Brand: HOKA ONE ONE
Product: Mach 4
Nothing quite compares to new running shoes, particularly when you’ve been lacking motivation to get outside and log your miles — opening the box, pulling back the tissue paper, the sleek clean foam, even the smell of fresh rubber. But that motivation gets amplified even further when the new shoe comes from HOKA. For the uninitiated, HOKA has specialized in crafting lightweight running shoes with some of the best foam on the market since 2009.
The brand recently released the newest iteration of the Mach series, and in the process may have dropped the pinnacle of everyday trainers. The Mach 4 offers a lot to be excited about on paper, but to see just how well it performs in the real world, we put it to the test.
From the Brand
“Designed for logging long miles, this everyday trainer delivers a lively ride and energetic underfoot feel that is unquestionably HOKA. Softer and bouncier than the previous iteration, the Mach 4 employs a harmonious blend of foams — merging an incredibly soft, lightweight foam on top with rubberized foam directly beneath.”
What We Like
Right out of the box, it’s immediately noticeable how lightweight the Mach 4 is (in fact it’s even lighter than the Clifton). That notion only gets amplified further once they’re on your feet. With a shoe featuring such a solid amount of foam cushion, it would be easy to assume that weight and clunkiness would follow — but it’s just the opposite. Out on the road, it’s almost as if they aren’t there. They seem to disappear stride by stride, which is about all you could hope for in a running shoe.
Next to the Mach 4’s featherweight, it’s important to talk about the foam itself. The Mach 4 features HOKA’s Profly Intelligent Cushioning tech, which offers plenty of spring and support. While other maximalist shoes can have a tendency to feel too soft, the Mach 4 offers a great balance of cushion and responsiveness. Simply put, they’re soft — but not too soft.
In testing, the wide platform of the shoe made it feel as though your foot was cradled and sitting within the foam and support — this stands in contrast to other maximalist shoes where it can often feel like your foot is sitting on top of the foam, perched precariously. The Mach 4 is anything but — the shoe is stable and comfortable even through mixed surfaces. While it’s by no means a trail runner, the rubberized EVA outsole on the Mach 4 allows it to handle the occasional dirt or gravel path just fine.
HOKA pegs the Mach 4 as an everyday trainer, and our testing certainly verifies that. But even more than an everyday trainer, the Mach 4 is a great do-it-all shoe. It can easily be used for long-distance training runs, short-distance lunch miles or even faster-paced tempo runs. This is due, in part, to the Mach 4’s Early Stage Meta Rocker which offers a smooth ride and allows your foot to move effortlessly through your stride.
Who It’s For
Distance runners will likely find a lot to love in the Mach 4, but it’s not built exclusively for them. Even if you find yourself keeping to shorter distances, you’ll enjoy the Mach 4’s platform. Particularly if you’ve never run in a HOKA running shoe before, this is a great intro to the brand. It rewards midfoot and forefoot strikers with plenty of spring, but also guides you through your stride if you’re more of a heel striker.
If you’re an everyday runner, looking for something to match the versatile nature of your training routine, the Mach 4 should be first on your list. It can do a little bit of everything and sits in that sweet spot of support, cushion and responsiveness. But even if you’re a serious racer looking to save your carbon-plated HOKA Carbon X 2 for race day, take a look at the Mach 4 as your training shoe — you won’t be disappointed.
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