Pro triathlete Nick Chase (@race_chase) took the new HOKA Carbon X 2 through its paces from his home training base in St George, Utah.
By Nick Chase
Present day shoe technology is simply mind blowing. It’s no wonder as to why carbon shoe prices are soaring.
You’re paying for a ton of research and development as well as mega performance gains! This is likely one of the best “shoe eras” ever! The HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2 definitely seems to have a firm place within the carbon shoe world.
Take a look at my review as I run it through it’s paces. Learn why it’s going to be a key part of my shoe rotation on this year’s training and races season.
HOKA CARBON X 2 AT A GLANCE
The color, stance and overall design certainly visually grab the eye! They look like a top-fuel dragster, ready to toe the line for a ¼ mile PR!! However, after running in these babies heavily over the past few weeks I can tell, these are built for mileage!
Marathon to Ultra, that’s where I personally feel a sweet spot. I also did feel a bit sore after my first few runs; I’ve been running in 8mm drop shoes, non-carbon. So, although the Carbon X 2 runs softer than the previous Carbon X, I still felt it the stiffness in the foam. Also, another reason this is a great high-mileage racer…oh, and it holds the American Ultramarathon record to boot!
A bit more depth
For starters, HOKA altered the foam density towards a more cushioned ride and lowered the location of the carbon plate. This means you run on more foam, softening the ride against the rigid carbon.
With a 5mm drop, I personally felt the need to really lean into this shoe to feel the “boost”. Even with a dominant heel strike over 16 miles, I felt the meta-rocker rolling me forward. Again, this is why I’m definitely leaning towards a higher mileage race-shoe.
During hill reps I felt less of a boost in terms of performance. But let;s put that into context; only a few shoes really help launch against an 8% grade hill repeat.
Transitioning downhill, I felt like these shoes were going to run away from me; I really had to lean into the mid-foot, over-speed mechanics.
With the Carbon X 2 I felt like I was just feeling the carbon, foam and shoe…without a whole lot of road feedback. Even after 80 miles, the shoe really felt just as “new” as it did on day 1…the foam is durable and the rubber sole seems like it should hold up well enough to swallow the $180-dollar price point.
I was very impressed by how nicely my size 12, wide-flipper-foot fit snug and secure within this amazing upper! The achilles support system, gusseted tongue and dove-tail heel made for a firm, stable and un-compromised ride, especially while cornering in the wet.
Finally, with limited grip, I couldn’t call this a good trail shoe but certainly would say it did well on dirt roads!
Anyone can slap a carbon plate in a shoe these days but what defines a shoe’s greatness heavily depends on the foam. And importantly, HOW that plate interacts with the foam and your foot.
HOKA has done a great job providing everything a marathoner or ultra-marathoner might need to limit foam breakdown for a long-haul, fast run!
I really fell in love with this shoe more and more as I ran. Bonus is I received a ton of compliments on the color and overall look…which of course matters to us vain runners – jk. Our shoes need to look fast because duh, everyone will assume we are a threat on race-day!
Great work HOKA and if you’re looking for the next step and a bit more energy return for a half marathon, check out the HOKA Rocket X too.