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Hoka Mafate Speed 2 Review

A high priced maximally cushioned shoe that offers the most foot protection you can buy.
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Price:  $170 List
Pros:  Extremely protective, very grippy traction, low 4mm drop, great water drainage
Cons:  Expensive, lacking stability or sensitivity, pretty heavy
Manufacturer:   HOKA ONE ONE
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 17, 2019
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#20 of 25
  • Foot protection - 30% 10
  • Traction - 20% 8
  • Stability - 15% 3
  • Comfort - 15% 4
  • Weight - 10% 5
  • Sensitivity - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Hoka Mafate Speed 2 is an updated version of an old favorite, the Mafate, which has been out of production for some time. Featuring a whopping 35mm of under the heel foam cushioning and a rubberized reinforced upper, this is among the most protective shoes you can buy! It also has large 5mm lugs that are effective at gripping the slipperiest surfaces, and does an incredible job of not absorbing, and also draining, any water you may encounter. That said, we didn't find it to be nearly as comfortable as we would expect for such an expensive shoe, while it is also frighteningly tippy due to its height off the ground. While some Hoka loving trail runners will have found their new favorite shoe, in our opinion, it is not Hoka's best.


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Price $170 List$134.96 at Backcountry
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Pros Extremely protective, very grippy traction, low 4mm drop, great water drainageVery protective midsole and upper, sock-like fit, grippy traction, lighter than previous versionPrecise fit, very grippy on rock, comfortable upper effectively keeps out debrisIncredible protection for a zero drop shoe, comfortable, sensitive, extremely durable and sticky tractionGreat traction on soft slippery surfaces, extremely comfortable, no increase in price
Cons Expensive, lacking stability or sensitivity, pretty heavyExpensive, durability concernsNarrower than average, a bit pricey, not the lightestExpensive, absorbs water easilyMidsole foam compresses out over time, easily collects rocks and debris
Bottom Line A high priced maximally cushioned shoe that offers the most foot protection you can buy.The shoe that best balances foot protection and sensitivity, all while providing an incredibly fine-tuned fit.A well-rounded shoe offering high performance for short or long distances.One of our favorite shoes that is notable both for its zero drop platform and the excellent traction.Our Best Bang for the Buck winner for great comfort and traction with a price lower than the other top scorers.
Rating Categories Hoka Mafate Speed 2 Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 La Sportiva Kaptiva Inov-8 Terraultra G 260 Saucony Peregrine ISO
Foot Protection (30%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Traction (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Stability (15%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
Comfort (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
10
Weight (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
Sensitivity (10%)
10
0
3
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
Specs Hoka Mafate Speed 2 Salomon S/Lab... La Sportiva Kaptiva Inov-8 Terraultra... Saucony Peregrine...
Weight (per pair, size 11) 23.2 oz. 22.7 oz. 22.3 oz. 20.9 oz. 23.1 oz.
Heel-to-Toe Drop 4 mm 8 mm 6 mm 0 mm 4 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 35 mm, 31 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 17 mm, 11 mm 17 mm, 17 mm 22.5 mm, 18.5mm
Upper Mesh Mesh Sock-Like knit Kevlar, mesh IsoFit
Midsole CMEVA Compressed EVA Duel-density EV EXTERFLOW PWRFOAM, Everun
Outsole Vibram MegaGrip Premium Wet Traction Contagrip FriXion XF 2.0 Graphene Grip PWRTRAC
Lacing style Traditional Kevlar Quicklace Traditional Traditional Traditional
Wide version available? No No No No Yes
Sizes Available 7 - 14 4 - 13 38 - 47.5 4-15 8 - 14

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Hoka Mafate Speed 2 updates the previous Mafate Speed by redesigning the upper to be wider and more durable, with a different tongue as well. We did not test the first version, and so cannot comment on the changes that were made to the newest version. Compared to Hoka Speedgoat 3 and the Hoka Challenger ATR 5, the Mafate Speed 2 is certainly unique, with some distinct advantages such as larger and far more aggressive lugs, a greater stack height with even more underfoot protection, and a highly protective upper. That said, it also has some distinct disadvantages as well, such as its relatively heavy weight, very high stack height that makes it prone to instability, uncomfortable lacing system, and stratospheric price tag. Read on as we discuss each of these factors below, but we cannot unconditionally call this the best Hoka trail runner, and suspect that individual preference will still dictate which Hoka is best for you.

