Saturday, July 01, 2023

Hoka Mach X Multi Tester Review: 13 Comparisons

Article by Ryan Eiler, Renee Krusemark, Bryan Lim and Sam Winebaum

Hoka Mach X ($180)


The Mach X is an uptempo max cushion (39mm heel / 34 mm forefoot men's (2mm lower women's) daily trainer with a 3 part midsole construction of PEBA underfoot, a PEBAX plastic plate and a lower compressed EVA layer. Its upper is a Creel Jacquard mesh. Its approximate weight in a men's US9 is 8.95 oz / 254g.


Secure and comfortable upper, appropriate for high mileage - Ryan/Renee/Sam/Bryan

Highly protective yet well-behaved ride dynamics - Ryan/Renee/Sam/Bryan

More versatile and approachable than many other plated trainers - Ryan

Flexible PEBAX plate provides easy to engage front propulsion: Sam/Bryan

Purposeful, responsive, direct, well guided ride: Sam 

Very stable, dense rear of shoe, also a con: Sam


Rear midsole design can feel ‘blocky’ under foot - Ryan/Renee/Sam/Bryan

Lack of turnover from solid build - Ryan/Bryan

Outer rubber showing wear after ~35 miles - Ryan

Over stabilized quite firm heel lacks some bounce, more PEBA foam less EVA please: Sam

A bit over serious in ride, could deliver more Smiles given its stack height and weight: Sam


Weight: men's 8.92 oz / 253g (US9) 

Official Weight women's: 8.0 oz/ 227g (US8)

Sample Weights: 

men’s  8.72 oz / 247g US8.5 , 9.45 oz  / 268g (M9.5), 8.20oz / 232g (M7), 8.92 oz / 253g (US9) 

women’s (right) 8.04 oz / 228g (left) 8.29oz/235g (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 39 mm heel / 34 mm forefoot (5mm drop spec) 

                       women’s  37 mm heel / 32 mm forefoot (5mm drop spec) 

$180.  Available now at our partners at the end of the article.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Ryan: Despite its edgy name, the Mach X doesn’t look all that radical by Hoka standards. With its mint and teal colorway, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is simply another daily trainer. However, after lacing it up it becomes apparent that this kit has a few tricks hidden in its stacks. The tall profile of the midsole makes itself known, and an above average level of lengthwise stiffness is also noticeable. I’d describe the initial feeling of the midsole as providing mostly firm stability, with a few subtle glimmers of PEBA-esque bounce.

The upper “creel jacquard” material wraps the midfoot through the forefoot fairly snugly. This upper is essentially two layers which have been fused together. There’s an inner, perforated and brushed layer which plays well directly against the foot, and there’s a strong, fine plasticky mesh on the outside whose job it is to contain foot movement. I was heartily impressed by the amount of lockdown provided here, even when firing up some end-of-run strides around 4:30/mile pace.  The slightly stretchy, flat laces distribute pressure along the bridge and sides of the foot very nicely, and a padded tongue eliminates any chance of lace bite. If you have especially wide feet, you might want to try before you buy.

The design of the heel sticks to standard methods, with a burly heel cup staying true to this shoe’s overall objective. I’d give it an average breathability score. 

The mesh layers work well in the forefoot, however, a gusseted/padded tongue and design overlays impede the airflow a bit.

All in all, this is a robust, durable, and relatively snug upper which can handle going long and/or fast. I doubt anyone will be able to knock the upper on the comfort it delivers. Fit is true to size, and the fairly complex upper material will likely conform to a wide range of foot shapes.

Renee: Check out those great details from Ryan! Of note, Ryan is a lot (emphasis on A LOT) faster than me, but I share most of his conclusions about the Mach X. I think the Mach X is a shoe that can work well for a wide-range of runners. Given that I received a half size longer than my typical Hoka size, I expected the upper fit to be a bit loose, which was not the case. 
The upper is a great balance of comfort and security. I don’t have a wide or high volume foot, so I had no issues with the fit of the shoe. I’m not always a fan of the Hoka rocker, which can feel a bit tight on my midfoot/arch. However, this wasn’t an issue with the Mach X. For sizing, I suggest typical Hoka size, which for me tends to be one half size shorter than most other brands.

