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(The Gear Loop) - When Hoka released the Mach 4, the running world embraced the shoe with open arms. It was priced keenly, yet packed a hell of a performance punch. All without sacrificing the sort of comfort that many reach for when racking up the miles. It also acted as a fantastic running shoe for beginners.

In fact, the Mach 4 was so good, it was often cited as "do-it-all" shoe that would happily double-up as a race partner once it had completed its training duties. If only its sole was more robust, it would be as close to perfection as you can get.

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 4

The Hoka Mach 5 takes learnings from the Mach 4, as well as the marque’s Mach Supersonic, which essentially proved to be a paired-back version of the Mach 4 - boasting a thinner sole, lighter overall weight and a racier build.

The Mach 5 doesn’t go quite as minimalist as the Supersonic, but features a new, stripped-back creel mesh upper and lighter midsole set-up. We’ve been hitting the road in a pair for a number of weeks and here’s how we got on…

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 1
Our quick take

The Hoka Mach 5 is a fantastic training shoe, offering enough cushioning to make even the toughest runs more bearable. It’s also intrinsically peppy, packing enough punch to go after those PBs and race day rankings.

As a daily shoe, it’s excellent and will likely sprint to the top of many people’s daily runners list. In addition to this, it might even be good enough to replace multiple shoes, which is especially excellent given its relatively reasonable price tag.

Hoka Mach 5 review: a fast training shoe that can also hold its own on race day

Hoka Mach 5

5 stars - The Gear Loop editors choice
For
  • A great mix of speed and comfort
  • Fresh new styling
  • Lighter than previous model
Against
  • Laces are now very long
  • Fit is fairly roomy around the toe box
  • The sole isn’t the most robust

In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the Hoka Mach 5 is bite-sized chunks:

  • Articulated heel collar construction
  • Weight: 8.2oz/232g
  • Geometry: 29mm heel 24mm forefoot
  • Rubberised EVA outsole
  • Lay-flat gusseted tongue construction
  • Lighter midsole foam construction
  • Single layer creel jacquard engineered mesh upper

Design and fit

The new creel jacquard engineered mesh upper that features in the Mach 5 offers a nice new tactile element to the shoe, which not only feels softer and more figure-hugging on foot, but also looks a little leaner and more purposeful.

What’s more, the tongue has been redesigned, so it now lays flat against the top of the foot, while Hoka has introduced a variety of new colour schemes, from the wild Radiant Yellow to the more traditional blacks with white accents.

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 9

Weight has been saved from the foam midsole, which is based not the same stacked Profly+, so still offers the sort of springy cushioning runners desire… but now with added pep.

There’s now a more articulated heel collar construction, which cups the back of the foot with greater effect. Coupled with a solid runner’s knot (check out a YouTube tutorial if you’re unfamiliar), it’s possible to cinch the shoe down so there’s no lateral movement at all. It’s a superb fit.

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 11

With a 5mm heel-to-toe drop, it’s not the highest stacked shoe on the market, but it still offers a good amount of rocker to promote the appropriate foot striking. This is aided by an extended heel section that packs a fairly pronounced curve, pushing runners onto their toes.

Performance 

There’s a tangible difference between this and the previous Mach 4, mainly due to that new creel finish to the upper. It’s clearly thinner and lighter than before, but it’s also more tactile and packed with holes for additional breathability.

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 10

The fit is largely excellent and remains true to size for most, although those with particularly wide feet will likely struggle. Hoka always come up slightly narrow and sizing a half-size up might be beneficial here.

Although one thing we did notice is that there is some additional room in the toebox compared to some of Hoka’s other shoes, which could prove too roomy if sizing up.

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 8

When out running, the Hoka Mach 5 nails its original brief and immediately feels like something we would happily reach for on a daily basis. There’s plenty enough cushioning for those slower, sometimes harder training runs. But then the performance elements are there if you fancy gunning for a PB.

Granted, this isn’t going to compete with those carbon-plate elite shoes in terms of all-out performance, but it’s as responsive and uptempo as most runners want.

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 12

In short, that rubberised EVA foam beneath the foot acts as a fantastic springboard, promoting a lively cadence on most outings. It’s soft and cushioning, without ever feeling like it doesn’t offer enough support.

We found the soles to be fairly typical of the Hoka road running series and some of the hardcore contingent have complained that they wear out too quickly for their liking. This is anecdotal evidence from friends of ours that clock up serious mileage, but could be worth considering if you’re looking to decrease the frequency your fork out for a new pair.

The Gear LoopHoka Mach 5 review photo 13
  • Looking for something a little spicier? Check out our review of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 - a true performance running shoe.
To recap

Hoka is, in our humble opinion, one of the biggest names in the running shoe world at the moment. It creates comfortable yet fast footwear that’s able to compete on race day but also double-up as a solid training option. The Mach 5 takes all of the best bits of the excellent Mach 4 and injects some serious speed. There is a slight impact on comfort, but its negligible. This is one of the great Hoka shoes.

Writing by Leon Poultney.