The HOKA Carbon X is a highly-anticipated race shoe; dialed-in for just about any runner who is interested in running fast with efficient form for 10K to the marathon and beyond. Read our review.




HOKA ONE ONE has launched a highly anticpated and formidable, fast racing shoe in 2019, the Carbon X; a welcome addition to the high-performance shoe category.  The exciting style offers a new choice for runners looking for race day speed over their chosen distance.

The technology behind the HOKA Carbon X is bold, featuring a specially engineered carbon plate and agressive Metarocker for a smooth transition.

HOKA describes the shoe as 'maxmimally cushioned with minimal weight' which is sure to be a hit with HOKA fans and a strong new option for those ready to try the brand's fastest shoe to date.

JackRabbit guest reviewer Brian Metzler reports on the history of the development of the Carbon X and his take on his need for speed.


The HOKA Carbon X is a maximally cushioned racing shoe, built with a curved carbon-fiber plate sandwiched between two layers of midsole foam. The plate acts as a lever that contributes to a runner’s forward momentum, serving up a feeling of forward propulsion in every stride.

The Carbon X is very stiff with almost no flex, but that’s so the carbon-fiber plate can maintain the smooth rockered (convex) shape of the bottom of the shoe.


What many might not know is the HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X shoe has been in the works for about four years, but HOKA wanted to make sure it got it right before bringing it out to the market.

The curved carbon-fiber plate featured in the Carbon X and Hoka’s aggressive rockered geometry are the key to the fast, fun, rolling sensation this shoe emits, especially at moderate to fast paces.

Although it has already gotten a lot of notoriety as an ultra-distance shoe—HOKA debuted the Carbon X with Jim Walmsley setting a new world best time for 50 miles (4:50:07) in a special event on May 4 in Sacramento, CA—our wear-test efforts would suggest the new style is ideal for distances from 10K to the marathon.

Saucony Ride ISO 2 - Run on


The fit of the Carbon X has a race-ready snugness to it, with a thin, lightweight engineered mesh upper cinching down around the foot with the aid of an elastic interior bootie.

Once you’ve laced up these shoes, you feel a rolling sensation from HOKA's rockered (convex) bottom sole geometry.

The moderately soft two-layer foam offers just enough softness to cushion every stride, but it’s meant to feel more stable and smooth to create a very efficient rolling sensation from foot strike to toe off. One of the great things about this shoe is that it serves up a similar rolling sensation for a wide range of gait styles and paces.

You can land on your heel, your midfoot or your forefoot and the rigid plate will help you roll right through to toe-off. But the faster you run, the more you feel the propulsive, rolling feel.  The carbon fiber plate itself is designed to split and curl under the lateral toes so the foot can re-supinate just before the toe-off phase of a new stride and allow full propulsion from the foot in a balanced position.  



The Carbon X is a dialed-in shoe for just about any runner who is interested in running fast with efficient form for 10K to the marathon and beyond.It suits a wide range of gait styles and paces. 

Unlike the Nike Vaporfly 4% shoe, the midsole foam of the HOKA Carbon X isn’t marshmallowy soft but instead moderately soft and very stable.


Hoka One One Carbon X - Pros

Pros:Hoka Carbon X

The Carbon X performs much better at tempo pace and race pace than it does at a slower speeds. It takes a few moments to find a rhythm with the rocker profile, but once you get locked into the efficient gait pattern you'll feel a distinct rolling sensation that promotes forward momentum. 

There is no heel counter in the Carbon X, but the engineered mesh fabric around the back of the ankle is reinforced with extra stitching and an extra layer of interior fabric, combining for a lock-down feel once it’s laced up.

HOKA uses two different foams in the midsole of this shoe that are both moderately soft and resilient. The top layer above the carbon plate is a lightweight alternative EVA, while the bottom layer underneath the plate is a rubberized EVA foam that provides some added resiliency.

A major bonus is the HOKA Carbon X has a wide footprint compared to other racing shoes – making for ultimate stability. It starts with a moderately wide heel platform for a stable landing, then it tapers slightly at the midfoot before flaring dramatically at the forefoot.

Hoka One One Carbon X  - Cons

Cons: Hoka Carbon X

It's hard to find a downside to this new racing shoe. The only small downside at all is that it’s a little bit tough to get on your feet in the same way the Nike Vaporfly 4% is too. 

Because of the interior booty and snug heel cup, the laces have to be opened quite a bit before you slide your foot into it.

If you're a triathlete, you therefore might want to add in some practice for your T2 transitions!


Hoka One One Carbon X - Specs


Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of “Running Colorado's Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner.”