Sam: We have a really fine performance focused upper that even with its solid all around lockdown is comfortable. The Creel Jacquard mesh with its outer non stretch fishnet like material and weave is well matched and bonded to a soft inner layer with plenty of standoff between the 2 layers and ventilation holes.

The gusset tongue is particularly well executed with a somewhat thicker than usual leatherette material at lace up with mesh below. A quite thick central pad eliminates any lace bite.

The fit is true to size for me with a smooth and secure all over fit. I found them quite decently breathable.

Bryan: Ryan has provided ample detail into the construction of the upper. From my experience, the Creel Jacquard mesh and gusseted tongue provides a well-ventilated (tested only against Melbourne’s winter) and locked-down fit. From a visual point of view, I personally think this is one of the best looking silhouettes (in sneaker speak) on the market at the moment, and the colourway provided in Ocean Mist/Lime Glow looks amazing. 

The dual layered upper and mother of pearl styled treatment of the Hoka branding on the sides of the shoe gives its three-dimensional crafted look. So not only is it functional, it’s also really pretty!

The fit is true to size for me, and is absolutely spot on volume, width and length wise.


Ryan: Under foot, we come across a hybrid blend of PEBA foam (upper, white foam) which sits atop a healthy dose of EVA (lower, green foam). As you’ll notice, the EVA foam creeps up on both sides of the heel, encouraging a stable, controlled foot strike. 

While there is certainly some energizing springiness from the PEBA foam, especially in the midfoot, I felt that the more mature personality of the EVA foam accounted for about 70% of the midsole’s character.

What you get from this dual-foam stack is a responsive, very controlled type of ride. It focuses mainly on damping impact and creating a well-behaved ride, as opposed to launching every single newton of force back into your stride. But the PEBA layer is a very welcome addition, adding a nice touch of softness on impact and a bit of spring off the forefoot which I think I’d miss had it not been there. Hoka says this PEBA foam is 34% than the Carbon X 3 supercritical foam.

Between these two very different but complementary foams, we have the PEBAX (plastic) plate. Don’t let the word “plate” scare you off — while it adds a noticeable amount of stiffness, it’s not overbearing enough to upset a fairly casual training run, unlike many other plates I know (eg, the ASICS MagicSpeed or SC Trainer are relatively stiff). There is still enough forefoot flex to make the Mach X a consideration for all types of runners. That said, the plate does add a noticeable amount of structure, offering you an extra bit of propulsion at toe-off, should you choose to use it. If not, it’s happy to fade into the background and act as more of a midsole stability device.

One distinct feeling delivered by the Mach X is that of being disconnected from the road beneath you. The EVA foam provides a ton of impact protection, and the PEBAX plate dissipates the road’s impact force so evenly throughout the midsole. There’s no intimacy with the asphalt, which is fine by me, and perhaps advantageous for long and occasionally strenuous training runs. It can feel like it’s working to keep everything as ho-hum as possible (not necessarily a bad thing!), even when you’re reaching up for your 10k race pace.

While the solid structure of the partially-EVA midsole paired with the plate delivers a powerful chassis that can handle hard efforts, the added weight of this burly package is noticeable. For bombing down hills, it’s fantastic, but the higher level of inertia becomes noticeable when the cadence picks up. The midfoot of the midsole feels wider than most, especially on the medial side. I felt that this made the transition from heel to toe off a bit sluggish, and made its foot strike feel a bit ‘boxy’, as there isn’t as clear of a delineation between the heel and toe of the shoe as there is with most others.

