HOKA Mach 6 Review

The HOKA Mach 6.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

It’s that time of year again…Mach Madness! The HOKA Mach last updated in June 2022, so it’s been a while since it made the final round of Best Daily Trainers.

While I’m an FAU Owls fan myself, the Mach 5 was one of my favorite shoes in 2022 thanks to its dual-layer midsole that provided a perfectly bouncy ride. The Mach 6 has been updated with a single-layer midsole, along with more rubber coverage on the outsole to add durability.

Will the latest upgrades propel the HOKA Mach 6 to the number one seed for daily trainers and onto the finals? Or will we be left with a major upset? Read on to find out.

Tech Specs

HOKA Mach 6

Weight 6.7 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 35 mm/30 mm (W), 37 mm/32 mm (M)
Heel-to-toe drop 5 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Price $140
Comparable to... Saucony Kinvara 14, ASICS Novablast 4

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

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Updated midsole creates a firmer ride

The outsole of the HOKA Mach 6.

HOKA coaches (also known as the shoe designers) have made a major change to the team’s lineup this year. Instead of the dual-layer midsole used in the Mach 5, the Mach 6 has been upgraded to a single layer of supercritical EVA-foam. Since I’m a college basketball fan and not a scientist, I had to do a little bit of research to learn more about supercritical EVA-foams.

The word supercritical simply means that an element, like a gas or liquid, has been brought to a temperature and pressure higher than its critical point, which changes its chemical and physical properties into a liquid-gas combination. This material is then combined with Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) to create a foam.

So, what does this mean for your run? Because supercritical foams are composed of multiple tiny cells (imagine running on millions of small air bubbles), they offer more responsiveness at a lighter weight than traditional midsole compounds.

“I tested the Mach 6 on an 8-mile run with 30-second pickups every mile. I noticed that it felt peppier and better for up-tempo runs than the Mach 5,” says Kate, who’s currently training for a half-marathon. “I was able to get a good turnover going, and picking up the pace every mile felt smooth.”

Reviewers all agreed that the Mach 6 felt firmer than the Mach 5. What we couldn’t agree on was whether or not that was a good thing.

Kate found the Mach 5 to be too soft for speed work, so she was pleased with the firmer feeling Mach 6. But Travis and I wished the cushioning was just a tad softer.

As I mentioned above, the Mach 5 was one of my favorite shoes of 2022. The soft but springy foam that sat right underfoot provided a squishy, spongy sensation while the firmer bottom layer added some structure to the shoe. When I realized the Mach 6 was quite a bit firmer, I was almost as disappointed as I had been when San Diego State beat FAU with a buzzer-beater jump shot in the last 0.2 seconds.

“I definitely found the Mach 6 to be a lightweight but firm ride,” says Travis, who enjoys light, bouncy shoes. “I like that the cushion and rocker construction offer great energy, however, I found myself wishing that the cushioning was a little softer during my easier runs.”

In light of these updates, I can’t help but wonder if HOKA is using a firmer underfoot feel to signal that the Mach should be a top choice for uptempo runs and speedwork rather than slow, easy runs.

Sleek, lightweight upper drops another hint

The upper of the HOKA Mach 6.

If the firmed up midsole wasn’t enough of a hint for us to pick up the pace in the Mach 6, the lightweight, breathable upper doesn’t beat around the bush, either.

While it’s a little bit more padded than what you’d see in a carbon-plated supershoe, the engineered mesh upper and snug fit creates a performance-ready feel that makes you want to run fast.

“I took the Mach 6 out for an easy run on a breezy day in the Windy City. The upper around the midfoot is slim and really makes my feet feel secure, giving me confidence while picking up the pace and turning corners,” says Max, a Chicago native who enjoys running on the Lakefront Trail. “The gusseted tongue is appreciated, too. It creates a no-fuss feel where I don’t have to worry about the tongue slipping to one side or the other. Plus, the padded heel collar added some softness that’s sometimes missing in uptempo daily trainers.”

