Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Performance Review

Inspired by ultra-running legend Karl Meltzer, the Hoka One One Speedgoat series includes some of the most beloved trail running shoes on the market. Incredible traction, cushion, and durability make the newest version, the Speedgoat 4, sure to live up to the expectations of those who are already fans of the shoe.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Performance Review

There are relatively few changes to the Speedgoat 4 that set it apart from its predecessor, the Speedgoat 3. Though, the changes that Hoka has made don’t alter the feel or function of the shoe much, but rather improve upon already beloved features.

Hoka touts the toe box as slightly roomier, the waterproofing has improved, and the upper has been reconstructed from a more durable mesh, increasing the shoe’s longevity. 

If you’re looking for a trail shoe for long-hauls on moderate to technical trails that is guaranteed to hold up in the most challenging conditions, you can’t go wrong with the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. 

Stats

  • Manufacturer: Hoka One One
  • 10.8oz Men’s US9/ 9.2oz Women’s US8
  • 32mm (heel), 28mm (forefoot) - 4mm drop
  • Shoe Class: Best for long training days

What We Liked vs. What We Didn't Like

Pros:

  1. Traction - The Vibram Megagrip outsole and 5mm stepped lugs will lend you confidence over miles of gnarly terrain. 
  2. Cushion - The Injected EVA midsole and high stack height reduce the wear on your legs over long distances helping you to feel fresher for longer. 
  3. Security - The Speedgoat 4’s dialed-in fit keeps your feet feeling locked-in and secure on technical trails and down steep descents. 
  4. New upper - The thinner mesh upper of the Speedgoat 4 is more waterproof and breathable than the previous version. It’s also a bit more rigid, which contributes to the security and durability of the shoe.
  5. Durability - In addition to the new mesh upper, neither the outsole nor the lugs show much sign of wear and tear after miles in the mountains.

Cons

  1. Paper-thin Tongue - The new tongue of the Speedgoat 4 is longer and far less padded than in previous versions, detracting slightly from its comfort. 
  2. Less secure heel-lock - The heel of the Speedgoat 4 is slightly lower and wider than in the previous versions. This may lead to slippage if you have a narrow heel, but could add comfort if your foot is on the larger side.
  3. Lack of ground feel - This feature depends on your personal preferences and the terrain on which you run most of your miles. The maximalist cushion of the Speedgoat 4 makes it extremely comfortable but decreases your ability to feel the terrain beneath your feet. 
  4. Rigidity - The rigidity of the midsole and of the new upper may feel uncomfortable to some runners, though others may prefer the extra responsiveness and locked-down feel. 
  5. Toe box - The shallowness of the toe box combined with the new mesh creates the potential for rubbing on the tops of your toes. Runners with a higher foot-volume should take note.

Fit and Comfort (Score 9/10)

Upper

Thinner and more breathable than in previous versions, the upper of the Speedgoat 4 is constructed of a breathable and rugged layered mesh upper.

If you’re running in sloppy, wet conditions, the new features of the Speedgoat 4 will serve you well. The mesh is porous and drains well, while the new liner keeps your feet dry. 

This version of the upper is more durable than in previous versions, though this does contribute to a slightly less flexible, more rigid feel. 

Welded overlays give the shoe a bit of extra support without adding to the thickness of the upper.


Toebox

The toe box of the Speedgoat 4 is advertised as wider than in previous versions. The slight addition in width, however, is offset by the rigidity of the new mesh upper. 

The new material in the upper also leads to a bit less height in the toe box. Take note if the tops of your toes are irritated by this potential added pressure. A bit of discomfort may compound to create bigger issues over the course of 50 or 100 miles.

Because of the rigid, new upper, and decreased height in the toe box, most runners will find the added width barely noticeable. 

A wide version of the shoe is available, so if you prefer a wider fitting shoe, it might be better to go that route. If you liked the fit of the Speedgoat 3, you will not be disappointed by the new version.


Midfoot

The excellent midfoot stability of the Speedgoat 4 gives confidence to runners on technical or slippery terrain. 

Though the tongue has lost its padding in this version of the shoe, the heel lock and lacing system contribute to a dialed-in, secure feel.  

Overall, the new features of the upper and midfoot, including a longer, thinner tongue and a rigid, new mesh, make the shoe less comfy-cozy than previous versions but increase the security of the foothold.

Fitting very similarly to the Hoka Evo Mafate 2, this shoe is not as loose as the Challenger or the Stinson. The upper is secure and dialed-in, and its thinner tongue allows the wearer to feel the laces a bit more and adjust them to individual preferences.


Heel lock

As compared to the Speedgoat 3, the heel collar in the Speedgoat 4 is slightly lower and less padded. It fits a bit more loosely than the Speedgoat 3, and for runners with a bit of a wider heel, this could be beneficial. A wider heel is less likely to rub or put pressure on the achilles. 

On the other hand, runners with a narrow heel might notice a bit of slippage, especially during steep hill climbs. Using the extra eyelet in the lacing system can counteract this slippage, though, and most runners find this difference to have negligible effects on performance.

Midsole

As Hokas generally do, the Speedgoat 4s look large and bulky but feel surprisingly peppy and stable for a high-stack shoe. 

The Injected EVA midsole of the Speedgoat 4 is maximally cushioned and highly protective. It is soft and comfortable enough for long training days and ultra-distance races alike.

Advertised as springier than previous versions, the midsole provides plenty of soft underfoot protection without feeling mushy. Aided by a late-stage meta rocker, the Speedgoat 4 is slightly more responsive than previous versions, making it an excellent shoe for bounding over the rocks and roots that pepper moderate to technical trails. 

