This review is going to be a touchy one for a lot of people as HOKA loyalists can be really finicky so we’re just going to get to it right at the outset. First, most of us can agree that the Mach 3 was not an amazing shoe, it was just okay. However, the Mach 4 might be the best road shoe and HOKA has right now and yes, we already got some flak for this during the testing and over Instagram, but when we get down to it and if you have a chance to try the shoe, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Might just be the the best road shoe HOKA has out there right now.
- Weighs in at 8.2oz or 232g for a US Men’s 9, 6.8oz or 193g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 29mm of cushion (27mm for Women) and has a 5mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $130.00 USD and comes in 4 colors for Men and Women.
We try to be totally honest with our reviews and let us start off with full transparency. We were not necessarily excited to test out the Mach 4. Primarily because the Mach 3 was just an okay shoe and it’s not really a big hit in retail or with runners. We will also be the first to fall on our sword and say how wrong we were because the Mach 4is really freaking awesome. Why you ask…
First off, it is nothing like the shoe that came before it. It is a fully retooled shoe in almost every way and this alone is a great start for any revision. Out of the box, we immediately noticed the new material usage, the wider overall stance in the midsole, the new tail (or lack of a better word), and even the PROFLY combination midsole felt better overall. Visually, we liked the look as well even though the review color isn’t the strongest it is clearly better than the Mach 3.
On the foot, the shoe feels more stable, even wider than the Mach 3, and this gives it a better overall feel. The gusseted tongue system makes entry very easy and then it kind of grabs your foot and hold you securely in place right at that mid-foot. The toebox also feels wider giving you more room to wiggle which helps on longer runs. While standing, the midsole feels nice and cushioned especially under that heel, you don’t feel a lot of that second layer firmness that actually exists and gives you the kick. It just kind of feels good on your foot and it’s been a while since we’ve been able to say that about a lot of shoes.
The nice part here is that in the run, things don’t change all that much. Sitting at about 8 oz, with just under 30mm of stack, the Mach 4 feels light and well-cushioned, and your foot overall can feel quite relaxed inside the shoe. To that end, the shoe also felt well controlled. By this, we felt it simple enough to slow down when we wanted to and run at an easy pace that was comfortable for the legs, or conversely, we could really ramp it up and invoke the speed elements of the shoe making it a pretty diverse add to your lineup. We tackled a number of distances in the Mach 4 and it didn’t matter if it was a speed day and we were going for a fast 10K, or running well into the teens with a much easier pace, the shoe responded well in all conditions.
On another note, people laughed at the Clifton Edge and the elongated heel, but that design is starting to become standard on many shoes and not in the same dramatic way as the Edge, but even a slight extension helps heel strikers and also helps on downhills. We are glad they added it here as well. Note that overall, we are HUGE Clifton 7 fans. That being said, most of us will now reach for the Mach 4 instead going forward. We actually hope HOKA takes a lot of the learnings in this shoe and bring them into what will be the Clifton 8. The Mach 4 is a lot of fun.
The upper is your traditional engineered mesh, with plenty of breathability built-in. The gusseted tongue system attaches under the insole and provides a more sock-like entry into the shoe. The tongue is lightly padded and the laces are a bit long, as we’ve been seeing on a number of HOKA shoes lately, but this is easily mitigated and not in your way at all. As we get back into the rear of the shoe, you will find an internal heel counter it does a nice job holding you in place and then they added the same elf ear style collar from the Clifton which does help make on and off easier and doesn’t cause any abrasion on the Achilles. Overall, the toebox is nice and roomy providing ample toe splay and forefoot movement.
The midsole is definitely an interesting area here. The Mach 4 uses their PROFLY midsole which was designed for speed primarily, but on the execution side what you get is a two-layer foam design. The top layer is softer and more cushioned, and then the bottom is much firmer and more responsive. The combination they have here works really well because the shoe feels well-cushioned underfoot, yet it still has a pretty resounding kick. As you get around to the heel, you will also notice that it is slightly extended which seems to be the norm now for most HOKA shoes, but also that they cut out a piece of it, almost forming an arrow design. This should cut some weight, make it more aerodynamic, and honestly, it won’t be missed as you never land here.
The outsole on here will be familiar to all HOKA runners because they continue to use rubberized ground contact EVA (foam) to save weight from traditional rubber. They did add some new forefoot flex elements as well as varying patterns to help with grip and wear.
Style & Aesthetics
The Mach 4 does come in 4 different colorways and will be honest and say the lighter version we had was not our favorite because it got dirty very easily, but it does have strong Spring/Summer look to it. The shoe overall looks good and there is no mistaking it is a HOKA.
So if it isn’t clear by now, we liked the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4 quite a bit. There’s nothing necessarily mind-blowing about it, but the midsole on here just really works for us and it appears we aren’t alone. The softer top layer provides plenty of cushioning and then the firmer second layer really allows you to accelerate. On top of that, the shoe is comfortable, lightweight, and is highly controllable depending on the kind of run you want. The bottom line, the Clifton 8 better look really really good because right now our money goes to the Mach 4.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.