This Hoka Mach 5 review weighed on me heavily before I got around to doing it. I love the predecessor of the shoes – everyone did – and when I read the press release about them, I noticed the Hoka went ahead and changed the shoes almost completely. 'Why' was my initial thought; most brands would only tweak the shoes to make sure they don't mess things up. Not Hoka, though!
The Hoka Mach 4 is still on everyone's best running shoes list; it's on T3s for sure. Those shoes are near-perfect daily tempo trainers that can be used for training and racing; they are peppy, light, agile and look pretty spectacular. Why would Hoka go ahead and redesign the shoes? What's the benefit? As it turns out, the benefit is that you get an even better shoe: the Hoka Mach 5.
Should you upgrade from the Hoka Mach 4 to the Hoka Mach 5? Read the review below to find out.
Hoka Mach 5 review: Price and availability
The Hoka Mach 5 was released in June 2022 and is available to buy directly from Hoka US (opens in new tab) and Hoka UK (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of $140/£130. Hoka sells its shoes via The Athlete's Foot in Australia; if you're viewing this review from Down Under, check the price widget at the top and bottom of this review for the latest prices.
Third-party retailers such as Sportsshoes.com (opens in new tab) (retailer link) also carry the shoes and often sell them for less; however, it might take a few months before we see any good Mach 5 deals.
The shoes are slightly more expensive than their predecessor, which initially sold for $130/£125. Nowadays, you can get a pair of Mach 4s for much cheaper, though; I found deals that were at least 25% off at SportsShoes.com, as an example.
Hoka Mach 5 review: What's new?
Hoka described the Hoka Mach 5 as the 'lovechild of Mach 4 and Mach Supersonic', and this is a surprisingly accurate description of the shoes. Hoka took everything that was good about the Mach 4 and combined it with the foam introduced to the Mach series in the limited edition Supersonic to create the best Mach shoes to date.
The foam in question is called PRFOLY+, and it's a softer, more resilient foam compared to the standard PROFLY. It's not as soft as the Fresh Foam X used in the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12, but it's on par with the double-stacked On Cloudmoster.
But it's not just the foam that's been updated. The Hoka Mach 5 also sports a stripped-back creel mesh upper, a lay-flat tongue and a rubberized EVA underfoot for traction of stability. There is an articulated heel collar, too, for extra support around the back. As for weight, the Hoka Mach 5 is lighter than its predecessor at 241grams/8.6 oz (men’s UK size 10/US 10.5), thanks to the addition of the lighter PROFLY+ foam.
Hoka Mach 5 review: Fit
The Hoka Mach 5 has a usual, Hoka-tight, single-layer ‘creel jacquard engineered mesh’ upper – it's lightweight, tight and supportive. The toe box is slightly tapered, although not to a level that would make the shoes unwearable for runners with wide feet (like me).
The tongue is slightly padded to reduce pressure on the top of the foot under the lace cage. The firm heel counter, padded collar and a lovely flared heel tab (a.k.a. ‘Articulated heel collar construction’) provide extra support around the Achilles. The shoes are somewhat flexible, especially under the forefoot area. There is some torsional stiffness – good for intermediate runners to play around with their gait.
The Hoka Mach 5 has a 5 mm drop (29mm under the heel, 24mm under the forefoot), similar to the Hoka Mach 4. This is the perfect offset for a daily trainer and enables runners of all kinds to feel comfortable in the shoes.
Hoka Mach 5 review: Running performance
I expected a lot from the Hoka Mach 5, but even so, it delivered in spades. The shoes are awesome to run in and provide just enough support to make you feel comfortable, but not too much to feel overpowered. Thanks to the 'symmetrical bed of cushion' (Hoka's terminology), the stability is excellent – your foot sits in this bed of cushion, supporting it on all sides, so it stays in place.
There is a lot of outsole present (the rubberised EVA), especially around the edges of the sole. It actually looks like a dual-density midsole, but it’s actually all PROFLY+ foam sitting in the bed of rubberised EVA foam. So I guess, to some degree, it's a dual-density foam, but not like the way Under Armour HOVR Machina 3 or the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 has them. If that makes sense.
The softer foam compound, which was inherited from the Mach Supersonic, is said to reduce impact force, while the bottom layer (outsole/EVA) is firmer to provide torsion stability and a bit of propulsion. The combination of the two allows for fast changes in tempo without sacrificing balance – you won't miss a beat. I certainly didn't when I tested the shoes, and feedback from fellow runners suggests they had the same experience I did, which is always reassuring.
Hoka Mach 5 review: Verdict
The Hoka Mach 5 is a testament to the relentless innovation that drives the success of Hoka. There is really nothing to criticise about the shoes, which is an achievement in itself. Shoe updates don't get much better than this.
After the success of the Mach 4, Hoka could've just kicked back and relaxed for a while by only applying minor tweaks to the shoes. Instead, the brand went ahead and released the Mach Supersonic to test the waters with the PROFLY+, then added the new foam in the Hoka Mach 5, reducing the weight and improving the running experience.
Thanks to the addition of the new foam and the reworked upper, the Hoka Mach 5 feels very different from its predecessor in a strangely familiar way. You get better energy returns and a smoother ride in a shoe you can use for training and racing – that's as versatile as it gets at their price point. Better still, the Mach 5 is an excellent entry point for newcomers to Hoka!
Hoka Mach 5 review: Also consider
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 is a brilliant and reasonably-priced daily trainer that enjoys moderate tempo sessions the most, thanks to the addition of an extra Air Zoom unit and more React foam. It's cheaper than the Hoka Mach 5, so if you're on the budget, the Nike might be a better option for you.
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a decent update over its fan-favourite predecessor and offers more comfort and stability than before. Saucony went with the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix' approach with the Speed 3, which is completely understandable as the Speed 2 was one of their most well-received shoes in recent times. It feels roomier than the Hoka Mach 5, too.