shores of the Pacific in Northern California, as well as through the Redwoods and was quite impressed with them on rooty terrain, wet creek crossing, etc….  As if all of that were not enough, durability is very good.


Mike P:  The character of the shoe has changed slightly from previous versions.  The Mafate Speed 4 leans more towards soft cushioning and comfort rather than I would say - the firm cushioning and speed of previous versions.  

A much softer feel, in conjunction with enhanced flexibility makes the ride feel a bit more nimble, but as mentioned earlier, perhaps some speed is lost from previous versions.  I suspect that Hoka may have made this tradeoff intentionally - as they now have the Tecton X in their lineup - which provides the firm and responsive racing ride which was something of a characteristic of the EVO Mafate line.

Interestingly, although the shoe feels quite different underfoot, I find you have to manage the ride in a similar way as previous versions.  With V1-3, you had a bulletproof midsole-outsole combo, which was firm, stiff, and fast.  

It’s a great ride on moderate terrain over long distances, and even in technical terrain, as long as you can manage the stiffness of the ride.  I would give essentially the same commentary on V4 - a great ride on moderate/technical terrain over long distances - but in this case you have to manage the softness rather than the stiffness of the ride.

[As with the Tecton X - the new upper drains and dries quickly]

Foot placement is key, and I tend to prefer the narrower platform of the Mafate in comparison to the wide base of the Speedgoat line.  I felt like I could always manage my foot placements enough with previous Mafate versions that the stiffness was not a constant threat to stability.  I really appreciated the huge amount of protection under foot - especially up front, as a midfoot/forefoot striker.  I have similar feelings about V4.  In this case, the softness + high stack feels like it may “over-conform” to terrain at times, but for me, I feel like it’s manageable.  The Speedgoat with its wider base feels more unwieldy to me.  Ultimately it may come down to personal taste and running style. 

Jeff V:  Mike nails it exactly and I resonate with “over conform” to terrain, not necessarily in a bad way, as you are getting a lot of cushion and protection, but in the process there is a bit of a stability compromise.  I can run quickly through technical terrain in them, but I do find that I have to be very conscious about my foot placements, perhaps a bit more so than with the firmer/stiffer Speed 3, but like Mike says, will come down to personal taste and running style.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Mike P:  I realize my review leans heavily on comparisons to previous versions, as well as the Speedgoat, and newcomer Tecton X.  I feel that’s appropriate as both the Speedgoat and Mafate Speed are ubiquitous to most trail runners at this point - everyone has run in one or more versions, or at the very least has tried them on.  The Mafate Speed 4 has undergone a slight character shift and now slots a bit differently in Hoka’s ultra trail lineup than previous versions.  

[Top of Tamarack - 2,800 ft in 2.7 miles - the added flexibility is a plus]

I’d say it has become more of a Speedgoat alternative rather than a completely different shoe.  If the Speedgoat fit doesn’t work for you, or perhaps you prefer a narrower base, but still want max cushion and protection, the Mafate Speed 4 may work better for you, or vice versa.  They’re really two different flavors of shoe to tackle all day adventures, mountain ultras, 100 milers, Western States, UTMB, and the like.  If you’re looking for that firm ride and responsiveness of previous versions, Hoka now has the Tecton X in their lineup to take up that mantle.  

Personally, I’m a Mafate Speed guy - the upper has always worked better for my foot than the Speedgoat’s, and I prefer the narrower base.  I did prefer the firmer ride of the previous version, but as I mentioned above, the Tecton X now fills that space for me.  I ran (and won) a 100M in the Tecton X - a race where I would have chosen the Mafate Speed 3 last year.  For a race with rougher terrain and/or where traction would be paramount - I would pick the Mafate Speed 4.

