Our verdict

The Hoka Mach 4 is what I consider a do-it-all daily running shoe that shines on medium to medium/fast days. It's touted as a fast shoe, but it doesn't prove to be very speed-inspiring. It's light and nimble, but not mushy, making it a shoe that's comfortable enough for my daily runs and capable when the pace is pushed. What's surprising is that I found that this Hoka doesn't skimp on padding, but it is nevertheless an ultralight shoe!


  • Glove-like fit
  • Perfect lockdown
  • Has an elf tab
  • Lightweight
  • Balanced
  • Superb comfort
  • Extremely stable
  • Large reflective elements


  • Stiff for an everyday trainer
  • Not a tempo shoe either
  • Break-in period needed

Audience verdict


Hoka Mach 4 review and lab test

The Hoka Mach 4 is a super stable, lightweight daily trainer that’s stiff enough for faster efforts and fits like a glove.

I think this shoe has a bit of an identity crisis, but in the end, I couldn't find much to criticize, which is rare. To be fair, I don’t have a ton to praise either. Read more to see why. 

Hoka Mach 4 cut apart

Who the shoe is (not) for 

Buy this shoe if you are looking for a solid, sturdy, stable, lightweight trainer that can help you on your medium to medium/fast days. 

I’d compare it closely to the  Brooks Launch 8 and the Saucony Kinvara 12 with a touch more softness under foot, which is good if you want a bit more comfort, but bad if you want this thing to go Mach 4 (see the identity crisis starting?). 

Hoka Mach 4 black

Don’t buy this shoe if you are expecting it to do everything well. It may be a Jack-of-all-trades but I found that it doesn’t necessarily excel in any one area. 

It falls in an odd middle ground and I am not sure where to place it in my rotation exactly. 

Mach 4 fits like a glove

I have to say, I like how Hokas’ fit my feet. The Mach 4 felt a little narrow to begin, but I have a slightly wider foot and over the first few runs it broke in nicely. 

The upper is not very stretchy which leads to a great lockdown and after the needed break in, it now fits like a glove (a slightly tight glove). 

Perfect lockdown 

It’s got a semi-gusseted tongue and I love how Hoka does their gussets. They are usually stretchy nylon or mesh that’s very minimal. It’s enough to keep the tongue in place and add a bit of mid-foot lockdown, but they don’t overdo it. Full gussets are really not mandatory, they add weight and hinder breathability, but not these. Bravo Hoka. 

Love only for the elf tab

The Mach 4 also has the same elf tab as the Clifton 7 and Arahi 5 which has grown on me.

Elf tab on Mach 4

It works as designed, which is to reduce pressure and rubbing on your achilles, and it doubles as a make-shift pull tab to help get the shoe on your foot.

Superb comfort 

I didn't have any hot spots or issues but I kept finding myself wishing there was a bit more bounce. This is a really weak criticism though. 

Overall, this shoe was comfortable and I found myself wearing it for hours and hours after runs, I wore them to the grocery, and even just around the house, which says a lot since I normally kick my shoes off the second I walk in the door. 

Mach 4 is surprisingly stiff

It’s hard not to compare this to Clifton, they look so similar, but the Mach 4 is not as plush. It’s not the spa for your legs like the Clifton is.

Back to the identity crisis issue, it's the “MACH 4” I believed it should go faster, but it doesn’t inspire me to break the sound barrier. Instead it’s just a stiffer, more stable version of the Clifton. 

Foam on Hoka Mach 4

The Mach 4 is a bit stiffer underfoot than I expected. This shoe feels more mainstream and predictable than other Hokas, which is not really a bad thing, just unexpected. 

Hoka Mach 4 cut in half

There’s decent response at toe off and the rocker is smooth throughout your stride. It's well balanced and stable thanks to a slightly lower stack (25.7mm in the forefoot and 30.6mm in the heel) than other Hokas.

Incredibly stable

It has this big dovetail heel for a more stable ride and I agree the shoes feel super stable but I don’t know if the heel has anything to do with that. Maybe if you are going down steep hills or running on varied terrain it helps. But, these are road shoes so that’s less realistic than if these were trail shoes.

I can’t say this funky heel is not working, but as a forefoot striker I don’t think I was utilizing it much and the shoes were still incredibly stable. 

Adaptation period needed

If you have a wider foot, you will need to break these in, or get a 2E. They fit tight, which is great if they fit right. They don’t stretch a ton, so break in could be longer for those who don’t find the fit ideal right out of the box. 

Unbelievably lightweight 

At 7.85 ounce (223g) the Mach 4 is insanely light. I actually can't believe the scale. When I look at these they seem like they are going to be heavier. 

Mach 4 weight

The upper is not extremely thin or transparent, it’s got this big extended heel and elf tab, but man are they light (20% lighter than our average shoe), which I like! 

Hoka Mach 4 midfoot

One interesting thing about the Mach 4 is it has wiggled it’s way into this ultralight category without skimping on:

  • upper materials, 
  • a removable insole, or 
  • ankle padding. 

I’m impressed with how nimble they feel even if I’ve criticized their identity a bit. 

Durability issues

Hoka designed this shoe around a dual-density midsole without a real rubber outsole, which I think will cause issues for the longevity of this shoe.  

Hoka Mach 4 outsole

The upper Profly foam is nice and soft at 21.8HA on the durometer (which is about 20% softer than average midsoles). The Hoka Carbon X uses the Profly foam as well, it’s a high-performance material, but Hoka adds a carbon plate to the Carbon X to add response and stability. 

On the Mach 4 they added a thick rubberized foam outsole with a much denser material (40.5HA) to help stiffen the shoe. It does the job, keeps things light and stable, but even just after a few runs, I am seeing some wear. 

Wear on the Mach 4

This second layer of foam has a purpose, but it’s not as dense or durable as a traditional rubber outsole and feels more like you’re just running on exposed midsole material. 

Good grip 

I didn’t have any grip issues and I tested this throughout a late spring snow weather that was on and off for a few days, so I was running in cold weather on some wet surfaces. 

BUT, as that outsole material wears down easily, I’d be wary. 

Not sure whether Mach 4 is a daily trainer or a tempo shoe

I ran these multiple times because I just couldn't figure out where they land in my lineup. 

I took them to the gym for some speed work and although they are kind of right at that point where they can be pushed, they are still more of a training shoe than a speed shoe. 

I ran them at a mild 8/min pace for mile after mile outdoors, and I kept thinking, “Man I wish I was in my Cliftons,” but then I’d forget and they’d feel good for a while, and I’d focus again, and think they could be softer… 

I really struggled to decide if this was a speed/tempo shoe or a daily trainer. It’s light and nimble, but not overly soft, or overly fast. 

I do like it and if it was my only shoe I think I would be happy with it, but with faster shoes and more cushioned shoes on the shelf, I’d struggle to pick these for my everyday runs. 

Mach 4 looks great

I like the looks of the Mach 4, they are sleek (or at least my black colorway is), and they are not very Hoka-like in terms of super high stacks and wide bases. 

Hoka Mach 4 in black

These look much more streamlined than the clodhoppers I usually associate with Hoka and I like that.

Reflective elements on Hoka Mach 4

They also have a large reflective element that wraps around the heel to about the midfoot which should make it easy for traffic coming from the sides or from behind to see you. 


At $130, I think there’s value here for the runner that wants just one shoe that can do a little bit of everything. But, if you have a rotation of shoes, I just don’t know where you slot the Hoka Mach 4. 

Ultimately, I can’t really find much to complain about, but I also can’t find much to rave about. It’s a solid everyday trainer that doesn't evoke love or hate, and in the end, that’s not a terrible position to sit.