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Hoka Speedgoat Review: Solid Shoe With a Big Flaw

Hoka SpeedgoatWhen I first received the Hoka Speedgoat, I was pretty sure that I would never run in them. I had heard from other runners that the fit was way too narrow, and upon taking them out of the box I was rather shocked by just how narrow the toebox looked. It honestly looks like a cross-country spike upper and last on a Hoka sole. After trying them on and confirming the tight fit, I put them back in the box and they sat in my basement for a few months.

(Disclosure: these shoes were provided free-of-charge by Hoka for review purposes.)

After our first snowfall back at the beginning of winter (snow has been minimal this year up in NH), I decided to take a shot at running in them – it was the only trail shoe I had that I hadn’t already reviewed (David Henry handles most trail shoes for me these days), and I suppose every shoe deserves at least one run (I once ran in the Springblade!). Hoka Speedgoat Side

My first run was four miles on a rail trail, and though they were tight across the toes and forefoot, the run went pretty well, and the tightness didn’t bother me as much as I had anticipated. They handled well in the thin layer of snow, and the ride was somewhat reminiscent of the Hoka Huaka, a shoe that I liked quite a bit. They are a tad softer than the Huaka, have a slightly higher drop (Speedgoats are 35 mm heel – 30 mm forefoot per Running Warehouse), and the lugs are a bit deeper, but the two shoes compare favorably to one another.

Hoka Speedgoat Top

Yes, indeed – pointy and narrow up front!

Despite my problems with the fit, for some reason I kept coming back to the Speedgoats. I used them frequently in the snow this winter, and they were the shoes on my feet when I was bit by a German Shepherd while running on the trails behind my house on Christmas Day (an incident that sidelined me for two weeks). I’ve probably put close to 50 miles on them at this point, which is a bit of a surprise given my initial reaction to the narrowness of the toebox. That being said, my longest run in them was 7 miles, and I was feeling some discomfort up front by the end of that run. I would not run much longer than 5 miles in these given the fit issues – I would not recommend them to ultrarunners for this reason.

2015-12-25 17.20.39

The red midsole does a good job of camouflaging blood…

The upper of the Speedgoat is a breathable, fairly open mesh with welded overlays and a rand along the region of junction between the upper and midsole. I have no major complaints about the upper, though the mesh does seem like it might let trail grit in given the more open weave. I have not run through water in these, so can’t comment on whether the rand creates issues with drainage. I’m not particularly crazy about the way the tongue extends down and forward to make up the central portion of the upper of the forefoot, but this has not caused any real issues. Mostly just an aesthetic complaint I guess.

Hoka Speedgoat Medial

The sole of the Speedgoat is springy, and not as mushy as a shoe like the Hoka Clifton. I’d say it’s somewhere in between the Clifton and the Huaka from a responsiveness standpoint. I really like the feel, and that’s one of the reasons why I keep coming back to them. They feel great underfoot on both road and trail. Durability has so far been good – I’ve done a fair amount of running on asphalt in these shoes, and the Vibram rubber is holding up very well so far.

Hoka Speedgoat Sole

The outsole of the Speedgoat is a bit more aggressive than that of the Huaka, and traction has been solid on light snow. I haven’t put them to the test in wet or muddy conditions, but they are adequate for the type of trail running I do (mostly non-technical).

Conclusion

So the Speedgoat is a mix of good and bad. I really like the ride, and have enjoyed running in them from that standpoint, but the narrow fit is a real limitation for all but the most narrow-footed. If you can comfortably run in cross-country spikes, these are probably going to be fine for you (though I would recommend going up a half size if you buy them). If not, they may not be a great choice.

I like them for shorter runs on trails, but a shoe with a 30mm+ stack height isn’t really what I typically need for shorter, quicker runs. And I definitely would not pay $140 for a shoe with such a limited a range of uses. Hopefully Hoka will retool the fit if they come out with a v2 – the shoe has a lot of potential, but is really hobbled by the fit.

The Hoka Speedgoat is available for purchase at Running Warehouse.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. I’ve never wanted to like a shoe as much as I wanted to like this one, but the fit was a deal breaker. If the Speedgoat had been an update to the Huaka (also tight, but much better, in my opinion) rather than the Rapa Nui, it would have been incredible.

    I predict that Hoka will release a v2 on the last they use for the Huaka or the Challenger ATR (hopefully the former), after which we’ll see Speedgoats on at least 50 percent of all runners at any given ultra.

    By the way, while I was wearing mine around the house and trying to convince myself they could work, the intrusive arch support worried me even more than the narrow toe box. Was that not an issue for you?

  2. I wore then in the JFK 50 last year, which has a mix of very rocky/hilly trail, a flat rail-to-trail section, and finally a little road thrown in to really add to the fun. I enjoyed running in them. Even with the lugs on the pavement, i didn’t find them to be a problem. As you said, they aren’t a cushy as the Cliftons, but on very rocky trail runs, they do a stand-up job of protecting the foot. I never noticed the tightness. Perhaps I saw it more as ensuring that I had secure protection against rolling an ankle.
    I look forward to running in them again.

  3. Check out the new Hoka Clayton which is going to be wider.

    • Hey Pete,
      thanks for the review, the SG is one of those shoes I really wanted to like but the narrow forefoot just completely ruined it.
      Have high hopes in the Clayton since, so far, the only H11 that has worked for me is the Huaka.

  4. Hoka will be releasing another shoe with lower stack height than the Clayton, the Tracer.

  5. Hoka although getting more and more popular in my area still has many people concerned that the shoe is not a top tier running shoe. I have recently retired my Clifton 2’s after about 200miles of hard track work. I truly believe they helped me recover from my shin splints and possibly saved my season! This being said I did switch to new balance for the spring season just for a change. Glad to know if I ever need a solid shoe with great support I can go back to hoka.

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