Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Guest Author: Corrine Johnson, @outdoorfamfun
For most of my running life (20+ years) I have run trails in normal running shoes. A couple years ago I bought my first pair of trail shoes--a low-end trail shoe from Big 5. These shoes gave me some better grip on the rock and dirt and I have been satisfied with them...up until I went to a Hoka Speedgoat 4 demo with Utah Run. My eyes were opened to the awesomeness of quality trail shoes.
Hoka One One is known for their large cushiony foam soles. I am currently running in the Hoka Bondi for one of my road shoes. This was my first Hoka purchase. I have liked the Bondi, but I have not loved them. I feel like they are too bulky for a road shoe and the forefoot was suprisingly narrow. So going into the demo for the Speedgoat 4 I was worried that they would feel the same way. However, my experience was quite the opposite.
With each step there was great energy return and I could easily glide over rocks large and small on the trail. The thick foam sole provided an awesome cushion which almost completely hid the feel of all the rocks that I was constantly stepping on. I never felt like the shoe was too bulky or caused me to get off balance as I maneuvered through rough terrain.
I ran 4.8 miles during the demo run with an elevation gain of 1,496. My favorite part of the run in the Hoka Speedgoat 4 was going downhill. I am a slower downhill trail runner because of pounding on the feet and joints. However, in the Speedgoat, the jarring of the body was almost absent. The thick foam sole absorbed the shock and I could easily glide down without feeling the pounding of each step.
There was a little bit of everything on this run: small rocks, gravel, large rocks, ice and snow. The sole of the Hoka Speedgoat 4 has a Vibram Megagrip Outsole, which provided excellent grip on the varying terrain. The Hoka rep also told me about a GTX version that uses Gortex, which will be coming out in 2020 (See the Gear Junkie review in the "What Others Have To Say" section below). On the uphill I did not slip, not even on the ice. On the downhill, I only lost slight grip twice on the ice, but any shoe without spikes would do the same. (Shout out the two guys with Utah Run who helped me across the icy logs over the river.)
After the demo run, I ran a few more miles in my current trail shoes and I was honestly shocked by the difference. After running in the Hoka’s, I became so much more aware of every tiny rock under my trail shoes and realized the harder impact of each step--I need new trail shoes.
The fit of the Hoka Speedgoat 4 felt right with what I usually wear. I normally wear a 7 and I demoed a 7. I had to tighten my laces after I started the downhill, because my left foot started to slide in the shoe slightly, but after tightening the laces I didn't have any problems. There also wasn't any weird rubbing or hot spots, even on the downhill.
Overall, after going in with some skepticism about my prior experience with my Hoka road shoes, I was truly surprised at the difference this shoe made on the trail. Time for an upgrade!
Weight: 9.2 oz
Drop: 4 mm
Lugs: 5 mm & Vibram® Megagrip
PROS & CONS
True to size
Excellent traction and grip
Look and color options are hard to get excited about
WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Corrine Johnson has run for 20 years in everything from 5K's to Marathons. She is a Boston Marathon finisher. She loves everything outdoors. Mother of four and wife to The Average Joe Runner. Follow her on Instagram @outdoorfamfun!