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HOKA Speedgoat 3 Review

A maximally cushioned shoe that is optimized for the rigors of the trail.
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Price:  $140 List | $99.83 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Maximum cushioning, great traction, snug fitting upper
Cons:  Small, tight toe box, heavier than comparable Hokas, not super sensitive, pricey
Manufacturer:   HOKA ONE ONE
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 1, 2019
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#19 of 25
  • Foot protection - 30% 8
  • Traction - 20% 7
  • Stability - 15% 4
  • Comfort - 15% 7
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Sensitivity - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Hoka Speedgoat 3 is a maximally cushioned shoe true to the Hoka ethos that has deep, grippy lugs for optimal traction on rough and slippery mountain terrain. They are the brainchild of the "Speedgoat," aka Karl Meltzer, who has won the most 100-mile trail races of any human alive, and for a brief period also owned the FKT on the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail, done while wearing a previous version of this shoe. To say that he understands trail running is an understatement, and this shoe reflects his ideal for the terrain. Released in early 2019, the Speedgoat 3 updates the previous 2, with only minor changes to the design of the upper. Longtime wearers should expect a shoe that feels exactly how they would expect, while new wearers will notice the plush cushioning and narrow fit. While we like this shoe quite a bit, we still recommend the Hoka Challenger ATR 5 as our Top Pick for Maximum Cushioning, as it is a bit lighter, cheaper, and comes in multiple widths.


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HOKA Speedgoat 3
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $99.83 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Maximum cushioning, great traction, snug fitting upperVery 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 Small, tight toe box, heavier than comparable Hokas, not super sensitive, priceyExpensive, 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 maximally cushioned shoe that is optimized for the rigors of the trail.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 Speedgoat 3 Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 La Sportiva Kaptiva Inov-8 Terraultra G 260 Saucony Peregrine ISO
Foot Protection (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Traction (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Stability (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
Comfort (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
10
Weight (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
Sensitivity (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
Specs HOKA Speedgoat 3 Salomon S/Lab... La Sportiva Kaptiva Inov-8 Terraultra... Saucony Peregrine...
Weight (per pair, size 11) 22.5 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) 32 mm, 28 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 17 mm, 11 mm 17 mm, 17 mm 22.5 mm, 18.5mm
Upper Engineered mesh Mesh Sock-Like knit Kevlar, mesh IsoFit
Midsole EVA 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 - 15 4 - 13 38 - 47.5 4-15 8 - 14

Our Analysis and Test Results

For runners who appreciate the maximum amount of cushioning beneath their feet, the Hoka Speedgoat 3 will more than meet your expectations. It fits and feels much like many other Hoka shoes, but features aggressive 5mm deep sticky rubber lugs that make it an ideal choice for difficult trails but reduce its crossover potential onto roads. Compared to the Speedgoat 2, the predecessor, very little has changed. The midsole and outsole traction remain pretty much identical to what they were, while the upper is changed slightly.

Hoka claims this shoe now fits a bit wider in the toe box while locking the midfoot down tightly. We would agree that the upper holds the foot securely in place and that it fits perhaps a hair wider in the forefoot, however, we still feel like our toes are a bit squished in the front, that the design is long and narrow, especially further toward the front. While some online reviewers have claimed that the shoe has gotten heavier in this revision, we actually weighed our pair at 0.7 ounces lighter than the old ones, a positive step for what was a bit of a heavy shoe.

Comparing the Hoka Challenger ATR 5 on the left with yellow laces  to the Speedgoat 3 on the right. The upper mesh of the Speedgoat is a bit more fragile than the Challenger  while the Challenger is a bit more rounded over the toes  and the Speedgoat is a bit pointier at the tip. They both fit slightly narrow  but the Challenger also comes in a EE wide version.
Comparing the Hoka Challenger ATR 5 on the left with yellow laces, to the Speedgoat 3 on the right. The upper mesh of the Speedgoat is a bit more fragile than the Challenger, while the Challenger is a bit more rounded over the toes, and the Speedgoat is a bit pointier at the tip. They both fit slightly narrow, but the Challenger also comes in a EE wide version.

