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HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4 Multiple Tester Review


The HOKA ONE ONE Mach series has been a pretty successful performance uptempo trainer for HOKA for some time now. The shoe keeps a lot of its original design features such as a rubberized EVA outsole and high stack height, but also re-engineers itself entirely. The HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4 utilizes a dual midsole with PROFLY as the midsole and a more streamlined design for the rocker and outsole. The result is a shoe that feels very light on the foot but protective enough for daily mileage or long runs. 



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 8.0 oz / 227 g (men's size 9)  7.2 / 204 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35 mm / 30 mm
Drop: 5mm
Classification: Lightweight Daily Trainer, Neutral



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Hoka Mach 4 is a complete overall of the series. Continuing on only in classification, the Mach 4 is a neutral lightweight trainer with a softer, protective and bouncy ride. The fit is a bit more performance oriented, fitting a little short but still having some width in the midfoot. The early stage metarocker makes for a smooth ride, while several elements make this more stable than expected. A ligthweight trainer for some and a long distance racer for others wanting a lightweight but cushioned shoe, the Mach 4 checks off a lot of boxes and truly evolves into a great shoe.

David:
The HOKA ONE ONE is a neutral uptempo trainer that provides a refreshing and natural feel to the runner. The shoe is very light on the foot and provides a smooth transition throughout. The ride has a little bit of bounce to it that does good for some uptempo work or on long runs. The Swallowtail heel design and early stage metarocker seem to help with the rearfoot to midfoot transition while also keeping the trajectory relatively linear. Overall the Mach 4 brings a very competitive player to the uptempo neutral trainer market (main competitor to Kinvara 12 in my opinion). 





FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The Mach 4 fits me slightly short in my normal size 10 men's but fits more true to size when the upper breaks in. The upper tapes a bit quick at the toes, but there is plenty of room in the forefoot, midfoot and heel. While the shoe tapers a little quick up front, there is a larger than expected amount of volume throughout the length of the shoe. However, the lockdown is still really good. I did not have to lace lock the shoe and did not have slippage even during workouts. The mesh upper does stretch, giving a normal amount of room in the forefoot that is adaptable. The midfoot locks in very well and the laces will lock the upper as tight or loose as you want it. I did have to tie them down a bit tighter with the volume, but they stayed very secure and I had no issue. The heel is very secure despite the elf heel. There is a heel counter, but I did not notice it at all as the heel collar is extremely well padded. I have not run in this shoe sockless, but the breathability is fairly good. The tongue sits very well against the foot. Overall, the upper gets out of the way nicely outside of the initial short fit at the toes.

David:
The Mach 4 fits true to size in my normal size 9.5. The upper is constructed of an engineered mesh that feels pretty similar to the Carbon X2. However, the upper of the Mach 4 has more volume through the forefoot and midfoot compared to the X2. The toe box is decently wide and will allow for some toe splay and swelling. The midfoot is of normal width and locks down the foot pretty well. For me I did have to lace down the laces a little tighter than normal to ensure good midfoot lockdown, but for those who need more volume may like this. The heel is very secure and has a lightly padded heel counter. The upper overall is pretty simple throughout but fits nicely to the foot. The security is solid in turns and there is no worry on my end about blowing through it. 




PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: The Hoka Mach 4 has a highly cushioned, soft and slightly bouncy ride. The ride is protective enough for long runs, easy runs and recovery runs, but is lightweight and bouncy enough for longer workouts. The PROFLY rubberized topsole sits on top of a normal EVA exposed midsole. The PROFLY is quite soft and there is noticeable compression of the midsole. The heel transitions is very smooth and the swallowtail design compresses very well, likely due to the softer sole. The midfoot is stable and transitions into a slightly stiff but more flexible than expected (for so much midsole) and smooth forefoot. The rocker is done well in the heel and the early stage meta-rocker begins the forward transition off the forefoot very nicely. The softness is consistent through the length of the shoe, although the heel is a bit softer and the forefoot is a bit firmer. There is a 5mm drop that like most Hoka shoes was not noticeable to me due to the well done bevel and early stage meta-rocker. Durability is going better than expected. I have over 40 miles on my pair and while I am wearing into my usual spots, I have not worn away as much midsole as expected. So I would expect fairly normal to slightly above average durability for a lightweight trainer (250-300 miles) for the average runner. Use wise, this shoe will work best for those who want cushion but in a very lightweight package. It is softer than the firmer riding Rincon 2 (REVIEW), but feels more bouncy. It responds very well to daily training paces, long runs and uptempo work. I have used this shoe for tempo runs and fartleks, but would not use it for anything shorter. The cushion is a bit too soft for faster intervals or races for me personally. However, for those wanting a more cushioned shoe for longer distances races that is a bit more forgiving than other models out there, this may be a great option.

