How HOKA Honed the New, Lighter Mach 5 Road Running Shoe


The HOKA Mach 5 is the latest iteration of the brand’s race-ready trainers. Here’s a look at the new design along with the product line manager’s rationale for the tweaks and updates.

More of a fine-tuning than an overhaul, HOKA streamlined the Mach 5’s upper and used a lighter foam in the midsole. According to HOKA’s product line manager, Jared Smith, it’s a combination of the Mach 4‘s upper, the Mach Supersonic’s midsole, and lessons learned from some of HOKA’s past designs.

We asked Smith what type of road runner HOKA made the Mach 5 for. He considers it to be “that shoe in your quiver you reach for when seeking something that’s responsive and snappy yet still provides a comfortable dose of the cushion. Training day, race day, or every day.”

Below, Smith answered a few more of our questions about the design process for this latest shoe, which began roughly 18 months ago. But first, let’s take you through some quick highlights.

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Hoka Mach 5 closeup sponsored

New Mach 5 Features

Refinements to the new upper include a single layer of jacquard mesh, a gusseted tongue positioned to lay flat, and an articulated heel collar. The brand thinks the new collar will provide a more locked-in fit for more runners. And the upper’s materials are vegan.

HOKA also chose a new foam to shave off some weight in the midsole. The material should still provide a balance of soft landing with a responsive feel based on its PROFLY construction.

The outsole is rubberized EVA.

Like the Rincon 3, the Mach 5 is a lightweight trainer meant for daily training runs and speedwork. The difference is that the Rincon 3 aims for a softer ride while the Mach 5 is designed to cushion a landing and still provide enough spring back for a responsive toe-off.

Hoka Mach 5 angled view

HOKA Mach 5 Specs

  • Sizing: M 7-13, 14(D), wide 7-13, 14(2E) | W 5-11(B), wide 5-11(D)
  • Drop: 5mm
  • Men’s: 29mm heel to 24mm forefoot
  • Women’s: 27mm heel to 22mm forefoot
  • Claimed weight: M 8.2 oz. (size 9) | W 6.8 oz. (size 7)
  • Price: $140

Hoka Mach 5 Running Shoes

Design Talk

To get a better idea of how this shoe — and all the brand’s shoes — came to be, we spoke with HOKA Product Line Manager Jared Smith. Here’s the rundown.

GearJunkie: Would you say the Mach 5 merges the Mach 4 and Mach Supersonic?

Smith: That’s one way of looking at it. There were a lot of learnings that came out of the Mach Supersonic which we applied to the midsole of the Mach 5 and made some refinements in the upper from the 4 that we were able to integrate into the 5.

What runner feedback was incorporated?

Feedback from our athletes, HOKA runners/consumers as well as our Field Experience Team truly helps us leverage many perspectives and input to ensure we’re doing as much as possible to create and redesign this, and all, projects.

What questions do you ask or what goes into the process of redesigning a shoe at HOKA?

We focus on the “wins/likes” of a shoe as well as the “opportunities” that are provided via those feedback sources. Using these resources of feedback and pairing it with insight from the product design and development team on how we want to improve the style is how we approach these types of updates.

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Hoka Mach 5 couple run

This article is sponsored by HOKA. Check out the brand’s Mach 5 road running shoe and other footwear online.

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