Renee: I received the Mach X after finishing a 50 miler on trail, and the thought of running in a plated shoe did not sound appealing. However, the midsole of the Mach X is forgiving: soft when running easy and responsive when picking up the pace. The EVA prevents a squishy soft underfoot feel, making the Mach X surprisingly stable when running on gravel roads. Despite the stack height, the shoe is very controllable. I’ll agree with Ryan that the plate has enough flex so the shoe is not harsh when running slow.

While the shoe is stable, in my opinion the high stack prevents any ground feel. That’s appreciated when needing protection underfoot, but I’d prefer a lower stack, lightweight shoe for speedy workouts. 

Otherwise, the Mach X can handle everything else. I’m a bit hesitant to wear any type of plated shoe on a daily basis, although I did appreciate how the Mach X was easy on the legs, especially since I tested it during a recovery week

Sam: I would agree with Ryan that the green quite firm EVA layer dominates the midsole feel and particularly at the heel where the rising sidewalls there and thinner PEBA foam top layer make for a very stable and quite firm heel landing. 

The rear of the shoe cannot be called bouncy or springy but more responsive with a quick if a touch jarring rear rebound. 

I wonder if the nearly full length PEBAX plate is really needed towards the heel here as I think it may contribute to the somewhat blocky stiff rear feel we all noted. Or maybe the PEBA foam at the heel should be deeper? Nothing over firm but there is quite a contrast with the front of the shoe.

The front has a deeper layer of the softer more energetic PEBA foam with the PEBAX plastic plate below.  The front feel is softer and more energetic than the firmer denser rear of the shoe and there is quite a contrast between front and back. The Mach X flexes moderately easily along the meta-rocker’s path and with the plate in the mix the shoe has a snappy flex in hand. On the run the propulsion is somewhat more mellow than in hand. The flex is longer in feel than say the quite comparable Endorphin Speed 2 with the Speed 3 more mellow and easier yet in flex than our Mach X. It is clearly more flexible than another close competitor the ASICS Magic Speed 2 and certainly easier going up front than the Magic Speed 3 or for that matter the now more flexible Adizero Bostton 12.

All in all the midsole is designed for uptempo training and daily training if you prefer a more responsive snappier feel instead of a pillowy bouncy one as say the SC Trainer v2 from New Balance has.  

Not to worry. There is plenty of cushioning here at light weight given the 39mm heel / 34mm forefoot and relatively light weight. Unlike several other competitors, the platform and plate is as easy to run at slower paces as faster ones, keeping in mind the heel feel being a bit on the firm and dense side. The ride is on the serious side as opposed to soft and bouncy resembling shoes such as ASICS Magic Speed and adidas Boston 11/12 more than the Endorphin Speed 3 or Invincible Run 3. The rear construction  including the wide heel and midfoot platform also clearly make the shoe stable and I think make the Mack X a good choice for those who tend to pronate a bit early on strike towards the heel but for me is a bit overdone.

Bryan: I largely share Sam’s sentiment here, and also echo Renee’s experience, as I found that the lower EVA base stabilized the bouncy nature of PEBA foam. The ‘side-walling’ of EVA foam on both medial and lateral sides also add to the stability of the shoe. 

The ride is responsive but unlike PEBAX only based shoes, is not bouncy nor aggressive. Even with the PEBAX plate, deeper layer of PEBA foam and meta-rocker in the forefoot, the ride is still relatively mellow. It really reminds me of the Asics GideRide 3 (RTR Review) which also features a Meta-rRocker and plastic plate. Both are max-cushioned trainers that ride very similarly.

The Mach X being a max-cushioned plated shoe prevents any ground feel. It rides moderately fast but it would not be one which I would readily wear for a speed session where I prefer more ground feel and a snappier ride. As mentioned by the others, I feel that this shoe shines as an uptempo trainer and is an ideal long run shoe. Being very protective, it works well in my higher-mileage training weeks.


