HOKA Mach 4: Shoe of the Week
HOKA's crowd-pleasing, revamped Mach 4 delivers plush uptempo performance.
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HOKA Mach 4 Review
Weight: 8.6oz M, 7.1oz W
Stack Height: 29mm heel /24mm forefoot
Offset: 5mm drop
Everyday, long and short run training comfort coupled with quick-striding performance.
HOKA really changed things up with this edition of the Mach 4. It now combines equal parts cushioning and rebound for comfort and performance using a combination of different midsole foams. And it even lost weight. Runners used to the Mach 3 will find the 4 feels softer and less firm, but not at a cost of efficiency. The upper was revamped to include a pull tab, heat-pressed plastic yarns for structure and a reconstructed collar to relieve pressure on the Achilles.
This Is the Shoe for You If …
Running fast is on par with running comfort in your priorities. The balance of cushioning and responsiveness provided by the Mach 4 is well suited for long runs but it also may well inspire impromptu tempo miles.
In case you wondered, Mach 4 is just shy of 3,000 MPH. And, while not even super shoes can give you that sort of speed, HOKA seems to have found a formula that feels like you’re going super-sonic every day in this 4th edition of their lightweight performance trainer. There was general fanfare over this version of the Mach, with testers lauding its versatility for training at different distances and speeds. Most testers initially thought the shoes were better suited for longer, slogging efforts but, once they got used to the Mach 4’s updated feel, found them great for speedier training because of their “lively ride and energetic underfoot sensation” and “connected, responsive feel.”
One tester said she logged over 100 miles in the shoes because there was absolutely nothing she didn’t like about them, and she kept coming back over and over. “I loved how plush the cushioning was, making them a favorite on days when I was really sore, particularly my knees,” she noted. “The fit was outstanding … the extra space in the toe box wasn’t excessive, it just made them feel more ventilated and comfortable.” Another tester found the Mach 4s “soft and comfortable and can handle short fast runs or longer steady runs. It’s a workhorse, without being anything extraordinary.”
One member of our test team, who liked the ride of previous Mach, was initially disappointed that the update felt so much softer. But after logging some time in them he reported that he “noticed that the softness was only a few millimeters deep, and underneath was the familiar firmer forefoot foam that provided a connected, responsive feel with flex and pop.” That is consistent with HOKA’s having merged an incredibly plush foam directly over a rubberized foam for a new midsole sensation.
The changes in the Profly “Intelligent Cushioning” midsole, with all-new foam blends for soft landings and springy, energetic response, made the Mach 4 more like the Clifton for cushioning and the Rincon for bounciness. Said one tester, “these were really bouncy, I kept returning to them [for] the fantastic responsiveness that kept me feeling energized on runs from 5 to 12+ miles.” The extended heel and rubberized EVA outsole help for cushioned landings and weight savings, although the lack of a formal outsole makes for some quick signs of wear. The early stage meta rocker midsole design helped to smooth out the gait cycle and usher in a powered toe-off, not too different from that of the Rocket X, without the rigid plate.
The only consistent complaint was that testers found the laces absurdly long. Aside from that minor concern, they appreciated the airy upper that holds without binding, even allowing some forefoot splay. And they noted no sign of the arch rubbing that plagued earlier models.
An elated tester summed up the shoe: “It hit all the factors for me: breathable material, bouncy yet soft cushioning, light-weight feel, great fit (toes didn’t jam or blister), cool design. One of my favorite shoes that I’ve tested for sure.” Another felt the shoe helped him run better: “The low drop, quick rocker and flexible ride encourage a quick turnover, close-to-the-body landings and a backward drive from the hip — and I find I come back feeling like my stride is smoother and more efficient than when I started.”