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Hoka Speedgoat 5 Trail Running Shoe Review

Hoka Speedgoat 5 Review
The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is a cushioned trail running shoe that excels for hiking and running on moderate terrain and hard-packed trails. It has a moderate cushion and a flared outsole, providing good shock absorption and balanced comfort with a responsive toe-off.  A stack height of 4 mm makes them easier to transition to than a full zero drop trail runner, while still providing the same benefits including a more natural gait and better impact dispersion.  Available in non-waterproof lows (reviewed here), waterproof lows, and waterproof mids, including wide sizes, they have a moderately wide toe box that lets your toes spread out and relax along with mesh uppers to help keep your feet cooler and drier.

RELATED: 10 Best Hiking Shoes and Trail Runners

Specs at a glance

  • Gender: Men’s (Women’s also available)
  • Weight: 8.5 oz (women’s), 10.3 oz (men’s)
  • Heel Drop: 4 mm
  • Heel Stack Height: 33 mm
  • Forefoot Stack Height: 27 mm
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Outsole: Vibram MegaGrip w/ 5 mm Traction lugs
  • Rock Plate: No
  • Width: Regular & Wide
  • Variations: Low. GTX Low (Gore-Tex), GTX Mid. GTX Spike
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb 4.6 oz

Trail Feel

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is a moderately cushioned trail running shoe built for covering long distances comfortably. The Speedgoat’s most impressive feature is its Vibram MegaGrip rubber outsole with 5 mm lugs that grip any surface, no matter how wet or loose. That, paired with Hoka’s signature midsole padding, makes it an ideal shoe for long hikes or runs over rugged trails, with a little pavement thrown in for good measure.

The Speedgoat has moderately thick cushioning and a high stack height
The Speedgoat has moderately thick cushioning and a high stack height

The Speedgoat 5’s are a very active shoe that is quite literally shaped to keep you on your toes, with a sloped forefoot that seems to propel the foot forward as weight is shifted from heel to toe. This additional rocker creates the feeling of having a little extra spring in each step.

The toe box is wide enough to fully splay your toes, although nowhere as wide as in the Altra Lone Reach 7, which I’ve also been using this year. Out of the box, the Speedgoat 5 looks extra long, but I suspect that’s an optical illusion created by the shoe’s design because fit-wise they’re perfectly true to size and there’s no telltale creasing on the toebox to indicate that they’re actually too long.

The extended heel tab, intended t omake the shoes easier top take off, can interfere with gaiter placement
The extended heel tab, intended to make the shoes easier to take off, can interfere with gaiter placement

One new feature in the Speedgoat 5 is an extended heel tab at the back of the shoe, which is designed to make them easier to take off. Unfortunately, it can interfere with gaiter fit because it sticks out so much. This is a concern for hikers who kick up a lot of debris when they walk and benefit be wearing a gaiter to block it from entering the shoe. A gusseted tongue helps block some of the debris, but Speedgoats do not have a gaiter trap on the heel for holding a gaiter like the Altra Lone Peaks.

Stability

The next thing that you’ll notice about the Speedgoat 5 is how tall the platform feels. With 33 mm below the heel and 27 mm under the toe, they’re not as stable as trail runners with a lower stack height, which can have consequences if you think you’re prone to ankle rolling. This is particularly true if you hike or run on more technical trails, especially those with lots of rocks and roots. While the flared outsoles help improve stability, I think you’ll find that the Speedgoat is best used on hard-packed trails that don’t have a lot of obstructions or twists and turns unless you concentrate on placements that require looking down on the ground more than looking up.

The high stack height and flared cushioning provide marvelous shock absorption but at the expense of edging and scrambling on rocky trails.
The high stack height and flared cushioning provide marvelous shock absorption but at the expense of edging and scrambling on rocky trails.

