I’ve only done one shoe review on here before but fear not, I am an expert on what works for me. Read that sentence again, please. I feel like every gear review needs to have that caveat posted somewhere just ahead of the comment section, because the internet is a terrible place. I’m putting it at the start to save you the trouble of an argument.
You might hate the Speedgoats. You might be the kind of person that hates to run very fast down hills. You might like to have foot problems. You might hate cushion, I don’t know you. I can’t begin to pretend that everyone likes to barrel down steep, technical descents and save their lower legs.
Because that’s basically what you’re getting with the Speedgoats. If you did click the link above, you’ll notice my only other shoe review was in fact my first pair of Hokas, the Rapa Nui 2 (trail version) shoes. The Speedgoats are basically an update of those phased-out Rapa Nuis, but with a much more aggressively lugged outsole on a nicer, sleeker upper.
Add the winningest 100-mile runner ever (Karl Meltzer)’s nickname to them and you have Hoka’s first signature shoe, and it does not disappoint. I’ve seen the majority of reviewers just gush over the responsiveness and rebound of the cushion, the durability, the grip, etc. The majority of the detractors have complained about the narrowness of the toe box, and lucky for me my feet are narrow so I haven’t had a problem. So without any further ado, here’s the pluses and minuses of the Hoka One One Speedgoats.
- drains very well; ran the American Canyon 50k in early February and the creeks they were a-flowin’. After trying to stay dry through the first few creek crossings I said screw it and went through a deeper one. These drained within 30 seconds.
- those outsoles though; very aggressive lugs, feel completely competent and in control on sketchy, wet descents. Grips wet roots really well, handles jagged and sharp rocks no problem. You can talk all the shit in the world on how funny Hokas look, but that 33 millimeters of cush is the bomb. I just had these out in the deep snow of Mt. Tallac and literally flew down the mountain, I felt like I was wearing snowshoes. Thanks again to Vibram and their “Megagrip” outsole design, if there’s one thing Vibram can do it’s make rubber really sticky.
- toe bumper; I totally jacked my toe on a hidden rock and outside of the smarting pain of the initial collision, that toe covering saved my toenail, and possibly saved my toe from breaking. So that’s a good thing.
- the tongue; usually Hoka has gotten the first iteration of all their shoe’s tongues completely wrong- both the original Cliftons and Challenger ATR’s tongues were just terrible, and when I first saw these I thought, “oh crap”. But they put not one but two of those lace keepers (yes, I had to Google that term) on the tongue so there’s no annoying side-to-side slippage, it stays where it’s supposed to. Here’s a look:
- durability; these are so durable you won’t get the chance to buy another pair as soon as you’d like (talking to you sneaker collector-types out there). That sounds silly, but if you like buying a lot of shoes you’re screwed because I imagine these are going to last 600, maybe 700 miles. I’m at only 275 miles on these and they’re still “out of the box” springy. The gist: these are super durable.
- this probably has more to do with the fact that I have super skinny ankles, but they let in a lot of rocks and debris from the top- I never tie my laces that tight and will never wear gaiters, so that’s a big part of the problem. I’m a “tie my shoes once” kind of guy, meaning I double knot them when I buy them and slip in and out of them, mostly because I’m lazy, but also because I know my feet are going to swell a little on longer runs so I want that extra room.
- here’s a real minus: if you’re going to run on that muddy clay-type stuff, these will clod up something fierce. I swear they collected about 3 lbs of that clumpy stuff under each foot- it’s like wearing soccer cleats into a pottery studio. This has always been a problem for me with trail shoes that have really aggressive lugs, so if you’re on a trail that hasn’t drained well, be prepared to collect extra mud.
- color bleed! My socks turned blue from the upper material; in Hoka’s defense these came with an attached card that said they’d do that, so I can’t say I’m surprised.
All-in-all, a really great shoe. Once you get over the price ($140) and you realize you’ll have these for upwards of 600 miles, it’s a really good deal. If there’s one thing Hoka can do, it’s give you a shoe that will last. With the exception of the first version of the Cliftons (only 324 miles and they were done), I’ve put at least 500 miles on all my Hokas; the Bondi 3’s were good for 600+, two pairs of Rapa Nui’s (one trail and one tarmac), and the Clifton 2’s I’m in currently just hit 300 miles with a ton left to go.
If there’s anything slightly damning I can say about Hoka is that their first version of a shoe is never as good as the second- it’s almost as if they’re allowing their customers to beta test along with their pros, who are getting the shoes a good 6-9 months ahead of us. Which is kinda cool, but seeing as their cheapest model is $130 we’re both paying for their R&D and participating in it.
Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of what I just said:
- awesome grip, great lugs, durable, nice rocker shape (Hoka’s Meta-rocker at work), decent toe box (I’ve heard complaints on this, I have narrow feet though), amazing cushion with out feeling mushy, sheds water quickly and thoroughly, 5 mm drop, every seam on the inside is welded
- color bleed, aggressive lugs clump mud on clay-like trails, kind of heavy (9.8 oz for size 9), wide ankle holes
I give these shoes a B+
…there’s room for improvement but altogether I think Hoka comes pretty close to a perfect shoe, and I’m thinking that the next iteration of these is going to be that much better.
Hope you liked my review, I’m going to be doing a lot more of these in the future.