HOKA Speedgoat 6 Review: The GOAT of Trail Shoes?

The HOKA Speedgoat 6 in a special edition Western States Endurance Run colorway.

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.

What do trail runners and goats have in common? They’re both good at climbing, can run up to a 4 minute-per-mile pace and are happiest in herds! While the 4 minute-per-mile pace may be an exaggeration for 99% of trail runners, goats can run up to 15 miles per hour. It makes sense that the aptly named HOKA Speedgoat has been a longtime trail favorite thanks to its agile cushioning, grippy lugs and protective upper.

Fleet Feet reviewers were lucky enough to test a special Western States Endurance Run-colorway of the HOKA Speedgoat 6, available June 15. In this review, you’ll get to read what they thought straight from the horse’s–or goat’s–mouth:

  • Kate, who lives minutes away from the Pisgah National Forest and whose first love is running on trails
  • Max, a Midwestern native who heads to the trails to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago
  • Nate, an avid trail runner who just completed a challenging 50K in the Columbia River Gorge
  • Brandon, a trail newbie and recent Seattle transplant who’s just beginning to explore all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer
Tech Specs

HOKA Speedgoat 6

Weight 8.2 oz (W), 9.8 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 38 mm/33 mm (W), 40 mm/35 mm (M)
Heel-to-toe drop 5 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Trail
Lug height 5 mm
Price $155
Comparable to… Altra Experience Wild, Saucony Peregrine 14

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

What’s new

  • An updated midsole foam compound allows the shoe to shed a half ounce of weight while maintaining its tall stack height
  • A woven textile upper replaces the mesh upper from the Speedgoat 5, offering a more secure fit
  • An adjusted lug pattern, most noticeable in the heel, provides better traction
The HOKA Speedgoat 6.

HOKA Speedgoat 6: Fit & materials

Kate

I’ve been wearing some iteration of the HOKA Speedgoat since 2018, so I’m always happy to test the latest version of this shoe! As a weartester, I receive a lot of shoes, so I don’t hang onto every pair unless I really love it. All that said, it’s been over 2 years since the Speedgoat updated and I last ran in the 5s a week or two ago.

When I got the 6, I could tell just by looking at it that it’s the Speedgoat. The color scheme is fun, bright and different than the last version, but the shape looks the same, down to the slightly flared out heel collar (a feature I really like since it avoids rubbing on my achilles). The tongue is mostly the same–a short, thin piece of fabric with a suede-like fabric against the top of my foot.

The Speedgoat 6 has a little bit more padding in the center of the tongue, which is new and offers protection from tightly tied laces. I wish the tongue was longer and came up higher on my foot, but it’s not a deal breaker. That was my only complaint with the Speedgoat 5, too. The Speedgoat 6 also sports a new heel tab loop for pulling the shoe on.

The Speedgoat 6 fits true to size, and I would say it fits exactly the same as the 5. The toe box doesn’t have a lot of height to it and it’s not particularly wide, either, but it fits my feet just fine. I don’t want a ton of space for my feet to slosh around in when I’m running up and down hills or darting around on single track.

The Speedgoat has always been a pretty plush trail shoe. It’s got a thickly padded heel collar (not the tongue, though) and the cushion underfoot is thick. But it isn’t squishy underfoot, like I remember my very first pair to be. The Speedgoat offers plenty of padding to muffle the feeling of rocks underfoot, but I don’t feel it compressing with every step, and I think that’s a good thing for a trail shoe.

The HOKA Speedgoat 6 trail shoe.

Max

My first introduction to the HOKA Speedgoat came with the Speedgoat 3. I was just getting into trail running at the time when a friend asked if I wanted to tag along for a trail running trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. I obliged and, despite working with the Fleet Feet Chicago team at the time, I didn’t own a single pair of trail shoes. I know they say “nothing new on race day,” but I stopped into the Fleet Feet Old Town store a day before I was scheduled to leave and walked out with the HOKA Speedgoat 3. They’ve been well-loved ever since, and I’ve completely worn the treads off.

