HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 Performance Review
Erin: The HOKA Speedgoat 4 is here, kids! Somewhere along the way I’ve transitioned (mostly) from an Altra Person to a HOKA Person, and the Speedgoat is a significant factor in that.
Matt: I’ve reviewed the last three versions of the Speedgoat (as well as the EVO Speedgoat), and the shoe had progressively gotten better. The Speedgoat 2 was a huge step forward after the unstable monstrosity of version one; the Speedgoat 3 took care of everything else.
I purchased two more pairs of the SG3 on my own dime and wore them for a ton of miles out in the mountains. They kept me company at my 9th place finish at Pine to Palm 100 this September (and I didn’t have to change shoes once!).
So, I was very excited when I heard HOKA ONE ONE was making the Speedgoat 4 a touch wider than the SG3, with a more breathable upper.
Sadly, that excitement wouldn’t last long…
Erin: The EVO Speedgoat was a hotly anticipated shoe, and while it’s solid, I still prefer the Speedgoat 3 and its latest update, the SG4. Fortunately, HOKA decided not to mess too much with a good thing here. The SG4 could really be considered a 3.5, because it really isn’t that different from the 3.
What has changed? Well, in the pros column, the forefoot of the Speedgoat 4 is ever so slightly wider; just wide enough that my toes don’t go numb after 5 or 6 miles. Which, really, was my only complaint about the SG3.
The upper is also different, and in a good way– it is thinner and without a doubt more breathable than the SG3, which had a low-level suffocating quality during runs in the heat.
Allegedly, the midsole has shed some weight, which is odd, since the 4 weighs in at 9.2 ounces in a women’s 8– a tad heavier than the SG3. However, it’s not noticeable to me (if you notice a tenth of an ounce difference I’m calling BS). The midsole and ride overall feel exactly like the SG3 to me. This still has the same level of cushioning (optimal, IMO) and that sweet meta-rocker.
The outsole seems unchanged as well with the trusty Vibram MegaGrip; again, why fix it if it ain’t broke?
Matt: There’s a lot here that carries over from the Speedgoat 3 and with good reason: that shoe rocked. The outsole is basically the same, with small changes to the lug shape (they’re now slightly stepped, I’m guessing to help with durability and grip) and a little tweaking to the placement in the rear and by the edges.
I don’t notice the outsole changes in any major way, which is to say it’s still a really versatile and grippy outsole that can handle technical and tamer terrain, whether wet or dry.
The midsole is advertised as being springier, and it does feel a little bit peppier to me; however, that could also be because I’m comparing a shoe with relatively few miles compared to a pair of shoes with hundreds of miles.
Regardless of claims, the midsole is still really solid, with ample but not mushy cushioning that kept my foot happy throughout my runs. That you can’t tell there are changes to the midsole is definitely a good thing, because this is one of the few max-cushioned shoes that moves quickly and is pretty stable even with the tall stack height (gotta thank HOKA’s bathtub construction for that).
It’s already cooled down at here on the East Coast, but I did manage to take the Speedgoat 4 through some water, and they definitely drain quicker than the SG3 (which drained pretty well). I have no doubt, given the thin and porous type of mesh they’ve used in the Speedgoat 4 (it’s a little bit more like plastic than the fabric-type mesh on the SG3) that these will work very well in heat, but I’ll try to update if I take them to warmer climes.
Foothold is still very solid in the new upper and I didn’t feel my heel slipping or foot sliding around due to the added width (more on that below).Shop HOKA Speedgoat 4
Erin: I think I may need to come to grips with the fact that I’m no longer an 8.5 in HOKAs. Everything I’ve worn from them has been an 8.5 and has been great until recently. The Cavu 2, the EVO Speedgoat, the Rincon, and now the Speedgoat 4 all feel long to me, and I think I’d prefer this shoe in an 8.
Extra length in a trail shoe isn’t great if you’re someone like me (that is, someone who has a stride that is sometimes referred to as “efficient” but which, in reality, is lazy, because I don’t pick up my feet). This morning when I laced up my pair of Clifton 6 I started to think that maybe they’re even a tad big. But maybe I’m just being paranoid.
The tongue has lost some padding, which is sad. I hate a floppy paper-thin tongue.
