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Hoka Mafate Speed 4 Performance Review

Hoka Mafate Speed 4

The Hoka Mafate Speed 4 is quite possibly the softest trail running shoe ever created. The midsole is Charmin soft. Anyone on the lookout for a softer shoe for trail running or hiking needs to try on the Hoka Mafate Speed 4. It’s an experience unlike any other.

Hoka Mafate Speed 4

Release Date: August 2022

Price: $185

Weight: M – 10.4oz, W – 8.5oz

Drop: 4mm (29mm forefoot, 33mm heel)

Sizing: True to size

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  • Rundown: The Hoka Mafate Speed 4 is luxuriously soft but the lack of upper containment is an issue for bombing trail runs. It’s best used as a super comfortable hiking shoe.

Pros

  • Softest Trail Shoe…ever?
  • Incredible Traction
  • Comfortable Upper

Cons

  • Upper Containment

Pros

Softest Trail Shoe…ever?

Look at the picture at the top of the page. Do you see how the Hoka Mafate Speed 4 just wraps around the rock I’m standing on? It’s like wearing Gumby as a shoe…I mean, if you think of Gumby as a large hunk of super soft, impressively bendable foam. The Profly+ foam is softer than any other Profly+ I’ve tried before. Your foot just sinks into it. It also just disperses any pressure from rocks or roots and provides great impact protection.

The softness of this midsole is such an interesting experience for a trail shoe. It’s so different from other trail shoes on the market that I’d recommend trying it on at your local running store even if you’re not in the market for a new trail shoe.

Incredible Traction

When I see that Vibram branding I know the traction will be legit. The Hoka Mafate Speed 4’s outsole is Vibram at its best. Hoka used Vibram Megagrip with 5mm lugs. I’d never heard of Megagrip but it’s aptly named. Conditions or trail consistency didn’t matter one bit. Every step bit deep into the ground and my foot stayed where I put it.

In fact, the traction was too good for the upper…but we’ll get to that a little later.

Comfortable Upper

A soft, plush gusseted tongue with a doughy ankle collar gets us started and the jacquard mesh finishes us off. It’s an all-around comfortable shoe with no places for hot spots. It’s also wide enough to accommodate various wide or tall foot shapes. The Mafate Speed 4 is perfect if you’re prepping for an all-day or multi-day hike and trying to find a shoe that won’t hurt your feet. It’s comfortable from top to bottom and over the long haul.

Hoka Mafate Speed 4 Traction

Cons

Upper Containment

There’s only one con in my Hoka Mafate Speed 4 review but it’s a big one. The single layer of jacquard mesh used on the sidewalls just doesn’t do a good job containing your feet when you pick up speed. It’s bad enough I can’t recommend this as a trail running shoe. Every speedy downhill is a twisted ankle waiting to happen. However, the Mafate Speed 4 can handle hiking just fine. Let’s get more in depth about why that is.

First, let’s start at the bottom of the shoe. As stated above, the traction grips everything insanely well. When the outsole grips the surface you’re running on that well, but your foot is still sliding sideways on a turn, the midsole or upper needs to be built to keep your foot on top of the footbed. The single layer of jacquard mesh is too flimsy to get the job done. Your foot just ends up sliding over the side of the midsole which may potentially cause the shoe to tip over.

To counteract this, Hoka needed to sit the foot down inside the midsole a little more so the foam sidewalls could act as retaining walls and keep the foot on the footbed. Hoka did this at the heel but not at the arch or forefoot. The combo of no foam sidewalls and the thin upper just doesn’t work well for fast trail running where you spend the majority of the time on your toes.

However, depending on your natural ankle stability, the Hoka Mafate Speed 4 works great for slow and steady hiking.

Hoka Mafate Speed 4 Traction Upper

Hoka Mafate Speed 4 Summary

The Hoka Mafate Speed 4 is the softest trail shoe I’ve ever worn. It offers a fantastic feel underfoot. The traction’s some of the best on the market. Unfortunately, the upper fails at keeping the foot secure and preventing rollovers. The resulting instability limits the use cases for this shoe.

The Mafate Speed 4 will perform great on normal, non-technical hiking trails. But if you’re primarily hiking very technical, steep trails or are a trail runner, you should check out our other trail running shoe reviews to find something better suited to your needs.

6.5/10
Total Score

Pros

  • Softest trail shoe...ever?
  • Incredible Traction
  • Comfortable Upper

Cons

  • Upper Containment

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