The Mafate features the largest volume and most stable midsole platform with the greatest amount of cushioning. The balanced meta-rocker is ideal for rough terrain and long distances. The Mafate eats up the trail and is the quietest ride of all Hoka One One shoes.
- Debris-proof, closed mesh
- Extending lacing for adaptable fit
- Reinforced toe cap
- Flexible molded T.P.U. support strapping/thermo-polyurethane reinforcements
- 2.5x EVA volume in the Midsole
- 30% softer EVA
- Acute grip for mud and rugged terrain (4 mm lugs)
- High version, sticky rubber compound for slick conditions
- 35% wider Outsole
- Tested size 9
- Measured weight – 381 g (13.4 oz)
- Stack height – 42 mm (Heel), 36 mm (Toe), 6 mm Drop
- Forefoot width – 99.7 mm (3.9 in)
- Retail – $150
Hoka One One makes an interesting shoe. There is no denying that. In an age where most manufacturers are becoming more minimal in their designs, Hoka One One has gone the opposite direction. Last year, my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to give a pair a try for the website. I reviewed the Stinson EVO Tarmac, a road shoe that I actually really enjoyed. With that lasting memory, I decided to give a pair of their trail shoes a whirl. After all, all this cushioning had to be good for running over rocks and dirt.
Hoka One One came into existence with the goal of reducing the impact that running has on the body. They have taken the idea of minimalism and combined it with maximalism to design shoes to minimize the impact, fatigue, and injuries while maximizing comfort, traction, and stability. You may be wondering how they have attempted to do that, and if they have succeeded. I will get to that in the review below. I do want to thank Hoka One One for giving me the opportunity to test these shoes.
The Mafate 2 is part of the trail line up by Hoka One One. Since I try to test shoes mainly in their intended environment, I took these on plenty of trail runs. Since very few of my runs are entirely on trails I would estimate that I put in about 60 miles total on the shoes so far with 45-50 being on trails. My runs varied from 4 to 15 miles in length. Due to our crazy spring here in Colorado I was able to run in snow, mud, and dry conditions.
I have to admit that Hoka One One shoes are a little different looking. I always get looks when I wear them. They are just so large that it is hard to miss them. Of course with the Mafate 2, they are not only big but it also have bright colors making it even more of an eye catcher. The Mafate 2 is not my favorite looking shoe but the colors are not bad either. I could however do without the odd looks do to the huge midsole.
The Mafate 2 is made with a balanced meta-rocker design that is ideal for rough terrain and long distances. This profile creates a unique rolling motion that encourages the proper form by allowing the runner to easily strike the ground near the midfoot. Even with all the cushioning, the Mafate has low drop, 4 mm according to Hoka One One. This lower drop also encourages more of a midfoot strike similar to minimalist shoes that are popular today. The only difference is the Mafate are not minimal. They have 2.5 times the amount of midfoot volume as a typical running shoe. So not only is the EVA midfoot thicker than what is typical, but it is also much wider. This makes for a shoe with the largest volume, most stable midsole platform, and the greatest amount of cushioning.
The midsole is 30% softer than the EVA typically used in other running shoes. Couple this with the increased volume and you have a shoe that dissipates up to 80% of the shock associated with heel striking when running. It also allows for as much as 20 mm of compression in the heel, plus extra protection for any surface. I do find it funny that Hoka One One focuses their results on the heel strike when their design is focused on a midfoot strike. Just something I found interesting. What they have created with the very large midsole is a very wide and therefore, stable base for your foot. The outsole on the Mafate 2 is 35% wider than a typical running shoe. This provides a stable base and counterbalances the excess height of the voluminous midsole. It is coupled with thermo-polyurethane reinforcements to provide enhanced structure and support. Your foot literally sits down in the midsole for increased stability.
With a wider outsole, the Mafate has more surface area in contact with the ground which increases the traction it can provide. The outsole is made of a sticky rubber compound for good durability and traction. With 4.5 mm lugs and all that ground contact, the Mafate is able handle most conditions, whether going uphill or downhill. The upper is not forgotten on these shoes. It uses a debris-proof, closed mesh for breathability while not allowing stuff to get in. The toe has a reinforced cap for protection, which is important when on the trail. The lacing system uses a standard system unlike some of their other shoes with speed laces. Connected to the eyelets is a flexible molded T.P.U. support strapping. These support straps helps keep the foot secure over the midsole and help with the overall stability of the shoes.
The one thing you would think when looking at these shoes is that they would be very heavy. That is actually not the case. While not super lightweight, they are much lighter than one would expect. Lighter than the average trail running shoes, that also helps the shoes reduce the amount of fatigue when running long. The only drawback with the shoes, and most shoes for that matter, is they are not very sustainable. Most if not all the materials are not from renewable resources. When doing a bit of research on the company, I was not able to find much so I gave the shoes a zero for sustainability.