David:
The Mach 4 performs really well in the neutral performance trainer category. The shoe feels very lightweight on the foot but still protective enough for long runs and daily mileage. The shoe provides a very natural and flexible like feel throughout the entirety of the shoe. The Swallowtail design in the heel does decouple the landing a little bit. This makes the medial aspect of the heel feel like a wedge, and may help with some stability elements for those who need some help in the rearfoot. There is a crash pad in the heel as well and a deeper groove down the midline of the shoe. The forefoot is flexible but still has some rigidity that helps with responsiveness. The PROFLY midsole feels soft and bouncy up top, but does have a lot of rubberized EVA underneath that helps keep it grounded. Overall the ride is very smooth and flexible throughout with some touches of bounce and performance. I wouldn't race in this shoe, but I have done a 7 mile tempo and an 18 mile long run in this shoe with no issue. For the recreational runner this could be a solid do it all shoe option. 



STABILITY

Matt: Despite being on the softer end of the spectrum, the Hoka Mach 4 is a fairly stable shoe. This is not surprising given wider last, maximalist design and rocker. The early stage metarocker is something that I like, as it helps roll you forward faster as you get to the mid/forefoot. Add some mild sole flare on both sides of the forefoot and the transition at the front is naturally stable. The heel bevel is very well done as usual and I did not notice the posterior flare. This is likely due to fast compression of the midsole. So the rocker guides the foot quite well, especially combined with decent flexibility in the sagittal plane. The forward roll is noticeable and efficient. There are also significant side walls on both sides of the heel. These do a great job of subtly guiding landings at heel contact. These elements offset the soft ride (which usually means unstable, but not in this case) and anyone with mild stability needs will do well using this shoe as a daily or lightweight trainer. Those that need more stability may be able to use this shoe for middle distances and as a racer.

David:
For being a neutral uptempo trainer the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4 rides pretty stable. The shoe utilizes a few features that assist it from a stability stance point. HOKA has always done a pretty good job with creating a wide platform with a lot of a surface area which helps create a stable landing platform. The shoe also utilizes an early stage meta rocker that eases the transition from the rearfoot to the midfoot pretty well. The shoe also has relatively deep flex grooves throughout the shoe for having a rubberized EVA outsole. Even though the shoe has some flexibility throughout, the flex points are designed in a way that does seem to facilitate motion forward. The Swallowtail design in the heel almost feels like a wedge and the decoupling of the heel also seems to help a little bit as well. I think the security of the midfoot could be improved a little bit in the midfoot to help with any translation of the foot but overall the shoe does a good job from a stability stand point. 


LONG TERM DURABILITY UPDATE



Contributor David Salas goes over his pair after 107 miles. He covers outsole, midsole, and upper changes during the miles and his experience.

Full Transcription [edited for clarity]: Today we’re going to look at the Hoka Mach 4 after 100 miles. We're going to focus on the midsole and outsole, and how the ride is holding up over time. If you look at the outsole, there is some wear. I'm holding both of my shoes left and right here. The rubberized EVA is holding up pretty which is a surprise to me to be honest. It's scrapped up for sure, but if you look at the amount of rubberized EVA there, there's so much to burn through and if you look at the forefoot the Profly midsole underneath there's so much to chew through before you start biting into it.

