The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 has improved on its debut model that received acclaim from the trail and ultra running community.
Of course the Speedgoat was designed based on the vision of and input from the winningest 100-miler runner of all-time, Karl Meltzer.
In the fourth edition, the Speedgoats have better traction, more reliable durability and an improved fit since the debut model.
The 4mm drop is an average weight for a shoe in its maximalist class: 9.2 ounces for women and 10.8 ounces for men.
In this version, HOKA created a wider, more accommodating toe box to improve an already comfortable fit.
The Speedgoat 4 has a Vibram MegaGrip outsole for traction on pretty much any surface, wet or dry.
Like all HOKAs, the Speedgoats use a midsole foam to provide cushioning throughout your run.
According to HOKA, this version of the EVA foam is lighter and more responsive than previous versions, while delivering the same amount of cushioning.
One of the few changes from the Speedgoat 3 is the change in the waterproofing. The 3s had a version that used HOKA’s Skyshell bootie to keep feet dry.
Meanwhile, the 4s were upgraded to a GORE-TEX liner that protects feet and socks from getting wet.
I tested this out on several train runs, galloping through puddles and small streams. I did not feel any water break through the shoe and the outsides dried quickly.
Like the Speedgoat 3s, the molded 5mm rubber lugs are magnificent at traversing whatever the trails have to offer.
From soft dirt to wet rocks to rooty trails, the 4s handle everything with ease and protect the runners’ feet.
It appears that the heel collar is less padded than previous models but it did not affect my performance, its comfort or ability to protect me.
At 50-plus miles, the Speedgoats show zero wear and tear — just some dirt that is along for the ride.
Its outsole is durable and offers plenty of traction so you don’t have to worry about that wet rock, jagged tree root or whatever else stands in the way.
The Speedgoat 4’s redesigned upper is more rugged and breathable than previous models. HOKA uses a tight weave to prevent trail debris from getting into the shoe.
Additionally, the midfoot’s overlays create additional structure and support. That all adds up to a durable shoe that you can count on for hundreds of glorious miles on the trails.
For daily training on moderate to technical trails, the Speedgoats are an excellent choice. I’ve cited their comfort, stability, protection and more.
They offer a proper amount of response and can handle a wide variety of terrain.
When a runner wants to zip down the trails — especially during a race on a flat, fast surface — I would recommend a shoe more built to those specifications.
While the Speedgoat could certainly work in those instances, I would opt for a speedier, lighter shoe like the Nike Kiger 5.
In my experience in the trail and ultra world, there are more cases in which I would reach for my Speedgoats than the Kigers.
But having both in your closet would set you up well for daily training and most trails for the Speedgoats, with the option of pulling out the Kigers for a speed workout or race on a fast, flat or basic trail.
Those who purchase the Speedgoat 4 will find that they can unbox it and go. They will feel the comfort of the shoe immediately. Part of the reason for this is HOKA’s midsole which is stacked high.
While the shoes may look large — as nearly all HOKAs do — they do not feel bulky. Any stiffness that a wearer will experience pays off when they hit rocky or rugged terrain.
With the Speedgoats, runners can easily cruise through trail sections that threaten causing ankle-rolling issues in lesser shoes.
After all, shoes that are more flexible increase the pounding on muscles, tendons and ligaments as they try to keep up with uneven trails.
You won’t have that issue with the Speedgoats, which means that you will be able to recover more quickly, get on with the rest of your life and be prepared to run again when the training or racing schedule dictates.
What does HOKA ONE ONE do when one of their popular models is already well-received? Improve it slightly without detracting from what trail runner appreciate in their shoes.
In the case of the Speedgoat 4, there are minimal changes from the third-generation model. First, as mentioned previously, the toe box is roomier.
Minor changes in the Speedgoat 4s include a slightly heavier weight than the Speedgoat 3 but it is generally not noticeable to the runner.
Both versions also have mesh uppers though they are a bit different.
I seem to have become a HOKA convert, choosing to wear them more frequently when I am not testing and reviewing other shoes.
I find their approach to daily training to be exactly what I need in order to let me run effectively and recover easily.
Looking ahead, I will continue to use the Speedgoats for trail training. I can also see myself using them in races.
While I will likely pick a shoe built more for pure speed for an upcoming flat and fast trail half marathon, I expect to lace up the Speedgoats for a 50K in spring that will offer more technical trails, tricky footing and sections of rock.
I know I will be able to count on the comfort, stability and protection — including the enhanced toe box — for a great race.
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