As someone with small, low-volume feet (feet that don’t take up a lot of space within the shoe), I appreciated the low-profile fit of the Mach 6. The shoes don’t come up too high around my ankles, and the heel is tapered away to minimize rubbing and blistering.

If you’re not sure about the volume of your feet, be sure to head into your local Fleet Feet for an expert one-on-one outfitting. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height.

HOKA Mach 6 vs HOKA Mach 5

Tech Specs

HOKA Mach 6

HOKA Mach 5

Weight

6.7 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)

6.7 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)

Stack height

35 mm/30 mm (W),

37 mm/32 mm (M)

35 mm/30 mm (W),

37 mm/32 mm (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

5 mm

5 mm

Price

$140

$140

You can’t tell any difference between the Mach 5 and the Mach 6 based on tech specs, and that’s because details like the underfoot feel and ride can’t be numerically quantified.

While the Mach 6 weighs the same and has the same stack height and drop as the 5, it offers a firmer underfoot feel thanks to the new, single-layer supercritical midsole foam.

In addition to a redesigned midsole, the outsole of the Mach 6 has been updated with more rubber coverage for more durability, all without adding weight.

While the Mach 5 was softer and felt better during recovery runs (at least according to me and Travis), the firmer Mach 6 will likely please runners who prefer a rigid, responsive ride.

The HOKA Mach 6 heel.

How does the HOKA Mach 6 compare?

We took a look at some comparable models to see how they stack up against the HOKA Mach 6. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

HOKA Mach 6

Saucony Kinvara 14

ASICS Novablast 4

Weight

6.7 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)

6.2 oz (W), 7 oz (M)

7.9 oz (W), 9.2 oz (M)

Stack height

35 mm/30 mm (W),

37 mm/32 mm (M)

31 mm/27 mm

40.5 mm/32.5 mm (W),

41.5 mm/33.5 mm (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

5 mm

4 mm

8 mm

Category

$140

$120

$140

Reviewers found the HOKA Mach 6 to be most similar to the Saucony Kinvara 14 and the ASICS Novablast 4. While the Kinvara and the Novablast don’t appear to have much in common–the Kinvara is lightweight with a low-to-moderate level of cushioning, while the Novablast 4 is a bit heavier and can easily be categorized as max-cushioned–both shoes have a firm responsiveness that sets them apart from other daily trainers. The Mach 6 falls somewhere in the middle between the two when it comes to weight and stack height.

While I mentioned my disappointment at the Mach 6’s firm midsole, I have a feeling that a few more runs in the shoe may be all it takes for me to warm up to it. I had similar hesitations about the Novablast 4 when I first tried it, and now it’s one of my favorite shoes.

The HOKA Mach 6 sits on the road.

Who is the HOKA Mach 6 best for?

Thanks to the newly updated supercritical midsole, the HOKA Mach 6 is best for runners who enjoy a firm, responsive feeling underfoot. How and what you use it for is up to you, but our reviewers argue it shines for shorter, uptempo runs.

“I’d recommend the Mach 6 to anyone who likes a lightweight trainer that is ready to pick up the pace,” Kate says. “If you’re looking for a speed day shoe without a carbon plate, and with some decent cushioning, this is a great choice. I also think it’s good for people who like a firm-ish feel.”

The firm cushioning adds a stable feel, too, which is great for runners who tend to feel unsteady in softer, squishier shoes.

“The Mach 6 is great for runners who like to feel confident in their footing [and really, who doesn’t?] and love to feel a bit of the ground underfoot,” says Max.

While I’ll still be reaching for a carbon-plated option for challenging workouts and races, the Mach 6 performs well at moderate paces where I’m not relaxed but not straining, either.

I took these shoes on a steady-state run, about a minute slower than marathon pace, and they felt really smooth. Who knows, maybe I’ll sport them for the next FAU watch party!

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