Hoka Mach 6 Review

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

The Hoka Mach 6 in a park.

Hoka’s marketing pitch: Your gateway to everyday speed.

Upper: Engineered mesh, elastic gusset.

Midsole: Full-length Supercritical foam, 5 mm heel drop.

Outsole: Perforated Carbon rubber.

Weight: 232 gms/ 8.2 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27

Widths available: D - regular (reviewed), 2E - wide.

Stack heights: 37 mm (rear), 32 mm (forefoot).

Previous model: Hoka Mach 5.

Country of origin: Made in Vietnam.

Recommended use cases: Easy runs, half-marathons, Fartleks, interval training, tempo runs.

Footstrike orientation: Midfoot/forefoot (full contact), heel strikes.

Recommended paces: 3:30 min/km (5:30 min/mile) and slower.

Median lifespan: 400 miles.

Recommended temperature range: Warmer than -5° C/23° F.

For this review, Solereview purchased the Hoka Mach 6 at full retail price; the proof of purchase is below. We do not accept free samples for our reviews and have no ties to the industry.

The vastly improved Hoka Mach 6 sets the bar high with its polished ride manners and upper fit. It's also a lot more versatile than the name suggests.
Versatile speed-friendly ride, cushioning bounce, connected transitions, secure upper, optional width
Average outsole grip on wet surfaces, lower stability than the Mach 5. Also, the sizing length differs from the Mach 5.
Proof of purchase for the Hoka Mach 6.

For this review, Solereview paid the full retail price (the discount was lower than the sales tax) for the Hoka Mach 6. The amount is in Canadian Dollars.

The heel counter of the Hoka Mach 6.

Hoka steps up its game with the Mach 6.

After all these years, Hoka has finally done it. The brand has made a great running shoe. Not merely good, as many of their past models were, but great.

Take the Hoka Mach 5 for example. It was a good running shoe if someone wanted a cushioned yet fast ride.

At just over 8 ounces, the Mach 5 was lightweight but comfortable enough to take on a 10K, even a half.

The all-foam midsole combined two different densities of foam – a squishy layer on top with a firmer EVA foam base. This placed the softer foam closer to the foot for greater comfort, while the firmer layer added stability and transition efficiency.

The base layer also doubled as the outsole, as the Mach 5 lacked a proper rubber sole. The tight upper was excellent at driving the power from the foot to the midsole – an important pre-requisite for any speed trainer.

The Hoka Mach 5 on road.

The Hoka Mach 5 was a popular choice for a 5K, 10K, and a half, and we could see why.

That’s as good a formula as any, and the Mach 5 became popular enough to become one of the top Hoka picks during a road race. Be it a 10K race or a half-marathon, the Mach 5 was as visible as the Clifton, Bondi, and Rincon.

But the Mach 5 wasn’t without its flaws, was it? One of the loudest complaints was about its cushioning durability and outsole lifespan. The lack of outsole rubber hastened the wear and tear.

To add, the negative feedback about the Mach 5’s cushioning ‘going flat’ had very little to do with the compacting of the foam. Rather, the loss of cushioning bounce – particularly under the heel – had to do with the outsole wear.

The heel cavity of the Hoka Mach 5.

The heel window created a ‘trampoline’ cushioning effect. Over time, the outsole wear made this effect weaker, making the Mach 5 lose its ‘bounce’.

The Hoka Mach 5’s rearfoot cushioning benefited from a noticeable ‘trampoline’ effect. The rearfoot had a large negative space that exposed the softer ProFly foam. This section would sag lower during heel strike or midstance, and rebound once the weight moved to the forefoot at toe-off.

But as the foam outsole lugs wore down, the softer ProFly window (in blue) moved closer to the ground. As the distance between the ProFly foam and the ground decreased, so did the trampoline effect. At the end of its life, the foam lugs would be shaved to its base, thus marking the end of the rebound from the ProFly layer.

As good as the Hoka Mach 5 was, it was far from perfect.

Similar things can be said about the Hoka Clifton 9 and Bondi 8. They are okay running shoes, but not impressive in any way. There’s a limit to what an EVA midsole can achieve on a comparative scale, as it falls short of the lofty expectations that runners have out of modern running shoes.

The overall rating of the Mach 6.

The Hoka Mach 6 changes all that. This shoe is everything that a runner expects from a cushioned speed trainer. It’s lightweight, the foam has a tangible bounciness, and the upper fits just the way it should.

