Which carbon-plated Hoka shoe is the best? It’s a question I’ve gotten frequently with the launch of yet another carbon plated shoe from Hoka. If anyone got an award for making the most amount of different carbon-plated shoes, it would be Hoka. It seems like 2022 will only bring more models, including carbon-plated trail shoes!
As you know by now, Hoka has three carbon plated models:
Each carbon-plated Hoka is made for a different ride. There is no “best carbon plated” Hoka, just a best one for your situation.
Which carbon plated Hoka shoe is the best: The Basics:
|Hoka Carbon X2||Hoka Rocket X||Hoka Bondi X|
|Weight:||8.4 oz||7.4 oz||9.0 oz|
|Heel Drop:||5mm||5mm||5 mm|
|Sizing:||Slightly large||True to size||Slightly large|
So Which Carbon Plated Hoka is “The Best?
It depends on what you are looking for. The Hoka Rocket X is going to be the fastest for road racing. That speed comes at a price with less cushion than the other two models. The Hoka Carbon X2 is lightweight with plenty of cushion but lacks the Bondi X’s traction.
If you’ve tried any carbon plated model, you probably know the Hoka Rocket X is one of the most natural carbon plated shoes. Ir feels like a carbon-plated racing flat from 2016. There isn’t a lot of rocking and propelling you forward. If you prefer a low to the ground, more natural feeling, the Rocket X is the best option.
The Carbon X2 excels in ultra-marathon distance but, without the rubber, lacks traction. It’s definitely not the best model for a rainy day, but it’s lightweight with plenty of cushion to take you the distance.
The newest carbon plated model, the Bondi X, has the most cushion and durability but is heavier than the rest. If you are injury-prone or prefer more cushion, the Bondi X is the way to go. In fact, in 2022, we will see more racing shoes gain cushion similar to the Bondi X.
Which Carbon Plated Hoka shoe is the Best: Midsoles:
The Rocket X is made from compression-molded EVA. This means it has a firm ride which makes it versatile for workouts and races. It doesn’t feel “as cushioned” as other Hoka models.
The Carbon X 2 has a ProflyX midsole. This dual-density midsole means the Carbon X 2 makes it stiffer, and you’ll feel the “rocking sensation” that you often feel with other carbon plated shoes.
The Bondi X uses the signature Hoka cushioning: compression-molded EVA midsole. This means of the three models it feels the most like the Hoka trainers.
While no carbon plated shoe has stability, the Rocket X has the least stability of the three. It’s lower to the ground and has a more “natural feeling.” The Carbon X and Bondi X have a wider base, giving them inherent stability.
The Hoka Rocket X and the Bondi X have blown rubber on high wear areas.
This means there is less exposed midsole, and they are going to have more stability and last longer. The blown rubber does weigh more which brings both models up in weight.
The Carbon X 2 does not have blown rubber, and you are running on an exposed midsole. This makes the Carbon X 2 lighter and means it wears out faster. It’s less durable and not ideal for inclement weather days. If you are running Boston in the pouring rain, it’s best to look for something other than the Carbon X2.
Lately, Hokas have run slightly larger. It’s not large enough. I recommend going down half a size. For the most part, the uppers of the three Hoka Carbon Plated models fit similarly. The widest are the Bondi X, the Carbon X2, and the Rocket X.
The Rocket X uses open engineered mesh. The upper is breathable, with plenty of space in the toebox. The tongue is also guested but padded, which makes the Rocket X feel more like a training shoe.
The Carbon X2 is made from a single layer of engineered mesh. The tongue is also gusseted, so you don’t feel it slide. It is thinner and it has been a tongue that cuts into my ankle.
The Bondi X uses a breathable mesh upper with a paper-thin tongue. I hope Hoka goes to a more padded tongue like the Rocket X.
So Which Hoka Carbon Plated Shoe Is the Best?
Rocket X: If you want to run fast for shorter distances, the Rocket X is a great racing shoe. You can use it for a marathon if you love the “ground feeling” and are less prone to injury. It’s the shoe you see the professional Hoka runners racing on the road races in. Keep in mind; the Rocket X does feel the least like a Hoka shoe. The Rocket X is Hoka’s shoe to contend with other brands carbon plated footwear.
Carbon X2: If you are running ultramarathons or even further, the Carbon X is a great shoe. It is a lighter shoe and feels more nimble. If you are running in inclement weather or want a durable shoe, it’s one of the least durable shoes out there. That is simply due to the lack of rubber on the bottom.
Bondi X: If you are looking for the most cushion or want an extremely stiff shoe, the Bondi X is a great option. You won’t find more cushion in a racing shoe than the Bondi X.
As you can see, there is no best carbon-plated Hoka shoe, only the best for you and your needs.
Love running? You can subscribe to my weekly newsletter or read more about running shoes in my ebook.
Questions for you:
Have you tried any of the carbon-plated Hoka models?
What is your favorite carbon-plated shoe?