On that midline ridge right there, I haven't quite started brushing up on it quite yet. So overall things are looking pretty good as far as outsole durability. I have 107 miles currently on these and I run on a variety of surfaces from road to trail. The ride has held up good. The Profly midsole has held up well. Softer in the heel than in the forefoot, if you take a look it definitely has some forefoot rigidity, but if you are running on the road there's a sense of flexibility as well with the flex grooves especially when you start putting some load into it. Overall the shoe rides responsive, but flexible which is nice. You also have that swallowtail in the heel there and that metarocker. That does a good job in the transition from the heel to the midfoot, and I think a large part of that is the big midline heel crash pad right there [shows heel area, a diamond pattern]. It really helps set the stage for the transition from the heel to the midfoot. The traction isn't great in this shoe, but you probably are going to run a lot of road anyways in this, or fire road, or runnable trail. For the most part you don't need any specific amount of traction. The rubberized EVA does a good job of compressing a bit on its own and grabbing the surface beneath it, so when you're running on the road you still get a good sense of traction anyways without having any blown rubber or carbon rubber there which is pretty nice. I would say the ride, it may have flattened out a tiny bit, but overall it is still responsive.

I'll take it out for all my runs, easy to moderate efforts with strides afterwards. I'll almost always take this shoe because I like doing strides in it afterwards and I don't want to change shoes those days. Even on recovery days, I did a recovery 12 miles in it and it was perfect. It's a pretty versatile shoe. I've done a 7 mile tempo run at 5:35 pace at this. I've done 1 min on, 1 min off at 4:40 pace. This shoe is pretty versatile and the ride has held up well. The upper there's no signs of deterioration. The upper is doing great. There is a little bit of overlay here which helps hold the midfoot. I didn't think it would do anything at first, but once you tighten the laces and lock it down, you get that nice little support through there. It's just a nice hold through and I don't see it breaking down anytime soon. I see another 100 miles in this and another 100 after that. Overall really happy with the Hoka One One Mach 4 as far as durability goes.

I'm just looking forward to logging in more miles in this guy. For my main uses, it's primarily daily training with some strides, long run shoe. I don't do too many workouts in it. It's more really long tempo runs or runs with threshold in there. Some fartlek style stuff, or maybe a fast Tergat finish. For the most part this is a daily trainer that can turn it up when you want it to and that's exactly what it is. It feels really good at daily paces and smooth at faster paces as well. - David Salas

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

     The Hoka One One Mach 4 is a very light shoe for the cushion provided. Sitting at 8.0 oz for a 35 mm / 30 mm stack height, there is a ton of cushioning for how light the shoe is. As David alluded to, the Mach 4 is a definite competitor to the Kinvara 12. However, it is different in that the amount of midsole clearly classifies this shoe as a maximalist shoe. There is a significant rocker and the stack height is high. While it is easy to pick up the pace in this shoe due to the bounce, the type of shoe is not necessarily what makes it more efficient. Generally when we talk about efficiency in running (how much energy you use at a certain pace), we are referring to running economy. We know from the literature that maximalist shoes, despite their efficient rockered designs, do not improve running economy in everyone (Mercer et al., 2018). However, a lighter shoe certainly does, with a 1.1% improvement in running economy for every 100g taken off a shoe (Hoogkamer et al., 2016). There is however a point at which this changes, where a shoe that has too little cushioning/weight requires more work from the body, thereby decreasing running economy. The Mach 4 has the best of both worlds where it is very light (8 oz or 227 g for a men's size 9) but is also soft and highly cushioned. Many maximalist shoes have similar stack heights, but weight 2-3 oz (56 g to 85 g) more. Getting this shoe down to this weight certainly requires less energy to run in, but still provides plenty of protection that the body doesn't have to work harder to shock absorb more. The Mach 4 isn't the lightest shoe, but it is very light for a lightweight trainer with this much cushion.

- Matthew Klein PT DTP OCS FAAOMPT

References

Hoogkamer, W., Kipp, S., Spiering, B. A., & Kram, R. (2016). Altered running economy directly translates to altered distance-running performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 48(11), 2175-80.

Mercer, M. A., Stone, T. M., Young, J. C., & Mercer, J. A. (2018). Running economy while running in shoes categorized as maximal cushioning. International Journal of Exercise Science, 11(2), 1031.





RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: My main recommendation for the Mach 4 is for the toe box. The taper is a bit fast and I would suggest opening that up a bit just for initial comfort. Outside of that, my challenge to Hoka at this point is to start experimenting with different foams. The rubberized EVA is interesting, but there are an increasing number of foam options out there that may make this shoe even lighter and more resilient.


