Outdoors Magic: Super cushioned, decently light, deceptively grippy, great for longer outings and hard surfaces.
Outdoors Tragic: Cushioning comes at the expense of feel particularly on aggressive, technical descents.
Outdoors Grabbit? Small changes make big differences with improved grip and ankle padding upping comfort and traction and making these an impressive long-distance option though you do lose some trail feel and nimbleness to the ultra-thick mid-sole.
Updated for autumn 2016 / CMEVA / RMAT® midsole with arch support pod / 33mm heel | 29mm forefoot cushioning / 4mm heel to toe drop / No Sew SpeedFrame upper / Monomesh debris screen / early stage Meta-Rocker / Vibram® out-sole wth 5mm Megagrip lugs.
Full review below
Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2 - In Depth
Rock up at any sort of trail or ultra race these days and you'll find Hoka One One's radical, fat-soled format well represented. The super-thick underfoot cushioning with minimal structure works really well at taking the sting out of the trail and the ability of the sole to conform to irregularities means they're also - counter-intuitively maybe - surprisingly stable on rough terrain.
Out this autumn 2016, the new Mafate Speed 2 is an updated and improved version of the first Mafate Speed trail-running shoe. Like the original it uses Hoka's own mix of rubber and EVA called RMAT rather than pure EVA for cushioning, but there are host of small improvements.
The most important of these is more padding around the ankle cuff and tongue. OM testers found the original, minimal cuff tended to bite uncomfortably into the ankle, the new version means that's a thing of the past and we found very comfortable.
Also gone is the speed-lacing system, replaced with conventional and comfortable laces. And finally, there's a new, aggressively-lugged Vibram outsole which gives markedly more underfoot grip on all terrains. All this and the shoe actually weighs around 30g per foot less than before.
Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2 - Performance
We found the Mafate Speed 2 instantly more comfortable than its predecessor thanks to that additional ankle cuff cushioning and, to a lesser extent, the conventional lacing, which is great news on longer runs.
What hasn't changed is the beguiling, super-cushioned ride. It's not quite the marshmallow-soft dreamscape of earlier Hokas with 100% EVA mid-soles, but there's loads of underfoot protection with a little bit more 'damping' than before.
That really pays off on harder surfaces in particular and on longer runs - 20km plus in our experience - where it markedly reduces both foot and leg impact fatigue.
What's neat is that despite the 1970s platform sole look, you don't feel unstable. Some of that is because the foot is slightly recessed into the sole, some because the soft cushioning conforms to the surface you're running on. Speaking of which, the new Vibram outsole gives impressive grip all round with real bite on everything from rock and rubble through to softer surfaces.
There is a downside to all this cush and carry luxuriousness. You lose some sense of feel and connection to the trail and while the shoes aren't exactly heavy, they're very definitely not nimble.
It's particularly noticeable if you're used to bombing down technical-descents in lighter, fell-type shoes, where the squidgy feel makes for a disconcertingly vague vibe.
Mafate Speed 2 - Verdict
A marked improvement on the original version, the new autumn 2016 Mafate Speed 2 takes the original's underfoot cushioning and adds improved comfort and grip to the equation making it a cracking shoe for long, long outings on harder surfaces in particular.
It really does seem to reduce impact fatigue on both feet and legs, which is why Hoka is such a popular choice for ultra-runners these days.
There is a pay-off in reduced trail-feel and all-round agility, which means it won't suit those who like to move fast on more technical ground, but if you just want to keep rolling along at a steady pace and you can live with the eccentric looks, these may be the shoe you've been looking for.