The Hoka Mach 6 in a road race.

The Mach 6 is an excellent shoe to do it all – within limits, of course.

The Mach 6 can be used for most types of runs (ideally under a half-marathon distance), and yet never feels boring – no matter the speed or footstrike. It even has a mild rocker effect – just enough to propel the foot, but without interfering with the footwork.

Barring the lower stability, it’s also an objectively superior version of the Mach 5. The new midsole has increased cushioning depth and bounciness, and does a better job of guiding the foot through the gait cycle. This time, the outsole isn’t foam, but made of real rubber.

The side view of the Hoka Mach 6.

Be it half-marathons, steady-state training, intervals, Fartleks, and repeats, the Mach 6 can do it all without breaking a sweat. It truly is the running shoe equivalent of a Swiss Army knife.

The midsole is soft and bouncy at slow speeds (6:00 min/km, 9:40 min/mile and slower). At higher paces (4:30 min/km, 7:00 min/mile and faster), the Mach 6 feels remarkably efficient. The new foam has excellent rebound and works with the rocker to create a propulsive effect.

The Mach 6 just feels efficient, and yet so versatile. The tight upper pins down the foot over the midsole, and that makes it easy to access all that the Mach 6 offers.

The midsole of the Hoka Mach 6.

The new midsole foam delivers its springy cushioning no matter the speed or footstrike orientation.

This behavior is unlike PEBAX which is noticeably bouncy at slower speeds but has a squishy-flat feel (like the Nike Streakfly, for example) the faster you go. Exceptions apply when it’s paired with a firmer plate or foam base – that is why we loved the original Pegasus Turbo V1, but found the Turbo Next Nature to be lacklustre.

The Hoka Mach 6 during toe offs.

Even if you don’t push the Mach 6 hard, running in them is still a very enjoyable experience.

And if you want nothing to do with faster runs and races and just want a shoe for everyday runs at easy speeds, the Mach 6 will deliver a lively ride and a non-boring ownership experience. The non-intimidating character is the best part; you don’t need a specific footstrike or running cadence to enjoy the shoe.

Also, the Mach 6 begins delivering the goods right out of the box without a break-in period. On the other hand, the Mach 5’s stiff base midsole made a few ‘wearing in’ runs necessary.

The refinement in the fit and finish of the Mach 6 is also a few levels above the Mach 5 and other pre-2024 Hoka models.

So if you end up falling in love with the Mach 6, it’ll be a good idea to grab a few pairs over the next year. What if Hoka changes this shoe for the worse?

The toe box space of the Mach 5 versus Mach 6.

The Mach 5 had around 5 mm more room than the shorter Mach 6.

We’d quickly like to get one thing out of the way first.

That would be the sizing difference between the Mach 5 and Mach 6. The new Mach doesn’t have as much as space in the front of the toes as the Mach 5 did. Here, the large toe is half-size closer to the tip of the shoe than before. The thicker forefoot mesh and plumper heel collar eat up some room, and that shows.

Some runners would be tempted to buy a half-size larger to get the same amount of space. If you wore a US 10 on the Mach 5, a US 10.5 on the Mach 6 will give you the equivalent stick length.

If you ask us, the M5’s sizing was a little longer than it should have been. The Mach 6 fits true-to-size for a trainer that encourages speedwork. Besides, the toe-box isn’t pointy and allows the toes to splay and work the midsole.

While both versions have a narrow forefoot, the older model was slightly tighter over the small toe.

Before you decide to opt to upsize the Mach 6, there’s something you should know. While the updated sizing cuts it close, the shorter length makes the Mach 6 more fun. And why’s that?

The rocker midsole of the Hoka Mach 6.

The Mach 6’s midsole rocker is more effective than the Mach 5.

Unlike the Mach 5, the Mach 6 has a decent amount of toe spring or rocker. So the short upper fit gives the foot a longer overhang over the rocker. On the road, this creates a better ‘tip forward’ effect. Buying a size larger will still give you the rocker effect, but with a less-pronounced rollover sensation.

The snug forefoot and short sizing also do a great job of directing the power to the midsole (and the road). There’s no wasted space in the upper, and the foot sits squarely on the sweet spot where all the Mach 6 magic happens.

The top view of the Hoka Mach 6.

Our advice is to stay true to size with the Mach 6.

Turning into corners and start-stop situations are also better done with the stock upper fit. If you cut your teeth running in the unforgiving tightness of running shoes like the adidas adizero adios 2 and Nike Lunaracer 3, the Mach 6 will feel relatively cavernous.

