Shoe Review: HOKA Speedgoat 5
Since it's debut in 2015, the HOKA Speedgoat has been known as one of the best trail running shoes with maximal cushioning, long-haul comfort, a propulsive sensation and exceptional traction. It’s a neutral-oriented shoe that can tackle a wide range of terrain. Named for HOKA athlete Karl "Speedgoat" Meltzer — who has the most 100-mile trail race wins in history (45) —this award-winning shoe performs on technical trails and challenging terrain, and is revered for providing a rare balance of cushion, traction and lightweight agility.
The Speedgoat 5 has undergone several key improvements — namely a lighter weight and improved traction — that enhance its performance without changing the character of the shoe. Our Fleet Feet review crew wear-tested the HOKA Speedgoat 5 on a variety of trails including mild dirt paths, gravel roads, moderately technical routes and rugged mountain ridgelines. Here's what you need to know about the latest version of the HOKA Speedgoat.
TECH SPECS: HOKA Speedgoat 5
8.5 oz (W), 10.3 oz (M)
Daily training, Medium to Long-distance trail racing
HOKA Speedgoat 5 Offers Maximal Cushioning, Secure Fit
As with previous models, the secret sauce of the HOKA Speedgoat 5 is the combination of a resilient, high-stack midsole foam, meta-rocker profile and reliable traction from an array of directional outsole lugs. The newest edition is a half ounce lighter, thanks to a new EVA-based midsole compound and a refined outsole. It still offers reliably grippy traction on rocks and roots, but the Vibram Megagrip with Traction Lug system also provides enhanced grip on loose soil.
“The cushioning really felt nice on gravel, rocks, roots, and pounding down steep hills. There’s a little dampening of feeling for the ground that comes with that level of cushioning, but it didn’t impact my balance, even on more technical terrain,” says Alex.
The Speedgoat 5 features a brand new upper — a double layer jacquard mesh made from recycled polyester — that is both more durable and more comfortable than previous editions. The padded heel collar features a new flared design to help reduce impact to the Achilles tendon (similar to that of recent HOKA Clifton models). “I absolutely loved the fit and feel of these shoes. They seem to have a wider toe box without feeling boxy. The extended heel collar particularly felt good, making it easy to slip this shoe on,” Nate says.
HOKA Speedgoat 5 vs HOKA Speedgoat 4
Despite the significant updates, the fit, feel and ride of the HOKA Speedgoat 5 is quite similar to the HOKA Speedgoat 4, but it also takes some cues from the race-ready Speedgoat Evo that debuted in 2019. If you’ve run in either of those two models, you’ll appreciate the lighter, more agile sensation from the ride of the Speedgoat 5. Plus, the fit has improved with a slightly lower volume interior that provides a more locked-down sensation than the Speedgoat 4. It has a narrow toe box without much wiggle room, but the increased stretchiness of the new mesh upper provides more security while being more forgiving than the previous Speedgoat models. The flared heel should come as a relief to many runners without sacrificing any heel security.
“The new Speedgoat didn’t disappoint! It’s a dependable shoe,” says Kate, an avid trail runner. “I do feel like the toebox is a little more shallow than what I remember, but it wasn’t snug enough to give me any trouble with hot spots.”
Perhaps the best aspect of the Speedgoat 5 is that it serves up an enhanced feel for the ground, thanks to a combination of a new midsole compound, a lighter weight, an updated outsole, a meta-rocker profile and a locked-down upper. It’s still a high-off-the-ground maximally cushioned trail runner, but it feels more precise and nimble, especially on unpredictable terrain with roots, rocks and other trail debris.
“I like the extra cushion that I get in the Speedgoat when I’m out for well over 2 hours on the trail,” Kate says. “The extra foam helps protect my legs from pounding, but it’s not so plush that I lose out on the ground feel that I need to help me sense what’s underfoot.”
8.5 oz (W), 10.3 oz (M)
9.2 oz (W), 10.8 oz (M)
HOKA improved this shoe without taking away any of the features that trail runners enjoyed in the previous version of the Speedgoat. It remains a maximally cushioned shoe with amazing traction, but because this version is lighter and fits better, it’s more nimble and versatile. It can easily tackle mild and moderate terrain at slow to fast paces, and the improved outsole traction makes it more agile on technical trails.
Our wear-test team concluded that the Speedgoat 5 could be a go-to trail shoe for most types of terrain and it could certainly suffice as a do-everything workhorse if it’s the only shoe in your quiver.
“I think fans of the HOKA Speedgoat will be happy with this update,” Kate says. “It’s an excellent shoe for short and long runs on the trail. It offers plenty of cushion and dependable grip, which makes it an excellent long run shoe in particular. If I was running in a trail race I would probably go for something a little lighter, but for any other day on the trail, the Speedgoat is still a go-to choice for me!”