Hoka One One Carbon X 2 Review; The Ultra “Super-Shoe”

The Hoka One One Carbon X 2 is one of two Hoka super shoes on the market. Built for the super long “ultra-marathon” racing, the Carbon X 2 intends to provide a level of performance that will outmatch other “super-shoes” on the market.

If you know anything about the original Carbon X, then you know it was generally either loved, or hated by its users.

Personally, after seeing Jim Walmsley break the 50K world record in the original I was excited to try a pair on, but I was so unimpressed by the fit and ride of the shoe I opted not to buy a pair.

When the second iteration came out, I was optimistic about some of the changes Hoka made to the foam and placement of the carbon plate. After getting some solid miles on this thing I think it shows promise as a good shoe, but for specific purposes.

Hoka One One Carbon X2

Product Details

4 / 5

hoka one one carbon x2

Specifications

Stack Height: 32 mm (Heel), 27 mm (Forefoot) Mens

OFFSET: 5mm drop from heel to toe

Weight: 8.5oz / 241g (US M9) and 7.8oz / 221g (US W8)

FIT: True to size

Category: Neutral

Hoka makes many promises with this second generation “super-shoe”, but does it ultimately deliver on its vision? Lets get stuck in and find out! 


UPPER - Materials and Lockdown

I know we are all more curious about the midsole design and carbon plate placement, but the upper is worth mentioning because it’s quite well built and enhances the shoe’s overall quality and comfort.

The rest of the upper does not carry too many other features, but I appreciated how much Hoka thought out the tongue in this shoe, as I feel like many race shoes neglect this area. The tongue is  with a  material. This prevents any possible migration across the top of the foot. On top of that it is a made with a lightweight lycra mesh, which keeps it breathable and minimize the  weight.


The Carbon X 2 starts things off with a Single-layered Engineered Mesh, and it actually offers a great deal of lightweight comfort. On top of that, the airflow is quite nice in the forefoot.

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US
  • Surface: Road, Gyms, Flats
  • Single layer engineered mesh upper offers breathability across forefoot
  • Embroidery reinforcement provides a lightweight midfoot lockdown
  • Gusseted tongue prevents migration across the instep
  • Early stage Meta-Rocker delivers an up-tempo and propulsive ride

I felt like the shoe locked my foot down securely in the way you’d like a race day shoe to, but it did not constrict blood flow or detract from any comfort you might seek in a shoe build for longer races.

Some final items to note about the upper is the lipped heel that should reduce any rubbing or achilles irritation. The internal sock-liner is very slippery at first, so take that into consideration with your sock choice.

POSITIVE: Lightweight and breathable.

DRAWBACK: Slippery sock-liner

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US

MIDSOLE / OUTSOLE - Snappy and Responsive

With all super-shoes, this is where all of the hype is. For good reason too because it’s what most contributes to the performance benefits that we have seen in recent years.

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US

A quick and general lesson in super shoe technology, the carbon fiber plate is not a new piece of technology in shoes. Companies have been trying to use a plate to enhance performance for decades!

The real magic of a super shoe is the midsole foam technology and how it interacts with the snappy response of a carbon fiber plate.

The more energy return (and cushion) that can be put into a midsole foam while also keeping the weight down, then the better off the runner is.

With the Carbon X 2 in mind, this shoe contains PROFLY X with CM Betty Fly foam above the carbon fiber plate and injected rubberized EVA below the plate.

So the carbon plate is placed pretty low in the shoe, as it is essentially only covered by a rubberized midsole foam. This really adds an extra bit of snap in your toe off.

Delving deeper into each aspect, the majority of the foam above the plate is a Resilient CM EVA that tries to offer that soft, highly cushioned ride you expect from HOKA.

It accomplishes this for the most part, as the sheer amount of cushion will get most through a grueling race, but it is definitely not as soft as the Nike ZoomX foam or Saucony’s PWRRUNpb foam, but it gets the job done.

The plate is of course, a Carbon Fiber Plate, and it is designed to split and curl under the lateral toes which allow for resupination. The plate does a great job at providing a snappy toe off and responsive ride.

Those who enjoy a harder midsole while racing will enjoy this super-shoe more than others.

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US

A Flared Midsole Forefoot Platform offers support and stability with a more accommodating and comfortable fit. Those who like a shoe with a wide bottom platform will like the Carbon X 2.

Underneath the carbon fiber plate is an Injected Rubberized EVA, which serves as a durable and responsive outsole. 


