Last updated: 01-Apr-19
By Dan Stinton
There has been a buzz around the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Mafate ever since Jim Walmsley broke the course record at the Western States 100 in 2018. Whilst a great endorsement for any shoe, I don’t think donning a pair of Evo Mafates alone will get us there, but we can only dream.
My previous experience of Hokas was a failed attempt with Speedgoats, which I gave up on because they were just too narrow for my feet, and then a more successful trial for RunUltra of the HOKA ONE ONE ATR Challenger 4s.
I found them initially a little strange to run in but they grew on me during the review period.
My first thoughts on the looks of the Evo Mafate were they appeared to have less of that HOKA ONE ONE “bulky” look, employing a quite bright and punchy yellow/black/blue design with swatches of black along the sole and heel which, along with the blue fading to yellow along the length of the shoe, looks great.
I immediately made a schoolboy error and in all the excitement I forgot to take pictures of them before going out for a run. So the pics here show a slightly more abused look – but that’s what trail shoes are for of course!
A forefoot of 29mm and heel at 33mm will clearly give ample cushioning and the Vibram sole with well-spaced 5mm lugs shaped along the bottom of the shoe looked like they’d deal well with a variety of terrain.
HOKA ONE ONE make all the usual complicated manufacturer claims using patented MATRYX technology and “Kevlar wires to optimise foot hold in strategic areas”. In practice the area around the ankle is well padded and thins out around the rest of the upper, which feels tough and hopefully durable.
The tongue has small areas of padding and also contains numerous holes to aid breathability. That was my initial impression, but how were they in practice?
- Weight 270g (manufacturer)
- 4 mm drop
- Vibram sole with 5mm lugs
- RRP: 190 Euros
Pros: What’s good about the HOKA ONE ONE EVO MAFATE
Out on the run, I remember being a little shocked with previous Hokas, as running just felt somehow different and took a while to get used to. It was a very different experience with the Evo Mafate which I adapted to much more quickly.
The padding felt comfortable around the heel and the “roll” between heel to ball of foot feels very smooth like I could run comfortably at faster paces – the meta-rocker design really has grown on me.
The upper seems durable so far and the shoe drains well in wet/boggy conditions.
I’ve run on a wide variety of terrain in the Evo Mafate, including slippy rocks, dirt trails, Peak District mud and grassy fields. The terrain I least like running on was actually the tarmac to and from the trails which I just found slightly unnatural.
This may be expected from a trail shoe with a reasonable amount of grip – but bear this in mind if your runs feature a lot of tarmac.
Toe protection is reasonable with a tough rubber section extending up from the sole. It is, however, slightly narrow so doesn’t cover the full front of the shoe like some other designs.
I did thoroughly put this to the test though when I tripped up and smashed my face into a rock when I was wearing them, whilst my face came away bloodied, the toe that struck the rock was absolutely fine!
Cons: What’s not so good about the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Mafate
Trail shoes are getting expensive and at 190 Euros (generally online for £150) this is not a cheap shoe. As well as good performance, what I’d really expect for something that price is longevity.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how many miles these will last for, but I’m spotting generally little wear after well over 100 miles. Clearly, we want our trail shoes to last a lot longer than that, but only time will tell.
There has been a lot of talk previously about Hoka sizing so with my usual running shoe size of 9.5 I opted for a 10 and the fit was fine. I have wide feet but (unlike my earlier experiences with Speedgoats) the toe box felt comfortable, so it may be worth at least going up half a size especially if you have wide-feet.
The tongue isn’t joined to the upper like many other shoes and is relatively thin so sometimes could let some dirt / dust in. The deeper grooves in the sole can also catch small rocks/pebbles which can be a little annoying if you can actually feel them.
The sign of a good shoe for me is one that lets me just get on with running. The Evo Mafate definitely fits into this category and I found these a much easier transition from other shoes. They perform well on multiple terrains and whilst the Western States win clearly shows they’re suitable for long distance running, I have happily raced these over much shorter distances.
I’d choose something slightly different for particularly muddy fell running, but as an all-rounder they performed very well.
I wasn’t sure if the MATRYX upper material would rub against areas of my foot, but I’ve not experienced any blisters or foot pain/rubbing at all.
A strong addition to the HOKA ONE ONE range, I think, on reflection, they offered more than the Challenger ATR 4’s in traction and general comfort and are a great all-rounder that I’ll hopefully be using out on the trail for many miles to come.
Have you tried the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Mafate shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
Not a member yet? Sign up here to be part of the RunUltra community and share tips and stories with thousands of fellow runners around the world.
We are a professional review site and our reviewers receive free products for testing from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are by the reviewer’s name shown.
We use affiliate links in some of our reviews and articles. This means that if you purchase an item through one of these links we will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through our links but the income will help us to keep bringing you our free training guides, reviews and other content to enjoy. Thank you in advance for your support.
About the writer: Dan is a Peak District based runner collecting mud and scrapes in and around Glossop, he likes nothing more than escaping into the Dark Peak and then writing about how difficult it was at www.allhailthetrail.co.uk
All images by Dan Stinton.