HOKA has been firmly on my radar ever since my experience testing and reviewing the Mafate Speed 4, which totally won me over by the way. Can you guess where those trail shoes now rank on our Best Trail Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide? 😉
I’m not here to talk about those trail running shoes however – today I’m reviewing the HOKA Mach 5, which is an extremely comfortable, lightweight, everyday trainer for those looking to increase speed while still being able to enjoy a cushioned comfortable running shoe.
In this HOKA Mach 5 review I’m going to share some advice on sizing and fit, talk about the key features worth mentioning, give my performance review, how they compare to other HOKA running shoes if they’re worth the money, and finally my rating out of 10 with some pros and cons.
I hope this review answers all your HOKA Mach 5 pre-purchase questions, but if I missed something, feel free to drop a comment below with any questions.
Before we get stuck in, I’d like to quickly thank REI (our favorite outdoor gear shop) for sending me the HOKA Mach 5 running shoes to test and review – as always thank you for your support! I’m excited to share my thoughts on these running shoes, so let’s get straight into it!
HOKA Mach 5 sizing and fit
I usually wear a size US (M) 9 and although the HOKA Mach 5 length and width do fit me ok, I wonder if sizing down half size would be an even better fit in the length of the shoes.
Either way, I’m very happy with my usual size in this instance and have been enjoying how comfortable, lightweight, and cushioned they feel while running – learn more about that in my performance review below.
HOKA running shoes generally fit consistently and true to size, one of the many things I like about the brand.
The HOKA Mach 5 is a medium-width shoe that is also medium in the toe box area.
The key features worth knowing about
HOKA Mach 5 articulated heel
One of the things I love about most of the HOKA running shoes on the market right now is that articulated heel collar that feels so comforting on the back of my Achilles heel.
This design of heel counter works better than anything else I have reviewed before, and I’m somewhat of an expert when it comes to Achilles heel pain (and for that matter, how to recover from it quickly) – been there, done that, don’t want to get it again.
I’ve also been reviewing running shoes for years now, so I’ve seen so many different designs come and go over time but this is the most unique heel counter design that seems to have stuck around, thank goodness!
The shape of the heel counter allows your heel to flex as it was designed to throughout your strides and foot strikes, without the shoe putting pressure on your Achilles tendon.
For anyone who has ever experienced pain in this region will know how frustrating some shoes can be when you’re trying to recover from that pain with gentle recovery runs, or simply doing your best to ensure it doesn’t come back.
This heel counter does a great job when doing both.
It also makes slipping on the HOKA Mach 5 incredibly easy which for anyone who doesn’t completely loosen their laces after every run will appreciate.
If you run frequently then it’s these small things making them easier to get on that make a big difference.
Mach 5’s mesh upper is breathable and durable
Let’s talk about the engineered mesh upper, what makes it stand out for me, and also what it lacks.
The Creel Jacquard engineered mesh upper is incredibly lightweight, durable, and breathable, which is everything you want in a running shoe upper.
The breathable upper is also very soft to the touch on the inside, so if you like to wear running socks that are on the thin side then you should appreciate this more.
One thing that stood out as slightly unusual to me was relating to the tongue which although very comfortable on the top of my feet, doesn’t have a loop for the lacing system to go through – this means that the tongue does slip down a little while running.
Now, while the tongue doesn’t slip much (a few millimeters max), it does seem a bit of a careless oversight, and I’d love to hear the reasoning behind that design choice. HOKA, care to comment on this?
It’s the only HOKA shoe I’ve come across so far that doesn’t have some way to hold the tongue in place.
While I’m talking about the tongue and lacing system, the width of the lacing system appears to be a touch narrower than many other running shoes but it feels very comfortable, and I have no complaints there. They stay put and don’t come undone like the laces on other running shoes can do.
The PROFLY+™ Midsole foam is dreamy
HOKA’s stacked, dual-layer PROFLY+ midsole foam setup provides a very responsive ride but the relatively low stack height does come at the cost of some of that plush cushioning that you may have come to expect from HOKA running shoes.
That’s ok though, there are plenty of other HOKA shoes for you if that’s what you’re after.
The HOKA Mach 5, however, provides a low-profile cushion bed that keeps your foot closer to the ground and utilizes a firmer material designed to provide an efficient push-off rather than absorbing some of that energy into a plush ride.
This makes the HOKA Mach 5 a great choice if you’re looking for an everyday performance trainer which can also be used on race day to help you get to the finish line, FAST.