Foot Length (15%)
Foot Volume (15%)
Heel Width (15%)
Midfoot Width (15%)
Toe Box Width (15%)
When I tested the Stinson EVO Tarmac, I decided to test a 9.5 as it seemed to fit better. If you have read that review, I felt like it was slightly large on me. I am normally a size 9 in most of my shoes. Since they seemed a bit large, I opted for the size 9 this time around. Of course, this time I found the Mafate 2 to be slightly on the short side. So as it turns out I am in between sizes on Hoka One One shoes. If I was to do it again I would have gone with the 9.5 again. It is good to have a bit of extra room on the trail and to me, the toe box area felt a little low, but that may have just been them being a bit short. The toe box still had plenty of width to it which is important to me. I am used to splaying my toes out a bit so having that extra room is nice. When it comes to the width of the shoes, they felt nice a wide to me. I am typically a medium width person when it comes to shoes, and the Hoka One One felt good through the toe box and midfoot, and I really liked the heel. It was snug comfortable and I never had any issues with my feet moving around.
I must say that the Mafate 2 was not as comfortable as the Stinson EVO Tarmac was for me. Some of that may be due to the shorter length as my toes would occasionally bump up against the front and also rubbed the top a bit. Fortunately, none of this was enough to cause a blister or anything. The other part that was more alarming was the upper most eyelets. I did not have this problem with the Stinson, but the eyelet area and the top of the upper in that spot tended to rub on my ankle quite a bit. In this case, it was enough to create rub marks even with socks on, and this was not just on one foot but both. I did try to adjust the tongue to help with this, but it is on the thinner side, so I was not able to stop it for long. I will say that it was worse when I first started running in the shoes and did loosen up a bit. The discomfort never did quite disappear, which is disappointing. Maybe it is just my foot, but for me this definitely negatively affected more than one run.
Now while comfort and looks may be a bit of an issue for me, performance definitely was not. The Mafate 2 is super cushioning while on the trail. Rocks both large and small just disappear into the abundance of cushioning in the midsole. If the rocks are big enough you can tell they are there but just barely. Just like in the Stinson I felt like I was just bouncing along the trail. On my longest run of 15 miles in these shoes, my feet felt great afterward. There were some technical spots and some smoother areas but running in the Mafate, it all felt smooth. I can see why people have gravitated toward the shoes. What is impressive about these is how light they are for this increased size. Pretty cool.
One thing that is great about all the Hoka One One shoes is how stable they are. With the wide sole and how much your foot sinks into them the shoes become very stable. It seems nearly impossible to roll your ankle over in these shoes, even with the higher stack. Both running on the flats as well as uneven terrain was not an issue in the Mafate. Speaking of the terrain, the Mafate have 4 mm lugs to give them great traction. The lugs help but another reason they have such great traction is because of the increased surface area of the large outsole. I was able to test these on rocks, dirt, and even some snow and had no issues with slipping. The only time where it got a bit tough to run was in some slick mud in a field where the snow had just melted. This was the type of mud that just clumps up on the bottom of your shoes so even soccer cleats would not have worked in those conditions.
With such a large midsole, it is tough to create much flexibility in the shoes. Instead of this, they have created a rocker sole. You really can feel this when you walk and run in these. Couple this with the lower drop and you have a shoe that promotes a midfoot strike and propels you forward, rolling through the gait. It is a bit of a different feeling as you just roll along. I really like the lower drop of these as over the years, I have tended to move this way.
The upper is a closed-cell mesh which I like. If you are running trails, and it is dirty, then you will appreciate the fact that the dirt and debris cannot get in. I felt like the shoes still breathed well, most of my testing was at temperatures below 70 degrees so that may change when it truly heats up. The upper and lacing have held up well so far. Apart from getting dirty, the Mafate look like they are in new condition. Even the outsole is holding up well. You can tell they have a couple of miles in them as trails are not kind, but I fully expect the shoes to get a normal 400 miles or so of use before breaking down. The only thing that will be interesting is if the lighter-weight EVA that is used in the midsole will have a normal lifespan.
Overall, I was not able to give these as high of a rating as the Stinson Evo Tarmac Shoes. The Mafate 2 performed really well. The cushioning and stability are both fantastic. The only issue for me is dialing in the fit. If the upper fit like the Stinson and performed like they already do, then I would have likely had these as a favorite. Even so, they are worth a look if you are looking for a well-cushioned trail shoe. I really like to wear these for my long slow trail runs when it is more about distance than speed. Not that you can’t run fast in these, but I have some lighter shoes that are faster. Those tend to leave you beat up a bit more so I really like to finish not hurting too much on my training runs. The Hoka One One Mafate 2 Shoes retail for $150 and for that you get a lot of shoe, literally. All kidding aside, I still would recommend the shoes. I think Hoka One One is on to something. As always, your mileage may vary.
- Lots of cushioning
- Very stable
- Rocker design helps roll you along
- Upper breathes but keeps dirt out
- Ran a bit small with a shallow toe
- Upper eyelets rubbed my ankle
- Get funny looks in these