Ryan: There’s an adequate helping of rubber underfoot, which hasn’t given me any reasons to complain about traction. After about 35 miles, I’m noticing a bit of wear in the toe and where I strike the heel. In the forefoot, a fairly traditional patch of blown rubber utilizes a series of slits to prevent it from impeding the ride. 

At the heel, two rings of the same rubber protect the Hoka’s familiar swallowtail-like split midsole. The tread depth and pattern is on the lighter side and helps to further the shoe’s mellow and simple ride style.

Renee: The rubber coverage is fair for a trainer without adding too much weight to the shoe. I don’t have any wear on the rubber itself, although I have run only on dirt and gravel and not yet on any hard surfaces. Pebbles and small rocks won’t wedge in the cut-out on the outsole, but larger gravel might (I had one issue). Given the protection and stability of the shoe, it will work great for rail-trail type long runs.

Sam: The rubber coverage is adequate with no wear whatsoever for me at about 20 miles to date.

The underfoot platform and rubber arrangement is well decoupled and segmented. 

I do wonder what opening the groove just ahead of the heel wider and deeper might do to reduce the blocky rear feel. Stability might suffer a bit but as it is the rear is almost over stable and rigid/firm in rear feel at slower paces  You might be surprised if you didn’t know it was a 5mm drop shoe as for sure this is not a low drop shoe that compresses down on heel impacts at slower paces as softer less dense foams do even with a plate in the mix can. 

Bryan: I like what Hoka has done here, with an adequately minimal rubber coverage to prevent unnecessary weight gain. With this, the decoupling is appreciated. In terms of durability, I find Hoka’s compound to be less durable than Adidas’ Continental rubber and Asics’ AsicsGrip. However there is no noticeable wear after 30km on road/concrete. 

As in the image above, the rear of the midsole/outsole features a swallow tail like cut-out, and I found a pebble wedged between them on one side of the shoe on my first run! 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Ryan: There’s not much drama in the shoe’s ride dynamics to talk you through, as the EVA-dominant midsole acts as a straightforward platform to carry you through your stride. Sure, there’s some added softness in the midfoot, but the overall sensation is that of the tall stack striking the ground, absorbing gobs of impact force, and cleanly releasing you onto the forefoot. This ride is certainly more tame and well-behaved than most of its direct competitors. It’s not prescriptive or overbearing, but it most certainly isn’t sloppy.

As mentioned above, the PEBAX (plastic) plate does a stellar job of stabilizing and controlling the midsole. With many of the stiffer plates on the market today, there’s a noticeable point at which it kicks in and you have to work to engage it. Not the case here. The Mach X’s plate is mellow by comparison, and while not as tenacious as that of the New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer 2 which we recently reviewed, it gets the job done and gives you an extra gear to work with.

This new Mach X design delivers what I’ve been calling a “grand touring” style ride, by which I mean: a comfortable but secure, long-range type of fit married to a protective and powerful midsole. The shoe offers a ton of impact protection for high mileage, but doesn’t suffer from ‘just another trainer’ syndrome. The plastic plate sandwiched in the midsole stretches the shoe’s range upward without forcing it to become overly serious. If you prefer a highly energetic, bouncy ride, or want a trainer for speed workouts, this might not be the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a high mileage trainer with a fantastic, strong upper and a midsole that feels like it’s on rails at any pace, the Mach X is definitely worth a look.

Ryan’s Score: 9.2 (Deductions for weight, blocky ride from EVA dominant midsole)
Smiles Score: 😊😊😊

Renee: I echo Ryan’s “grand touring” analogy for the Mach X. I think that’s the best one-phrase adjective for this shoe. The midsole is forgiving and protective, making it a good choice for distance runs at easy or tempo paces. The shoe isn’t the lightest option, and I’ll agree with Ryan about the shoe feeling “blocky” at times. For me, this was most noted running uphill, not so much on flat or downhill. I ran with the men’s version of the shoe, and when purchasing, I’d select the women’s version with its 2mm lower stack height. I also tested the shoe in a half size longer than my normal, which might account for the “blockiness” when running uphill. 

