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HOKA Mach 5 Review: Same DNA, but Better
By Senior Contributor David Salas

The HOKA Mach 4 took the performance training category by storm a little over one year ago. The balance of cushion, light weight design, and rockered performance came in a non-plated offering that most people could run in comfortably. The HOKA Mach 5 keeps a lot of the same DNA and cleans up the upper a little bit. The foam feels a little softer to me as well. Those that liked the Mach 4 will continue to like the Mach 5. 

Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 8.2 oz oz, 232 g (men's size 9), 6.8 oz, 192 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: Not provided
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Performance/ Light Weight Trainer


The HOKA Mach 5 is a performance trainer that can do a little bit of everything. The shoe is incredibly light for the category and provides a fun and balanced ride throughout. The Profly+ midsole gets a little stiffer as you transition through the forefoot providing a responsive toe off. The ride throughout is rockered and feels a touch softer thanks to the rubberized EVA outsole. The traction is not the greatest underfoot but does okay in a decent variety of conditions. Much of the DNA from the 4 is carried over to the 5 and those that enjoy the Mach line will continue to be happy.


The HOKA Mach 5 upper does feel improved to me. The material of the upper is still very breathable but has a little bit more reinforcement throughout. The shoe feels a little less sloppy through the midfoot and the tongue is much more dialed in. The tongue is a little thinner with a tiny bit of padding at the top for additional lock down. It is also gusseted and does not slip when running. The width is normal in the heel, midfoot, and forefoot. I wouldn't classify any sections as narrow or wide on this model. There is a heel counter that is lightly padded and provides no irritation. There is the retro calcaneal design that we have seen in many other shoes which seems to give the achilles a little more space and less chance for abrasion. HOKA did a really good job with this upper design and it shows. With the extra reinforcement within the mesh the upper does thicken up a little bit though. I do think it could benefit from being a tad more airy, as it does hold a little heat. Other than that it is a really impressive upper. 


The HOKA Mach 5 is a light weight performance trainer that shines on road but can traverse runnable off road conditions too. The ride underfoot feels pretty soft due to the soft Profly+ midsole coupled with the rubberized EVA outsole. There is a crash pad under the heel that is pretty large that can be a little cloppy but the consistency of the outsole helps with smoothening that out. The ride is rockered throughout. It has a large centralized heel bevel that extends back. It almost looks like a posterior flare but the apex is under the heel. The forefoot is still pretty rigid but does have some decent flex grooves which provide a little bit of flexibility under load. The Profly+ midsole leans in the middle between being soft and firm and does get a little more firm as you move forward through the forefoot. There is plenty of stack underfoot and the shoe works really well for long runs. The shoe has a little bit of bounce but isn't anything overly poppy. The shoe however is lightweight and still rolls pretty well. You can certainly use this for longer road workouts as well. For me the Mach 5 does feel softer than Mach 4, but not by an astronomical margin. This shoe is definitely not an overhaul, but does refine some things. 


The Mach 5 itself is not a stability shoe but does some things pretty decent to help out. The upper is reinforced a little better than its predecessor. This helps with keeping the foot on the platform and providing some more confidence under foot when stepping. The shoe also uses a lot of sole flaring in the heel and forefoot providing for some additional cross sectional area. The platform is not only a little more stable because of this, but also will resist motion in that direction a little bit better as well. The rearfoot flaring on the medial end is a little noticeable at first for me, but smoothened out a little once I ran in the shoe a couple times. The rubberized EVA provides decent traction when on road conditions, but can slip a little when off road. The mechanics of the shoe certainly lean more towards a neutral runner but do provide some slight elements of stability for those that may need some. 


When looking at outsoles, it is important to have a usage goal. With the main emphasis on the Mach 5 being for road use, it is important to have something that can resist abrasion, temperature, and soften the landing underfoot. HOKA utilizes a rubberized EVA midsole in the Mach 5. This can be advantageous for a couple of reasons. Compared to using a normal rubber outsole, a rubberized EVA keeps the weight down while still maintaining some abrasion resistance. A rubberized EVA can also help maintain a soft ride and have more durability than a normal EVA midsole. Maiti, Jasra, Kusum, & Chaki (2012) found that an EVA and polybutadiene rubber (general purpose rubber) blend at a 80:20 ratio would form a TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) that yielded high strength (20 MPa) and maintained low hardness (71 Shore A). Compared to virgin EVA they also found the EVA-BR blend to have 58 and 40% improvements in tension and compression sets along with 9% tear strength and 35% abrasion resistance improvements. Rubberized EVA isn't anything overly magical, but if used properly it can help you with achieving some specific footwear goals. With road running it can help soften the ride and still help provide some abrasion resistance.


Maiti, M., Jasra, R., Kusum, S., & Chaki, T.K. (2012). Microcellular Foam from Ethylene Vinyle Acetate/Polybutadiene Rubber (EVA/BR) Based Thermoplastic Elastomers for Footwear Applications. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. 51 (32). 10607-10612. 


The Mach 5 does feel like a step up from the Mach 4. With that said I think they can probably thin the upper a tiny bit. I like that there is a little more reinforcement now, but the foot seems to heat up more than before. 


The HOKA Mach 5 is a highly versatile training shoe that will bring some appeal to those looking to have a cushioned shoe that still has decent responsiveness. The shoe is very lightweight thanks to the materials used. The ride is pretty balanced underfoot and combines a cushioned rocker with some performance elements. The shoe works great as a long run shoe for me, but you can certainly do longer road workouts or daily mileage in this shoe as well. Those familiar with the Mach 4 will find the upper of this a little more reinforced and the ride a tiny bit softer under foot. 


Fit: A- (Fit throughout is done well and upper reinforced well. The shoe does run a little hot though with thickness.)
Performance: A- 
(Highly versatile, fluid transitions, limitations with off road conditions but otherwise high performing training shoe)
Stability: B+ (Sole flaring good, upper lockdown and security improved, softer midsole and rubberized EVA can still be a challenge for some depending on terrain and mechanics)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Improved upper security, good integration of upper and platform, geometry and ride well balanced, no major changes between models)
Personal: A- (Very fun shoe to run in. Balanced transitions throughout and I can use it for a lot of things. The medial sole flaring in the rear foot I am a little sensitive to but it is not a deal breaker. I felt this in 4 too.)
Overall: A- (A well done neutral performance shoe. Well cushioned, good balanced rocker, decent responsiveness. A shoe that can do a little bit of everything.)


Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse

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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.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at HOKA 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 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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