Hoka One One Evo Mafate 2 Review | High Cushioning Trail Running Shoes

The Hoka Evo Mafate 2 is designed to be highly cushioned for long days of trail running, yet also nimble and light enough to run quickly in. The heel to forefoot drop is 4mm, with a high 35mm stack height in the heel, to 31mm in the forefoot. For those not used to such a thick midsole you will initially feel taller in the shoes! As with all Hoka trail running shoes, the Evo Mafate 2 has a rocker. This is designed to roll you through the gait cycle and keep you picking your feet up. This way you maintain a good posture when you run and you don’t over stride and ‘plod’. This is a noticeable help when your legs are tired after a long day out on the trails.

I usually prefer light, flexible running shoes with a firm-ish feel to the cushioning. The Evo Mafate is stiffer and although the injection moulded midsole is firm for Hoka shoes it is, in reality, still quite soft. I didn’t think that this beefy shoe would be for me. However, when you get running in the shoe it does feel very light and nimble. The cushioning isn’t soft and ‘soggy’ and there is a lot more ground feel than I expected. On my first run I ran up to the steel works in Consett and then descended to the river. This descent is about 8 minutes long and starts off with a rough bridleway. The terrain then changes to smooth track, grass field, tarmac, muddy single track and back onto tarmac. The first thing I noticed was the rocker in the shoes taking over and increasing my cadence. The increased cadence and the cushioning means that you don’t feel the impact at all. I flew to the bottom of the hill and then as I ran along the road next to the river, my legs maintained the quick cadence with no feeling of deadness from the quick descent. The Mafate’s did not feel bulky, even on the single track. The shoes also didn’t feel stiff or that I was fighting the shoes, which is what a stiff shoe often feels like to me. It might be the rocker in the shoes or the deep cushioning that takes that feeling away, but it works. I also expected that in such a highly cushioned shoe I would run slower and plod along. This hasn’t happened and my runs are a similar speed to what they would be in my usual shoes. What is noticeable is that after long Sunday runs your legs don’t feel as beat up later in the day and there is noticeably less stiffness the day after. This is due to the combination of the rocker keeping my cadence quick, my posture upright and the high level of cushioning.

The fit of the Hoka Mafate Evo is a little broader than other Hoka’s as it’s designed to allow enough space for your feet to expand when you have been running for a long time. In addition to the slightly wider fit the upper of the Mafate also has a central piece that runs up over the foot and through the laces. The rest of the upper is made of a very tough durable material. The extra bit of stretch in the centre of the upper is designed to allow the upper to accommodate lots of different shaped feet. It also allows the upper to accommodate the expansion of your feet when you have been running for a long time. The tongue of the shoe is gusseted to stop any debris from getting into the shoes. The gusset is made of a light comfortable material so it doesn’t put an extra pressure on the top of your foot. I just ran along and forgot about the shoes, the same as I would in a more flexible, less stacked shoe.
The studding on the outsole of the Mafate is 5mm long, which gives it a good degree of bite. The rubber is a Vibram rubber that is fairly soft so it grips well on wet surfaces like rock, wood and tarmac or pavement.

As we have had quite a wet winter, I have been able to test the grip of these shoes in real UK winter conditions. I found that the grip was adequate on wet muddy single track. Despite the thickness of the midsole I felt that the shoe was still nimble enough to hop over routes and boulders with no issues. Boulder covered bridleways where equally no problem and on smoother terrain the shoes just flowed along. The terrain they are not designed for is specifically contouring around steepish hills or running on single track on a camber. As the shoe is quite stiff is doesn’t bent to the terrain, so you are either running on the edge of the midsole or your foot is twisted inside the shoe. This was the only time that I was aware of the stack height of the shoes on my runs. There is always a trade off in trail shoes. There will never be a show truly able to tackle ‘all terrain’ perfectly, but some that do a really good job, as you require a stiffer more heavily cushioned shoe for firmer trails and a thinner, flexible shoe for more broken, off camber or muddy trails. In my opinion the Hoka Mafate Evo 2 does a great job of coping with a larger variety of different types of terrain.

Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle

Other Considerations

Altra Olympus 3.5. All Altra shoes are zero drop with a broad rounded toe box. This means that for all but, those with the broadest of feet they offer plenty of room for for expansion when running a long way. The Olympus I highly cushioned like the Mafate Evo. However, it doesn’t feel quite a nimble and is best used on smoother firmer trails. This makes it not as versatile as the Mafate Evo in most UK conditions.
northernrunner.com/search/olympus-3.5

Topo Ultraventure. Like Altra shoes Topo’s have a broad rounded toe box. The Ultraventure has 5mm lugs on the outsole made from a soft rubber. This grips well in all UK conditions. I found these better than the Mafate Evo for running on trails that where on a camber as they are a bit more flexible. However, the cushioning isn’t quite a deep. So, it doesn’t offer such a soft ride. The heel to forefoot drop is 5mm.
northernrunner.com/search/ultraventure

Review of the Ultraventure:
northernrunner.com/blog/topo-ultraventure-review-low-drop-trail-shoes/

Comments are closed here.