Hoka One One Mafate 4

Redesigned from the ground up, the Hoka One One Mafate 4 is ready to take on the toughest trails with enhanced stability and maximal cushioning elements taken from the previous version. A deeply lugged outsole made of high abrasion rubber provides surprising comfort as well as outstanding traction. Additional enhancements include an oversized active foot frame for increased support, added medial support, a comfort frame upper construction, and a wider toe-box with a durable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) toe guard.

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Where to Buy
rei.com Link
See Deal
Where to Buy
rei.com Link
See Deal
Pros & Cons
  • Improved protection and support
  • 5 mm lugs for increased traction
  • No-sew, comfort frame upper
  • Added medial support for long distance runs
  • Protective TPU toe guard for technical trails
  • Wider toe box for a more natural forefoot placement
  • Cons
    • Expensive 
    • Slightly firmer than the previous versions
    • Has a bit of weight on it
    • Key Features
      The outsole of the Hoka Mafate 4 is composed of hi-abrasion lightweight rubber. The 5 mm hard, rubber-tipped lugs on the sole unit offer good traction on challenging trails. The full ground contact construction allows for an even heel-to-toe transition which also helps with traction on all surfaces and terrains, even those that are wet or muddy. Flex grooves in the outsole allow the foot to move freely and also provide added flexibility and stability.
      Hoka One One ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) rubber is 30% softer than the standard running shoe EVA rubber. This makes for Hoka One One’s signature “cloud-like feel” in regards to cushioning. The Mafate 4 midsole uses a combination of durable RMAT® rubber and Hoka One One EVA rubber for the perfect mix of support, responsive cushioning, and protection. The late-stage, meta-rocker geometry of the midsole provides a more stable forefoot base and additional support. Runners described a subtle rolling feeling while running, which was much less pronounced compared to other Hoka One One models.

      A design called the active foot frame makes up the entire structure of the shoe and is engineered to wrap around the foot and allow it to sink into the midsole rather than ride on top. Although the shoe has an unstable look due to the ultra-sized midsole, the active foot frame gets rid of this concept as soon as the runner tries on the shoe.
      The upper of the Mafate 4 is where many runners said the greatest improvement to the shoe has been made. The Mafate 3 was described as a little tight in the forefoot with the upper feeling loose and sloppy. The Mafate 4 features a no-sew, seamless construction of soft, durable, and breathable material with welded overlays in all the right places. A widened toe box and a plush heel collar help lock the foot in place. The heel cup is highly reinforced to provide a supportive fit. A slightly cushioned tongue and standard flat lacing system help to keep the foot in place. A durable TPU toe guard across the front of the shoe protects the toes from bumps and trail hazards.
      Two ounces lighter than its predecessor, the Mafate 4 weighs in at 13.5 ounces (men's size 9). This is a significant weight reduction for a long distance trail shoe and should result in better performance and agility on the trails. The EVA/RMAT® foam of the bulky midsole reduces the weight of the shoe while continuing to provide ample support.
      The Mafate 4 has a highly breathable mesh upper, allowing sufficient airflow into the shoe and around the foot to keep it cool and dry. The mesh is thin, but still protects the foot from any trail hazards and keeps dirt and debris from entering the shoe. A thin and colorful Ortholite insole offers additional breathability underfoot.
      The abundant cushioning of the Mafate 4 midsole makes for a very comfortable trail running shoe. Despite its high, bulky appearance, the foot actually sits low, cradled in soft, yet supportive midsole foam. The upper hugs the foot securely in the soft, yet durable material. The improved heel cup, ankle padding, and a seamless upper add to the total comfort of the shoe. Trail runners raved about the maximal cushioning, yet still felt nimble on technical trails. The slightly padded tongue and traditional lace-up closure enable runners to get the right fit. Arch support was also reported to be better in the Mafate 4 than the Mafate 3.

