Trail Running/Hiking Shoes
Hoka One One Speedgoat 3
$140, 1 lb. 4 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-14, women’s 5-11
Trail running and hiking can be hard on feet. Beyond the possibility of blisters, miles of pounding can sometimes leave your feet feeling beat up and sore—and longer distances magnify the effects of all that impact. As someone who enjoys long trail runs and dayhikes, I’ve suffered my share of foot pain. And after numerous trail runs of anywhere from five to 20 miles in my local foothills—and a one-day, 42-mile, 22,000-vertical-foot run-hike across the Grand Canyon and back—I believe that I’ve discovered the best trail-running shoes I’ve ever used, for numerous reasons, and a model that crosses over to hiking: the Hoka Speedgoat 3.
Going rim-to-rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon—a journey I’d done a couple of times before, in different shoes each time—I fully expected it to beat up my feet again, simply because it always has. But my feet actually felt good (just very fatigued, of course) when I finished this time, wearing these shoes. The low-cut, super light, neutral-stability Speedgoat 3 features Hoka’s signature oversized CMEVA foam midsole, which delivers luxurious cushioning for trail runs or lightweight hiking for any distance.
The wider midsole and toe box kept my feet comfortable even on longer days, when feet tend to swell a bit, while the fit was running-shoe-snug in the heel and midfoot, where you want that; my feet never slipped in these shoes. And the overall wider platform and good torsional rigidity, especially for a shoe this light—you can’t easily twist one of these shoes (like wringing a towel)—give the Speedgoat 3 very stable footing, even on rugged trails with a huge amount of vertical gain and loss, as when crossing the Grand Canyon. These shoes do not feel too “high,” an impression some consumers might get before trying them. On the many miles I’ve logged in these shoes, with ankles that have suffered their share of abuse, I recall rolling them maybe twice, and never badly enough to end a run.
Although I’ve never personally found zero-drop shoes comfortable for my feet, the minimal, 4mm drop of the Speedgoat 3 hits a balance that works great for me (and based on the shoe’s popularity, apparently also for a lot of other runners). The stack height, or thickness of the midsole and outsole (i.e., the distance between the soles of your feet and the ground), goes from 33mm at the heel to 29mm at the forefoot. That thick cushion and the supportive heel cup certainly help improve comfort, of course.
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TPU overlays creating a cage construction on the uppers help stabilize and lock down the midfoot, mimicking the support and protection of many hiking shoes that are several ounces heavier. The mesh uppers breathe supremely well—my feet never got sweaty, even during the hottest stretch of our early-October Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim, running and hiking uphill with the temp pushing toward 80° F under an intense desert sun.
The Vibram MegaGrip outsole with multi-directional 5mm lugs provides impressive grip and traction on trails ranging from packed dirt to solid rock and loose gravel and scree.
For hikes or high-speed workouts in windy, damp weather, get a breathable, ultralight shell. See my review of “The Best Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking Jackets.”
A small rubber toe bumper offers some protection, as do the TPU overlays on the sidewalls and the mesh uppers around the forefoot, giving this shoe good durability for trail-running shoes in this weight class. But they will not have the durability of beefier—and heavier—hiking shoes, if you use them for hiking or ultralight backpacking, especially in wet conditions. The biggest weak point—as with many shoes in this category—is likely the exposed soft foam of the midsole outside the little toe; that spot will get chewed up more easily on rocky trails.
They’re not waterproof, but dry out fast because of the airy uppers, so they would be good shoes for typically dry dayhiking and ultralight backpacking on trails that are generally well-constructed and not littered with big rocks. The Speedgoat 3 is also 100 percent vegan.
There’s also a Speedgoat 3 Waterproof version ($150).
With incredibly low weight, superior cushion, and the traction of an ATV, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 just may be the best trail-running shoe for any distance and terrain on the market today—and it crosses over quite competently to lightweight dayhiking and even ultralight backpacking (although ideally in mostly dry conditions).
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase the men’s or women’s Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 at backcountry.com, Moosejaw.com, or rei.com, or the men’s or women’s Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 Waterproof at backcountry.com, Moosejaw.com, or rei.com.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.