For example, the Speedgoats will be fine for hiking on popular long-distance or local trails, but if you have to do a lot of scrambling through boulders and over rocks and roots, in other words climbing, you’d be much better off with a shoe that has a lower stack height and less sole flare. The lugs smear well on rock, the flared sides of the Speedgoats sole tend to buckle if you try to rely on them for edging. It’s like trying to wear snowshoes while rock climbing without the snow. A more technical shoe like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II or even the Altra Lone Peak 7 will do a much better job in this type of terrain but don’t have nearly the same degree of cushion.

Tightly wove mesh upper prevent entry of grit and sand
Tightly wove mesh upper prevents the entry of grit and sand.

Protection

As a trail runner, it is important to have a shoe that is going to protect the bottoms of your feet from what lies underfoot, but also have a breathable upper that allows your feet to ventilate while also keeping out particulates of mud, sand, and grit that will wreak havoc on your socks.

The Speedgoat 5 does both. The finely pored breathable mesh of the upper does a great job of keeping your feet cooler while preventing sand and grit from entering the show. Drainage is also excellent for those times especially in spring when you can’t avoid slogging through mud or stream crossings full of turbid snowmelt. This is a big deal since many mesh trail runners fail miserably on this dimension, especially in sandy desert terrain.

The Speedgoat 5 has a burly rubber toe kick to protect your foot with reinforced bumpers along the front of the toe box
The Speedgoat 5 has a burly rubber toe kick to protect your foot with reinforced bumpers along the front of the toe box

The lack of a rock plate in the forefoot is much less of an issue than in a less padded shoe. Forefoot impacts are not an issue in the Speedgoat if you’re a hiker. There’s also a well-padded rubber toe kick in front of the toes, although I wish it extended further down the sides of the toe box for more protection. This is more of an issue in more technical rocky terrain though.

Traction

This is where the Speedgoat 5 shines. Vibram’s MegaGrip outsoles, and the multi-directional 5 mm lugs, provide excellent grip on spring snow and even wet rock. The key to their success is how soft the rubber is. Just using one or two fingers, I can flex the lugs around with barely any effort. This soft rubber is critical to providing traction, particularly on wet surfaces, similar to the softer rubber used in snow and all-weather car tires. While I’ve used other trail runners that use the same Vibram MegaGrip outsoles, I’ve been particularly impressed at the lugs on the Speedgoat. They’re still not quite as sticky as La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II or any of La Sportiva’s other trail runners which excel in rocky and technical terrain, but they’re still quite impressive.

Multidirectional lugs help with turns and braking
Multidirectional lugs help with turns and braking

Durability

The Speedgoats are designed to run or walk over the hard sand and gravel that makes up most of the trails used by hikers and trail runners. So far, I have been pretty impressed with the shoe’s durability. The outsole has shown very little wear and the upper mesh doesn’t show any abrasion along the sides of the toe box where my other trail runners often fail first. While I love the trail feel of Saucony’s trail runners, like the Peregrine 13, for example, I’m lucky if I get 100 miles out of mesh uppers before holes appear along the sides of the toe box.

Recommendation

Hoka Speedgoat 5 Trail Runners are perfect if you are someone who is looking to hike many miles on hard compacted trails and wants to feel confident in their footing mile after mile. Tons of midsole padding, a tightly woven upper that keeps the grit out, and an outsole that would make Spider-Man proud, make these shoes a significant contender in the world of long-distance hiking and trail running. They might be a bit overkill for running on rail trails or other graded paths, and are not ideal for nimble rock hopping, but they will certainly keep your feet and knees happier on long hikes and backpacking trips.

Another benefit of the Speedgoat 5 is that they come in Gore-Tex (Speedgoat 5 GTX) for those of you who truly despise wet feet. Though this version weighs about 1.2 oz more than the standard option, with a pair of lightweight gators, these shoes would be a great option for hikers who prefer lighter and more responsive footwear for their day hikes.

Disclosure: The author owns these shoes.

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13 comments

  1. That heel tab makes the shoe look straight-up goofy. Do people really have trouble taking off their sneakers without that feature? Then they put the heel trap for gaiters but the tab interferes with using a gaiter – sounds like two design departments weren’t communicating.