      This Hoka One One, like others in this cushioned brand of shoes, is a favorite with older runners and injured runners. Runners prone to plantar fasciitis, IT band issues, and hip pain praised the shoe for allowing them to hit the trails again.
      The thickness of the midsole gives the Mafate 4 a platform-like height. Although there are many benefits to having such a thick sole, it is not a style for everyone. Many runners shy away from the Hoka One One brand because of its somewhat comical appearance. Despite the extreme midsole, the overall design and use of overlays make, the Mafate 4 is an attractive running shoe. Both the men’s and women’s version come in four subdued colors that blend in well with trail running. Reflective details and a small logo on the outsole give this shoe a tough, athletic look.
      The thick midsole of the Mafate 4 provides cushioning for the runner's foot and joints, along with durability. The outsole is made of durable hi-abrasion rubber that is meant to hold up over miles of tough terrains. An abundance of 5 mm lugs on the sole are designed to provide traction, but also enable the sole to stand up to harsh conditions. The lugs are coated in a tough rubber that helps them grip loose and rocky terrain. The no-sew construction of the upper also increases the shoe's durability. A reinforced toe guard protects the forefoot from sharp rocks.
      The 31 to 35 mm thick EVA foam midsole of the Mafate 4 cushions the foot with every step while also absorbing a large amount of shock from contact with solid ground. The above average stack height also helps keeps the side of foot impact to a minimum. Although built to be a trail shoe, there is no rock plate. The full-width, reinforced, TPU toe bumper helps protect the runner’s toes to some extent, but sharp rocks and hard bumps will be felt by the toes. Thin overlays on the upper help protect the mesh upper from damage. Many runners added trail gaiters to their running wardrobe to help protect their feet and ankles from unexpected trail hazards.
      The Mafate 4 gets high praise for its responsiveness thanks to Hoka One One's meta-rocker design of the midsole. The midsole geometry is specifically engineered with a rounded outsole from heel to toe which encourages a natural “rolling” motion of the foot. This supports a runner’s natural form and encourages an efficient stride from heel-strike to toe-off. The midsole also takes advantage of what Hoka One One calls their “active foot frame” technology. This design is made for the foot to sink into the midsole, rather than sit atop it. This results in an increase in responsiveness and stability. Many runners described the shoe as “nimble” despite the 37 mm heel stack height. There is not a lot of ground feel with this shoe, but most runners enjoyed the lack of pain in their feet and legs after a long run over uneven terrain.
      The thickness of the outsole and midsole provides maximum support for the Mafate 4. Runners claimed the shoe had good arch support and the lacing system provides a secure and tight fit with no heel slipping. High lace holes on the upper allow for a tighter fit which helps prevent ankle rolls and also secures the sides of the shoe. The tongue is slightly cushioned to provide just the right amount of snugness. A heel roll on the back of the shoe is heavily padded and wraps around the Achilles tendon to gently hold the heel firmly inside the shoe. The aggressive lugs on the outsole also help runners keep their footing on almost any trail.
      Created to tackle tough trails, the Mafate 4 was built to be a durable yet comfortable shoe. The hardened 5 mm lugs provide plenty of traction on varied terrain and also contribute to a stable and enjoyable ride. The close proximity of the lugs to each other caused some problems with shedding mud under very sloppy conditions, but on dry and rocky surfaces the shoe excelled. Few shoes perform well in extreme mud. Although the Mafate 4 can be used as a road shoe, it is designed for off-road running over long distances. Hoka One One shoes were originally designed for ultra-marathoners and that technology can be seen in this shoe.
      The MSRP of the Mafate 4 is $170 making it a very expensive shoe. Because the shoe has been out for over a year, bargains can be found. At $170, many reviewers complained that the price for a limited use shoe was too high. The Mafate 4 falls within the market range of other comparable technical shoes designed specifically for tough trail running. The durability of the shoe helps stretch the price out over the extra miles thanks to the brand’s use of superior materials and attention to design.
      The tough 5 mm lugs on the bottom of the outsole offer great grip on a variety of rugged trail surfaces. There were few complaints about the shoe’s traction and many compliments on the shoe’s performance in snow and wet weather conditions. The increased padding, as well as the grooves on the outsole, allow the runner to take control of the trail at the desired speed. The light upper may not protect the foot from cold slushy conditions, but add a waterproof trail gaiter, and you should be good to go.
      Although not the most flexible trail shoe on the market, many runners still felt some springiness. There were a few complaints about the flexibility, although some runners felt the shoe to be a bit firmer than the Mafate 3. The rocking design helps with the flexibility of the midsole by giving the runner the ability to grip the trail. Outsole grooves also help with flexibility and help the runner conquer steep hills and unexpected obstacles.
      Late-stage, meta-rocker midsole technology adds more stability to this shoe. Some runners worried about ankle rolls due to the higher stack height and greater softness of the midsole but were impressed with the stability of the shoe on uneven terrain. The midsole cushioning is designed to envelop the foot which not only provides shock absorption but also increases the stability of the shoe by placing the runner’s foot lower to the ground. The heavily and deeply lugged outsole is intended to embrace uneven terrain while keeping the runner upright. The design of the outsole also distributes impact across different areas of the shoe which means the runner has a much more stable and controlled footfall over rocky and slippery slopes.
      The Mafate 4 has a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop with a height of 31 mm in the forefoot and 35 mm at the heel.
      Key Features
      • Highly cushioned and durable midsole
      • 4 mm heel drop
      • Late-stage meta-rocker design for better running form
      • Heavily lugged outsole provides excellent traction
      • Tight and protective upgraded upper
      • Superior support during long, technical, trail runs
      Bottom Line
      The Hoka One Mafate 4 was designed for the serious trail runner. It is a highly technical trail shoe that performs well on tough terrain, but it is not meant for fast sprints or extended road running. What sets this shoe apart from other trail shoes is the design of its midsole and outsole which provides exceptional cushioning and stability. Runners needing maximal cushioning with added support at the end of a long trail run will benefit greatly from the Mafate 4.
      Where to Buy
      rei.com Link
      See Deal
      By Abbie Copeland
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 29. 2021

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