The HOKA Mach 4 is lightweight, smooth-riding, neutral-oriented everyday training shoe that gives off a soft, lively vibe. It has enough comfort, versatility and giddy-up to handle the rigors of all types of workouts.
Based on the improvements, overall design and our wear-testing experiences, we believe this will to be one of the best models of early 2021.
There’s a new engineered mesh upper on this shoe, an updated midsole foam formulation (a new swallowtail design at the back) and a smoother, softer and more energetic ride. The updates have taken this shoe in a much better direction than the firmer and clunkier previous edition. The HOKA Mach 4 is now a stellar shoe in every regard.
Combined with the rocker geometry and the swallowtail design at the back of the heel, the Mach 4 provides easy landings and smooth transitions into an energetic boost at the toe-off point of a stride.
The midsole/outsole structure of the Mach 4 has flared design that results in a slightly wider footprint. It adds a touch of inherent stability — though not enough for overpronating runners. The swallowtail cut in the rear of the heel creates a decoupling effect to provide semi-custom foot strike force attenuation.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The Mach 4 fits true to size with medium-width interior in the heel and saddle but a tiny bit more room in the forefoot. The step-in feeling is soft and secure with a very noticeable lightweight sensation the moment you start running in them.
You can feel the cushioning, but there’s a hint of proprioceptive feel for the ground in the forefoot. The relatively thin, gusseted tongue contributes to the snug, glove-like fit. The padding in the collar and a flared heel tab are creature comforts typically found in more expensive shoes.
The Mach 4 features a Meta-Rocker design geometry and a slightly beveled, swallowtail heel that create a rolling effect as the foot transitions from touch-down to toe-off.
The ride is incredibly smooth from heel to toe, but the step-in softness gives way to a slightly firmer sensation and a noticeable pop of energy in the forefoot.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who enjoy light, soft and lively shoes will really enjoy running in the Mach 4. It’s not quite a maximally cushioned shoe, but it’s not quite a lightweight performance-oriented trainer, either.
It’s versatile enough to run long, run fast, run slow and just about everything in between. It could also be a good choice for racing from 5K to the half marathon. For runners who like Hoka’s Clifton shoes, there’s a good chance you’ll like this model even more because it’s lighter and livelier.
PROS: HOKA MACH 4
The juice of this shoe is in the dual-density midsole. The top layer utilizes Hoka’s ProFly technology, which is softer in the rear and firmer in the forefoot. The bottom layer is Hoka’s rubberized EVA foam that’s provides a little bit of stability and a little bit of bounce.
The new upper does an amazing job of providing a glove-like, contoured fit for just about any foot shape. It’s a tad bit thicker than some upper materials so the breathability isn’t as optimal as some other models, but it won’t be an issue unless you’re running in very hot conditions.
The outsole is devoid any rubber at all and instead is comprised entirely of exposed midsole foam. That means it’s a lot lighter and more agile, but it also means the durability and traction isn’t on par with shoes with rubber outsole treads. It’s a trade-off you have to consider, but as a light, performance-oriented shoe we think it’s an ideal makeup.
CONS: HOKA MACH 4
There are no noticeable negative marks for this shoe. If we’re being picky, we’d suggest that the biggest detractor is that the shoelaces are excessively long.