    • It is odd. But the shoes are actually pretty comfortable. With all that cushioning, perhaps they were targeting the elderly with that feature. If you can’t bend over, it might come I. Handy

    • The tab is on the running shoes, too. Turns the shoe into a slip-on for those of us who might be a bit lazy. Less of a chance of stepping down the heel when putting on the shoe without untying first. (Haven’t tied them again since getting them.) This makes less sense for a trail runner, especially if it impedes the use of gaiters.

  2. I thought Altra had a new shoe :)

    I think the Lone “Reach” would be a good update name to the Lone Peak when they run out of numbers!!

    Have some older Speedgoats that I love and look forward to trying out the latest and greatest! As always, thanks for the great reviews.

  3. Good review. I’m using these shoes on the AT now and this review is pretty spot on. You do have to focus on foot placement but they are very comfortable. They grip well on most rock but not as well as my Oboz on smoother rock. They will slide. I also find my feet get pretty dirty. They keep out most debris and sand but not finer silt. The comment on the tab is accurate – it is not really necessary, but I use Dirty Girl gaiters with no issues.

  4. I became a Hoka speedgoat convert from Altra lonepeaks. I have narrower feet and just couldn’t hack the roomy toe box and sloppy fit of Altras. Both Hokas and Solomon GTX shoes have become my favorite go to hiking shoes.

    • I forgot to add that I agree the heel tab doodaw looks like a loser idea. Unless it is meant to funnel debris into the shoe while trudging about.

  5. I used Speedgoat 4’s last year to backpack in the Whites and the HMW in Maine. Absolutely loved the comfort, quick drying, breathability, and awesome grip on wet rock. But, unfortunately, I could barely get 100 miles out of them. I went through at least two pairs last summer because the upper toe box would start to come away from the sole around mile 95. The treads plenty of life left in them, but I was risking a blow out. No amount of shoe goo or shoe cement seemed to help.

    I was really bummed about this because I thought I had found my forever shoe. Based on your review, perhaps I was simply using the shoe for the wrong purpose. Then again, I was section hiking portions of the LT and the AT all last summer. I worry that the Speedgoat 5’s will present the same problem, and so I’m going to give Topo Terraventure 3’s and Ultraventure Pro’s a try. I’m thinking they won’t be as comfortable, but perhaps a bit more durable.

  6. I purchased Speedgoat 4s after acquiring a wicked case of plantar fascitis from wearing Altra Olympus shoes. Completely different experiences with each shoe. I didn’t realize the pounding my feet took until hiking a few miles in the plush Hokas. Can’t say I’ll ever purchase another pair of Altras given the poor cushioning and inferior build quality. What’s the point of spending nearly $200 on shoes that start to fall apart after only a few months. My Speedgoats still look nearly brand new after several hundred miles. But in the end, wear what makes you happy.

  7. Love all your reviews, they have helped me make some great gear choices. The one item I still struggle with is trail shoes. I am in the small minority that needs a triple E width and I believe there has never been a shoe reviewed that would fit me.
    I have a suggestion. Do a review of custom shoemakers. This would be shoes for me who who needs wide shoes and anyone who has a foot anomaly requiring a custom fit, as well as anyone willing to pay big bucks for a custom shoe.
    I know years ago custom hiking boots were the “thing”, I am hoping there are still great custom shoemakers in todays world of trail runners. Thanks for the info.

  8. Question ? I noticed on the description with the SG 5’s it lists it has no “rock plate”, what shoes offer rock plates? Which I assume would offer more support on rocky terrain.

    • Your best bet to find out is to go to REI and filter on rock plates in their footwear department. The list changes constantly. Rock plates aren’t a “support feature”, they protect your feet from sharp-pointed rocks. They’re more important on shoes with very little padding and probably won’t make any difference at all on a shoe like this which is so heavily cushioned.

  9. Anyone had any experience with these hiking in sandy places?

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