In short, the Mach 6 has what we’d like to call a ‘performance fit’. It works best in its stock sizing. An optional wide exists for broad-footed runners, but most will do just as well with the regular/standard fit.

We had to get that out of the way, and we have. So what’s new on the Mach 6, and how does it change the shoe?

Everything’s new. The midsole foam is new, and so is the midsole and outsole design. The upper gets completely reworked with fresh materials to create a more comfortable interior.

Hoka Mach 6 midfoot striking.

The Mach 6 does not need to be broken in, and starts firing on all cylinders on day 1.

Unlike the Mach 5, the Mach 6 works right out of the box without needing to break it on.

Even during the first run, all the performance benefits from the cushioning are easily accessible. There’s a noticeable upside in cushioning depth and rebound that was previously lacking. The ride feels way smoother and consistent when loaded, and there’s this sense of sitting on a taller shoe. It’s also more gentle on the Achilles than the Mach 5.

While we have the new foam to thank for, the overall midsole design has a sizeable influence on the Mach 6’s on-road performance.

The midsole cushioning of the Hoka Mach 5 versus Mach 6.

The Mach 6 makes the entire midsole stack available for compression. In contrast, the firmer base of the Mach 5 did not.

First, let’s recap the Mach 5’s design. A softer midsole layer was on top of a much firmer midsole foam that was also the outsole. In the rear, 80% of the midsole core was the soft Profly, but wrapped in a firm EVA casing. The heel had a negative space as well.

Because of this design, the center of the midsole compressed a lot more than the sides did. The firm EVA (the white) barely had any give, so not 100% of the midsole was available for cushioning. There was a lot of swish from the Profly midsole, but near-nothing from the firm base.

At mid-stance – the stage during the gait cycle when the foot fully loads the midsole – the foot sinks deeper into the Mach 5’s heel core than the Mach 6 does.

The transition groove of the Hoka Mach 6.

The heel cavity has been replaced with a rubber outsole and a deep transition channel.

With the Mach 6, it’s different. The two-foam design has been replaced with a single-density supercritical foam with a rubber outsole under it. The entire cushioning stack responds to the footstrike and loading, versus just the upper half. There’s (nearly) no difference in the weight; our pair of Mach 6 was 5 grams lighter than the Mach 5.

(If you want to know more about how supercritical foams work – and how they’re produced, read our Hyperion Tempo review.)

The Mach 5 outsole versus Mach 6 outsole.

The Mach 5 (top) had a negative space under the heel that made it feel like a lower-than-5mm drop shoe during runs. The Mach 6’s heel (bottom) fills up that gap and reduces the variance between the published and dynamic heel drop.

The new midsole also does away with the window under the heel. There’s more contact area throughout the midsole, as the Mach 6 replaces the taller lugs and grooves with a flat perforated outsole. A deep transition channel connects the heel to the forefoot while adding torsional rigidity.

Under the heel, the midsole isn’t as easy to compress as before – there’s no cavity, and the new foam is firmer than the squishy top layer of the Mach 5. This instills the sense of being on a taller shoe with a higher heel drop. It helps that the midsole is a couple of millimeters taller.

The midsole groove of the Hoka Mach 6.

The Mach 6 is not as stable as the Mach 5. In return, the entire stack is available for cushioning.

The heel-to-toe offset number matters only when the foot is loading the midsole. Otherwise, an advertised heel drop is just a vanity metric that means very little without context. Both the models advertise a 5 mm heel offset, but behave very differently in real-world conditions.

The results will vary, but generally speaking, the Mach 6 will be easier on the Achilles Tendon than the Mach 5. The heel doesn’t compress as much, so the foot doesn’t sink into the foam as the V5 did. Effectively, the Mach 5 had a lower dynamic heel drop than the Mach 6.

The footwork in the Hoka Mach 6.

The removable footbed of the Hoka Mach 6.

There’s a drop-in footbed over the single-density midsole.

The midsole has a rubbery-bouncy ride that feels engaging. It’s firmer than the Mach 5’s soft Profly layer, but here, you’re able to utilize 100% of the cushioning. The foam is quick to snap back to shape after being compressed.

The transition during the gait cycle is excellent. For a non-plated shoe, the Mach 6 feels very propulsive. Many things work in tandem here – the deep groove, a flat yet thin outsole that doesn’t interfere with the flexing while providing grip (on dry roads, mind you) needed for push-offs, and the superb lockdown that allows the foot to take full advantage of these attributes.

