REVIEW: HOKA Mach 5 Road Running Shoes
Written By: SportsShoes
Learn to fly. Everyday. The lovechild of the HOKA Mach 4 and Mach Supersonic, this lively pavement pounder is built for performance and ready to race. Sporting a stripped back creel mesh upper and flat-lay tongue, the new Mach 5 delivers a snappier ride with ProFly's stacked midsole setup, offering a lightweight, responsive foam directly underfoot and rubberised EVA below.
|Most suitable for:||Road and racing - this shoe was born to be fast|
|Drop:||5mm (relatively low drop - best for runners who land on the middle or front of the foot)|
|Fit (length):||Fits small (we recommend 1/2 a size bigger than normal)|
|Features:||A cushioned PROFLY™+ midsole with lightweight, resilient foam.|
|RATINGS:||(out of 5)|
The HOKA Mach 5 in summary;
- A road shoe built for performance and speed - ideal for racing
- It has a little more “oomph” behind it – both in performance and ride characteristics
- Designed to keep your feet feeling fresh, no matter the tempo
- Lightweight, cushioned and comfortable
For background information, I'm a 2:31 marathon / 31:44 10k runner and I run typically 60-70 miles per week, running all my easy miles in either a HOKA Clifton 8 or Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22.
On first impressions, the Mach 5 looks like all HOKAs. You think they're going to be heavy and clunky, but instead they are surprisingly light, even more so than the Clifton 8. Upon closer inspection, the Mach 5s only weigh 232g, compared with 252g for the Cliftons, and if you've previously been put off by the look of HOKAs, these should be enough to tempt you because they have a lighter, thinner sole.
The Mach 5 is designed to do a bit of everything. It's a daily training shoe for easy runs but does feel like it could easily be worn for races and is light enough for more dynamic runs. It's a neutral shoe, but still offers a decent amount of structure and cushioning. So far so good!
As always with HOKA, there are some funky colour options. I wore the grey and orange combo which probably won't be to everyone's taste, but they offer several different combinations so there’s something for everyone.
When it comes to sizing, I'm a UK size 10.5 but in the Mach 5 (and all HOKAs) I have to wear a size 11 which means the fit isn't as snug as I'd like, particularly in the toe box. The downside for those with normal width feet who have sized up half a size is when you look down, they do look noticeably too big on your feet. However, the fit will be perfect for people with wide feet and they feel particularly roomy in the front of the shoe.
The heel drop is only 5mm which is not a huge amount, so that's something to be aware of if you have had issues with shoes that are too flat or prefer something with a larger drop. However, despite the low amount of drop, the high stack heel sole does still act as a decent rocker to get you up on your toes.
When they're on your feet, they do feel quite like the HOKA Carbon X and the sole visually looks very similar with the fork-like spikes poking out at the heel and the hole in the middle of the sole.
The Mach 5 have a neutral fit and a Profly+ midsole that I found gets a little stiffer as you move through the forefoot and it’s a responsive shoe, whilst still offering a reasonable amount of cushioning. There's also a rocker feeling from back to front which adds to the sense that this is a shoe that is more than happy to pick up the pace.
As I mentioned, it did remind me of the HOKA CARBON X and like all carbon racing shoes, I did find the Mach 5 didn't offer a huge amount of grip. Given the heatwave conditions in the UK of late, I did all my runs in dry weather, so it might be something to consider and bear in mind when running in the wet or uneven terrain in the cooler months ahead.
The upper is a new creel jacquard engineered mesh which is quite thin, meaning it's very lightweight and hugs your foot for a reassuring fit and the mesh means the shoes are breathable, which is always a big plus especially during summer months.
The tongue is not a typical HOKA tongue, it is now very thin and hugs the top of your foot like the upper. It's a personal preference thing as to whether you like that or not. For me, like a longer more sturdy, chunky tongue but I didn't find the Mach 5 tongue caused me any major issues, other than slipping to the side towards the end of my runs.
As good as the Mach 5 are, and they are great, versatile training shoes, there are a few minor downsides in addition to the sizing.
I found they were hard to keep clean with all the nooks and crannies on the sole which also happens to be completely white. After 7-8 runs in very dry, firm conditions I already found they start to discolour, so you might want to go for a colour combo that features a non-white sole. The rubberized EVA outsole is also not the most durable and they had already scuffed quite considerably after 50-60 miles.
The laces are also very long. I like a tight fit, so I found I had to tie them into triple or even quadruple knots to make them short enough not to flap around, although in fairness you could easily sub them out for shorter laces if that was a deal-breaker.
Overall though it was very hard to find too many faults with the Mach 5. They offer enough of the cushioning and support that have made HOKAs so popular around the world, but they are still light enough and dynamic enough for picking up the pace. It's easy to see why they are so popular.
The price means they are not the cheapest shoe out there. Personally, I would still probably stick to the Clifton for easy and long runs and use the Mach 5 for tempo runs, but because they are so versatile and can be used for both easy runs and faster tempo runs, if you did stump up for the Mach 5 alone, it still works out cheaper than needing a separate pair for each type of training.
If you’re looking for a solid pair of everyday training shoes that can be used for a variety of training runs and paces, the Mach 5 is a great option to this competitive shoe market and certainly another strong addition to the HOKA range.
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