Mike P’s Score:  9.60 / 10

Ride: 9.5 - Loses a bit of “Speed” from V3, but gains more comfort

Fit: 9.5 - Loses a bit of lockdown from V3, but again, gains more comfort, especially in the heel area and around the collar

Value: 9.5 - $185 is no doubt high, but this shoe will eat up mountain mileage and vert

Style: 9.0 - Don’t love the green/red combo, but the UTMB colorway looks great

Traction: 10 - No problems gripping anything, especially loose stuff with those lugs

Rock Protection: 10 - Conforms a bit more to terrain than V3, but still a max cush/protection shoe

Smiles 😊😊😊😊😊

Jeff V:  It is hard for me to come up with much more than what Mike has already added, but will say that the Speed 4 is now much more in line with the Speedgoat 5 in regard to design, performance, intent and outsole, though with the difference in fit, it offers a bit more room than the SG and is a bit more nimble.  I think a great shoe for 100 milers or just long training runs in the mountains as an every day trainer.

Jeff V’s Score: 9.5/10

Ride: 9.5 - Buttery smooth, well cushioned and protected, a real joy

Fit: 9.5 - Fit is excellent, but not quite as secure as previous, though that can be good for longer distances of course.

Value: 9 - $185 is creeping on the high side, but not out of line for all that you get here and they are very durable.

Style: 8.5 - Petty, but this is not the most pleasing shoe to my eye, not terrible either.

Traction: 10 - Hard to beat this one, certainly one of the most grippy shoes out there, wet or dry

Rock Protection: 10 - So bomber

Smiles 😊😊😊😊😊

9 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka Mafate Speed 3 (RTR Review)

[Less overlays and more comfortable/spacious than V3, same foot shape (both US 9.5)]

Mike P (9.5/10.0):  I have V3 in two sizes - 9.5 for training with a thinner sock, and 10.0 for comfort and 100M racing.  My V4 test pair is 9.5, and it feels more roomy than my V3 9.5.  Length-wise it is the same, but V4 has gone for more of a comfort fit rather than V3’s heavily overlaid lockdown fit.  V4 has a noticeably softer cushion, more flexibility, and a smoother ride.  V3 has firmer foam, rides a bit stiffer, and feels faster.  The firmer feel is more predictable in technical terrain.  Both are equally protective, but in different ways - V3 with firmness, V4 with softness.  V4 loses just a bit of weight, but most of that could be attributed to the lighter foam insole.

Jeff V: (all comparisons size 10 for me) Mike says it perfectly.  I find V3 to be faster and more performance oriented, where I look to the V4 for less fast running where I want a softer, more forgiving feel and better traction.

[Same platform width on the ground, despite looking bulkier.  V3 also feels narrower at the midfoot - notice I’ve trimmed down the inner sidewall to mitigate that.  V4’s upper Profly layer is softer, so no irritation at the edges of those sidewalls]

Hoka EVO Mafate V1/V2  (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0):  I mostly covered the comp in the First Impressions section.  V1, 2 & 3 featured the same firmer midsole/outsole, with varying changes to the upper over the versions.  See the Mafate Speed 3 comp above for differences in ride.

Hoka EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0):  Aside from the outsole, this shoe probably feels closer to the Mafate Speed 4 than V3 does.  It has a similarly softer ride, and a similarly less locked down upper.  I wasn’t a big fan of the Matryx upper - the MS4 upper does feel more comfortable and easy to lock in.  I had to lace my EVO SGs and EVO Mafate 2’s super tight to get a decent lockdown (both had the same Matryx upper).  The EVO SG was much lighter (due to upper) and faster in smoother terrain.  Anything leaning more technical, I’d go with the MS4.

Jeff V: I found the EVO Speedgoat to be kind of sloppy in tech terrain, mostly because of the upper not being all that secure and maybe also the softer foam.  Speed 4 is more secure for me, but if on non tech terrain, EVO SG would be faster, because of its lower weight.

Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review)

[Much wider platform with the SG5 (left) - especially at the forefoot]

Mike P (9.5):  SG sits on a wider platform, and is more stable as long as the wide platform works for you.  You can really plow through mixed terrain with the SG.  The upper has noticeably less volume in comparison to the MS4.  I find it squeezes my foot too much up front and doesn’t really work for me.  SG5 cushion feels a bit firmer and more responsive, MS4 feels softer and deeper.  Traction is about equal, the MS4 has a slight edge in digging into the looser stuff.  As mentioned in my conclusion - these latest versions feel more like siblings than before.  Choose based on your own personal feel and fit. 