It gets the job done, but my only complaint is that it does not provide too much traction, so on slippery surfaces or hard turns you may feel off balance.


Ultimately, the Carbon X 2 will deliver some amazing performance for many runners, and it really does improve upon its first iteration in about every aspect, but this really feels like it was made to be an Ultra-marathon road racing shoe.

It has the durability and resiliency to go the long haul, but it just won’t be able to compete with its Hoka counterpart the Rocket X, or pretty much any of the other marathon super shoes out there.

POSITIVE: Really durable performance midsole.

DRAWBACK: Midsole does not feel like a true “super-shoe”


Durability Prediction - 400-500 Miles (645-805km)

Although I would not usually worry too much about durability in a racing shoe, for reasons that I will explain later I think it's worth covering with some thought.

Even though the outsole is pretty much just a glorified extension of the midsole, I think if you’re only running on the roads or track then you can squeeze some great performance out of this shoe up to around 400 or even 500 miles.

500 might be pushing it for performance, but you could still do something in it.

The midsole is harder, so it won’t squish down as fast as a softer shoe would, and the upper really shouldn’t experience any meaningful wear and tear.

I am giving this shoe a lot of praise for its durability, especially because it will make a great ultra-marathon racing shoe.

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US

Best Uses - Ultra-Marathon Road Racing, Long Runs, Tempo Runs, Marathon Speed work...Daily Trainer?

The benefit of this not being a true marathon racing shoe is that it ticks enough boxes to pretty much do anything else you would want to do. Let me explain.

First and foremost, this is an Ultra-marathon road racing shoe, that’s essentially why Hoka built this in the first place, and shout out to them for being the first company to really take a crack at a shoe optimized for 50k and 100k road races.

Although it won’t compete with other true marathon super-shoe, it will be a great marathon training shoe. If you do not want to wear out your racing shoe, you could pick this one up and use it for most of your key workouts and long runs.

Finally, if you are into a firmer responsive shoe as your daily trainer, then you could probably get away with this shoe.

I would not usually recommend using a carbon plated shoe as a daily trainer because it definitely impacts your natural gait cycle, but I think this one might actually work for some runners.

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US

PRICE

In the super-shoe category, this is pretty much the cheapest it gets. Granted this shoe won’t compete with the performance of many other super shoes on the market, it can compete as the “blue-collar” runner’s super shoe.

For many runners who want some benefit of a carbon plated super shoe, but also want something to get them comfortably though a long race, then this is a perfect option for them because it is wide, comfortable and less aggressive than the other options.

The versatility and modestly good durability you can get from the Hoka Carbon X 2 might make it worth the price point for some.

However, it is a lot to pay to use as a glorified daily trainer so make sure you have some sort of performance plan for it so you can make use of all the snappy and responsive features that a carbon plate provides.

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US
  • Surface: Road, Gyms, Flats
  • Single layer engineered mesh upper offers breathability across forefoot
  • Embroidery reinforcement provides a lightweight midfoot lockdown
  • Gusseted tongue prevents migration across the instep
  • Early stage Meta-Rocker delivers an up-tempo and propulsive ride

Conclusion - An Ultra-Marathon Racing Shoe

In the end, Hoka accomplishes it’s goal of making a competitive standard for ultra-marathon racing. It also offers greater versatility than most other super shoes out there.

When you grab a pair of these, you’ll definitely be able to get some sort of performance value out of it. You’ll find breathability, comfort and some performance versatility when you put on a pair of these, so lace up and enjoy the ride.

Should You Get The Hoka One One Carbon X 2?

If you are looking for a versatile and durable workout and racing shoe that can go the distance, enhance performance, and protect your feet and legs from some of the pounding, then this is an awesome option for you.

The carbon fiber plate is less aggressive than others on the market, so for many runners it will offer a great middle ground racing shoe.

Furthermore, if you enjoy a shoe to wear solely for workouts and long runs, then this is an option to consider as well.

It’s a pretty beefy shoe so you can protect your legs, but it does have quite a bit of response to it so you can get after those faster sessions in your marathon or ultra-marathon training block.

Hoka One One Men's Carbon X Running Shoe, Imperial Blue/White, 10 D(M) US
  • Surface: Road, Gyms, Flats
  • Single layer engineered mesh upper offers breathability across forefoot
  • Embroidery reinforcement provides a lightweight midfoot lockdown
  • Gusseted tongue prevents migration across the instep
  • Early stage Meta-Rocker delivers an up-tempo and propulsive ride

Last update on 2021-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API