The Hoka Mach series of trainers have received recognition for their tempo training features in the past, but with the Hoka Mach 4 the developers have looked to widen the appeal of this excellent shoe.
The Mach 4 retains much of the light footed speediness of its predecessors but has added cushioning for comfort and support over long distances. The Mach 4 looks cool, feels comfy and rides seriously well, so read on to find out all you need to know about Hoka’s latest offering.
Who is the Hoka Mach 4 suitable for?
The Mach 4 is a long and mid distance road running shoe. It is suitable for training runs and race days, and it has a responsive foam sole that will last the length of a marathon. Great for 10ks and daily runs, the Mach 4 is a pretty neutral shoe that does it all.
Sure, there are lighter shoes for speed runs, and sturdier shoes for trail runs, but for your all round day-to-day exercise routine, the Mach 4 is a winner. It also translates really well into a lifestyle trainer and its awesome aesthetic looks great with everyday outfits.
On first taking the Mach 4 out of the box this trainer is striking in its simplicity of design. The shoe has a clean, fuss-free upper unit that is made of a soft feel mesh fabric.
The shape of the shoe is slightly fan-tailed in the heel and has a long and narrow toe box. Its shape is sleek, especially due to the dual layers of foam on the midsole which angle downwards creating an almost ‘go-fast stripe’ effect along the length of the shoe.
The other component that makes an instant impression is the lipped heel tab, which slopes quite dramatically away from the achilles and looks pretty futuristic! Overall, the Mach 4 is a handsome looking trainer.
Fit and Feel
After pulling on the Mach 4, you’ll discover the fit is snug and supportive. The narrow toe box is not so slim as to be bothersome, and there is still enough room for your toes to splay as you roll through the forefoot, but if you know you have wide feet or suffer from bunions you may want to consider opting for a half size up.
The soft mesh upper is very comfy over the top of the foot without being so stretchy as to allow lateral slippage. What is more, the ankle collar and heel counter are well padded for a supremely comfortable feel.
The tongue is surprisingly lean by comparison, but it does its job well and takes the pressure off the top of the foot nicely without becoming a heavy blanket that leaves your feet drenched in sweat.
The newly designed anatomical heel tab is the real revelation fit-wise however, because not only does it look cool, it also draws away from your achilles tendon to allow maximum movement in the ankle with no irritation or chafing.
It is unclear who Hoka thought they were designing for when they thought these laces up, but clearly it wasn’t your average human! The laces on the Mach 4 are hilariously (and rather annoyingly) long and will leave you with tons of excess that needs tucking away.
The laces are also pretty thin and slippy, so you will find you need to tie your shoes tighter than you might like initially in order to counter the inevitable loosening that will occur during your run.
Still, the designers did put a nice lot of eyelets along the upper that anchor the laces well and help to cinch the shoe close to the foot, particularly in the mid section.
Due to the mesh nature of the fabric on the upper of the Mach 4, this shoe is wonderfully breathable. The fabric layer is not too thick, and the holes allow air to ventilate the footwell even in hot weather conditions.
This is great because it stops your toes from becoming clammy and prevents the build up of bad smells. Breathability not only improves comfort but also hygiene and it is incredibly helpful, particularly on long distance runs.
ProFly Midsole with Multi-layered Foam
One of the greatest innovations of the Mach 4 is its dual-layered midsole, with ProFly technology. The upper layer is made from a softer, more airy foam to absorb the impact of your heel strike and therefore protect your knees and ankle joints.
The lower layer is a slightly more rigid rubberized foam which has great durability and also provides some snappy structure which really helps with pace and energy. The two foams are beautifully combined in the ProFly design, so that there is more of the soft cushioning under the heel for landings, and more rigidity towards the front of the foot for a strong, zippy toe-off. Win-win!
The Hoka Mach 4 is uniquely shaped to encourage your foot to roll smoothly from the heel to the toe with as little resistance as possible. The beveled heel curves up so your heel strike is soft and the impact is evenly distributed through the foot. Then again, at the toe tip the shoe lifts to a subtle curve, therefore guiding your stride forwards with ease and plenty of propulsion.
The boat-like shape of the midsole is reflected in the very low drop of the Mach 4, which is a mere 5mm. The relative flatness of the foot placement mimics barefoot running to an extent, whilst also providing all the incredible support and structure of a high drop trainer. The rocker shape aids speed because it assists the foot in making quick transitions with little expended energy.
The Hoka Mach 4 is a sturdy shoe despite being lightweight. The width of the midsole does not narrow near the insole but has a wide waist for maximum security with every stride. The sole rolls along the floor, making full contact at every stage, and your body weight is evenly distributed without there being any wobbly areas.
The flared heel on the Mach 4 extends beyond the back of the ankle and some runners find it a little gregarious, however it really helps heel strikers to make clean contact with the ground and absorbs much of the initial impact experienced on landings. This is particularly relevant when running downhill, which can cause many runners problems if their trainers aren’t up to the task.
Interestingly, the outsole on the Hoka Mach 4 is actually made of rubberised foam, rather than being made of a traditional rubber. The rubberized foam has a number of advantages, the most obvious being its lightweight quality. Rather than weighing tired legs down with a thick outsole layer, Hoka have ingeniously cut ounces of this shoe by extending the midsole to the ground.
The result is a lovely light feel, with an average weight of only 8oz for a Men’s US size 9. That is pretty impressive considering all the cushioning under foot, and your legs will really enjoy the result. The rubberized foam also grips well and holds traction on most surfaces. It is not as effective on wet surfaces as the traditional rubber sole but the difference is not enough to complain about.
The main downside to the rubberized foam outsole is its lack of durability. The thick rubber generally used on the outsole of running shoes tends to wear down more gradually than this lighter and softer foam alternative. Runners have reported seeing visible wear on the sole of the Hoka Mach 4 after just 20 miles of running on relatively neutral ground.
However, this level of wear stays about the same for the next 100 miles, so it is more of an eyesore than a real hindrance to the lifespan of the shoe. If you don’t mind the bottom of your trainers looking a little scuffed then the reduced durability should not undo the benefits of the lightweight material.
The Mach 4 trainer is such a fun and energetic ride, you could be forgiven for thinking that it has a carbon plate in the midsole like so many of its more expensive road running rivals. The ride on these shoes is wonderfully bouncy due to the ProFly technology in the foam midsole which cushions your landings and responds with a zippy forward momentum towards the toe-off.
The rocker shape of the shoe encourages a smooth transition from heel to toe and subsequently increases your speed over long distances. The pillowy feel of the upper, and the appropriately absorbent soft foam layer beneath the heel, make the Mach 4 a really comfortable shoe that is great for easy running too.
In fact, they are so comfortable you won’t want to take them off and are sure to find yourself wearing them in daily life too. For an affordable running shoe, Hoka’s Mach 4 really is a great all rounder that actually delivers in all the aspects you could hope for.