Fast forward five years later when I laced up the Speedgoat 6 for a trail run in Labagh Woods, right within Chicago’s city limits. It’s probably the most technical trail I can get to within a 30-minute drive and I really wanted to put these to the test. Lacing them up, I noticed a few things about the upper and the fit of the shoe. For one, the shoe fits snugger than I remember, to the point I would say they do indeed fit “small.” I heard many trail runners had issues with the Speedgoat 5’s upper stretching last year, causing lockdown issues in the midfoot, so I have a feeling that issue has been resolved in this update.

The upper in the 6 is a textile woven knit upper that doesn’t have much give to it, which helps the fit feel secure on my foot and helps me feel more confident taking turns and on technical and rocky terrain. While the upper feels a bit less breathable than what I remember from the Speedgoat 3, it provides a better lockdown fit and it’s more durable at the cost of breathability. The tongue lays nice and flat atop my foot, thanks to the gusset as well as a loop in the middle of the tongue that the laces weave through to keep it centered.

The rubber protection on the tip of the toe box is great and really protects my toes in case I just so happen to stub my toe on a root or rock. I don’t remember the toe cap being so pronounced on the Speedgoat 3, but that could be some revisionist history and recency bias.

Nate:

The Speedgoat 6 is certainly an iconic shoe in the HOKA lineup. Like Kate, I love the sloped heel collar that not only doesn’t rub my achilles but it makes it super easy to slip in and out of. The tongue is gusseted to stay locked in place, with some reinforced padding on top for those steep trail days when I really need to lock down the fit with tighter lacing. The Speedgoat hugs my midfoot nicely with just enough room to accommodate my wider, higher volume feet. My big toes get pushed inwards a tad, but nothing more serious than any other running shoes out there (besides Altra).

The upper provides a solid sense of security and durability. The material feels lightweight, but I can also tell it will handle scuffs, rocks, roots and anything else just fine. The shoe fits true to size with a straightforward lacing system. Also, this purple, orange, red and yellow colorway is reminiscent of a vibrant sunset after a long day on the trails. insane–literally.

The HOKA Speedgoat 6 trail shoe.

Brandon:

This is my first time testing the HOKA Speedgoat. Call it a first date. I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect and I had no history or background knowledge about the shoe. However, the Speedgoat has made its name as the go-to trail running shoe among many HOKA enthusiasts and trail runners alike, so I was excited. I should come right out and admit that I have pretty scarce experience in the trail world, but from the times I’ve dabbled in it and the times I’ve tested trail shoes I’ve generally been pleased with my experiences.

In my experience, HOKA shoes tend to fit a little bit on the larger side for me, especially around the toe box. To my surprise, the Speedgoat 6’s fit was a bit more snug than I was expecting. However, the shoes fit well on my feet and I had no issues with midfoot lockdown. The heel collar is padded, but not too much so that it feels overbearing or too heavy. The upper is made of a textile woven upper, which is a good choice when it comes to trail shoes. The material and overlays offer a protective, breathable and overall great feeling. I think this upper will work for a lot of people, but I am worried about whether the upper is secure enough for running downhill.

HOKA Speedgoat 6: Ride & performance

Kate:

My first run in the Speedgoat 6 was a 6.5-mile run in Bent Creek Experimental Forest in North Carolina on a mix of gravel service roads and single track trail. It was the day after a big rain, so the trails were a bit muddy. My first few miles reminded me that the Speedgoat typically feels a bit stiff at first, but seemed to feel better as I kept running.

The brand new lugs on the Speedgoat 6 felt nice and grippy compared to my old pair! I felt secure in places where the ground was a little slippery. I think this shoe really shines for running on gravel. The padding is thick enough to muffle the feel of rocks underfoot, but I still have a good sense of my surroundings which helps me feel confident when the footing is uneven.

