Hoka One One Speedgoat 2
Drop: 4.5 mm
Some Stated Features
- Forgiving, comfortable uppers with engineered mesh offer breathability and support
- Reinforced SpeedFrame construction
- Midfoot cages provide stability
- Oversize CMEVA/EVA midsoles
- Wide midsoles
- Vibram® Megagrip high-traction outsoles with aggressive, multidirectional 5mm lugs
Size Tested: 10
Blister’s Measured Weight per Shoe:
- Shoes + Laces: 272 g
- Insoles: 25 g
- Total: 297 g
Test Locations: Fort Collins, Grays & Torreys Peaks, Guanella Pass, & Crested Butte, CO; Milwaukee & Eagle River, WI.
Test Duration: 8 weeks / 127 miles
Reviewer: 5’8”, 155 lbs.
Hoka One One, a brand best-known for its highly-cushioned road and trail shoes, recently revamped their most technical trail shoe, the Speedgoat.
The Speedgoat 2 is a pretty significant departure from the original version, and both shoes were developed with Karl Meltzer — the current speed record holder for the 2,190 miles Appalachian Trail (he completed it in under 46 days).
According to Hoka, the new Speedgoat 2 features a wider fit, deeper Vibram lugs, and “a more forgiving upper.” I’ve now got my first 120+ miles in the Speedgoat 2, so I can offer my initial impressions and comparisons for the shoe that Hoka says “is designed to attack all breeds of technical trail.”
As always, it’s a good idea to try on a pair of shoes before committing to them, but I can offer a few fit notes for the Speedgoat 2 (which I tested in my normal running shoe size of 10). Although Hoka emphasizes the wider fit of the Speedgoat 2, it’s definitely not a particularly wide shoe, and it fits narrower than the Hoka Clifton (which has been my road shoe for a couple years).
Compared to the Salomon Sense Mantra, the Speedgoat 2 felt slightly narrower, but it’s pretty close. The Speedgoat 2 is similar to the Altra Timp (review coming soon) in the heel and ankle, but the Timp’s “Footshape Toebox” is much wider than the toebox on the Speedgoat 2, which is pretty tapered and basically the opposite shape of the Timp. I had issues with my wide forefoot in the Speedgoat 2 at first, but was able to fine-tune the laces to eventually run without any pain while still getting solid ankle and heel hold, and I never had any issues with blisters.
Construction, Features, Drop, Etc.
The Speedgoat 2’s features are fairly minimal compared to some of the other new trail shoes on the market — there are no carbon fiber plates or fancy laces here. The shoe has a narrow rubber toe bumper that does well with head-on collisions with rocks, but it doesn’t offer much in the case of impacts from the side.
The mesh upper has some thin laminated sections that serve to resist abrasion and provide support, and they have held up well so far.
The Vibram sole has 5 mm lugs that are pretty spaced-out — the negative space is at least the same as the positive (more on traction later). Although it doesn’t have any sort of sock-like liner like the Sense Mantra, the Speedgoat 2’s flat laces do a good job of providing even pressure, locking my heel in, and offering a bit of customization.
An important feature of the Speedgoat 2 (and most Hoka shoes) is the size and cushioning of the midsole. The men’s Speedgoat 2’s midsole is 32 mm at the heel and 27.5 mm at the forefoot, creating a drop of 4.5 mm. The Speedgoat 2’s midsole is similar to the Clifton’s, though a bit firmer and stiffer laterally and longitudinally. The Speedgoat 2 still offers plenty of cushioning, but is not quite as plush as the road-oriented Clifton, which is a trade off for on-trail capabilities. Compared to the Altra Timp, the Speedgoat 2’s midsole is softer / more plush, but is a bit stiffer longitudinally.
Weight (and Comparisons)
The size 10 Speedgoat 2 that I’ve been testing came in at 297 g (~10.5 oz) per shoe with insoles. This is lighter than the Timp (337 g / 11.9 oz) and slightly heavier than the Sense Mantra and Clifton, which have stated weights of 269 g / 9.5 oz and 235 g / 8.3 oz, respectively.
However, when taking into account the fact that the Speedgoat 2 has a full rubber sole and a 27.5 mm midsole at the forefoot, I was very happy with the weight, and I never felt burdened by the shoe’s heft, even on longer runs.