David:
My main recommendation for the Mach 4 lies within lockdown and security. This shoe doesn't do it badly, but I think the lacing system could be refined a little bit to lockdown the midfoot a little better. That or make the volume of the shoe a tad bit less through that region. The heel and forefoot are done very well though. 



WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The Hoka Mach 4 is a performance / lightweight trainer for those who want a cushioned ride that works for daily use and tempo runs. Those wanting a less aggressive long distance racing shoe or recreational runners may find a great option here for a half to full marathon racing shoe. Others will find that the slightly higher volume fit makes for a unique shoe that rides this soft. The ride is very smooth from heel to toe, yet has a nice gently bounce to it that can be refreshing when you are doing an easy run or wanting to pick up the pace a bit. I am very impressed with the progression of the Mach series now. The combination of softness and gentle stability is great and this is definitely a shoe that is worth a look if you are interested.

David:
The HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4 is a performance uptempo trainer for those looking for a lightweight natural feeling shoe that can pick up the pace if asked to. The shoe definitely leans more towards the training end of things, but can handle some tempo runs and fartlek type efforts well. The shoe has a refreshing and natural feel to it that transitions smoothly and has some flexibility to it. In my honest opinion this shoe is a serious competitor to shoes like the Saucony Kinvara series.





GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B (Fits slightly short due to toe box taper. Higher volume and adaptability in the midfoot. Upper maybe a bit thicker in the rearfoot than necessary.) 
Performance:
A- (Rationale for grade) 
Stability: A- (Very stable for a soft shoe. Great use of sidewalls, rockered sole and maximalist design to create this.) 
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Extremely light for cushioning provided. Great transition with well done rocker. Stable for a neutral and soft shoe. ) 
Personal:  B+ (A little soft and toebox is slightly short for my tastes, but a wonderful lightweight trainer) 
Overall: B+/A- (A really great cushioned lightweight trainer. If you haven't tried a shoe in this category, this is definitely a good one to try first. A shoe that works for daily trainer and tempo efforts, with the versatility to be a lightweight, cushioned, non-aggressive racing shoe for half to full marathons for the average runner)              


David
Fit: A- (Lightweight and simple upper that hold pretty good throughout, great heel and forefoot but midfoot could be refined)                    
Performance:  
A- (Lightweight on foot, responsive and flexible, can tackle daily training and long run miles as well as select workouts. Does lose a little bit of snap at top speeds but overall done really well.) 
Stability: 
B+ (For a neutral shoe with rubberized EVA as an outsole, they did a really good job, but midfoot security can be improved, and high stack with flexibility naturally takes a little bit out of the stability category) 
DPT/Footwear Science:  
A- (Fast and smooth transition from the early stage meta rocker compliments with the flexible forefoot well, and Swallowtail seems to have some play in rearfoot stability as well) 
Personal:  
(The shoe is underwhelming in a good way? Not insanely responsive but has enough pop to it to turn up the pace if you want to and it provides a really natural and flexible feel throughout. A refreshing ride I keep reaching for.) 
Overall:  A- (A highly versatile performance trainer that will work for many. It is neutral and high stack, but still responsive and smooth throughout)        

PODCAST EP. 41 REVIEW, WITH COMPARISONS



Interested in purchasing of the Hoka Mach 4? Check out Running Warehouse here or Fleet Feet here. Using this link helps support our work at Doctors of Running! Thank you so much.

FURTHER READING

Compare
Saucony Kinvara 12
- Sacuony's lightweight classic. Protective, natural running.
Asics EvoRide 2 - The second update of the EvoRide keeps a lightweight profile, but more stack for daily training
Hoka Carbon X2 - Built for smooth long range racing and training
Skechers Razor Excess - Skecher's newest model provides a highly cushioned ride with huge versatility

Recently at Doctors of Running
Mizuno Wave Horizon 5 Review
- Mizuno's latest update to their premium trainer, with full length Enerzy
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Karhu Fusion 2021 Review - A well cushioned, solid fitting neutral trainer from the Finnish brand
The North Face Flight Vectiv - TNF enters the running game with a plated racer
Puma Deviate Elite Nitro - Initial Impressions

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:
Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at HOKA ONE ONE for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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