The Hoka One One Carbon X is the most requested shoe review I’ve ever had. Keep in mind, I’m not a Hoka athlete (or “sponsored” by any running shoe brand) so just because a shoe comes out doesn’t mean I immediately get a pair. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Luckily our local running store carries them. The Hoka Carbon X came out in early May during the Project Carbon X with Jim Walmsley in Folsom, California. Ultramarathoners and elite runners debuted the shoe while chasing the 100k and 50-mile world records.
The Hoka One One Carbon X is designed to be ultra-cushioned while still be very light and a responsive ride. It’s intended to be a distance shoe for half marathons, marathons or ultras.
Like the Cavu (my favorite shoe), I appreciate how the upper is light and simple. It’s just a single layer of breathable mesh. I wear anywhere between a women’s size 10-11 wide and the women’s 10.5 fits well. There is minimal structure to the upper, so your foot floats around. Your running shoe should always have space. Most “racing shoes” fit much more narrow, so this is the first racer that has plenty of room.
One thing to keep in mind is there is no heel counter. Your heel might not feel as secure as other shoes, but I’ve run just over 50 miles in the shoe and haven’t had an issue with sliding. It does take patience the first time you put the shoe on. There is still the back eyelet that you can use to secure your heel more into place if you find it to be an issue.
This is what I was most curious about. Would I feel the carbon plate like the Nike Vaporfly? The ride is smooth, and you feel the cushion but also feel the propulsion of the carbon plate.
If you’ve never run in Hoka before, Hoka uses a “Meta-Rocker”. Most Hoka models are low heel to toe drops (usually between 1mm-5mm). Think of the Meta-Rocker like a rocking chair which helps a smooth transition from heel to toe during the gait cycle. Hoka breaks down the Meta-rocker into “early stage” and “late stage”. The Carbon X is an early stage meta rocker which means it’s designed to be a fast shoe.
In the Carbon X, there is Profly foam both above the carbon fiber plate and below (think of it like a sandwich). Profly foam is Hoka’s lightest and most resilient foam. The Carbon fiber plate curls under the lateral toes to spring you forward.
If you love the Hoka Clifton, this is a very different feel. If you’ve been running in the Hoka Bondi or the Mach, it will feel more similar but faster. The transition is smooth and rolls right through the gait cycle.
I’ve run tempo runs, easy runs, and workouts. Do I feel faster in the shoe? Yes. Would I race a 5k in it? Probably not, but I would be more likely to do a longer race or approach half marathon race day in it. I am curious to see how the Carbon Rocket compares.
Finally, to reduce weight in the shoe, there is minimal traction. On a typical day with no moisture on the ground, this is fine. When it’s rainy or wet, I’m not sure how the shoe would respond without sliding (just like the 4%).
Debut shoes can be tricky. Sometimes, they are fantastic, and sometimes they miss their mark. For me, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the best for a 5k but do believe for a half marathon or above it’s an excellent option for race day. I do feel faster when I run in the shoe. Like the Cavu, I appreciate the minimal upper with less seams to irritate the foot. I’m curious to see how the carbon plate stacks up against the Vaperfly.
Races: Nike Fly, Reebok Run fast Pro
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Questions for you:
Have you tried the Hoka Carbon X?
What shoe do you like to race in?