Product Review: Hoka Mach

Hey ATRC folks,

Philip here. I just lost a favorite pair of shoes. If y’all remember from a previous email, some months ago I ranted about this beautiful, glorious, and amazing pair of shoes called the Salomon S-lab Sonic 2. It’s a ridiculously named shoe that served me well over many miles, including trail, road, and gravel. It was the first race shoe I’d worn that I also felt could go the distance. If you could stand it, I could give a lecture series just about that shoe.

It’s so beautiful.

But alas, this shoe is now dead. The outsole hasn’t worn, the upper hasn’t blown apart, but the midsole foam cushioning is on its last legs. This is common among trail run companies that make road shoes. The outsole and upper are trail worthy, and the cushioning tends to fail before the other two. I did what every other loving shoe owner does when their shoe dies: I dissected it.

I learned a lot about this shoe after taking it apart. But with this shoe dead, I had to find another shoe to take up the mantle of a speed shoe that could also be used for training miles.

Enter the Hoka One One Mach.

I really like the Hoka Mach. I mentioned my first impressions of this shoe some weeks ago, but I’ve become more impressed with this shoe as I keep running in it. It has a foam outsole and so it’s technically a road shoe, but I’ve taken it on every surface imaginable, just to see where I could push its limits.

Probably my favorite thing about this shoe is the upper. The knit upper is soft and accommodating. I’ve been suffering from a bit of extensor tendinitis (pain on top of the foot) and this shoe’s volume is accommodating enough to not cause pain. The extremely porous upper is also great when going through water; this would be a great racer for triathlon purposes, much like this shoe’s ancestor, the Hoka Clayton.

I’ve put some good miles on this shoe. Our models in the store are in the background.

The midsole foam is soft in the heel and firm in the forefoot, so that when I’m at a shoe place and landing on my heels it’s forgiving, but when I want to pick up the pace the forefoot gives me good response. The specific type of foam on the outsole of the shoe (RMAT) is quite bouncy and nice as well.

If I had to give one quibble about this shoe, it’s that its outsole, made of foam, will be less durable than a true rubber outsole. I’m not too worried about it, because I’ve put 70 miles or so on the shoe so far, and if the outsole wears off I’ll just keep running in it until the cushioning flattens out. Even though I’ve taken it on too many trails, it’s technically a road shoe, so grippy outsoles aren’t as necessary on a shoe like this.

There’s still quite a few little grippy nubs on the outsole still. You can see a little nick in the upper left corner where it got a little chewed up on rocky trail. My fault.

Overall I think this shoe is a worthy successor to my Sonic 2s. If you need a good shoe for road and light trail, or if you’re interested in tackling a triathlon, this shoe is ideal. If you have any more questions about it, feel free to email me or come into the store for a chat.

Thanks for reading,

Philip