At $180, the shoe is not inexpensive , but runners who can use it for numerous runs each week could get their money’s worth. I think the Mach X is a buy for runners who need a protective, high-stack trainer for distance running. Runners who don’t enjoy the more rigid carbon-plated racers might like the Mach X for marathon (or longer) races. 

Renee’s Score: 9.2/10 (-cost, -weight)


Sam: Ryan says it right, not much drama or for that matter huge smiles here that softer more energetic platforms have. What Mach X has is a serious, highly cushioned and effectively plated design for faster daily training and tempo runs.  It for sure, given its reasonable sub 9 oz weight, big 39/34 stack, and more mellow flexing plate can cross over to racing if totally rigid aggressive carbon plates are too much for you, as increasingly they are becoming for me. You will not get in “trouble” here when tired and back at the heels as the rear is not overly soft (but could be softer more rebounding with more PEBA or a change in geometry) while the plate and deeper PEBA front construction make the shoe easy to roll through with plenty of front energy returning cushion and a plate that cooperates pretty much at any pace while providing nice stable more mellow propulsion..

The upper is superb for the intended performance training purposes of the Mach X with great hold all over (racing) and comfort (training).

While I wish for a bit less rigid stiffness at the heel, the Mach X delivers a logical and effectively executed successor, or sibling, to the Mach series shoes as it is more cushioned, more propulsive and more dynamic off the front than those fine shoes. It is clearly more to my tastes than the over rigid Carbon X 3 with its not very effective upper and it offers a fast training complement to the Rocket X which is, if lighter and all more resilient PEBA foam, a considerably more aggressive race focused shoe. It competes well against its closest rivals such as the Endorphin Speed 3, Boston, Deviate Nitro, and Magic Speed listed from least to most aggressive here sitting between the Speed and Boston for me.

Sam's Score: 9.26 / 10

Ride: 9 Fit: 9.7 Value: 9.1 Style: 9.7


Bryan: I think Ryan’s ‘grand-touring’ description of the Mach X’s ride could not be any more accurate. In cycling language, it’s like a gran fondo bike, but with the ability to go a little quicker. 

The Mach X offers a protective but not instructive, cushioned and responsive yet stable ride. It is able to go long, and is perfect for high-volume training. I think it has achieved what it was set out to do, which does not include speed work. 

As with Renee, Sam and Ryan, it can feel blocky at times, especially with its relatively heavy weight (cf. the 20g / 0.7oz lighter Mach 5 sibling). However it's not altogether too heavy given the maximal stack and plate. 

I think the Mach X is a forerunner and makes a statement in the non-carbon plated, non-super shoe lineup across all brands, and provides an excellent value proposition for what it is.

Bryan’s Score: 9.2 

Ride (50%): 8.5 Fit (30%): 10 Value (15%): 8 Style (5%): 10
Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊😊

13 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 3 Flyknit (RTR Review)

Ryan: Although the latest iteration of the Invincible improved its stability, it is still by no means a stability shoe. The ZoomX midsole is perhaps the most protective slab of foam you can strap onto your feet today, and its huge, pillowy design loves to bounce you in whatever direction you please. Although the Hoka takes just as serious of an approach to attenuating road impact, it does so in a much more polite and directed fashion. This is a result of its partly-EVA midsole, as well as its PEBAX plate (the Invincible is plateless, aside from a lasting board below the sockliner). And while the Hoka’s wide midfoot makes the midsole feel like one monolithic unit, the Inivincible’s comparatively flared shape makes the heel and toe much more distinct from one another. The upper on the Nike provides superb lockdown, as does the Hoka’s, but the Hoka fits more comfortably and seems more ergonomically correct. That said, if you have wide feet, the Nike may be the better choice.