The Speedgoat 6 has enough cushion to feel comfortable and protective, but I like that it’s not squishy on the run. I need a stable surface between me and the trail.

The HOKA Speedgoat 6 has a Vibram outsole.

Max:

The Vibram® Megagrip outsole with 5-millimeter lugs honestly offers some of the best traction in the game. Not much has changed since the Speedgoat 3 in terms of the outsole, other than what I read from HOKA: they changed the positioning of the lugs to mimic a goat’s hoof, which is a nice, quirky little ode to the name of the shoe itself. Whether it makes a difference, I can’t tell you.

Underfoot, the Speedgoat 6 feels firmer than I remember, but not in a bad way. The responsiveness of the midsole combined with that stiff upper is where this shoe shines. It doesn’t feel clumsy at quicker paces. I bombed some downhills in this shoe and felt a lot more confident doing so than in my HOKA Mafate Speed 4, which has a bit of ProFly+ foam in the midsole, which is a bit softer and bouncier. During my two-mile run along an old rail trail that’s now lined with rocks, the firm and responsive midsole provided really great stability where a softer foam might not. Plus, the lugs performed well when I hit some muddy patches of the trail.

The HOKA Speedgoat 6 has a Vibram outsole.

Nate:

I tested the Speedgoat on some nearby dirt fire roads as well as soft, sandy single track. Similar to both Max and Kate, I found the shoes to be a touch firm underfoot when I first started running. However, I think this firmness plays an important role in the shoe’s inherent stability and nimbleness. It’s got a pretty thick slab of foam underneath and if this was too soft, it just doesn't work as well on more technical terrain.

The Vibram® outsole lugs are nice and grippy, offering excellent traction. There’s also a slight rocker shape to this shoe for smooth transitions. Unfortunately, there’s something about rocker shapes that always disagree with my calves. I had the same issue in the Speedgoat 5. Womp womp.

Brandon:

Now onto the midsole. Not all running shoes will function in the same way, nor do I expect them to feel the same when testing them. The Speedgoat 6 is a perfect case study in picking foam densities that are specific to the shoe’s intended surface. A trail shoe should feel stable and firmer than its road companion [since you’re running on a softer surface than pavement or asphalt] and feel comfortable with a touch of aggressiveness to match the terrain. The Speedgoat 6 fits into all of these boxes.

Who is the HOKA Speedgoat 6 best for?

Kate:

I would recommend the Speedgoat 6 to people who are out for a long trail run, an easy trail run, or who like to run on terrain that isn’t super steep. This shoe can handle climbing just fine, but when I’m doing a really tough climb I don’t want too much padding between my feet and the trail. If I’m on super technical terrain, I want to be in more direct contact with the surface under my feet. Otherwise, this trail shoe is great for all kinds of trail running or hiking. I’d also recommend the Speedgoat to people who like cushioned shoes that aren’t super squishy.

Max:

The Speedgoat 6 is a pretty agreeable shoe that will make a good first trail shoe for beginners. While I might pull out the HOKA Mafate Speed 4 for gravel, I’m pulling out the Speedgoat 6 for aggressive, technical trails.

The HOKA Speedgoat 6.

Nate:

If you’re not like me and your calves enjoy a rocker shape, the Speedgoat 6 is a great do-it-all, mountain adventure shoe with enough underfoot protection and amazing grip to handle any distance from a half marathon to an ultra. I’ve personally seen this as many people’s go-to 50K shoe if they haven’t graduated to the carbon-plated HOKA Tecton X 2.

Brandon:

I mainly tested the Speedgoat 6 on hard-packed gravel and mild trail terrain. I’m looking forward to trying the shoes out on some more intense terrain, should I get the opportunity. The Speedgoat is one of those shoes I’ll grab for more than just running. I think it can be great for walking and hiking, too. I live in Seattle, where the weather is often wet and the trails get muddy, meaning having a reliable, grippy trail shoe makes all of the difference.

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