As a trail runner, I am surprised every time I go hiking (usually with non-runner friends) with how hard it is. It uses muscles differently and, depending on the trail conditions, can involve a lot more side-to-side movement and sliding around, requiring use of your core strength and even upper body muscles to keep balanced. Speed hiking brings together the best of both worlds – it’s not exactly a run (especially if you’re not great at running on technical trails, like me), but it’s definitely not your 3-mile-an-hour hike with the family.
If you are looking for a shoe that you can wear on the trails for this type of outing, check out the Speedgoat Mid Gore-Tex 2 from Hoka One One. They fit like any of Hoka’s more cushioned shoes, with a nice wide toebox, ample height through the midfoot, and a soft collar so there’s no pinching around the ankle. As a matter of fact, except for the higher sides and tongue on this shoe, you might think you’re wearing a trail running shoe.
The tread on these is similar to other Hoka One One trail shoes, with thick lugs dotting the Vibram sole. It’s been pretty cold around here lately, so my hikes were on hard-pack dirt with more than a few slick spots, and I didn’t have any sliding. Even more impressive than the traction I got on mud wearing these was that they were also good on slick pavement where there was nothing for me to sink into.
The Speedgoat Mid Gore-Tex 2 is a low-drop shoe, with only 4 mm difference between the heel and the toe. If you’re used to “regular” running shoes, this will feel different, but it doesn’t take away from the comfort of the shoe. They’re also very lightweight, especially given their width and cushioned collar, at around 12 oz for a women’s size 8.
The uppers are Gore-Tex, so your toes will stay dry and warm. Keep in mind that the collar is slightly higher than on the Hoka trail runners on the achilles, but much taller around to the front of the ankle. You’ll want to wear taller socks with these – no ankle-cut or no-show socks with these. The collar (around the ankle) is very soft and flexible, relying on its thickness and the laces to provide the stability that could save your ankle. You can lace them all the way up for more support, or skip the top lace holes if you want to allow for more movement as I did in the photo above.
If you’ve had luck with Hoka Clifton or worn the Speedgoat for trail runs, you’ll love these. Hoka has a 30-day trial, offering you the chance to try them out on an actual trail to see how they really perform instead of just wearing them in your house and hoping they’ll work when you log serious miles. Try a pair out for yourself – get them online here for $170.