I don’t pay much attention to the breathability of most running shoes since my feet sweat a lot no matter what, and as long as I don’t notice my toes sloshing around in a pool of sweat or develop any blisters, I’m alright with the ventilation of most shoes. The Speedgoat 2 vents well enough to the point where I didn’t notice any serious lack of breathability, and it definitely breathes better than the Sense Mantra, which features more plastic inlays and a sock-like liner. The Speedgoat 2 doesn’t breathe or dry as quickly as the Clifton, whose upper is very thin and airy, and is slightly less breathable than the Altra Timp.
As far as drying time goes, I found that it took 4-5 hours for the Speedgoat 2 to dry after being completely soaked during creek crossings.
I’ve had the chance to get the Speedgoat 2 into a decent variety of terrain and conditions, and have been very impressed by the Vibram sole’s versatility. It does great in packed dirt / sand, dry rock, shallow sand, and shallow mud, and fairs pretty well on wet rocks.
The only areas where I’ve found the Speedgoat 2 somewhat lacking in grip is on kitty litter-sized gravel, very deep mud, and sandy rocks. The shoe was by no means slipping all over the place in these conditions, but if you frequently encounter this kind of terrain you might want to look to more specialized shoes. However, for an all-around trail shoe, I’ve been perfectly happy with the Speedgoat 2’s grip.
I should also mention that the Speedgoat 2’s lugged soles don’t feel completely out of place on pavement, and although the sticky sole isn’t as efficient as that of most road shoes, I have no problem using them for short sections of road on the way to the trail. The only issue I’d be worried about here is wear on the sole, which I’ll update after I’ve put more miles on the shoe.
Before the Speedgoat 2, I had often used the Hoka Clifton as both my trail and road shoe, since the Salomon Sense Mantra didn’t have enough cushioning for me feet on most runs. And unsurprisingly, the Speedgoat 2 is a major upgrade from the Clifton on trails. It maintains most of the cushioning of the Clifton while providing far better grip, more stability, and better protection from rocks. Since it doesn’t have any sort of protection plate, the Speedgoat 2 relies on its thick midsole to protect the foot during impact, and I’ve found this to work just fine so far.
Despite its thicker midsole, the Speedgoat 2 still provides a pretty responsive feel. I can run much more confidently in the Speedgoat 2 than the Clifton thanks mostly to the Speedgoat 2’s narrower last, stickier outsole, and firmer midsole. It’s not as sensitive or precise as the less-cushioned, narrower Sense Mantra, but anyone looking for ultimate trail feel in a shoe probably shouldn’t be looking at the Speedgoat 2 in the first place. Compared to the Altra Timp and its firmer midsole, the Speedgoat 2 has more of a “bouncy” ride and feels a bit less precise / sensitive.
While running uphill in the Speedgoat 2, I was happy with the midsole, which flexed enough to engage the forefoot of the sole, but didn’t fold up in any specific spot, and instead has a very consistent flex. The Speedgoat 2 has a slightly less rockered heel than the Clifton, which I really appreciated on descents where I needed to engage the braking lugs on the heel.
With a 4.5 mm drop, the Speedgoat 2 felt comfortable with a mid-to-forefoot strike, and was an easy transition from the 5 mm drop on the Clifton and 6 mm on the Sense Mantra, and also felt fine to me when switching between it and the zero-drop Timp.
One area where the Speedgoat 2 struggled was while edging with the outside of the shoe. Although it’s more laterally rigid than the Clifton and Timp, the Speedgoat 2 still bends a bit when weighting the sides. This, combined with the higher stack height and narrow fit, made the Speedgoat 2 feel a bit “tippy” in technical terrain.
That said, if you are able to get solid contact and can weight the majority of the shoe (rather than just the edge), the Speedgoat 2 does well enough in rocky terrain, especially since the sole grips very well on most rocks.
I’ll be updating this section after I get more miles in the Speedgoat 2, but so far, I’ve been happy with its durability. After a little more than 120 miles, the lugged sole doesn’t show any signs of wear, and the upper has held up well to rocks and branches. The only issue I’ve noticed so far is that the foam midsole around the forefoot is getting a little scuffed up from scraping against rocks on the outside of my foot, but this hasn’t affected the performance of the shoe.
After the first 120+ miles, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 has proven to be a very versatile trail shoe, capable of handling a variety of conditions well. Its sole provides great traction on most terrain, and the thick-but-responsive midsole offers a cushioned ride without feeling mushy. The increased stack height and lack of a sock-like fit don’t make the Speedgoat 2 ideal for the most technical runs, but if you’re looking for a highly-cushioned shoe that can perform well on most trail conditions, the Speedgoat 2 is worth a look.
After I get more miles in the Speedgoat 2, I will report back on how the shoe is holding up, how it deals with an even broader range of conditions, and will also offer more comparisons.