The Hoka Speedgoat 4 GTX Trail Runner Review

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX

In 2010, I ran the inaugural North Fork 50 in Pine, Colorado. This was my first foray into the Ultra world were I ran a respectable 6:40 for 50 kilometers. It was brutally hot with no shade as parts of the course traversed a former forest fire burn site. As I was in one of those pain cave moments 4-5 hours into this thing, a guy goes by me in these “moon boots”. I’d never seen a shoe like it, and at the time, I was working part time in a running shoe store. This was also the era where the minimal shoe craze was a powerful force in the running world. The contrast was certainly memorable enough for me to recall that moment.

Fast forward ten years, and those “moon boots” shoes are a legit contender and a favorite for many in the Ultra Trail running crowd. I’m now also seeing them being worn by many “regular” folks, and even the octogenarian crowd looking for extra support and cushioning.

Initial thoughts of the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX

My perspective for this review will be for those that have never worn these. You may have seen them or know others that have them. I have run a lot these last 10 years, and have never ventured to the over sized sole cushy side of things. When the chance arose for me to take these out for a test, I jumped at the opportunity.

Over the years, I have helped pace 3 close friends at what many consider the penultimate race in the country, the Leadville 100. All three of them wear the Hoka One One brand in their training and racing endeavors. One of them has even traversed the entire 3000 mile transcontinental journey across the US in Hokas (He wore through a lot of them!). This leads me to believe that Hoka is a pretty good shoe that many in the Ultra running community have adopted as their shoe of choice. The Hoka One One is certainly becoming more main stream, but many have yet to take them for a spin. For that group, I wanted to provide some insight.

Technical Features

  • Features a premium lightweight and breathable GORE-TEX waterproof bootie that keeps your feet dry in a variety of weather
  • Water-resistant mesh upper offers wearability in a variety of conditions
  • 3D printed overlays provide additional midfoot support and lockdown for a more secure feel
  • Gusseted tongue features hydrophobic properties and strategic cutouts for breathability
  • Midsole features a new lightweight foam for a more responsive ride
  • Wider forefoot offers a more stable ride and accommodating fit
  • Vibram® Megagrip rubber outsole provides grip in wet and dry conditions
  • 5mm “stepped” lugs offer additional support and stability
  • Zonal rubber placement adds support and stability

Fit Of The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX

My foot is slightly on the wide side, and for this version they did go wider in the toe box than previous iterations. Not having run in previous version, I can’t speak to the difference, but can tell you that these fit really well. The toes had plenty of room to splay, and there has been no pinching around that bony trouble-some bunion area. With lacing, one can certainly achieve comfort and fit, and that is an option to go tighter or looser.  All in all, the fit is really good from my perspective, and I think it will open the door to many who may not have had a good fit with Hoka’s before.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX Structural Details

Upper

The GTX is the story here! The upper has this water resistant mesh that will keep your feet dry in rain, snow, mud, slush, or whatever. With our winter having been legit, powdery snow has been my main proven ground. I’ve successfully plowed through miles of snow with no moisture issues. As a result, my toes came home nice and toasty. On some longer runs, the powder started to accumulate around the cuff, and my ankles got a little wet, but it did not soak down into the shoe which was good.

All in all, the Speedgoats are really protective of the wet stuff coming into the shoe. I can’t wait for “Mud Season” around here. I’m sure, I’ll enjoy plowing through those puddles. PSA – stay on the center of the trail! Don’t go around the muck which will widen those trails. All the more reason to get a pair of Speedgoats 4 GTX.

The 3D printed overlays come around the top of the shoe to lock into the sole for additional midfoot support. It really does help cinch my shoe down more. I go pretty tight on my lacing for a nice and secure fit. I don’t like any movement or sliding, so another plus for these shoes.

Midsole

Not much I can say about the Mid sole other than that there’s a lot of it. It is, of course, a very lightweight EVA foam that helps absorb the inconsistencies of the trail. Plus, it provides for a very comfortable foot bed which translates into many miles.

Outsole

If you are not a gear aficionado, or don’t make your living in the outdoor industry, Vibram may not mean too much to you. “Weren’t them those toe shoes….?” Vibram has become THE sole for just about every shoe you can imagine. It’s interesting to see how the Vibram sole has morphed from running to hiking to work boots, and everything in between. The Vibram Megagrip lives up to its name. No matter the conditions, these shoes were up to the task. I take that back, that ice lake did become a slippery affair for a little bit, but I’ll let that one slide. ba da bing.

“Zonal rubber placement” is a nice way to say that there’s individual pads that act independently to allow for more stability as one runs over wobbly terrain. In addition, that also helps with the slickness factor as the soles have more surface grip for a split second longer to allow you to stay upright. The lugs are 5mm deep which is quite aggressive, and enhances that support and stability over any kind of surface you’d want to throw at it.

Trail Testing The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX

First take on my first run; they didn’t feel as thick and cushion-y as they look. I figured I would have had to alter my running gait/style. Not the case at all! The Speedgoat 4 GTX is quite comfortable with adequate soft support. I started out really focusing on form by picking up my toes, so I wouldn’t trip with all that sole. Before I knew it, I was cruising along as if I’d run in these my whole life. They felt like any other shoe I own.

I really had envisioned that we’d see more slush and mud this season, but the amount of snow and subsequent cold spells have kept the ground either white or hard. With that, I have come to appreciate the water resistant qualities for longer runs. My feet have stayed dry and warm because of it.

The one thing I have started to notice is that the shoe is fairly stiff. At first, I thought it was because they were fresh out of the box, and I needed time to break them in, so to speak. I believe with the waterproof exterior that the materials have been reinforced, and don’t provide that forgiving material that one may be used to in a running shoe. They’ve done everything to make the Speedgoat 4 GTX as light as possible, and I am truly amazed at how light and almost nimble they feel despite its bulkier and stiffer qualities.

The grip has been “AMAZING”!  Honestly, a force to be reckoned with. When transitioning from one surface or condition to the next is when I have my challenges to stay upright. From sunny to shady parts to snow, ice, paved, or mixed terrain, it’s when you change from one to the other, care has to be given. The lugs with their Vibram grip have given me a bit of extra confidence as I go for my runs.

Final thoughts

My Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GTX have turned into my Piste Caterpillar as we’ve been graced with huge amounts of snow, and I’m running (grooming) my way to amazing workouts and beautiful places. Grip is superb with the Vibram Megagrip. It adds a level of confidence when running on slick or messy surfaces. Hoka has never been known to be a value shoe with a higher than average price tag. That said, in this case, you do get what you pay for: a serious trail runner that can handle anything you throw at it.

As a newbie to Hoka, I honestly didn’t think I’d like them this much. They don’t feel big and bulky at all which was my first visual impression. The Speedgoat 4 GTX are light and very capable of handling the toughest of conditions. I am a newborn fan, and will add these to my shoe rotation.

MSRP: $160

For more information, details, and purchase, please visit hokaoneone.com.

 

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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