Note that some runners report that the midsole does require a bit of breaking-in. The shoes may feel stiff for the first few runs, but this stiffness does increase its responsiveness on the trail. 

The increased springiness and rigidity of the (still maximally cushioned) midsole makes it more stable and responsive but a little less comfy over the course of really long runs.

Outsole (Score 10/10)

Traction

A Vibram MegaGrip outsole means that the Speedgoat 4 can handle nearly any terrain. Whether wet or dry, the SG4 has one of the highest performing outsoles on the market. 

The SG4 has excellent traction in snow, mud, ice, loose gravel, and even on rock slabs. The hard rubber MegaGrip is also extremely durable, holding up with little signs of wear and tear over ultra-distance events. 

While some shoes might perform better in specific conditions, the Speedgoat 4 is versatile enough to help you tackle nearly any terrain with confidence.

Lug size

The plentiful lugs are arranged in an opposite chevron pattern, which sheds mud easily and feels a bit more aggressive than the Speedgoat 3. 

The 5mm lugs aren’t huge, but a new, slightly stepped lug shape adds to the durability and grip of the Speedgoat 4’s outsole. 

Protection

Most of the protection in the Speedgoat 4 comes from its thick EVA foam midsole. Because of the thick foam midsole and durable rubber outsole, there is no need for a rock plate in this shoe. 

In the Speedgoat 4, your feet are highly protected from roots and sharp rocks, but considering the amount of cushion in this shoe, you can still feel the ground beneath you. You might be able to tell you’re stepping on a root, but it won’t feel sharp or damaging. 

There is very little actual toe bumper in this shoe. The welded overlays of the upper provide a bit of protection in the most vulnerable areas of your foot. 

The rocker in the midsole, as well as the thick foam, combine to reduce the frequency of kicking rocks and roots on the trail, minimizing the need for a hard-core toe bumper.

Ride (Score 9/10)

Stability

Overall, the ride of the Speedgoat 4 feels very similar to the Speedgoat 3. The Speedgoat 4s are arguably Hoka’s most stable shoe. The new, dialed-in upper and aggressive outsole lend confidence for long distances over various terrain, including technical trails and steep descents. 

Running downhill at top speed requires a shoe that is both cushioned to reduce the extreme strain on your bones and muscles, as well as secure, stable, and locked-down, to ensure that your foot stays in place, reducing the opportunity to roll an ankle on a rock or root. 

The Speedgoat 4s combine these essential features effortlessly to give you the confidence to blast down hills in any terrain. While ground feel is quite muted due to thick foam, it is still possible to feel the earth beneath you, which, from my point of view, can also increase confidence over tough terrain. 

Although the outsole is versatile enough to run on the roads periodically, those looking to run quickly on a flat, fast surface would probably do better with a shoe built specifically for those conditions. 

Weight

Although the midsole is touted as being made with a lighter foam than in the previous version, the Speedgoat 4 has put on weight in this version. This could be due to the aggressive outsole or the more durable upper. 

Either way, the difference is negligible but worth noting, as most shoes tend to get lighter with each new version.

Value (Score 8/10)

Durability

For a shoe built for running hundreds of miles through the mountains, the Speedgoat 4 is one of the most durable out there. At over fifty miles, they show zero wear and tear. The mesh upper, while, as mentioned above, is a bit more rigid, does increase the longevity of the shoe, especially when used on rough trails and technical terrain. 

The hearty outsole adds to the shoe’s longevity, and the lugs as well, show little signs of wear and tear and are not at all vulnerable to tearing off.

Price

At $145, the price of the Speedgoat 4 has increased just slightly from the previous version ($140). Considering the durability, versatility, and overall quality of this shoe, I don’t think this is too much of an ask.

As the changes to the Speedgoat 4 are not extreme, those concerned about the price may do well to grab the Speedgoat 3 at a lower price until you’re able to get the Speedgoat 4 on sale.

Fit and comfort (35%) = 9
Outsole (25%) =10
Ride (20%) =9
Value (20%) =8
Overall score (Score 8.5 /10)

Conclusion

Overall, those looking to run tons of miles over gnarly terrain can not go wrong with the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. Very similar to the Speedgoat 3, longtime fans of the shoe will not be disappointed.

The Speedgoat 4 will serve you well on the trail, but if you run smooth surfaces and roads, it would be best to try a shoe more tailored to those purposes. 

A dialed-in fit, excellent traction, and increased durability soften the blow of the Speedgoat 4’s higher price point. 

Check it out here to try a pair for yourself!

If you’ve still got any qualms about the Speedgoat 4, check out our recommendations below for similar shoes that may fit your individual preferences. 

Looking for a more room for your toes?

Try: Altra Olympus 4

If you’re looking for a shoe built for rugged terrain and just as cushioned as the Speedgoat 4, but you need a bit more room up front, the Altra Olympus 4 might be a good choice. 

Equipped with the same Vibram MegaGrip outsole and a nearly identical stack height to the Speedgoat 4, the Olympus 4 employs Altra’s signature FootShape technology to allow your feet to spread out naturally over long distances.

Want a shoe built for a bit more speed?

Try: Hoka One One Mafate Speed 3

Lighter and more responsive than the Speedgoat 4, the Mafate Speed 3 is built for conditions just as rugged as the Speedgoat 4. 

Although it allows for a bit more speed, it is less cushy than the Speedgoat 4 and won’t give you quite as much comfort for long-distance runs. 

Looking for a shoe built for a day in the mountains?

Try: Saucony Xodus 10

Formerly marketed as a hiking shoes, the Xodus 10 has been reimagined as an all-day trail machine.

Highly cushioned and with an aggressive outsole, the Xodus 10 is a great choice for those looking to spend a lot of time on rugged terrain.