Jeff V:  Mike sums it well, but I personally like the SG5 a little better for the more secure fit, lighter weight and I also find it to be more responsive and stable.  This is probably to be expected though given most of my running is steep, technical and rarely ultra distance, much less a 100 miler like Mike is so good at. You can also save $30 with the Speedgoat.  

[Both size 9.5. You can see the difference in upper volume at the forefoot - especially height-wise. Notice I’ve been trying to use lacing variations to make the SG5 workable for me]

Hoka Tecton X (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0):  It seems to me that Hoka took the characteristics of the Mafate Speed 3 and refined them into two separate shoes.  Mafate Speed 4 maintains the level of cushion and traction, but now skews a bit towards comfort in both ride and upper.  Tecton X now has the responsive ride and locked down upper, but loses some traction capability.  I’d go with the Tecton X for any long ultra where you could get away with it - both cushion wise and traction wise.  MS4 would be saved for scenarios when you really need that extra cushion and traction.  

[Tecton X in US 10.0, MS4 in 9.5.  You can see the much more dialed in upper of the Tecton X.  Also - If the Tecton X works just fine without the tail “scoop” why does the MS4 need it???]

Note - I’m ½ size up in the Tecton X - the upper is really race level dialed in - compared to the MS4.  I’d do 9.5/10.0 in MS4 for training/long racing, and 10.0/10.5 in Tecton X.

Jeff V:  For some reason I have not really bonded with the Tecton X, but it is for sure a faster shoe for shorter distances, at least for my preference.  I find the upper to feel a little confining when I tighten enough to lock my foot down and is it much more rigid than the Speed 4, where I feel like I can go all day in the Speed 4 (faster if more technical).

[Very similar platforms, width-wise]

Saucony Xodus Ultra (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5):  Xodus Ultra feels similarly flexible, but much closer to the ground.  MS4 feels softer and higher.  Xodus Ultra traction is good, but MS4’s is great.  The XU uses a flexible rockplate for protection, which allows it to ride closer to the ground.  XU upper is quite roomy, especially up front - more roomy than the MS4, but I’d rate lockdown and security about the same.  Both are great shoes, really comes down to what kind of feel you want for a particular run.  XU feels a bit more agile, being closer to the ground, but MS4 has the edge in softness, cushion, and overall comfort.  Both are great long distance trainer/racers.

Jeff V:  I agree with much of what Mike says and will add that the XU is lighter and feels much lighter to me.  While the Speed 4 is less locked than the Speedgoat 5, it is way more locked down than the Xodus Ultra, where I can find myself feeling nervous in tech terrain, where the Speed 4 I am just aware and only just a little cautious.

Saucony Endorphin Edge (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5):  This is a completely different shoe than the MS4.  I’d say it would be more comparable to Mafate Speed 3, with both shoes being quite stiff and fast.  The Edge being faster, much lighter and less cushioned, and the MS3 being more cushioned for the long haul, but still “ultra distance fast”.  Mafate Speed 4 loses the stiffness and some speed of V3, so it’s not really in the same class as the Endo Edge. 

Jeff V: The Edge is so much faster and performance oriented..but for moderate to less technical terrain.  Speed 4 all the way though for not as fast paces, longer distance and is much more competent in tech terrain.  Edge is not as protected or durable, best saved as a race day only shoe.

Brooks Caldera 6 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5):  Caldera 6 is closer in character to the Speedgoat line than the Mafate Speed 4.  The very wide platform (even wider than SG) ended up being a bit unwieldy for my taste.  As mentioned above, I’m more of a Mafate Speed guy.  In comparison to the MS4, the Caldera 6 also features a deep level of softer cushioning.  Caldera’s foam feels more bouncy, but the shoe is also less flexible.  Both uppers are roomy, but MS4’s is softer and more compliant.  MS4 wins in the traction department.  I much prefer the MS4, but those that generally prefer the Speedgoat over the Mafate line should also take a look at the new Caldera.

