Hoka One One’s are the Cadillac of running shoes. They are known for generously cushioned midsoles that soften foot strikes and offer stability over rocks and roots for a smooth ride. Running technical terrain can be fun, yet taxing over time. The Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 allows for a more carefree run that is a solid race option when distance trumps speed. After all, this is still Karl Meltzer’s namesake shoe.
The third-generation Speedgoat has the same plush ride and grippy sole as the previous model but has a redesigned upper to better lock down the foot and address some wear issues.
The new mesh upper has a polyurethane overlay that locks in the midfoot as promised and the reinforced sides feel sturdier. That feel may be because of the upper itself or just that the foot fits more securely inside the shoe; it’s hard to tell. The base of the Speedgoat’s upper is narrower than other Hoka models—particularly the Challenger ATR 4 which shares the same sole silhouette—and it noticeably wraps the foot more securely. The fit can require some mid-run lace adjustments, especially once the foot swells, but no matter how the shoe’s tied, the toe box stays crowded.
The heel also fits securely despite the heavy cushioning under the back of the heel. I’d recommend taking these on a heel-braking downhill, however, that is also when the heel counter presses into the back of the foot. Heel strikers may find the landing too squishy, but this shoe is designed to absorb a lot of impact. The soft cushioning in the midsole (and even the lugs) doesn’t deaden the feel for the trail, just the impact of rough terrain.
The geometry of the sole is where this shoe stands out and feels markedly different than other Hokas, even though it uses the same Meta-Rocker midsole design. Lean forward or backward in the Speedgoats while standing, and you may have to catch yourself from falling. In the very back of the heel, the shoe gets soft and has a deep angle and the cushioning under the toes drops off from the higher, firmer footbed. This all helps make the shoe roll through impact to toe-off and gives it an aggressive feel, especially on inclines when the toes want to claw a little.
At 32mm/28mm for men (30mm/26mm for women), the stack height is higher than it feels, though it becomes apparent on more twisting trails when the stability can arguably work against you. For all the cushioning and the more reinforced upper, the shoe still weighs just 10.3 oz. (9.1 oz. in women’s), which is lightweight in the maximal trail category.
Vibram’s megagrip sole is quick to grab onto wet surfaces—slate, grass or muck—and the 5mm multidirectional lugs work in all but the muddiest of conditions. On asphalt, the lugs create road noise, but really showcase the sole’s stickiness. These aren’t made for road running, but the occasional patch of sidewalk or street won’t kill them.
With the Hoka One One Speedgoat 3, you get a light, stable shoe that will protect your body from the sustained impacts of running. Even runners who prefer a shoe with a lower center of gravity should this consider this for a training option. The upper locks in the heel and supports each side of the foot for a comforting fit and the shoe’s geometry is race minded. Those familiar with other Hokas may want to try these on first as the toe box is slimmer than others in the line. The Speedgoat 3 will be released in spring 2019 and is priced at $140. A waterproof version will also be available for $150.