I’m one of those runners who actually prefers a bit more response from my running shoe and am happy to sacrifice that super plush feeling that many runners love.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that plush feeling for my recovery runs in shoes like the HOKA Clifton 9 (and later), for example, but when it comes to tempo, fartlek, intervals, and racing, I need something with a bit more performance in its DNA.
The HOKA Mach 5 has a drop of 5mm from heel to toe which adds to that feeling of control and responsiveness while running. I really like how HOKA shoes tend to err on the side of a low drop.
The HOKA Mach 5 has a symmetrical bed of cushion which helps provide just enough support to your feet and it would be classified as a neutral support shoe.
The rubberized foam outsole is surprisingly grippy in wet conditions
I’ve had the pleasure of taking the HOKA Mach 5 for a spin in wet conditions too, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how well they stuck to the tarmac and asphalt paths where I run.
Looking at the white EVA outsole I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of grip but somehow the rubberized EVA outsole compound does a great job of sticking to the ground when running fast and remains fairly durable.
It’s a very lightweight shoe
The Mach 5 only weighs 8.20 oz (232g) which is very lightweight indeed – you really feel this lightweight design too if you’re running for more than 10k.
I love the design and there are so many great colorways
Ok, so this one isn’t a feature but the design of these shoes in my opinion is really gorgeous, and there are so many colorful and fun colorways to choose from that it’s worth me mentioning them.
The men’s and women’s HOKA Mach 5 each have 9 colors to choose from. To see all the vibrant colorways currently available, visit the product page here.
HOKA Mach 5 performance review
For those who are familiar with HOKA running shoes, the HOKA Mach 5 is the lovechild of the Mach 4 and Mach Supersonic.
This means that the Mach 5 is a lively pavement pounder that’s built for performance and ready to race.
The Mach 5 delivers a snappier ride than the Mach 4, with a PROFLY+ stacked midsole setup that offers a lightweight, responsive foam directly underfoot and rubberized EVA foam below.
This all adds up to great things when it comes to actually running in the HOKA Mach 5, including a comfortable, lightweight, responsive, and most importantly a FAST, snappy ride and running experience.
I love how the HOKA Mach 5 is also race-ready, meaning you can race in the shoes that you actually train with! This is something that I tend to recommend to runners when they’re training for their first marathon or ultramarathon.
I’ve been running with the Mach 5 consistently for a couple of weeks now and am having so much fun with them. They’re reliable, bouncy, responsive, lightweight, breathable, and look great – so I couldn’t really be happier with them so far.
Who are the HOKA Mach 5 running shoes for?
The HOKA Mach 5 is for you if you’re looking for a relatively affordable, high-performance daily running shoe designed for speed, and responsiveness, and to be used for racing, not just training runs.
This is great for serious runners who don’t want to bother with multiple pairs of running shoes (a daily trainer and a racing shoe) because the Mach 5 has you covered for both instances.
It’s going to be a great road runner for anything up to marathon distance if you’re someone who doesn’t need that super plush feel when running long distances. If you are then I’d say you’re still going to enjoy running in them for up to half marathons.
It’s a fairly stripped-down running shoe in terms of how plush it feels underfoot but the benefit of this is that you feel under complete control and get a much more responsive feel with a balanced ride during speed workouts.
They’ll basically have you training yourself harder and you’ll likey see good results.
The HOKA Mach 5 is not for you if you’re looking for a plush daily trainer to stack up easy miles because they’ll have you running fast and they just don’t have that super plush feel you may have come to expect from HOKA. The super plush daily trainer you’re looking for is likely the Clifton 9.
How does the Mach 5 compare to other HOKA running shoes right now?
The Mach 5 is certainly in a class of its own when it comes to comparing with other HOKA shoes because it stretches its own class being a high-performance training shoe AND a racing shoe (and does both jobs really well).
The closest match I would say would be the Carbon X 3 which is a more expensive endurance racing shoe that’s lighter and has a carbon plate to help propel you forward more efficiently (and faster) while running.
To learn more about that shoe, read my Carbon X 3 review next.
Are they worth your hard-earned money?
For $140 the HOKA Mach 5 is totally worth your money especially if you’re the type of runner I described earlier that will enjoy these lightweight, fast, and responsive runners with light padding in the midsole.
Still not sure which HOKA running shoes are for you? Head over to our Best HOKA Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide next.