HOKA’s Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX helps runners bridge the running season through big, snowy miles.
If you’re a runner training north of the Sun Belt, winter can be overwhelming. Deep snow, cold temperatures, and insecure footing on ice and crud can sideline motivation to the treadmill. But after a hard season of chasing PRs and laying down high mileage, winter is also a time to fall back in love with the sport.
One shoe that we continually look to for some winter running therapy is the HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX. The waterproof shoe has extra ankle protection and that comfortable “HOKA cushion” we love in a running shoe. We love it so much that we’ve awarded it the best winter running shoe 2 years in a row.
In short: Fans of the old HOKA Tor Ultra Hi hiking boots will love the look and feel of the $170 Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX. It’s as plush and bouncy as any of the brand’s offerings but deceptively quick for a mid boot last.
The GORE-TEX membrane performs beautifully to repel rain, puddles, snow, and muck, opening up more days and more paths to a quick run or hike. And though its snug fit provides welcome stability, those with wide feet might find the Speedgoat Mids fit a little too unforgiving.
HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX
- Best use: Fast hiking, short- to mid-distance trail running
- Bootie: GORE-TEX waterproof
- Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
- Lugs: 5mm “stepped”
- Drop: 4 mm
- Stack: 30-26 mm women’s / 32-28 mm men’s
- Weight (sample size, per shoe): 11.3 oz. women’s / 13.2 oz. men’s
- Price: $170
HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX Review
At an advertised 13.2 ounces per shoe, this shoe is more of a lightweight hiking boot. But with an ample 32-28mm heel-toe stack and a “new lightweight foam” midsole, you’d be well within your rights to take these on a healthy wet-weather jog.
Just looking at the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX, the large profile immediately commands attention. Tall, robust ankle padding climbs up the shoe’s quarter before dropping down behind the Achilles. While it gives a touch of extra support, the high collar is more about protection, reducing exposure to these winter trail hazards.
Cushion & Tread
The chassis’ midsole is cushioned with a plush EVA foam. HOKA is known for its maximum cushion, and the plump midsole undeniably contributes to the shoe’s large profile. But its mass is deceptive. Underfoot, the heel sits inside the foamy base and is locked in place with a low but firm heel counter.
The midsole foam railers wrap around the foot, adding stability to your step. The rails narrow as the shoe opens to the toes, giving the toes unobstructed room to spread out (yielding more support on uneven terrain).
Capping the midsole is a 5mm lugged Vibram sole. The lugs trace around the outside of the sole and under the forefoot. But the heel has a slightly less aggressive pattern. To help roll your gait through each step, the shoe sports a slightly rockered profile.
Tapering back off the eyelets, rubberized rands add a touch of structural support and some extra durability. A gusseted tongue attaches under the eyelets. The shoe is lined with a fully waterproof GORE-TEX bootie that integrates with the tongue, making the shoe entirely waterproof in water up to 4.5 inches.
Inside, the shoe is nearly a seamless sock. The toebox has a single seam that runs toe to the tongue. A second seam connects the mid’s high collar to the shoe. Other than that, the inside of the shoe is clean and comfortable against the foot.
The laces anchor the foot under the thin tongue. There are no uncomfortable folds over the foot. As a complete package, the Speedgoat Mid 2 is one of the most comfortable shoes we’ve tried in the past couple years, with very little opportunity for hot spots to form. Once you’re in, your feet are locked and loaded for whatever the trail throws at you.
After a few short test runs on muddy and dry trails, we tested the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX on a full-blown winter excursion. We did a 13-mile lollipop route that starts and ends on a rocky, sandy trail and climbs some 3,000 feet before looping back to the trailhead. Conditions were wet, icy, and capped with 7 inches of fresh snow.
Stepping into the shoe is a bit of a commitment. Because it’s a mid-rise shoe, the higher lacing can make it challenging to pull the shoe over the foot. But it isn’t just the laces. The fully gusseted tongue is sewn to the quarter, limiting how wide the shoe can open.
There’s a fat pull tab behind the ankle, but it still takes some finagling to get the foot inside. Unlike a lot of running shoes, this isn’t a shoe to run quick errands in; you’re strapping into them for a mission.