If you simply want to feel the bottomless depth of a bouncy slab of ZoomX foam for long, easy mileage, the Nike may be your ticket. However, if you want a trainer that can handle faster paces and provide some snap off the toe, the Hoka is definitely the way to go. The Nike starts to feel pretty unwieldy when the pace is pushed, which is not the case for the Hoka. Both shoes fit true to size.

Sam: The Invincible 2 was a fun to run “speciality” trainer with its incredible nearly out of control Zoom X energy return. The Invincible 3 really dialed back the wildness with a lasting board and stiffer more extensive outsole. The Zoom X magic is still there but sandwiched between stiffer elements and front to back. I agree with Ryan that the Nike is a better choice for long slow runs while the Hoka is clearly a more uptempo big stack shoe. If the Hoka had a bit more forgiving heel construction it would be no contest all around for me. The Mach X is much more refined, less rough feeling and more supportive (especially at the heel) with a softer and more comfortable construction. 

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 (RTR Review)

Ryan: I’d argue that the SC Trainer 2 is currently the most direct competitor of the Mach X. Both shoes aim to deliver a secure, comfortable fit suited for heavy mileage, with plate-stiffened midsoles to elevate their performance. In both cases, there’s some softer foam tossed into the mix to liven things up, although this is drastically more apparent in the SC Trainer. There isn’t as much of a concern for shaving weight in either of these. For that reason, both of these suffer slightly from a lack of turnover given their ~9.5oz weight.

While they both fit into the same category, their personalities differ significantly in the rides they deliver. The NB has a much softer and deep feeling of cushion, from a lower density foam that is split into two distinct ridges in the heel. Its EnergyArc design makes the heel feel comparatively soft to the Hoka’s more stable and firm, EVA-focused swallowtail design. The plate in the SC Trainer is decidedly more imposing, especially at slower efforts whereas the Hoka’s plastic PEBAX plate is fairly friendly and flexible at casual paces, the SC Trainer’s plate is more rigid and doesn’t let you forget it’s there. 

At harder efforts, the SC Trainer might win on outright power by a small margin because it’s demonstrably stiffer, but the Hoka tends to be the more versatile and approachable shoe overall. Both uppers are impressively comfortable and provide great foot containment, with the Hoka coming in a bit narrower in the mid/forefoot. Outsole performance is a tossup, as they both have enough grippy rubber to last a couple hundred miles. Both fit true to size.

Sam: I found the SC Trainer v2 softer and more friendly riding at all paces, even slower ones, due to its softer foam, Energy Arc construction. It was also somewhat less stable, less directed and decisive with its full carbon plate more noticed than the more traditional riding Hoka with its plastic plate and firmer lower EVA layer. Both have fine roomy and secure uppers. I think the Hoka’s works a bit better for my narrower width feet with a more consistent and structured hold than the New Balance’s most likely due to its not quite as pliable mesh.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 (RTR Review) and 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Mach X is more like the Endorphin Speed 2 and than Speed 3 as the Speed 2 is firmer in feel than the 3. The Hoka plate is a bit stiffer than the Endoprhin Speed 3’s with the Saucony midsole softer and more energetic if overall not quite as rear stable even with its plate wings. The uppers play a role as well with the Speed 3’s lacking a bit in rear hold and thus stability compared to the Hoka’s. The RunShield upper solves that issue for me. Overal, l I think the lower stack Speed 3 has a more exciting and fun ride with the Mach X with the Mach X somewhat more stable and consistently directed.

Saucony Kinvara Pro (RTR Review)

Sam: A good one to compare Mach X to. The Pro has a higher heel at 42mm heel with the same 34mm forefoot height so 4mm more drop, a supercritical foam underfoot layer as the Mach X has and a lower somewhat softer feeling more energetic if not quite as responsive  EVA/TPU mix foam.  

