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Trail Running Shoes • August 30, 2018

HOKA One One Speedgoat Mid WP Performance Review

The HOKA One One Speedgoat Mid WP is a hybrid version of the celebrated Speedgoat 2 trail shoe, legendary ultrarunner Karl Meltzer’s signature shoe. This model fits a small niche, and was probably a bit of a risk for HOKA to put into production since much of it replicates its parent shoe and it straddles a weird gray area between hiking and running. But kudos to HOKA for releasing it into the wild— it’s one of my favorite all-around shoes from this year.

Speedgoat Mid


I’m gonna put this up top because I’m tired of boring running shoes— this shoe looks cool as hell (I received the Chinese Red/Caribbean Sea colorway). It’s loud, it’s proud, it’s “Welcome to the Jungle” mashed with “Sweet Emotion.” This is coming from someone who thinks almost every other pair of HOKAs should be relegated to paired-with-pleated-khakis status.

Needless to say, first impressions were good.

First step-in felt nice and snug, and no surprise— quite cushioned. Overall, there’s just a lot of nice little details on this shoe. The laces are outstanding, the patterns and colors inside and out are well thought-out, and the structural design doesn’t compromise the aesthetic.

HOKA’s categorization for the shoe is interesting. It’s clearly promoted as a hiking shoe over a trail running shoe. To the extent that the top search result (i.e. Hoka sponsored ad) lists it as a hiking shoe, not a trail running shoe. However, most retail sites will categorize this shoe as a trail running shoe. To be fair, Hoka’s own product description does claim it as a hybrid, so for this review, I’m treating it as such.

The upper of the shoe features HOKA’s SKYSHELL waterproof bootie with a molded collar. The mid-height of the collar, in conjunction with the laces, definitely gives the shoe a secure feeling. On the trail runs I did, I found this to be assured, to an extent. I was most excited to take the shoe through some sloppy conditions and low-lying creeks to see if its SKYSHELL held up to its name. Trouncing through water and puddles, I stayed completely dry. The downside is that my feet were quite warm during a summer trail run. Additionally— waterproofing goes both ways. If you submerge the shoes to the point where water comes in over the collar, they will become unbearably heavy. I made this mistake at the beginning of a run and eventually just went sockless to alleviate some of the weight.

Which brings me to my next point— comfort-wise, I loved the shoe. I mean, I did a five mile run without socks on, and my feet were totally cool with it. In general, I felt like I could run or hike for days in them without feeling discomfort. I know this is Hoka’s thing, but they really did feel pillowy soft in comparison to other trail shoes I’ve worn. Was there some tradeoff for that? Yeah, a little, and I’ll discuss that below.

The outsole sports 4mm Vibram MegaGrip lugs, which I found to work fine on both wet and dry surfaces. They didn’t grip especially well in deep mud, but for typical trail surfaces, they were fine.

The shoe fits true to size and the weight (12.6 oz. for a size 9) didn’t feel nearly as heavy as the number suggests. In all honesty, they felt comparable to any other well-cushioned trail shoe I’ve worn, and for a mid, they’re pretty light. Transitioning to a road surface was great— they had good return and felt just as comfortable as on the trail— I felt like I could run my normal pace with no problem.

I can tell you where this shoe is going to be a game changer for me— winter trail running. I absolutely cannot wait to run with these in the wintertime. I know it will 1) keep my feet warm, 2) keep my feet dry in snow and slush and melted mud, and 3) give nice cushion on the frozen ground. I also do a lot of city biking, and can’t wait to finally have a pair of good-looking waterproof shoes for those rainy rides.

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The overall fit is nearly perfect, except for one small slip-up that wasn’t necessarily debilitating for shorter runs, but it was annoying. For whatever reason, the toe box is super narrow, even pointy almost. It made me do a double-take at first, since the shoe fit ticked the boxes in every other department, including the ol’ thumb-width-between-the-front rule. Overall it wasn’t a deal breaker, but it could become an issue on a long-distance run/hike.

Although the mid/boot style of the shoe gives it some extra stability around the ankle, I found myself losing my footing on rocks, ruts, and roots more often than I would like. I’m going to chalk it up to a combination of HOKA’s absurdly large midsole and the fact that I am not used to absurdly large midsoles. I typically run trails in Altra, which is essentially the polar opposite of a HOKA. What I sacrifice for cushion in Altras, I gain in responsiveness. So while the HOKA is peak comfort, I didn’t feel a great connection with the trail, which led to a good deal of instability for me.

I kind of noted it previously, but this isn’t a warm weather shoe. Your feet will become unbearably hot after a few miles.

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Speedgoat mid wp

Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid WP Conclusion

If you’re already a Speedgoat (the shoe) fan or used to running in Hokas, this would be a nice complement for winter races/training cycles. This shoe is perfection for those trail runners who also like to do some hiking on the side or even those non-runners who are looking for a warm and waterproof shoe to wear around during the colder months. Again, I appreciate that HOKA did something cool and creative with their most popular trail running shoe. I hope it sells well; I think it fits a great niche and I’d love to see a second version or a more assortment of colorways (right now there’s only two).

Shop Speedgoat Mid WP

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