Trail Running/Hiking Shoes
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
$145, 1 lb. 4 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-15, women’s 5-11
Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX
$170, 1 lb. 10 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-15, women’s 5-11
Comfort can prove an elusive quarry with footwear, especially for dayhikers and trail runners who pile on the miles and backpackers seeking the conflicting qualities of support and low weight in boots. After numerous trail runs, dayhikes, and backpacking trips in these two shoe models, I’ve reached a point where I’m usually reaching for either my Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 or my Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX when hitting the trails.
I’ve worn the Speedgoat 4 on numerous trail runs of up to 10 miles in my local foothills, on trails generally of packed dirt with occasional rocks, including a local peak where the trail ascends a steep 2,000 vertical feet in just over two miles.
Similarly, I’ve found the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX comfortable and supportive hiking and running local trails in a variety of conditions, as well as on a three-day, 19-mile backpacking trip on the Idaho Snake River National Recreation Trail in Hells Canyon, carrying up to 25 pounds while backpacking three days in the Wind River Range, and with up to 35 pounds on my back on a five-day, 78-mile backpacking trip on the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier.
Like other Hoka One One footwear, the neutral-stability, low-cut Speedgoat 4 and mid-cut Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX both feature Hoka’s signature oversized, lightweight foam midsole, which delivers balanced cushioning for trail runs or lightweight hiking for any distance.
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With both shoes, the wide midsole and forefoot kept my feet comfortable even on longer runs, when feet can swell slightly, while the fit was running-shoe-snug in the heel and midfoot: My feet never slipped in these shoes. And the wide platform and good torsional rigidity give both shoes exceptional stability for footwear this light.
The minimal, 4mm drop of both shoes works great for me. 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 also improve comfort.
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The 3D printed overlays on the uppers of the Speedgoat 4 and Speedboat Mid 2 GTXstabilize and lock down the midfoot, similar to the support and protection found in many hiking shoes that are several ounces heavier. The Speedgoat 4’s mesh uppers, updated over the Speedgoat 3, breathe supremely well, while cutouts in the gusseted tongue help the shoe ventilate—my feet never got sweaty, even on trail runs in temps pushing 80° F under a hot sun.
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A small rubber toe bumper in both shoes offers some protection, as do the 3D overlays on the mesh uppers, lending them good durability for trail-running shoes in this weight class. But neither model has the durability of beefier—and heavier—hiking shoes, if you use them for hiking or ultralight backpacking. 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.
In both shoes, the Vibram MegaGrip outsole with multi-directional 5mm lugs and zonal rubber placements provide excellent traction and stability on trails ranging from packed dirt to solid rock. Even going down very steeply on loose dirt and pea gravel, the outsoles never slipped once.
Hiking in the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX in steady rain, through shallow puddles, and even through heavily falling, wet snow that was several inches deep on the trail (I wore soft-shell low gaiters), the Gore-Tex membrane kept my feet dry. But on a day backpacking nine miles in steady, wind-driven rain in the Winds, these light shoes were overwhelmed and my feet got a bit damp.
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The Speedgoat 4 shoes are not waterproof, but dry out quickly 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. There’s also a waterproof-breathable version, the Speedgoat 4 GTX ($160).
I’ve been very impressed with the Speedgoat line. As I wrote in my review of the Speedgoat 3, wearing them running rim-to-rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon in a day—42 miles and over 21,000 vertical feet, which I’d done a couple of times before, in different shoes each time—I fully expected to beat up my feet again. But in those shoes, my feet actually felt good (just very fatigued) at the end of that long day.
The impressive comfort and support for their low weight, very good traction, and unparalleled cushion of the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 and Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX—which adds ankle support and Gore-Tex waterproof-breathable protection—arguably make them the best shoes out there for hikers, trail runners, and ultralight and lightweight backpackers who prefer the lightest footwear.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase any version of the men’s or women’s Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 at backcountry.com or Moosejaw.com, or the men’s or women’s Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX at backcountry.com or Moosejaw.com, or any version of either shoe at rei.com.
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You may also be interested in my picks for “The Best Running Hydration Vests,” “The Best Ultralight Hiking and Running Jackets,” “The Best Trekking Poles,” and “The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks,” which includes my expert buying tips, and all of my reviews of hiking gear.
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.