Compared to the Hoka Challenger ATR 5, which we still choose to recommend as the Top Choice for Maximum Cushioning, the differences are slight and subtle. The fit is similar in the forefoot, that is, narrower than average, but the toe box is a bit more rounded off in the Challenger ATR and is shaped a little bit more like our toes. The Speedgoat has more aggressive traction, although the newer traction on the Challenger ATR is much improved. The Challenger ATR weighs a bit less, costs a bit less, drains water slightly better and comes in a wide version, thereby appealing more to people with feet that don't run on the narrow side. While both of these are excellent shoes, the reasons stated above are why we still prefer the Challenger ATR.

Performance Comparison


The Hoka Speedgoat 3 is the newest version of the popular trail shoe designed by Karl Meltzer  aka the Speedgoat  who is a 100 mile master. While they feature Hokas signature raised platform of EVA cushioning  they are also grippy on all types of terrain  and quite comfortable.
The Hoka Speedgoat 3 is the newest version of the popular trail shoe designed by Karl Meltzer, aka the Speedgoat, who is a 100 mile master. While they feature Hokas signature raised platform of EVA cushioning, they are also grippy on all types of terrain, and quite comfortable.

Foot Protection


When it comes to underfoot protection, it is hard to beat the 32mm of EVA foam found in the Speedgoat 3. The midsole is made of a single density foam, with no rock plate sandwiched inside, so gives a consistent, springy, heavily cushioned feel from front to back. This feel is exactly what Hoka runners have come to love, and not only prevents nearly any impact from reaching the sole of the foot, but also absorbs some of the impact from the running stride itself. It gives a little bit of a springy rebound upon landing as well and feels pretty much identical to the midsole of the Challenger ATR 5.

Hokas have the most underfoot EVA foam of any shoe  although this foam is relatively soft and not as firm as many other shoes. Regardless  it does a good job of protecting the bottoms of your feet when out on rocky terrain.
Hokas have the most underfoot EVA foam of any shoe, although this foam is relatively soft and not as firm as many other shoes. Regardless, it does a good job of protecting the bottoms of your feet when out on rocky terrain.

The upper, while sporting a new pattern of TPU film overlays designed to protect against blowout in the high wear areas on the sides of the forefoot, is merely average when it comes to protection. There is a bendable but moderately protective toe bumper, which is not as firm or hard as the one found on the Scarpa Spin Ultra. We also found the dual-layered mesh of the Challenger ATR 5 to be a bit more durable over the long haul.

Traction


The traction on this shoe is by and large excellent. It is made of a Vibram Megagrip compound, present in some form or another on a number of trail running shoes, and which we have found to be consistently sticky on dry and wet rock, and relatively durable over time. On the sole are found lots of multi-directional lugs well spaced apart which are 5mm deep.

Showing the differences in traction between the Speedgoat 3 on the right  with its deep  sharper lugs  and the Challenger ATR 5 on the left  with its slightly shallower  more square shaped lugs. In general  the Speedgoat 3 has better traction.
Showing the differences in traction between the Speedgoat 3 on the right, with its deep, sharper lugs, and the Challenger ATR 5 on the left, with its slightly shallower, more square shaped lugs. In general, the Speedgoat 3 has better traction.

These lugs grip well to loose and slippery surfaces like mud and snow and also do a great job of providing traction on steep dirt. While they do impressively well, the gold standard for traction remains the Salomon Speedcross 5, so check those out if traction is your primary desire.

For running in slippery mud  the aggressively lugged outsole of the Speedgoat 3 works quite well.
For running in slippery mud, the aggressively lugged outsole of the Speedgoat 3 works quite well.

Stability


There is no question that the massive stack height of springy foam underfoot affects the stability of these shoes. At the same time, we recognize that while they may feel a bit high and tippy initially, humans easily adapt to whatever they repeatedly subject their bodies to, and the distance between foot and ground while wearing Hokas is no exception. Despite the high stack underfoot, these shoes have a relatively low 4mm heel-toe drop and do a good job of keeping the foot locked securely in place. We experienced virtually no slippage of our foot while side-hilling or running up and down steep hills. Low to the ground, low heel-toe drop shoes like the Nike Terra Kiger 5 and the Altra Superior 4 are still the most stable, however.

With a very high platform of foam underfoot  Hokas have never been the most stable trail running shoes. For that reason we prefer them on smoother trails where balance is less of an issue.
With a very high platform of foam underfoot, Hokas have never been the most stable trail running shoes. For that reason we prefer them on smoother trails where balance is less of an issue.