Matt: While the SG4 is a touch wider in the forefoot than the SG3, the width is offset by the combination of how comparably rigid the new mesh is to the mesh on the SG3, and also to what feels like even less height in the toe box.
Unfortunately, this left the upper on the SG4 feeling more restrictive than on the SG3, which had mesh that gave just a bit more. I have no doubt the new mesh is very durable, but I didn’t have any issues with the SG3 upper, and the new plastic-feeling mesh just isn’t my thing. I can’t really imagine wanting to spend tons of hours in this mesh, considering the lack of any give.
The lack of height also puts undue pressure across the tops of my big toe knuckles in a funny way, and while it was manageable during an average run, I’m not sure it would be great during a 100 miler.
So I’ve ended up with like 1mm more width but now the upper just feels hard and pushes down on the tops of my feet. No bueno.
This shoe put on weight. Yeah, it’s not a ton of weight, but it’s a move in the wrong direction nonetheless. HOKA’s website touts the midsole as being lighter, but unless the upper is stupid heavy (which it doesn’t feel) then I’m calling BS.
The tongue, with which I had zero issues, is now longer and thinner–neither are qualities I need in a tongue. I think they were fixing a problem that didn’t exist here, and in doing so, created a new problem.Shop HOKA Speedgoat 4
Erin: If you loved the Speedgoat 3, I’m 100% confident you’ll love the 4, especially if the SG3 sometimes made your toesies fall asleep. Perhaps consider sizing down a half size, though.
Matt: Why do shoe companies feel like they need to make a new model every year? Is this some kind of shoe arms race, or do they just need something new to keep their machine going?
I just feel like HOKA could have made a wide version of the Speedgoat 3 and they would have sold tons of pairs.
Instead, they fixed something that wasn’t broken, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t break it in the process. I think the SG3 will work for lots of people; I’m just not one of those people. While the grip is excellent, and the midsole is still built for all day fun in the mountains, the new upper feels too rigid and restrictive for me.
I’m going to try out the wide version of the SG4 when it comes out, to see if somehow that changes the issues I have with the toe box (for the record, I don’t wear a wide) but I feel like the upper material is as much to blame as the geometry, so I’m not hopeful. If you’re reading this HOKA, please pull a Challenger v1 move and bring back the SG3!!!
You can pick up the HOKA Speedgoat 4 at Running Warehouse using the shop link below.Shop HOKA Speedgoat 4
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As a geek/scientist/engineer that knows 1 oz. is about 28.35 g, I straight away recognized that 10.8 oz is not 283 grams. So is it 10.8 oz (306 g), or 10.0 oz. (283 g) fir M9?
Ohhh thank you for pointing that out. Got mixed up, my specific shoe (M7.5 was 10 oz.), size 9 was 10.8. Fixed!
I was looking for a new trail shoe recently to replace some very old and heavy Salomon XT’s. My how technology has advanced! After trying many of the brands out there (on the treadmill) I settled on Hoka Speedgoats as being a nice stable shoe with plenty of cushioning to get my tired old legs round 23miles of the Man vs Coast race. Got home with a nice shiny pair of Speedgoat 4’s, the latest model has to be best right? Wrong! Couple of miles in on the treadmill I experienced pins and needles in my feet, stepped off re-laced, tried again. No good, back to the shop disappointed! Unfortunately they didn’t have the Speedgoat 3 in my size but could mail some to me from another store.
A few days later the shoes arrived and I was straight on the treadmill. Great fit (although a half size up from my normal size), great cushioning and best of all no pins and needles. Luckily I had read Matt’s comments in the review and remembered him mentioning the unpadded tongue in the Speedgoat 4’s, which was what swayed me back to the 3’s. Thanks Matt!
Typical that a few weeks after acquiring my shiny new shoes, the race was cancelled due to coronavirus.
On the upside, just completed the Dirty Weekend 13mile “virtual race” mostly on trail and the Speedgoat 3’s were great, on only their second outing! The really great aspect that I hadn’t fully grasped, was how well my legs had recovered the next day. Think I might look at some Hokas (or similar) for the road, if that’s the effect of the extra cushioning.
Thanks for your great reviews guys, really helped me find the right shoe this time!