I’ll start by saying I disliked the Hoka Speedgoat 3. After hearing good things about them, I was excited to try a pair, but I was left disappointed after almost every run. I tried different sizes, but they were too narrow for my Hobbit-like feet.
After a dozen or so runs, things weren’t improving and discomfort turned to numbness and pain. I then admitted defeat and consigned my Speedgoats to muddy walks, the ultimate shame for any trail running shoe.
That should’ve been the end of my Speedgoat story, but despite the disappointment, something kept nagging me to persist. I wanted to know what I was missing and share the love of Speedgoats. So I tried again, albeit with the follow-up Speedgoat 4, and I’m glad I did.
Nearly two years later and I’m on my third pair – with almost 2,500km between them – and they’ve become my all-round trail shoe of choice. I’ve used them for most of my off-road adventures, from short easy runs in woodlands to longer weekend efforts and ultra races. The Speedgoat 4 is one of the most versatile shoes I’ve ever owned.
The biggest improvement between the third and fourth versions is the wider toe box. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s enough and provides some much-needed wiggle room. I’ve also gone for the wider option for my second and third pair, and coupled with Injinji toe socks, it’s nothing short of a revelation. I’ve had no issues – no hotspots, blisters, nothing.
The longevity of my first couple of pairs was fantastic. They lasted me a good 1,000km before the outsoles showed obvious signs of wear.
The majority of my running with them has been off-road trails, but there have also been a lot of times when I’ve had to run along pavements and roads, too. As a consequence, I expected them to degrade a lot sooner, but they held up well and the only thing that forced me to retire them was the decreased cushioning.
The uppers, meanwhile, showed no rips or tears. Altogether, I think it’s testament to the excellent build quality of the Speedgoat 4.
Comfort & performance
What I particularly like about them is the comfort. Hokas are renowned for their cushioning and there’s a lot of it on the Speedgoat 4. It feels like you’re running on pillows as it absorbs everything underfoot.
Some people dislike the absence of any ground feel, but I’ve rarely experienced a lack of sure-footedness or confidence, even on technical terrain. It provides a good foothold from heel-to-toe: it’s secure, locked in and even surprisingly nimble.
Uncertainty does occasionally creep in, however, when using them in certain conditions.
The 4mm lugs and tread pattern excels on summer trails and leafy autumn woodlands, providing plenty of traction on wet rocks and roots. But come the winter mud and bogs and it can be tough going. It’s nothing horrendous – I tend to find it less noticeable if you’re moving at a good clip – but you may want something more aggressive when it gets really gloopy on the trails.
Otherwise, the Speedgoat 4 is perfect for most scenarios and they perform well, especially over longer distances thanks to the comfort and signature meta-rocker geometry, which encourages efficient running mechanics with every step.
By my reckoning, the Speedgoat 4 is my most used running shoe of all-time, both in terms of miles and time spent in them, and I’d struggle to think of anything better.
They currently retail for £125, but do some searching and you’ll easily find them for nearer £100. Even at full value, I think they represent excellent value for money.
Better news still is that the Speedgoat 5 is just around the corner. With lighter foam, revised upper and 20% more traction, they sound like the perfect trail shoe. Until then, that accolade goes to the Speedgoat 4.
Best Hoka shoe ever? I should think so.