The feel and ride is also influenced by the fact it has no outsole rubber and its plate more rigid carbon. Not quite as speed focused due to its construction and 10 oz weight. it is a better all around daily trainer for me with no rough edges of blocky rigid firmish heel as in the Mach X but leans slower paces and not as up tempo as the Hoka does in ride feel and due to its 1 oz greater weight . Both have superb uppers with Saucony’s leaning more comfort than the Mach X’s more performance fit.

adidas Adizero Boston 12 (RTR Review)

Sam: Very slightly lower weight but also lower stack, especially at the forefoot with a 37.5mm heel / 30.5mm forefoot so 3.5 mm less for the adidas, the Boston has a similar super foam top layer, plate, then EVA based lower layer. It's full length Energy Rods "plate", really 5 foot bone matching rods and a circular rear piece is, while somewhat flexible has a somewhat more aggressive stiffer riding design than Mach X. 

Both have a similar firmer heel and easier going energetic forefoot as both have deeper supercritical foam up front.  

The Mach X will range to slower paces a bit easier than the Boston and is overall somewhat more cushioned and slightly less firm in feel. Boston is closer to a racer by a bit than Mach X so is not quite as any pace daily training friendly as Mach X.  

Both have fine uppers with the Boston's less structured, not quite as locked down at midfoot and a bit roomier upfront. As with many comparisons here the Mach X upper is my preference. Both true to size for me.  The Boston's Continental rubber outsole is superior in grip, coverage and most likely durability over time.

Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 (RTR Review)

Ryan (M9.5): Although the Shift lacks a midsole plate, it makes for an apt comparison because of its soft, high, yet stable stack. Coming in at the same weight as the Mach X, the Saucony is another very comfortable but capable high-mileage trainer. It lacks the power for truly hard efforts that the Mach X is capable of handling, but excels on the more casual end of the spectrum with a comparatively high focus on impact absorption. Foothold in the Saucony doesn’t feel quite as aggressive as the Hoka’s, but it still delivers comfort and durability for tons of mileage. The Saucony’s outsole is a touch more ‘foam forward’ and has a quieter but perhaps less tenacious grip on the road. I found the Saucony to have a more spacious toe box, but both shoes fit true to size.

If you prefer a burlier, powerful feeling underfoot for ripping strides, or pushing the pace through the middle of an otherwise casual run, the Mach X is the way to go here. Conversely, if you’re looking for a mellower trainer that never feels rushed or imposing, the Shift may be the better choice.

Sam: No contest for me, Mach X. I found the Shift 3 had too much foam platform width and height, too little drop for its geometry and as plateless is not as dynamic. A closer comparison to Mach X for me is the Shift 1 and 2 with their firmer lower stack rides and easier rolls. 

ASICS Magic Speed 2 (RTR Review) and 3 (RTR Review)

Ryan (M9.5): The Magic Speed 3 has generally been favored over its predecessor thanks to its improved, softer ride and slight weight drop. The MSv3 is much nimbler and faster than the Hoka, thanks to its lower stack and a nearly 2 oz weight advantage. While I often reach for the MagicSpeed for speed workouts, even on the track, the Mach X is too blocky and heavy to be considered ideal for such running. Where the Mach X and its plate shine are for 10k+ efforts of moderate to hard effort. Whereas a few of us RTR reviewers thought that the MSv3 might be a little harsh for slower running, the Mach X is more accepting of both casual and quicker paces. Both shoes have impressive levels of foothold, with the MagicSpeed running just a tad shorter and narrower in the toe as compared to the Mach X. The plate embedded in both midsoles stiffens each shoe to a noticeable degree, but neither is as aggressive as a carbon plate found in shoes intended for racing. 

Puma Deviate Nitro 1 or 2 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Devite Nitro 2 has been one of my favorite do-nearly-everything shoes since we reviewed it in October. The Deviate and Mach X are clear competitors — both are designed with a midsole plate, weigh within 0.5 oz of one another, have nicely designed, strong uppers, and come in just below ‘maximal’ stack heights.

