A major fixture in the trail running calendar, the UTMB in Chamonix is one of the world’s most iconic mountain running series. Sponsored by Hoka for 2022, this year’s event was bigger and better than ever, and we were out shadow of snow-capped Mont Blanc to check out all of the action. We also had the chance to hit the alpine trails ourselves to put Hoka’s latest trail running shoe, the Mafate Speed 4, to the test. Here’s how we got on with it.
Billed as a pinnacle product for technical trail, featuring “extreme traction and responsive cushioning for the toughest of terrain”, the Mafate Speed 4 is Hoka’s fourth generation of this popular trainer range. The 2022 upgrades from the Mafate Speed 3 include: an updated Vibram Megagrip outsole with Litebase construction and 5mm traction lugs; a new two-part PROFLY+ midsole with Hoka’s “lightest and most responsive foam” ever; and a new single-layer, breathable, woven jacquard upper for a “more dynamic fit”. It’s 21g lighter per shoe than its predecessor too. Ultimately these are incremental improvements to an already-proven shoe, rather than a wholesale revamp, but on first inspection the upgrades do appear overwhelmingly positive, particularly in terms of comfort. Hoka say “this fourth iteration is everything you love about the Mafate Speed, just levelled up”.
Features of the Mafate Speed 4 are plentiful. A protective rubber toe cap shields your feet from rocks and trail debris, while the aggressive Vibram Megagrip outsole is designed for enhanced traction on rugged ground. An early stage meta-rocker delivers a smooth transition through toe-off, the PROFLY+ midsole is resilient and tuned for an “energised ride”, as Hoka put it, and the single-layer woven jacquard mesh has been optimised for maximum breathability and comfort. With all these features combined, the Mafate Speed 4 is “built for the long haul”, whether you’re pounding out the miles on your local trails or taking on an ultra-marathon.