Jeff V:  The Speed 4 definitely wins the traction war, but I find the Caldera 6 much more fun to run in, lighter feeling, more springy and energetic, with a relaxed upper but still pretty good foothold.  The Caldera is massive, even dwarfing the Speedgoat, so there is a learning curve, but once I got adjusted to it after a few runs, I have no trouble navigating them through almost any terrain.  Speed 4 though is definitely more geared toward rough terrain.

Topo Pursuit (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0):  Somewhat similar, but also very different shoes if that makes any sense.  Both are built for long distances in moderate-technical terrain.  The big difference is that the Pursuit is zero drop.  Both offer a softer underfoot feel, but the Pursuit is obviously wider and doesn’t feel as tall as the MS4.  MS4 cushion feels deeper, with the much deeper lugs being a contributing factor.  Pursuit’s Megagrip traction is good, but the lugs are flatter so MS4 has a big edge in looser stuff.  Both feel equally secure in the upper.  Any differences in stability would be due to differences in height and platform width.  MS4 has an edge in protection due to deeper cushion and lugs.

The Hoka Mafate Speed 4 is available now at Hoka and REI with other retailers soon

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Jeff Valliere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hoka sure does know how to consistently make the ugliest trail shoes on the market. Still, intriguing...minus that heel collar flare. Any thoughts compared to the Scarpa Spin Infinity?

Mike P said...

Anon- I like the looks of the Tecton X and the new Speedgoats, but yea, Mafate Speed 4s are a bit blah - except for that UTMB version.

I had the Infinity for a short time - but found that they were very tight across the forefoot to the point of being unrunnable for me. The ride was nice though, stiffer sort of like the old Mafate Speed versions, but a little less firm. They did feel a bit heavy though. The new Mafates are lighter and feel lighter.

Perhaps Jeff V can chime in as I believe he had no issues with fit.

Jeff Valliere said...

Like I always say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but certainly not the most appealing looking shoe.

Spin Infinity has a more precision fit (good or bad depending on your foot and preference) and they do not feel as cushioned or plush underfoot as the Speed 4. Speed 4 also has superior traction.

Anonymous said...

I love this colorway. Mine arrived yesterday and it’s a great looking shoe. Not everyone wants to make a fashion statement on the trails by wearing bright/rainbow colored shoes.

Anonymous said...

Running the Wasatch 100 in a few weeks and currently using the Xodus Ultra. Great shoe even if I do find myself having to retighten the laces some times. For a back up shoe to have in my drop bag would you say Mafate Speed 4 or Tecton X? I already tried the Speedgoat 5 and they just didn’t work for me.


Mike P said...

Anon- Did you try switching the laces? The stock laces do have a bit of stretch to them. Switching to a non stretch lace may help.

I'd go Mafate Speed 4 for a backup. I'm assuming you'd probably want something more cushioned (and also more roomy) for the end of the race if you need to change. Tecton X are a little bit stiffer, and way less volume in the upper, so kind of going in the wrong direction. If anything, I'd start in the Tecton X if you're comfortable in them.

At Standhope 100M I started in Tecton X, and had Xodus Ultra and Mafate Speed 3 in later drop bags, in that order. But I ended up not changing.

Kyle said...

Can we get a comparison to the VJ Ultra 2? They're the exact same listed weight and heel stack. I like the Ultra 1 and didn't care for the Speedgoat 4 all that much so I'm curious how the Ultra 2 vs Mafate Speed 4 would compare.

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Kyle, I think stats are different (just a quick compare), but the VJ Ultra 2 is lighter and a much more agile/nimble shoe better suited to medium distances, faster paces and more technical terrain. Mafate Speed 4 feels more plush, padded and protected underfoot, is not as stable, adept or well held in technical terrain. Better for longer distances and slower speeds, less technical terrain.

Mike P said...