The Puma feels a touch sportier because of the resiliency of its spunky midsole foam. It feels thinner in the forefoot, but is snapper and quicker at toe-off. By contrast, the Mach X is the more stable shoe because of its partly EVA midsole. This firmer PEBA/EVA hybrid results in a very predictable, locked-in ride that is especially disconnected from the road.

Both uppers are impressively executed, although I prefer the Puma slightly as it seems to breathe better. I also slightly prefer the Puma’s ‘Pumagrip’ outsole because of its tenacious but fluid feeling underfoot — and it’s held up superbly through 200+ miles.

I think the Puma wins this battle, but not by a landslide. The Mach X is worth a look if you prefer stability and a ride that feels like it’s on rails. 

Renee: Ryan makes a good point about the Nitro 2 being a better “do-nearly-everything shoe,” and the Pumagrip has fantastic grip and durability. I wore a women’s size 8 in the Puma and a men’s 7 in the Hoka. Per usual with both brands, I’d need a half size shorter in the Hoka as compared to the Puma. While both shoes are plated trainers, they run very differently for me. For a better ground feel with a higher drop, I’d choose the Puma. For protection and cushion, I’d choose the Mach X. 

Hoka Carbon X 3 (RTR Review)

Renee: Given its weight, I never considered the Carbon X 3 to be on par with other, lighter weight, carbon-plated racers. That said, it was good for training and distance runs. The midsole and ride of the Mach X is more fun as compared to the stiffer and firmer Carbon X 3. The Carbon X 3 is the lighter shoe, but for training I’m not sure that matters. The uppers are night and day. The Carbon X 3 knit upper did not provide the best security on my low-volume feet, while the upper of the Mach X is both secure and comfortable. Sizing is comparable. 

Altra Vanish Tempo (RTR Review)

Renee: At al retail of $190, the Vanish Tempo is another pricey trainer. The Tempo is a lighter weight shoe, and runs lighter. Despite the zero-drop, the Tempo midsole geometry feels more like a low-drop shoe. The midsole of the Mach X has more pop, but the Tempo has better ground feel without sacrificing cushion. 

Asics Glideride 3 (RTR Link)

Bryan: As mentioned in my part of the review, I found the Glideride 3 to be very similar to the Mach X. It’s a shame that Asics may be discontinuing the line, as the Glideride 3 weighs in similarly (slightly heavier) but with a higher stack at 42mm. The meta-rocker in the Glideride 3 is more noticeable and the foam a little livelier with a little more pop, but it has even less ground feel than the Mach X being higher stacked. The upper in the Mach X is more sleek and the Glideride 3 has a more plush upper, and possible less suitable for warmer conditions. Not much between the two here.

The Hoka Mach X is available now from our partners


Tester Profiles

Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  More recently he has solo time trialed the 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K. Ryan has a PR of 2:18:05  from the 2023 Vermont City Marathon.

Renee is a former U.S.Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run or nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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

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Anonymous said...

Can you please compare it with asics glideride 3?

Gregg said...

I’m surprised there’s not a comparison to the Mach 5. Would the Mach 5 and Mach X be a good two shoe rotation or do you think they are too similar to bother with? Mach 5 as a daily all arounder and easy day shoe and Mach X as a long run/progression run shoe.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Gregg. I’m also surprised you haven’t compared the Mach X to the Mach 5, which would be very helpful for purchasing decisions. That said, you guys consistently do a great job, and you’re one of the very best running shoe reviewers.

Sam Winebaum said...

@anoynmous @gregg
Sorry about that. Thanks for kind words. Yes a worthy comparison although my personal last Mach was the 4. The 5 is a bit less than an ounce lighter and has a considerably lower stack height, 10mm less front and back and of course no plate. More flex based the Mach is a much more traditional shoe with no supercritical PEBA as the X has or plate. Both have a similarly firm responsive ride with the X more shoe and more stable at the heel.
Sam, Editor