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14.5 oz | 4mm drop | $150 | hokaoneone.com
The Dirt: The marshmallow-y Mafate features a plush midsole that’s 2.5 times the thickness of most running shoes, absorbing shock while encouraging a midfoot landing with its low heel-to-toe drop.
The outsole boasts 35-percent wider surface area than other running shoes—one enthusiastic, first-time HOKA tester reported that wearing the Mafate was “like the epiphany of trying fat skis in powder for the first time.”
This third rendition comes with one-pull, quick laces that extend down to the toes—a feature most testers enjoyed—and a spare set of traditional laces. The upper features a lighter, more breathable, faster-drying mesh than the Mafate 1 or 2.
Best For: The shoe is designed with long runs in mind, and does a noteworthy job reducing foot and leg fatigue on rocky trails.
Traction: Deep, multi-directional tread grips well on roots, rocks and mud. One tester especially praised the shoe’s “outstanding purchase on slick mud that makes most runners fall.”
Fit: The Mafate is a high-volume shoe that runs a half-size long.
The Downsides: First-time HOKA wearers may need an adaptation period to learn to compensate for the extra volume, and the shoe takes some break-in time.
Tester-Monial: “I’ve been trail running for 15 years and have never been this excited to get out on the trails because of a new pair of shoes.” –Justin Lottig, Honolulu, HI