The bottoming out of the Hoka Mach 6's midsole.

Under heavy loads, the Mach 6’s forefoot will bottom out.

The stability is very decent, but lower than the Mach 5. The latter had a firmer EVA base that kept the weight centered. Under heavy loads, the Mach 6’s midsole will momentarily flatten before it snaps back into shape. That Mach 5’s firmer base prevented that from happening.

We docked a few points on the outsole performance. The grip from the thin and flexible outsole isn’t bad at all under dry conditions. A full outsole will also improve the Mach 6’s lifespan, so runners can expect a higher mileage than the Mach 5.

The Hoka Mach 6 on a wet sidewalk.

The Mach 6 doesn’t grip well on damp surfaces.

The Hoka Mach 6 on a metal step.

The traction isn’t great on metal warning plates either.

However, the traction on damp roads is sub-par. The lack of bite is noticed during toe-off; the forefoot just doesn’t grip well enough in inclement weather. It’s best to keep the Mach 6 off wet roads if you want powerful toe-offs.

This may sound like an odd thing to say, but Hoka doesn’t have much experience with outsoles. No, that’s true.

The forefoot outsole of the Hoka Mach 6.

Unlike the legacy Hoka models, the Mach 6 and Cielo X1 get proper outsoles.

For many years, it had been passing off parts of the midsole as its outsole, or using foam as the outsole material (Carbon X2). So to have a full rubber outsole is uncharted territory for Hoka, so we hope the compounding will get better with time, as it has for other brands.

For now, Hoka’s inexperience shows. Otherwise, the outsole is well-designed. The perforated thinness of rubber slabs complements the springy midsole.

Much has already been said about the upper fit, but we’ll cover the minutiae.

The heel collar of the Hoka Mach 6.

The Mach 6 has one of the plushest uppers for a shoe in this class.

The forefoot mesh of the Hoka Mach 6.

The Mach 6 doesn’t breathe as well as the Mach 5 does, but it’s softer and smoother on the inside.

The interior of the Hoka Mach 6.

The forefoot fit may be tight, but the toe box has ample splay room.

The Mach 6 has such a plush upper. From the moment you step in, the interiors feel noticeably smoother and have a softer hand feel than most of the past Hoka models.

In this case, it’s the choice of materials. The heel collar uses a much softer lining with more foam padding. The firm 3/4th height counter locks the foot in without chafing the Achilles. The elasticated gussets are soft, and so is the forefoot lining. The mesh, like the last time, isn’t stretchable.

The Mach 6’s thicker upper doesn’t breathe as well as the Mach 5, but in return, you get a more comfortable upper.

The inner sleeve of the Hoka Mach 6.

The gussets tie down the tongue; they are made of a thin and soft fabric.

The tongue of the Hoka Mach 6.

Except for the foam pocket on top, the tongue lacks any padding. The lacing pressure isn’t a problem, however.

The midfoot is held down by a pair of stretchy gussets, ensuring a flush fit. Most of the tongue doesn’t have padding, but the lacing pressure is managed well. The stretchy laces offer some adjustment, and the padded foam pocket on top protects the instep.

SHOES COMPARABLE TO THE HOKA MACH 6

The New Balance Rebel V4 in the outdoors.

For more upper room and a softer and easygoing ride, consider the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel V4.

The Mach 6 is in a league of its own. If you’re looking for a lightweight plate-less trainer that’s fast, yet user-friendly, your search ends here.

Alternatives would be the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel V4 – a soft and spacious trainer that’s easier on the feet than the Mach 6, but relatively harder to coax speed runs of. In our review of the Rebel V4, we likened its upper to a Pyjama, and the Mach 6’s fit to a performance legging.

The Mach 6 has a much tighter fit over the forefoot, midfoot, and heel. The lock is very securely locked in, and the foot doesn’t budge. This makes the Mach a better fit for harder efforts than the Rebel.

The Brooks Hyperion Max doesn’t get enough love, but it should be on your radar as well. It’s not as fun as the Mach 6 or as soft as the Rebel, but it blends speed-friendly comfort for high-intensity training.

adidas Boston 12 on the road.

Lastly, take a look at the robust adidas adizero Boston 12. While not as nimble as the Mach, it grips better in inclement conditions and is durable enough for everyday use.

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