I agree with all of Jeff V's assessment. I'd just add that in terms of racing - I'd consider the Mafate Speed 4 as a miniumum 50-100M shoe, and the VJ Ultra 2 - anything short/fast/technical up to around 50K. There's some wiggle room between those two ranges based on your preferences and ability.

As a previous commenter suggested - the MS4 would be a great late race drop bag shoe if you wanted to start in something racier.

Lewis said...

I really need to stop reading these reviews as they contribute massively to my growing shoe collection. Needless to say, my wife isn't happy 😂😂.
Question. How do they compare, width wide, to the SG4? I found the SG4s to be a bit too snug around the forefoot and was wondering if these have a little more room in that area?

Mike P said...

Lewis - I actually found the SG4's to be roomy enough in the forefoot, way more so than the new SG5. I'd say the Mafate Speed 4 has about the same level of space as the SG4. There's a big difference in the material though - SG4's upper material was a bit rigid, and I definitely know that some runners had issues with that. Mafate Speed 4 has a softer knit material which is also more compliant. The shoe is also more flexible overall than the Speedgoats, so that also helps the forefoot feel a bit more comfortable. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Could you compare the Speed to the NB Fresh Foam More Trail V2 and the Cascadia

Anonymous said...

How do you think it would compare to the sg5 wide version in terms of room in the toe box?

Mike P said...

I haven't run in either the NB or the Cascadia - maybe Jeff V has?

I actually ordered and returned the SG5 wide version. I didn't find much difference from the regular version. It seems like a volume issue more than a width issue to me. The SG toebox is just too shallow for me and staps too tightly over the top of my forefoot. My Mafate Speed 4 test version is even a half size smaller than my SG5 and I have no issues.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answer, and totally agree on the sg5 wide

Pedro Cordeiro said...

Hi guys,thanks for another amazing review. Yes I am going to ask for another comparison: with the Speedboat 4.

I really don't like the update on the 5 as I also run mostly in the tech stuff of the alps. For my narrow feet the SG4 is just the right compromise, and the 5 is just to loose and it lacks foot hold specially after a few runs when the upper starts to stretch a bit. The only Mafate I had was the EVO and it was way too stack hight and unstable and it costed me big ankle sprain.

How would this one compare to the SG4 ?

downbycoleslaw said...

Really interested in this shoe as an alternative to the SG5. I had tried the SG4, was really not a fan of the tongue / heel collar and stuck with the SG3 and Cascadia. Tried out the SG5, I really enjoyed it for a few runs, but found that the upper just stretched to the point where the shoe would not lock down.

Is the MS4 worth trying out for a narrow, low volume foot?

Mike P said...

Pedro - It's so interesting how there are such varying views on the SG4 vs SG5 width issue - even among us RTR reviewers. In my view the SG5 is unquestionably narrower, to the point where I can't even run in them. But I think the issue really comes down to the material. SG5 is much softer/stretchier and SG4 was quite rigid. If you have a narrow foot, you could snug up the SG4 quite well and get a great fit. But a narrow foot in the SG5 can likely feel a bit loose. For me SG5 feels the opposite- too tight, so there must be some weird sweet spot in terms of foot size & shape.

I'd say the MS4 is comparable width-wise to the SG4. But it has the same softer material as the new SG5. Given that the SG5 feels too loose for you, I'd say the MS4 might be even looser. Also you mentioned the stack height - MS4 is one of the biggest stack heights out there - especially with those lugs. Also quite soft, I'd say they may be too unstable based on your inputs.

MS4 tongue and heel collar is really good, much better than SG4. (But you do have to think about a gaiter for that tail scoop depending on your terrain). The MS4 is more comfortable in the toebox than the SG5. I'd say its just slightly wider, but also there's more height. It wraps around and over the top of the foot better, as opposed to the SG5 which is really shallow and presses your foot down.

As mentioned just before, it's hard to compare based on SG5 fit because there's so many different views on them out there. The MS4 is a great shoe though, I'd say its worth a try. The increased height may work better with your foot?

Anonymous said...

