Overview of the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 2
The HOKA ONE ONE Mach 2 is my favorite, and I believe the best, road shoe from HOKA ONE ONE to date. The Mach 2 takes a lot of the best features of the Clifton, Huaka, and Clayton models and combines them together to produce what we see in the latest Mach model. It is a simple, cushioned shoe with a great fit and comfortable ride. The HOKA ONE ONE Mach 2 can handle everyday road runs, a road marathon, and everything in between. Despite a potentially confusing name HOKA knocked it out of the park with this one.
- Weight: 187g / 6.6oz (US women’s 7.0); 227g / 8.0oz (US men’s 9.0)
- Category: neutral
- Drop: 5mm (24mm / 19mm); official specs without the sockliner
- Fit: true to size (i.e., your normal running shoe size)
- Width options: D (normal)
- Upper: open, engineered mesh without any visible overlays
- Midsole: rubberized foam
- Outsole: rubberized foam (i.e., the midsole is the outsole without any additional outsole rubber)
Now for more details. In this review, we’ll break things down in to six areas:
- What’s good: the new, differentiating, or simply well designed or built features or aspects of the shoe.
- What could be improved: tweaks or improvements that could be made to make the shoe better.
- When to use it: the situations or scenarios where the shoe excels.
- How it compares: head-to-head comparison with similar shoes
- Should you purchase? My overall recommendation on whether to purchase this shoe or not.
- Purchasing Information: where to go to purchase this shoe.
I’ll try to be as succinct as possible. After all, you’ve probably got more running you can do today!
The simplicity. I say it all the time and it’s worth repeating here. I think there is a lot to be said for shoes that are not overbuilt. And the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 2 is about a simple as it gets from one of the big brands these days. I mean this in a good way. Most folks don’t need crazy, structured uppers or all sorts of guide or support systems built in to the midsole. Just cushion and lock in the foot and let it go to work. And that’s what the Mach 2 does very well.
The fit. A lot goes in to the fit of a shoe. First, the shape or last has to be accommodating but not sloppy. Second, the material choices need to be well engineered to not create any hot spots, Third, decisions such as the shape and height of the heel collar as well as the style of laces used all contribute to how well a shoe fits. HOKA checked all the boxes with the Mach 2 and the fit is spot-on.
The responsive squish. The ‘rubberized foam’ midsole and outsole (HOKA calls this PROFLY) used in the Mach 2 is a good balance between cushion and responsiveness. Unlike the more traditional HOKA midsole (e.g., the Clifton or Challenger ATR models) which is single slab of EVA foam here we see a dual-density foam which is softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot.
The ride. The combination of the responsive, rubberized foam and the flexibility of the midsole / outsole produces a great ride through the gait cycle. The traditional HOKA ‘rocker’ shape is used here but I didn’t notice quite as much toe spring in the Mach 2 compared to other, denser midsoles and shoes from HOKA.
What could be improved?
The marketing. First, I think the name is confusing. The Mach 2 shares very little in common with the Mach 1. I think HOKA would have been better off giving the Mach 2 it’s own name / model so as to not confuse folks (note the differences below). Second, some early references were made to how the Mach 2 would be a ‘modern Huaka’. I also don’t think there is enough in common with the Huaka to call this out. To HOKA’s credit though I haven’t seen any references to the Huaka lately in their marketing language for the Mach 2.
The weight. I’m really nitpicking here as the shoe is not really heavy by modern, cushioned shoe standards. And I don’t really know where else they could shave weight outside of producing a lighter midsole. But I’d love to see the shoe in the 7.0-7.5oz range for a men’s size 9. When I look at what Skechers has been able to accomplish with their HYPER BURST midsole and Nike with their ZoomX and believe HOKA could shave some grams as well.
When to use it?
The HOKA ONE ONE Mach 2 is a great, everyday road shoe. Additionally, I would not hesitate to reach for it on marathon race day. So it’s ability to be useful across a wide variety of paces on the road is quite useful for folks who like to keep their shoe quiver to 1 or 2 pairs (who would do such a thing?!).
Note: unlike the Mach 1, and even more so its predecessors in the Huaka / Clayton 1 / 2, I don’t believe the Mach 2 has as much trail carry-over. Sure, all road shoes can handle tame trails just fine but I personally wouldn’t race a trail 50k or 50 miles in the Mach 2 whereas I would have in the Huaka or Clayton.
Similar shoes to compare with?
HOKA ONE ONE Mach 1 – As mentioned already the Mach 1 and Mach 2 are quite different. I like the Mach 2 more in every way except it’s trail carry-over. I would give the edge to the Mach 2 there due to it’s stiffer, more stable midsole and more durable outsole.
Saucony Kinvara 1 – We are taking it back to the old skool with this reference. I loved the first Kinvara. It was simple, cushioned, flexible, fit great, and just worked with my foot. The same goes for the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 2 in nearly every way. The added bonus of the Mach 2 is that it is slightly more cushioned than the original Kinvara and thus a little more forgiving.
Skechers GORun Ride 7 – If you have read our reviews or listened to our gear-related podcasts before you know the Skechers GoRun Ride 7 was one of my favorite road shoes of 2018. It’s a fantastic shoe. It’s more cushioned than the Mach 2, and thus also heavier. It also doesn’t breathe as well as the Mach 2. Tough call here but I’ll give the slight nod to the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 2 due to the weight savings and better upper but for longer, cool days I’m still reaching for the GORun Ride 7.
Skechers GORun Razor 3 Hyper – Again, both shoes are great and deserve a look if you are in the market for a versatile, neutral, go-fast shoe. The Razor 3 Hyper is a bit more performance-oriented and perhaps better suited to uptempo workouts and marathon race day. Toss up here. I’d choose the Razor 3 Hyper as my speedier shoe and the Mach 2 as the more everyday shoe but you cannot go wrong either way.
Should you purchase?
Yes. If you are looking for an everyday, neutral shoe that also likes to go a bit faster when pushed this is a great option. Even at $140 I feel it is a decent value. HOKA has not raised prices on their shoes from version to version for quite some time (e.g., the Clayton 1 & 2 were both $150, the Mach 1 was $140) and that is commendable.
Check out your local, independently-owned running specialty store, as independent stores are vital to our community and need all the help they can get. If that is not an option you can purchase directly from HOKA’s site (women’s version here & men’s version here). Thanks!
Meet Your Reviewer: Ben Zuehlsdorf
I am an avid running gear junkie. When I’m not smelling new shoes I’m usually running, biking, skiing, or snowboarding around the local trails in Marin County, California or the Lake Tahoe area. I also love talking shop with the San Francisco Running Company or Alpenglow Sports community of friends. I was once a road marathoner but now have transitioned almost exclusively to the trails and racing ultras the last five years.
Disclaimer: This shoe was provided to URP/me for testing purposes. All words and thoughts are my own and no compensation was offered nor received.