After it’s debut, the smartly updated HOKA Carbon X 2 is ready for the running season ahead.
The Carbon X returns after the successful first edition won races and set records. It proved itself among the best of the initial crop of long-distance racing shoes built with carbon-fiber plates embedded in thick, cushy midsoles.
The Carbon X 2 is a maximally cushioned neutral-oriented speed shoe. It has a staunchly rocker profile and an energetic vibe that promotes fast-cadence running.
The smart updates HOKA Carbon X 2 to make this edition slightly lighter and cushier. It is more consistent and efficient and, ultimately, even faster than the original.
Specifically, the shape and positioning of the carbon-fiber plate have been updated slightly for smoother, more efficient transitions. The midsole is slightly thicker and slightly softer for a more plush ride. Add to that the new, extended Achilles-friendly heel tab improves comfort and fit.
A stretchy Lycra bootie finishes off the Carbon X 2. This feature creates a gusseted tongue for a locked-down feeling at the mid-foot. It’s topped off with an engineered mesh upper that delivers breathable comfort.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The Carbon X 2 has a true-to-size fit with a medium width from heel to toe. It also brings in a little bit more room in the toe box. Compared to other carbon-fiber racing shoes, it’s a bit more roomy, especially in the toe box.
It’s a unique shoe that feels soft at step-in, but it tends to feel a bit firmer the faster you run in it. That’s a good combination that allows it to be comfortable, responsive, propulsive and fast. The most unique feature about this shoe is the rolling sensation of the ride.
Unlike some other super shoes with carbon-fiber plates that are bouncy, the Carbon X serves up a smooth, rhythmic, rolling ride. This stems from the distinct rocker geometry and catapulting sensation of the carbon-fiber plate embedded in the foam midsole.
There’s not much flex in this shoe, but it’s supposed to be firm and snappy. It’s takes a short amount of time to get used to it, but once you find that rhythm you’ll feel the energetic boost in every stride. It will feel almost effortless.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
If you’re interested chasing a new personal best in the half marathon or marathon or want a proficient performance trainer for long runs and tempo runs, this is a definitely one every runner should consider.
While it’s a ideal choice for front of the pack runners, it’s an especially good shoe for committed age-group runners and middle-of-the-pack runners. This is because it accommodates a wide range of stride styles and encourages quicker and more efficient turnover for moderate paces too.
For the encore edition, HOKA made some adjustments to the placement of the carbon-fiber plate. Embedded in the midsole, this allows the rolling vibe and energetic toe-off to be more accessible to every type of running gait. The plate is split under the flared midsole forefoot platform, allowing for optimal resupination to set up the toe-off phase of the stride.
The midsole of the Carbon X 2 is 2mm thicker and slightly softer than the original. This creates a more plush feeling from touch-down to toe-off. That includes slight changes to the cushy foam above the carbon-fiber plate and the durable and responsive injected-molded, rubberized EVA foam below the plate.
The outsole is made from a durable, injected-molded rubberized EVA. This provides a secure grip on wet and dry surfaces while also contributing to the propulsive ride.
If you prefer or typically run in shoes with soft, compressible midsoles, the ride of the Carbon X might seem too rigid and rolling for you.
The Carbon X 2 much softer and more accessible than the first version. But it still a different ride than most carbon-fiber racing shoes that feature a soft, bouncy ride.