Love all of your reviews!! Question....MS4 or inov-8 G300? Which is more stable? Which would be better for logging slow cushioned miles on rocky technical stuff at times with climbs and descents? How does the MS4 hold up on uneven descents and off camber stuff? Would all the cushion make you worried where the adapter flex of the inov-8 would inspire confidence? I know G300 weight is an issue but if its more stable I dont think Ii would mine. I hate rolling ankles and high stack shoes scare me but I want a max cushioned shoe

Anonymous said...

Also, how does the lock down and fit compare to the SG5? I had those for a bit and while the cushion was wonderful I couldn’t get my foot locked down and was sliding around on hills or uneven stuff. I rolled an ankle pretty quickly too once I hit some rocky downhills.

Unknown said...

I bought a pair of Hoka Mafate Speed 4 to do the GR20 trail on Corsica. Very technical terrain and unfortunately the Hoka's were not strong enough. Only after 4 days in the trail the sole started to tear off and was ripping apart. Half way during the trail I bought new hike shoes that were available my size (48....) to finish the trail. I liked the cusion and the grip of the Hoka's but they are just not strong enough for really technical terrain with steep rocky ascents and descents.
PS: I hiked the TMC, WHR, Alta Via 1, with Hoka Mafata Speed 3 without any problem. But these trails are nothing compared to the GR20 on Corsica.

Mike P said...


I would venture to say that the G 300 feels more stable to me. The cushion is denser and firmer, and as I've mentioned earlier - the Adaptflex really does work. I never experienced an ankle roll in them. The Mafate 4's do feel noticeable softer though, but the level of cushioning is the same - its just a difference in foam density. Depends what you preference is. Soft cushion - high stack shoes can feel unstable to some, but others prefer the softer, comfortable underfoot feel above all else.

Of course, as you mention, this all assumes you're fine with the high weight of the Inov-8.

I love the fit of the MS4 in comparison to SG5. Feels like the MS4 upper wraps the foot while the SG5 straps you down over the top. So fit and how they feel really depends on your foot size/shape. MS4 works much better for me.

Evan said...

Thanks as always for your great reviews. I'm going to add another Speedgoat 5 comparison but try to get a little more specific. I run lots of technical trails in Colorado, gave the SG5 a try but had to ditch it because the upper never felt super secure with the stretchy mesh and narrow lacing column. After 30ish miles I was really having to crank the laces to the point where the eyelets were kissing and the laces didnt have great leverage on the foot. Also got some awful lace bite that became unbearable.. so happy to see a little more cushioned tongue on the M4. (fwiw I landed on Topo Ultraventure 2s for long runs and two mountain races and have been pretty happy). So my concern is lockdown and declining lockdown via upper stretchiness. I know the uppers are similar, but would you suspect the M4 loosens up in the same way as the SG5? Are fast or technical descents sloppy with lockdown as many have felt in the SG5? Thank you!

Mike P said...


In my opinion, between the SG5 and MS4, its not necessarily and issue of upper stretch. For me, I just get the feeling with the SG5 that I'm riding on "top" of the midsole, and my foot is more or less strapped to it. This leads to having to tighten it down to get a proper fit, and for me it just squeezes my foot too much. With the MS4, it feels like the upper just wraps the foot better, and I feel more connected to the shoe (especially in the forefoot). I can tension them enough with the laces and it doesn't uncomfortably squeeze or bite my foot. Hope that helps.

As far as technical descents - the MS4 has a softer, more cushioned feel. You'd have to judge based on your terrain and preferences if you like that feel going downhill. It's a bit less stable than a firmer ride, but I happily take the tradeoff for the cushion over the long haul.

nate c. said...

How does the MS4 compare to the Norda 001?

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Nate, I have the Norda 001 spiked version and while I use it on snow/ice, I can attest that performance is top notch. The Norda feels more firm underfoot, yet very well cushioned and more stable for technical terrain. While I like the Mafate Speed 4, I do not find it to be as quick, stable or as competent in technical terrain as the Norda. Of course the Norda is 2x + the price.