Comparing the three maximally cushioned Hokas in our review  with the Challenger ATR 5 on top  Speedgoat 3 in the middle  and Mafate Speed 2 on the bottom. The Mafate is the heaviest  but also absorbs the least amount of water  and offers the most protection  while the Speedgoat is the narrowest and the Challenger is the most comfortable  in our opinion.
Comparing the three maximally cushioned Hokas in our review, with the Challenger ATR 5 on top, Speedgoat 3 in the middle, and Mafate Speed 2 on the bottom. The Mafate is the heaviest, but also absorbs the least amount of water, and offers the most protection, while the Speedgoat is the narrowest and the Challenger is the most comfortable, in our opinion.

Performance Comparison


The Hoka Mafate Speed 2 are a maximally cushioned shoe heavy on foot protection and light on sensitivity  that we enjoyed most on cruiser trails like this one in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness due to their tipsy feel on uneven terrain.
The Hoka Mafate Speed 2 are a maximally cushioned shoe heavy on foot protection and light on sensitivity, that we enjoyed most on cruiser trails like this one in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness due to their tipsy feel on uneven terrain.

Foot Protection


This is easily among the most protective shoes that you can buy. The midsole is made up of an incredible 35mm of EVA foam in the heel, with a still gigantic 31mm in the forefoot. This amount of cushioning is pretty much unprecedented, even for a Hoka, and hearkens back to the early days of Hoka shoes where insane amounts of cushioning was the norm (it still is, but some models have less than before). When testing these shoes for underfoot protection on boulder fields of sharp rocks, we could honestly say that we felt close to nothing at all on the bottoms of our feet, even when standing on the sharpest of points and edges. Suffice to say that this midsole takes maximally cushioned to the next level.

That's a lot of cushioning! 35mm of EVA foam under the heel  to be exact  means that you are not going to feel that rock you are stepping on. Furthermore  the rubberized overlays that cover almost the entire upper means a blowout is unlikely as well  and makes this an incredibly protective shoe.
That's a lot of cushioning! 35mm of EVA foam under the heel, to be exact, means that you are not going to feel that rock you are stepping on. Furthermore, the rubberized overlays that cover almost the entire upper means a blowout is unlikely as well, and makes this an incredibly protective shoe.

The upper is also among the most protective and durable you can find. It is made with stretchy and highly breathable mesh generously overlayed with rubberized reinforcements. All of the highest wear areas, especially on the sides of the forefoot where the shoe creases, are effectively covered and protected, and the toe bumper, made of a heavier piece of fabric sewn on top, also does a decent job.

Traction


The lug pattern on the bottom of the Mafate Speed 2 is among the most aggressive that we have seen on a Hoka shoe. The 5mm deep, sharp cut lugs are rectangular shaped and spread throughout the entire sole of the foot. Under the arch, where the glued on Vibram rubber outsole is not present, lugs are even crafted out of the midsole foam that remains exposed. We found that these lugs grip fantastically on soft and slippery surfaces like mud and snow, and also on tundra and loose dirt. They were not as sticky as the Vibram found on the Speedgoat 3, and don't grip rock quite as well. Regardless, for the gnarliest of mountain terrain, this shoe has the traction to keep you on your feet.

Comparing the outsole traction on three pairs of Hokas  from left to right: Challenger ATR 5  Speedgoat 3  and Mafate Speed 2. The Mafate has the largest and most aggressive lugs which grip best on loose terrain.
Comparing the outsole traction on three pairs of Hokas, from left to right: Challenger ATR 5, Speedgoat 3, and Mafate Speed 2. The Mafate has the largest and most aggressive lugs which grip best on loose terrain.

Stability


Hoka shoes are known for their low stability, an obvious trade-off when you put so much cushioning between the foot and the ground. But the Mafate Speed 2 takes this lack of stability to another level and are more prone to causing an ankle roll than just about any shoe you can run in. We have robust ankles, and are also used to running in Hokas, and found these to be very prone to rolling over, especially while running downhill. We also find them to be uncomfortable while side-hilling, where the high stack height presents a less than optimal landing and pushing off-platform and a lot of stress on our ankle tissues. We appreciate that the low 4mm drop lends itself to a more natural stride, but these are simply shoes that you must be careful when running in and are not recommended for those who are especially prone to bad ankle rolls.