Comfort


These are comfortable shoes. Like many Hokas we have worn in the past, we feel that they fit true to size, with a slightly narrower than average toe box, but a wider and more spacious heel. While we feel that the plethora of internet complaints about the narrow fit are perhaps a bit overblown, we will admit that this shoe isn't as wide as the Nike Wildhorse 5, and doesn't allow the same expanding forefoot splay as the Altra Lone Peak 4.

This shoe has a bit of a reputation for being narrow  and we would have to agree. You can see here there is quite a bit of pressure from the widest parts of our forefoot pushing outward on the fabric of the upper.
This shoe has a bit of a reputation for being narrow, and we would have to agree. You can see here there is quite a bit of pressure from the widest parts of our forefoot pushing outward on the fabric of the upper.

Hoka seems to be listening to their customers and is now making some models in wide EE versions, so check out the Challenger ATR 5 if you want something a bit more spacious in the toe box. The rest of the upper is comfortable, breathable, and with no rubbing or chafing points.

The inside of the upper is very comfortable  with plush padding surrounding the ankle opening  a well padded tongue  and virtually no seams to chafe or rub.
The inside of the upper is very comfortable, with plush padding surrounding the ankle opening, a well padded tongue, and virtually no seams to chafe or rub.

Weight


Our pair of men's size 11 shoes weighs 22.5 ounces. We found this to be almost an ounce lighter than the previous version but is still about an ounce heavier than the comparably sized Challenger. Considering how large these shoes are, they are impressively light and don't feel overly heavy when running in them.

Considering how large these shoes are  and how much protection they offer  they are impressively light. We found them to be slightly lighter than their predecessors  but not as light as the Challenger ATR 5.
Considering how large these shoes are, and how much protection they offer, they are impressively light. We found them to be slightly lighter than their predecessors, but not as light as the Challenger ATR 5.

Sensitivity


This is not a very sensitive shoe. With so much foam underfoot, most of the feel of what you are landing on is absorbed before it hits your foot, which is one of the primary reasons people like these shoes so much. There is no rock plate in the midsole of this shoe, so it remains fairly flexible, and when cruising over very rough terrain, like balancing through a talus field, for instance, some sensation is still felt. They don't have a very firm, dissociative feel, like one finds in the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2, but never-the-less, those who prize trail feel should stick to a more sensitive option.

Underfoot is a lot of squishy  springy EVA foam. While this foam is super thick  it surprisingly does allow a bit of trail feel when stepping on pointier objects like rocks  a welcome sensation.
Underfoot is a lot of squishy, springy EVA foam. While this foam is super thick, it surprisingly does allow a bit of trail feel when stepping on pointier objects like rocks, a welcome sensation.

Best Applications


Maximally cushioned shoes such as the Speedgoat 3 are optimal for ultra runners looking to reduce stresses on the body. They are probably the most common type of shoe worn at ultra races. They can also be helpful for older runners, those recovering from an overuse injury, or anyone who feels that less impact while running would be helpful for them. A surprising amount of people who work on their feet all day enjoy wearing Hokas. However, the Speedgoats, in particular, are optimized for trail running and will be best used for that purpose.

The Hoka Speedgoat 3 are a great shoe for trail running  and can handle any sort of slippery or wet conditions. They also grip surprisingly well to rock. Of course  perhaps the best use of Hokas is for long runs  either in training or ultra racing.
The Hoka Speedgoat 3 are a great shoe for trail running, and can handle any sort of slippery or wet conditions. They also grip surprisingly well to rock. Of course, perhaps the best use of Hokas is for long runs, either in training or ultra racing.

Value


These shoes retail for $140, which is pretty expensive for a trail running shoe, although more and more shoes are being released with a price point in this realm. We feel they are relatively long-lasting, so could be a good value, but also prefer the Challenger ATR 5, which come for $10 less, so recommend those if value is the top concern.

Conclusion


The Hoka Speedgoat 3 are only minimally updated, choosing to build upon the characteristics that people love and have come to expect: solid traction and maximal cushioning. They offer a secure fit that is still a bit narrow compared to the rest of the trail running shoe market.

Running local trails during a rainy weather pattern at Smith Rock State Park  Oregon  while wearing the Hoka Speedgoat 3.
Running local trails during a rainy weather pattern at Smith Rock State Park, Oregon, while wearing the Hoka Speedgoat 3.


Andy Wellman