The Hoka Mach 5 offers a winning blend of comfort and speed, and does so without a super-sized stack height or any kind of plate. It’s a great daily training option.
- Comfortable, versatile ride
- Good value
- Lacks the propulsion of a plate
- Outsole wears down quickly
The Hoka Mach 5 is pitched as a lightweight, speedy shoe, and notably it aims to fulfil the brief without using a carbon plate or a huge stack of springy cushioning. It is a very simple shoe by modern standards, and yet is at least the match of the fastest training shoes on the market. Like the Hoka Mach 4 before it, I rate the Mach 5 as one of the best running shoes.
If you’re hesitant about using plated shoes, or simply shy of spending significant sums on a training shoe, then the Hoka Mach 5 is well worth considering.
Hoka Mach 5: Price And Availability
The Hoka Mach 5 is available now and costs $140 in the US and £130 in the UK, which is a small price rise on the Hoka Mach 4.
Design And Fit
The Mach 5 builds on the success of the Mach 4, but there are a couple of notable changes to the shoe. The new mesh upper is lighter and is better at holding your foot securely, and there’s minimal cushioning on the tongue and collar, which keeps the weight down. I found that the shoe fit me well in my normal size.
Hoka has also changed the midsole composition on the Mach 5 compared with the 4. It is still a dual-density midsole with a bottom layer made of rubberised EVA foam, but the top layer is now a version of the brand’s responsive ProFly+ foam.
I was nervous about this change, because Hoka used ProFly+ on the Mach Supersonic, an ill-fated variation on the Mach 4 that promised more speed, but ended up being heavier and less comfortable.
Fortunately, the ProFly+ foam used in the Mach 5 feels different, and delivers on the promise of the Supersonic in being a little more responsive than the top layer on the Mach 4, which was on the softer side.
The shoe still has a rockered profile and a 5mm drop, and weighs a little less than the Mach 4. My UK size 9 is 8.1oz/229g compared with 8.3oz/236g for the Mach 4.
Despite widespread criticism of the durability of the Mach 4’s outsole, Hoka has opted to keep the same design with the Mach 5, which means the rubberised EVA used for the bottom half of the midsole is left completely exposed, rather than having a rubber outsole. Grip has never been a problem, and the soft, smooth ride of the shoe is no doubt partly down to having no rubber on the outsole, but it does wear down quickly owing to the lack of rubber.
How I Tested This Shoe
I have run 80km in the Hoka Mach 5 using it for a range of daily training including a 20km long run and some tempo runs. I also used the Mach 4 extensively because it was one of my favourite shoes of 2021. Here’s my Hoka Mach 4 review for reference.
As mentioned, I didn’t enjoy running in the Hoka Mach Supersonic, and feared for what that meant for the Mach 5, especially having liked the Mach 4 so much. It only took one run to be reassured that the shoe was still a winner.
Although the marketing of the Mach line emphasises speed, it is more of a general daily trainer in my eyes – comfortable enough to use for easy runs while having a light and poppy feel when you do want to run fast.
The transition from heel to toe is smooth and the shoe feels very natural, as opposed to the blocky Mach Supersonic, which I was always aware of when running in it. Instead, the Mach 5 effectively disappears on the foot and I always found it easy to get into a good rhythm at either easy or faster paces.
While it has a relatively low stack for shoes these days (the stack height is not confirmed, but it’s around 29mm at the heel) the Mach 5 is comfortable to use for long runs at relaxed paces, and it excels in long training sessions at anywhere from easy to tempo pace.
When you push beyond that to faster race paces the Mach 5 does lack a little of the punch you get from plated training shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, but it is lighter and still great to use for short intervals as a result. It’s also good for long reps at slower race paces and would make a solid marathon racing option for those who don’t want to use a plated shoe.
Is The Hoka Mach 5 Worth It?
In a marketplace full of complex shoes packed with technology, the Hoka Mach 5 is a refreshing reminder that you can still make a very impressive shoe without a plate or 40mm-high stack of foam.
While it does lose out a little on top-end speed compared with the best plated training shoes like the Endorphin Speed or Puma Deviate Nitro, I rate it as faster than many plated shoes, like the Nike Zoom Fly 5, Adidas Boston 10 or New Balance SuperComp Trainer.
It’s also much cheaper than most rivals and more enjoyable to use for easy runs. It’s one of the best daily trainers going and while the outsole does wear down faster than a rubber one, you’ll still get many hundreds of miles out of the Mach 5.
The only other note I have is that while I consider the Mach 5 a minor improvement on the Mach 4, it’s not enough of an upgrade that I’d get the 5 over the 4 if the latter was discounted, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for attractive offers on the older shoe.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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