Specs: Men’s (size 9): 19mm (forefoot), 24mm (heel), 5mm heel-toe offset; Women’s (size 7): 17mm (forefoot), 22mm (heel), 5mm heel-toe offset.
Weight: Men’s (size 9): 8.2 oz. Women’s (size 7): 6.7
The Scoop: Since its inception less than a decade ago, Hoka’s aim has been largely focused around developing performance-oriented shoes with maximal cushioning—even and especially with its shoes geared for fast-paced running. Like the original Clayton speed shoe it replaced in the Hoka line, the Mach has a light-and-fast feel and an energetic ride. Also like the Clayton, the Mach is built on a very responsive dual-density midsole (that’s slightly softer in the heel and midfoot and slightly firmer in the forefoot), and a full-length blended rubber/EVA outsole layer that provides additional cushion, durability and a soft feeling at touch-down. A “rockered” (or slightly rounded) profile helps quicken and smooth out the heel-toe transition. It all adds up to a softened impact at the rearfoot/midfoot (depending on where the ground is contacted), followed by a jolt of responsive energy that kicks in as the foot rolls forward through the toe-off phase.
Who’s it best for? Runners who like a lightweight and responsive shoe will love the feel and performance-oriented ride of the Mach. It’s more fluid and slightly lighter than the Clayton, and the cushioning isn’t marshmallowy like some of Hoka’s other shoes. While the foam midsole/outsole package doesn’t feel quite as energetic as some of the new foams in the marketplace like Boost (Adidas) or React (Nike), it is lighter and that counts for a lot when it comes to fast-cadence running. Our wear-testers pegged this shoe as a great speed-oriented performance trainer (tempo runs, fartlek workouts, progression runs), but a few also suggested they’d like it as an everyday trainer, too, because it offers such a sublime combination of mildly soft cushion and lightweight sensation. (Consider that this shoe is about 1.5 oz. lighter than the Clifton 4 everyday trainer from Hoka.)
Plus: The upper is made from two types of durable knit mesh, a closed-knit pattern in the rear for structure and support and an open-knit pattern across the midfoot and forefoot for breathability.
Minus: The Mach is built on an oversized frame to offer more stability, which it does. But our wear-testers with narrower feet reported that the fit was a little bit sloppy unless the laces were tightened down maximally.