The Brooks Hyperion Tempo were, hands down, my favourite road shoes of 2020. I had never experienced a pair of shoes that were so light, so responsive and ultimately so bloody quick. They are a real joy to wear and just lacing them up for a run feels motivational.
The earlier models in the Mach line were equivalent of the being the runt of the litter; struggling to stand out among the Ricon, Clifton and Carbon Xs lines that Hoka produce. While Hoka’s have always tempted me the Mach line never did, until the 4 came along. But when I read the early reviews for the Hoka One One Mach 4 where they were being called the best shoe of 2021 I got caught up on the hype train. I watched all the YouTube videos and read all the blogs on them until I was suddenly clicking buy now. Bloody influencers. They were my first pair of Hokas, and now I’ve put a decent amount of mileage through them I can confidently say they wont be my last either. But how do they compare against my favourite shoe of 2020?
The DNA FLASH midsole in the Hyperion Tempo was a revelation for Brooks. I had run in Brooks shoes for years and set most of my PBs in the Levitate line up and thought nothing would push me along like those until I laced up the Hyperion Tempos at my last Brooks meet up before leaving the team. I felt like a completely different runner and I’ve brought a couple pairs since purely because of how they make me feel. Their nitrogen infused foam (which turns it this beautiful blue) is in their carbon plated shoe which I was aiming to test before deciding on my marathon shoe but they wont have my size in stock until August long after my Spring marathon, so that made that decision pretty easy! The DNA FLASH needs to be experienced to be believed, it is utterly incredible.
The Profly material in the Mach 4s midsole didn’t feel as identify shifting as the DNA FLASH but I think it strikes a better balance for those long distance runs. You get the soft plush feel of a long distance shoe, contrasted with the snappy return of a race day shoe. The Brooks while still cushioned leans more towards that responsive racey feel, meaning that by the end of a half marathon I definitely felt it more in my calves than in the Hokas. I think that could be down to the Hoka having a bit more structure and stability in the upper. If I was heading out to run a 5K or 10K, I would pick the Hyperion Tempos every time based on that faster feel alone but anything further I think the Mach 4s would be being laced up.
The outsole in both shoes offers enough grip that you never feel unstable under foot and while the Hoka’s look like they should have more grip the Brooks are by far grippier and I have even taken the Hyperion’s off road (which you can tell from how muddy they are in these pictures!) and they coped surprisingly well on the trails.
While the Brooks outsole is limited to the touch points and thin (about 3mm) it is incredibly durable. After 150+ miles there are little to no signs of wear. On the flip side the Hokas definitely feel less durable with a stone getting easily embedded deep inside the softer outsole during my latest run.
Upper and Other Points
The heel cup feels almost identical in the two shoes with the heel counter/Achilles tab very prominent in both with the Hoka’s flaring out a little more. Because of that both shoes are great at creating a locked in, secure feel when running. The Hokas do have a more more structure to the heel with the support built in and it was definitely noticeable when I started to fatigue near the end of my long runs. The large flare in the heel counter in the Mach 4 is matched in the midsole too with the hoof aka the extra junk in the trunk jutting out. While it might be ugly to look at the “dovetail heel” is designed to minimise heel striking and provides comfort while running downhill. It is actually one of the major selling points for me as I suffer with runners knee triggered by down hill efforts. I can safely say that is isn’t just marketing mumbo-jumbo and I have noticed that I am experiencing a lot less pain.
The thing that struck me the most and for someone debating what to wear for my upcoming marathon is the weight. In my size (11.5, although I wear 12 in the Hyperion Elites) they weigh exactly the same; 262g. 26.2 miles, 262 grams. The symbolism is not lost on me! While they are the same weight the Brooks feels lighter on the run adding to that racey feel. The stack height is marginally different with the Brooks having a drop of 8mm and the Hokas 5mm but honestly not a difference I noticed at all.
Both have a meshed upper but the Hyperion Tempos have a stretched woven upper that feels a lot more racey but is crucially more breathable for those hot, sweaty summer marathons. So while the Hoka upper feels a lot more comfortable now in the freezing British winter, I do wonder if the Brooks stretched upper with the large ‘vents’ holes will help avoid blisters come summer.
At £125 the Mach 4 is £15 cheaper than the Hyperion Tempo at £140 and when they are very similar shoes with marginal pros and cons this price difference could be what makes you head over to the Hokas. The key thing could be durability with this price as I tend to put a shoe down to pound per mile. I am still running in my first pair of Hyperion Tempos which have clocked up 400+ miles and they still feel snappy and fast, time will tell if the Mach 4 is still putting that same big grin on my face in 350 miles time.
I have been completely blown away by the Hoka One One Mach 4s. I did not expect to adore them as much as I have and they are the new benchmark by which all my road shoes are now being measured. The Brooks Hyperion Tempos are still stunning shoes that excite me but for a larger runner I think the extra level of cushioning twinned with that dovetail heel of the Mach 4s just put it above the Tempos and the fact that they are £15 cheaper helps them cross the line ahead. They are both fantastic shoes that I am confident anyone would be happy to have in their rotation but when that marathon start line comes at the moment I will be setting my speed to Mach 4.