Monday, August 13, 2018

Hoka Mach review - initial and replacement shoes (blue and grey)

I purchased the Hoka Mach back in February 2018 but never got around to doing a review of the shoe. I recently purchased a second pair, so it seemed like a good time to do so. Here's a good review of the Mach by Ben Zuehlsdorf at URP.

The first pair were ordered right around the time they were released. A lot of things about the shoe were perfect: a very light weight, 7.9 oz in Mens size 9 vs 9.6 in the Clifton 4. Successors to the Clayton line - a very similar shoe that I enjoyed a lot but which caused blistering on the ball of my foot, a problem experienced by many others. I did not get any blistering from the Machs, which unfortunately still seems to be an issue for some people (see some of the reviews here on Running Warehouse). I also thought the Mach had a very nice upper that was flexible and breathable. Finally, the shoes were ample for me in the toe box - they allowed some splay (much more than the Clifton 4 or 5) and didn't feel cramped or cause blistering on the ends of my toes like I experienced in the Clifton 4.

The pair with 230 miles. A little baggy in the upper but not totally stretched out.

A new pair of the Mach - tighter in the uppers.

I put around 230 miles on the Mach and found the durability to be pretty good. The upper has stretched out a bit, but I still can get a decent lock down when I run. The RMAT outsole held up very well - some wear pattern on the outside of the heel but that's where I usually abrade the outsole. But: still plenty of the material left and the shoe feels like it has life in it yet. And, despite a good amount of sweating, they aren't repulsive - they don't hold odor like the new Altra Knit Torin 3.5 does.

I bought a new pair of Machs and found them to be a bit of a revelation. The upper is a bit more locked down than the first pair. I'm not sure if that's because the first pair is stretched or Hoka has tweaked the design in response to early feedback about the shoes being too wide. It seems to be identical upper material, just slightly less of it. But I find the slightly tighter upper to give a better feel on the road - I have a more even footfall with the upper of the second pair being a little more snug. I'll see if they loosen up with more use, or this is a persistent difference. But I definitely like the feel of the new shoes better. (Edit: after 15 miles, the uppers have loosened up)

Here, you can see a couple of shots where there's been a few millimeters of RMAT wear on the outside heel of the shoe (blue = used, grey = new).

The "after" view - worn down so there's no more pattern on the outside rear heel. But still enough material left for another hundred miles (or more)

This shoe only has one run - there is some wear visible immediately, but you can see the "before" depth of RMAT

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Altra Paradigm 4.0 review - good first try but not there yet

This is a highly awaited and positively touted update of the Paradigm series. I did not run previously in the Paradigm, but the early praise of the 4.0 by Sam Winebaum on Road Trail Run got me interested.
A great looking pair of Altras - maybe the nicest yet.

See the StabiliPod at the outside of the shoe near the pinky toe and the heel.

On the inside, just a StabiliPod near the ball of the foot.

Excellent looking outsoles that should hold up for hundreds of miles. I wish the Torin looked like this.

Recommended by Altra for road, trail and cross training, the shoe is super comfortable - its one of those models where they feel absolutely perfect in the store and you know you must have them. The EGO material in the mid sole is luxurious, the toe box is ample but not too roomy, and the quality of the shoe is spectacular. The out sole has enough rubber on it to hold up to wear, but not too much. I couldn't resist.

Unfortunately for me, the shoe has two drawbacks that led me to return after two runs.

First, and most important, the shoes clip the inside of my ankle when running. When the right foot swings back the front left side of the right shoe can nick my left ankle. I've had this experience in Topo's Ultrafly (original - the second version shaved enough material that this doesn't happen). It is one of the drawbacks of natural style shoes that are big in the forefoot. It only happened a couple of times when running, but it was enough to scratch up my leg. 

Second, the shoe is just too bulky. I've been running in the Torin 3.5 knit which are really delightful in the cushion/ground feel tradeoff. Unfortunately, the Paradigm 4.0 is over the top in this department. That might not be a problem for people looking for a real cush shoe for either recovery or ultra road distances (I couldn't see wearing these on trails - I'd be tripping over rocks and roots with this stack height). But for me - my average daily run is in the 5 mile range, long around 10, and weekly miles sub 40 most of the time -- this is just too much shoe. If they took off a bit of the stack height and got the weight down by an ounce or two, this would be a super trainer for me.

I encourage Hoka enthusiasts - particularly people who love the Bondi or Clifton and think it could use more room in the toebox - to check out the Paradigm 4.0. But for me, I'll wait and see what they can do in the Paradigm 4.5 to address some of these issues.