Hoka Carbon X review: The carbon-crafted racing shoe designed to go the distance

There seems to be no end to eye-wateringly expensive running shoes, but the newest running release from Hoka prove to be a impressive competitor worthy of a premium price tag. 

A few years ago words like ‘carbon fibre plate’ or ‘trademark geometry’ were more likely to be found in a postgrad journal than in an article about running shoes, but here in 2019 phone chargers are shaped like avocados and many of us rely on a small knowledgeable speaker for weather updates and spontaneous learning.

It seems fair then, that running shoes — the essential runners kit — are treated with the same applied discipline as an engineer would treat a rocket ship ie: speed, construction and advancing you to boldly go where (mostly just Nike) has gone before. 

What you need to know: 

The Carbon X is feather lightweight — a wisp in the wind on a long run with the mere heft of 240g. The single-layered mesh is breathability at it’s best, you’ll notice it right away, and it will become a crucial component especially for anyone running marathons or ultras.

The upper is more loosely designed compared to other iterations, and while that might give pause to some, trust me when I say these shoes mould to the foot like a sculptors hands to clay — locked down and in total control.  

So what about these much hyped plates? Carbon plate technology has been a hot topic in the world of running, Matt Head, Director of Design for Hoka One One helps break down the specifics. 

What are the main benefits the carbon fibre plate offers and what makes this particular design different?

“The primary function of the carbon fibre plate is to help the Carbon X maintain the shape of its aggressive Meta Rocker over long miles. The Meta Rocker is designed to allow athletes to move through their gait cycle as smoothly and efficiently as possible, and the added carbon fibre plate has been created to prevent it from breaking down or otherwise changing form, allowing the athlete to maintain as efficient a stride as possible for as long as possible.”

How does this carbon fibre plate differentiate from other carbon fibre plates from HOKA like the Carbon Rocket?

“Each time we add a component to our models they are tuned specifically for their intended end use. The carbon fibre plates in both products have been tailored accordingly; the Carbon X for longer runs and the Carbon Rocket for slightly shorter distances,” Matt concludes.

Make sense? The ride is in the stride after all, and this one is smooth and powerful — there is a noticeable improvement in the transition of the gait cycle, and the mid-foot lockdown is sublimely comfortable. 

It’s also worth noting that the men’s Carbon X and the women’s Carbon X are the same shoe — size seven being the top end of the women’s range, so if you need anything bigger go for something in the men’s collection. 

If you need more proof, Hoka sponsored runners recently took on a 100K ultra in California to celebrate the launch of the Carbon X with Jim Walmsley setting a new 50-mile world best at 4:50:07. Hideaki Yamauchi, from Japan, was the overall winner of the 100K event, finishing in 6:19:54 — equal to the average time spent waiting for the Circle Line and with comparable determination to complete your journey. 

London commuting woes aside, this really is a fantastic running shoe with all the high-performance details to backup the speed machine claims. And just in time for summer…

£160 | Runners Need | Shop now

Hoka Carbon X key features:

  • Weight: 240g
  • Single layer engineered mesh upper offers breathability across forefoot

  • Embroidery reinforcement delivers a secure heel fit

  • Gusseted tongue provides a lightweight mid-foot lockdown

  • Early stage Meta-Rocker delivers an up-tempo ride

  • Light and resilient Profly X technology provides both a soft and propulsive experience

  • Carefully positioned Carbon fibre plate curls under the lateral toes to deliver a smooth transition through the gait cycle

  • Wider forefoot platform provides support and stability along with an accommodating and comfortable fit

  • Rubberised foam outsole offers a lightweight, responsive, yet durable ground contact.

ESBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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