Fit & Feel
Although the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX is about an ounce heavier than almost every other winter shoe we’ve tested, they feel deceptively light underfoot and have ample cushion for long runs. Based on the ultra-endurance HOKA Speedgoat last, this wasn’t a surprise. The Speedgoat is purpose-built to dine on dragged out miles.
Soft but firm, the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX feels plush underfoot but with a medium amount of torsional flex. With a 28mm stack and a 4mm drop, it rides low to the ground. It feels agile, planted.
Additional stability is provided by the fat, cushiony midsole. The foot is seated in the cushion’s deep mold. As a result, the soft midsole inspires a lot of confidence while it’s sucking in the bumps. The shoe flexes just enough with variable terrain but without compromising torsional stability.
Under the shoe, we found the 5mm lugs a touch shallow for truly muddy conditions. The traction begins to break when the trail gets steep and muddy. And the lugs aren’t really stout enough to bite into deep snow (granted, we really pushed the outsole’s limits on the steep, deep, snowy trails).
But the shoes roll exceptionally well on hardpacked, technical surfaces. The consistent and low(ish) tread pattern makes the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX a reasonable choice for road runners who need extra traction in winter.
High-Top vs. Low-Top
We’ve tested a few high-collar shoes over the years. What separates the winners from the losers depends on how they coordinate with the Achilles. The contoured collar drops off the lateral pads to just below the Achilles, riding unobtrusively out back.
Winter trail runs in deep snow often end with bruised ankles from bashing through hard snow or catching the tread on an ankle. The Speedgoats weren’t having any of it. They manage to provide ample coverage for both the medial and lateral malleolus (the ankle bones that poke out both sides) while preserving proper foot extension and flexion.
Protection Against Cold, Wet
It’s a lot of padding — that’s undeniable. But in addition to protecting the heel, the padding helps insulate the foot and fills the void around the ankles, preventing snow from coming in.
If you’re running in deep snow, you’ll certainly want a gaiter. On our descent, snow started to pour into the shoe, and our feet remained cold until we eventually dropped below the snow line. But it’s great for light dusting and drifts.
The boot is entirely waterproof and ready to bash through puddles or stream crossings (provided they aren’t deeper than 4 inches). The GORE-TEX bootie adds a touch of warmth, preventing wind from pulling away heat — as does the fat, insulating midsole EVA.
Should You Buy the HOKA Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX?
For years, I ran in a single pair of shoes for an entire year. Hot pavement, track workouts, marathons, 5Ks, trails, winter — it didn’t matter. In Minnesota, that also meant I had cold, wet feet for half the year.
If you run in winter, it’s undeniable you’ll reap the rewards of a dedicated winter running shoe. You buy into added traction, weather protection, reflective hits, and a touch of insulation.
If you already run in HOKAs, the Mid 2 GTX is a no-brainer. HOKA takes the best of its popular Speedgoat trail shoe (cushion, stability, and traction) and winterizes it. For 3 ounces more (and $25 extra), you get a waterproof, lightweight “boot” with the extra height and the protection of a mid-boot.
If you’ve always scratched your head while looking at HOKAs, take comfort in knowing that in spite of its fierce profile, the shoe feels much lighter than it looks. It feels … well, pretty normal. The foot drops into the cushion for stability, there’s room in the toebox, the fit is spot-on, and there’s no awkward bending. The high ankle does make it harder to get into, but once you lace up, it’s ready for an all-day assault.
While the lift in the collar provides some weather protection, you’ll still likely want (and need) a gaiter. Deep snow is deep snow, and it will always find a way into the shoe when kicking through it. But more importantly, the high collar offers some desirable hazard protection. If winter running usually means bruised ankles, with the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX, that’s a thing of the past.
We know $170 is a lot of cash to put down on a pair of shoes. But having a dedicated winter shoe means you’ll spread your time across multiple shoes. Also, shoes generally tend to last longer if you’re running in snow. The tread wear is negligible. Plus, come summer, the Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX is entirely capable as a lightweight hiker for summer backpacking trips. In the end, the investment is a pretty good value.
- Wide toebox
- GORE-TEX waterproof
- Breathable membrane
- Ankle protection
- Wonderfully comfortable
- Heaviest shoe in our winter running shoe roundup
- Without a gaiter, snow still siphons in over the collar
- No integrated gaiter tie-downs
- High laces make it finicky to pull over the feet