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Trail Running Shoes • March 30, 2021

HOKA ONE ONE Mafate Speed 3 Performance Review


What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.9 oz. (309 g) for a US M9 / 9.8 oz. (278 g) for a US W8
  • Classic Vibram Megagrip outsole grips terrain like no other
  • Firm yet comfy ride
  • Rivals the Evo Mafate 2 as Taylor’s go-to

ALEX: The HOKA ONE ONE Mafate Speed 3 is expertly designed to handle the most rugged and technical terrain. Top to bottom, this shoe provides solid protection and support while maintaining an ample underfoot feel. The redesigned upper features welded overlays to keep the foot locked in place and the addition of stretchy material in the forefoot allow for a roomy toe box.

TAYLOR: During quarantine last year, I was able to get out more than most. With trails just 600 feet from our doorstep, it was easy for me to get into the woods and away from people. More often than not, I found myself reaching for the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Mafate 2 due to its balance of comfort and performance in any mountain condition. I ran them into the ground last year and loved them with every mile. Fast forward to today, the Mafate Speed 3 is one of those go-tos in 2021.


The Good

ALEX: I’m a loyal supporter of HOKA. From the thought and attention to detail they put into their shoe designs to their commitment to equity and anti-racism, I’m all-in. 

My current go-to for technical trails is the Speedgoat 4. At first step-in, I noticed that the Mafate had a wider toe box than the Speedgoat. The KPU molded overlays paired with a stretchy material provided a secure fit without feeling constricted or restricting movement. My toes were very happy in this shoe. 

The Mafate is designed with a dynamic, gusseted tongue for stretchy comfort and a secure fit. I appreciated its low profile and minimal nature. I often find myself wishing away tongue bulk or structure in other shoes as it leads to odd pressure points and rubbing on the front of my ankle. However, that’s not the case with this shoe.

I tested the Mafate out on a steep technical trail. After stopping a few times to try to lock my heel in place (more on that later), I was able to get a secure fit. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of cushion underfoot from the EVA midsole and Vibram Megagrip outsole combo.

One of the defining characteristics of the Mafate is that outsole featuring deep, grippy 5 mm Vibram lugs. The traction is what really makes this shoe fun. It’s great on roots, rocks, mud, ice, and snow while not sacrificing too much ground feel. I can’t overstate how confident I felt in this shoe in any conditions. Confidence is key to a great run, especially out on the trails.

TAYLOR: Some of the major highlights of the Evo Mafate 2 cross over to the Mafate Speed 3. 

Underfoot is the same stack (35-31 mm) dual-density EVA foam. It’ll be surprisingly firm if you’re used to the classic HOKA feel, but this foam offers all-day comfort and an equal amount of protection. It certainly does the trick for any trail or distance that you tackle.

While its focus is being that all-day runner, the Mafate Speed 3 can pick up the pace. Even with its moderate weight (11.4 oz for a men’s 10.5) speeding up is even welcomed on the more mild terrain. An early-stage meta rocker pairs well with the EVA to offer a smooth and somewhat snappy ride that shines as you start to move faster. 

Dig a little deeper and Vibram Megagrip shows its beautiful face. HOKA has been piecing together some unique but incredible lug patterns. The combination gives confidence on any surface. The Mafate Speed 3’s 5 mm lugs transitioned well from paved surfaces to rocky technical terrain. Likewise, trail conditions didn’t matter. The wide-based full-contact outsole provides traction on the dry and dusty just as well as the wet and sloppy.

The main difference between the two Mafate cousins comes in the upper. A dual-layered mesh brings a lot to the table for the Mafate Speed 3. For starters, it reminds me of the upper on HOKA’s greatest publicity stunt to date, the TenNine. I loved the well-padded heel collar and airier upper on both shoes. As a bonus, the upper is made of recycled materials, which I’m always a big proponent of.

Shop Mafate – Men Shop Mafate – Women mafate-speed-3-womens-heel

The Bad

ALEX: The Mafate isn’t cheap at $170. For some, the price can be quite a drawback. That being said, I expect this shoe to last quite a while. 

Initially, I had some issues with heel slippage. On my first run, I found myself stopping a lot to adjust and readjust the lacing. I ended up getting a secure fit, it just took a few tries.

TAYLOR: The Mafate Speed 3 needs a lot of time to break-in, but I’m not sure I can stick it out that long. This shoe has all the fixins to be a great long-distance technical trail shoe with one exception. I found the fit to be a little too roomy for getting serious over technical terrain. 

A wide midfoot causes too much movement. Even on moderate trails/off-trail, my feet rarely felt secure. A sound fit is so crucial to a good trail shoe. Not even the integrated tongue could hold my foot steady.

Shop Mafate – Men Shop Mafate – Women hoka-mafate-speed-3

HOKA ONE ONE Mafate Speed 3 Conclusion

ALEX: The HOKA ONE ONE Mafate Speed 3 delivers a lot of shoe in a lightweight, protective package. With a more supportive upper that also allows for unrestricted movement, the Mafate offers a lot of protection while still allowing you to feel the trail beneath you.

Also, the Moroccan Blue/Saffron colorway reminds me of a dramatic Lake Superior sunset. I’m a big fan of both.

TAYLOR: The HOKA ONE ONE Mafate Speed 3 is a solid shoe, but not for what it’s intended for. Grip? Check. Protection? Check. Comfortable? Double-check. Secure fit for the technical trails? Not so much. And that’s just disappointing to me. Foot security in a trail shoe that claims expertise on technical terrain is paramount. It’s like having a Jeep but never being able to take it off the beaten path.

You can pick up the HOKA ONE ONE Mafate Speed 3 for $170 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Mafate – Men Shop Mafate – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. LA Runner says:

    Taylor, I agree that getting a good lockdown with the Mafate Speed 3 (MS3) for technical terrain is more challenging than with the Speedgoat 4 (SG4), for two reasons.

    First, I found the MS3 ran 1/2-size longer than all other HOKA’s I’ve tried (including the SG4). Thus, I had to downsize by that amount. Doing so gave a big improvement in control. So if you’d like to give this shoe another shot, I’d suggest that.

    Second, even with the downsizing, while the MS3 has a narrower forefoot than the SG4, it’s much higher. The nice, low forefoot of the SG4 really helps with lockdown. With the MS3 I could get equivalent lockdown, but really had to crank the laces over the forefoot/midfoot, which compromises comfort (I think the MS3’s fit is optimized for longer runs on less technical terrain, where the added forefoot height could provide more comfort, and where the reduced holddown wouldn’t be as much of an issue).

    At least the MS3 is far better for technical terrain than the Evo Mafate 2, whose very stretchy upper makes it (for me) a disaster on technical terrain–on off-camber terrain, my forefoot pushes out laterally beyond the midsole, which is a recipie for ankle rolls.

    I wasn’t as impressed with the traction on the MS3 as you and Alex were. Yes, the forefoot traction is great. But if you lose focus for even a moment and your weight ends up towards the midfoot or rear, the shoe can slip out from under you in a way that the SG4 doesn’t. That’s because, unlike the case with the SG4, whose Vibram Megagrip lugs run front-to-back, the MS3 has a big gap under the arch where the lugs are made of midsole material, whose grip is nowhere near as good.

    Having said that all that, even though the SG4 has better fit, stability, and traction, I prefer the MS3 because I find its midsole is so much better (for me) than the SG4’s that it trumps all the shoe’s disadvantages. Compared to the SG4, the MS3’s midsole offers far better cushion (my knees can feel the difference), comfort (the SG4 is too firm for me; my feet can feel the difference), and responsiveness.

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