By Brian Metzler
Can one running shoe be enough for all of the running you do? If we’re talking about running on roads, bike paths and the track, it’s certainly possible that the lightweight, speedy and energetic HOKA Mach 5 can handle it all. This smooth-riding comfortable cruiser serves as a fast-workout speed shoe or an everyday trainer capable of handling any pace on most surfaces with ease. It even works as a race shoe, albeit with less pop than a carbon-plated model. With a clean, sleek design and exceptional cushioning, it serves up an ideal mix of comfort, energy, versatility and consistency.
What’s New: The biggest updates to the Mach 5 are a new stripped-down, single-layer engineered creel mesh upper and a dual-density Profly+ midsole setup that includes a hyper-responsive supercritical foam just below the foot for energetic pop and a rubberized EVA bottom layer that provides a bit of stability and consistency in every stride. (Technically a version of the Profly+ foam package was included in this spring’s Mach Supersonic shoe, but that $150 shoe isn’t nearly as energetic or smooth as the Mach 5.)
Why They’re Great: If you enjoy light, soft and lively shoes, you’ll really enjoy running in the Mach 5. It’s a shoe that inspires speed and efficiency by promoting quick-cadence running at any pace. The next-generation foam formulation — long overdue for HOKA — elevates the Mach 5 (and HOKA’s Tecton X trail shoe) to the premier level of shoes in their class by adding a lively sensation in every stride. The airy, lightweight upper blends the ideal mix of comfortable stretch and locked-down support and complements the light and fast design of the chassis. The rubberized foam outsole isn’t going to be quite as durable as segments of blown rubber and carbon rubber, but it’s a heck of a lot lighter.
Fit-Feel-Ride: The Mach 5 fits true to size with a narrow- to medium-width interior in the heel and saddle, but a tiny bit more room in the forefoot. (It’s slightly narrower than most HOKA shoes.) The step-in feeling is soft and secure with a good amount of proprioceptive feel for the ground in the forefoot. The thin, flat and partially gusseted tongue contributes to the snug, glove-like fit, while a little bit of padding in the collar and a flared heel tab provide comfort and security around the ankle. Like almost all HOKA shoes, the Mach 5 features a rocker (or convex) design profile, as well as a beveled, swallowtail heel that create a buttery smooth rolling effect as the foot transitions from heel-strike to toe-off,, with a noticeable pop of energy in the forefoot.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re the type of runner who prefers to have one shoe in your quiver, the Mach 5 could be a good choice for you. It has enough comfort, versatility and giddy-up to handle the rigors of all types of workouts. It’s one of the rare shoes that is light and fast enough for 5K racing but cushioned and resilient enough for long training runs or racing at any pace. It can handle shorter, faster intervals, fartlek workouts and tempo runs with ease, but it also feels great at slow, Zone 1 recovery pace.
HOKA Mach 5 Specs
Weights: 6.8 oz. women’s 8; 8.2 oz. men’s 9
Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (29mm in the heel, 24mm in the forefoot)
Pro: For runners familiar with recent HOKA shoes, the Mach 5 is like an optimized combination of last year’s Mach 4 and the Mach SuperSonic. (And perhaps everything the much softer HOKA Clifton should have become!) The new foam configuration makes it springier than the Mach 4 and slightly softer than the Supersonic. It’s definitely meant for runners with neutral gaits, but the slightly wider footprint and the dual-density midsole give it a touch of stability to help it combat against long-run gait fatigue.
Con: While the Mach 5 is light enough to race in, it just doesn’t compare with the energy return and giddy-up of modern racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates embedded in the midsoles. So if you’re eyeing a new PB in one of your goal races, you’ll have to leave this do-everything speedster on the sidelines.