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Hoka One One Mafate Speed Review

Anticipation was high for the arrival of a test pair of Hoka One One Mafate Speed’s. My only previous experience in Hoka’s signature oversize shoe was shorted lived- a pair of hand-me-downs from a friend, that were ½ a size too small. The result was losing both my big toenails, so I was excited to get in a pair that fit.

50+ km in the first few days of the Hoka’s touching down was enough to know a few things- 1- the feel/ride of the shoe was like nothing I had used before, 2- unfortunately the Mafate Speeds were a touch too narrow around my small toes. This made longer test runs in the Mafate a no go, but I was still able to out and about quiet happily for 1hr runs in them.

20140819_085132[1]Outer sole- Once I got past the massive oversized midsole (around 2.5x more than a “normal” shoe), the first thing that jumped out at me was the aggressive outsole of the Mafate. They are very much a trail shoe, with an outsole that reminded me of the Salomon SLAB Soft Ground. Having run mostly on soft, winter effected trails, the outsole and lugs are holding up well. I also used them on pavement and rocky trails and they seemed fine for all this terrain- not so aggressive they are terrible on the road, but enough they hold their own on all but the muddiest of trails.

The midsole is, well they are Hoka’s! Disguised within the midsole is a minimal drop of just 4mm, this combined with the 30+mm of cushion under foot make for a unique, but smooth ride. On the first dozen or so run’s I did I found myself spending the first 15mins of the run looking at my feet, so unique the shoe felt. Once I settled in I soon forgot and enjoyed. It was fun running hard downhill with so much underfoot, but when trails got technical I did lose confidence. I think over time I would get use to it, but I always felt like I had so much shoe under me, something could snag or get caught up on the rocky outcrops I was running over.

The upper, other than being a little narrow for me, is well made, lightweight, and breathable. It has a seamless overlay, with the “Monomesh Debris Screen”, which works great at keeping out unwanted dirt, rocks and mud. The standard “Race Lace” that come in the Hoka shoes are average at best- quick, but hardly effective. I was told a few years ago by a Hoka rep the first thing you do with a pair of Hoka’s is remove these! Not sure if it would be the first thing I did, but Hoka does include an extra pair of laces with each shoe if the “Race Lace” is not to your liking.

So, would I buy a pair of Hoka Mafate Speed for myself? No, but that is primarily because of the fit. Not because I don’t like the shoe or the concept, quiet the opposite. At a time when barefeet and minimal was all the rage, a few crazy Frenchmen went off in a totally different direction, that has started a whole new way of looking at shoe design and left many a “Clown Shoe” basher now looking like a clown.

I could definitely see a pair of Hoka’s (that fit me right ;-) ) being of value on my shoe rack, if I had room! Many folks claim these to be a game changer recovering from injury, recovery runs, long runs, and even for bigger/heavy set runners.

Hoka One One- Now available in New Zealand


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  1. Just to give my 2 cents worth on running in a pair of Hokas. I picked up a foot injury 4 weeks out from the Naseby 100 miler. Desperate to try everything to get me on the start line I ended up purchasing a pair 2 weeks out from the event and ran in them 6-7 times before Naseby with a 90 min run being the longest. Running in these somewhat unusual looking shoes they felt like travelling business class as apposed to economy when taking into account the comfort they give you underfoot. I found the upper to be really comfortable also and was surprised when I first picked them up just how light they were. Like Grant I ended up with two black toe nails, but given I’d just run 100 miles in them I wasn’t surprised and probably would’ve ended up with the same result as my standard trail shoes. I really enjoyed running in them and will again, especially on unforgiving ground such as Northburn or when dealing or recovery from an injury. On trails that I know are softer underfoot I will probably revert back to my standard trail shoe. Like Grant having a pair in the shoe rack will certainly be worthwhile.

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A Backcountry Running Community for New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra runners- We want this to be the place you come for all things trail running including race previews and reports, interviews with New Zealand runners and hopefully a whole lot more! Our aim is to provide as much original content- previews/reports/interviews on New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra races. We can't be everywhere- so feel free to get in touch if you have the scoop on a race or event.

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