Hoka shoes are always among the least stable due to their very large stack height  but these shoes are even more prone to rolling than most. For that reason we rarely used them on technical trails  instead enjoying them for cruiser runs through smoother terrain.
Hoka shoes are always among the least stable due to their very large stack height, but these shoes are even more prone to rolling than most. For that reason we rarely used them on technical trails, instead enjoying them for cruiser runs through smoother terrain.

Comfort


These shoes breathe impressively well, and we will point out that they are the best performer in our water test, meaning they absorb among the least amount of water, and are extremely effective at draining and drying quickly. However, we didn't find them to be overly comfortable. In particular, the metal grommets that the laces thread through rubbed our feet through the tongue, causing blisters. Numerous online reviewers mentioned this issue as a common area of discomfort. We also felt that the tongue was prone to slipping around and didn't offer enough padding from the laces. And while the width of the shoe might be ever so slightly increased compared to Hoka's famously narrow regular fit, we would not even consider describing these shoes as wide. They are narrow, that is a fact, especially in the mid- and forefoot. While we allow that plenty of people will find these shoes to be comfortable, our experience indicates that not all will, and so we encourage you to try them on before you buy, or at least be willing to send them back.

Check out the metal eyelets that the laces run through. These are a major problem for us  as they create uncomfortable pressure on the top of the feet that rubs (we got blisters on runs as short as 4 miles). Other online customer reviews complained of the same problem.
Check out the metal eyelets that the laces run through. These are a major problem for us, as they create uncomfortable pressure on the top of the feet that rubs (we got blisters on runs as short as 4 miles). Other online customer reviews complained of the same problem.

Hard to see  but check out the left side of the tongue inside the shoe. We found that it commonly folded over  even while running if we put it on straight  creating an uncomfortable fit. This was the least comfortable Hoka we have run in.
Hard to see, but check out the left side of the tongue inside the shoe. We found that it commonly folded over, even while running if we put it on straight, creating an uncomfortable fit. This was the least comfortable Hoka we have run in.

Weight


Our pair of size men's 11 US shoes weighed in at 23.2 ounces on our independent scale. Considering how much shoe we are talking about, this is impressive. However, they are a couple of ounces heavier than other Hoka shoes, which also feature tons of EVA underfoot. This weight ranks them in the lower tier of trail runners we have reviewed, and at least when comparing them directly to their competition, disqualifies them from being described as "lightweight."

Our size 11 pair topping the scale at 23.2 ounces. While this may not seem like a whole lot considering how large these shoes are  it is actually a couple ounces heavier than the lightest pair of Hokas.
Our size 11 pair topping the scale at 23.2 ounces. While this may not seem like a whole lot considering how large these shoes are, it is actually a couple ounces heavier than the lightest pair of Hokas.

Sensitivity


Sensitivity in a trail running shoe often comes at the expense of foot protection, and vice versa. In the case of the Mafate Speed 2, the scale is tipped so far in the direction of underfoot protection that it is literally resting on the ground. These shoes will allow you pretty much no trail feel at all. But then again, maximally cushioned shoes are not meant to be super sensitive, they value shock absorption instead.

Value


The retail price of these shoes ties them for the most expensive trail runners in our review. While they offer unrivaled protection, when considering overall performance, we can't justify this level of expense when other Hokas perform at least as well for significantly less cost, and other shoes that cost in the same ballpark perform better overall. While we didn't have the opportunity to run these shoes until they were falling apart, there is no indication that their longevity will be such an outlier as to justify the added cost.

These shoes are expensive  even for Hokas  and while there may be some who find them better than the others which are less expensive  we have to concede that they don't seem to present great value considering cheaper models perform just as good  if not better.
These shoes are expensive, even for Hokas, and while there may be some who find them better than the others which are less expensive, we have to concede that they don't seem to present great value considering cheaper models perform just as good, if not better.

Conclusion


The Hoka Mafate Speed 2 are among the priciest trail running shoes in Hoka's lineup, but in this case, you don't always get more for your money. While they have some interesting advantages over other Hokas, in particular even more cushioning and a greatly enhanced outsole lug pattern, other models we have tested are more affordable, more comfortable, and slightly more stable as well. Only personal preference can decide which Hoka is the best model for you, but if we were buying them for the first time, these would not be our first choice.

Cruising wilderness trails near Mt. Jefferson in the Oregon Cascades wearing the Mafate Speed 2  a highly cushioned shoe with awesome traction.
Cruising wilderness trails near Mt. Jefferson in the Oregon Cascades wearing the Mafate Speed 2, a highly cushioned shoe with awesome traction.


Andy Wellman