Don't know if you've heard, but we live in the age of super trainers. Regular super shoes, like the Nike Alphafly 2 or the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3, are almost dull. These days, we yearn for running shoes that live on the borderline betwixt speedy racers and daily trainers. The Hoka Mach X is exactly this kind of shoe.
Offering tons of cushioning and an integrated Pebax plate, the Mach X is almost the amalgamation of the Hoka Mach 5 and the Hoka Rocket X 2. It's very similar to other super trainers - such as the Saucony Kinvara Pro – in the sense that apart from the name, it has little to do with the trainer it's based on. Is it good enough to be featured oi T3's best running shoes guide, or is this one not to be too bothered about? Let's find out.
[First reviewed Aug 2023]
Hoka Mach X review: price and availability
The Hoka Mach X was launched in June 2023 and is available to buy now at Hoka US and Hoka UK for a recommended retail price of $180/ £160 – AU price and availability TBC. Interestingly, the shoes are only available in one colour in the UK, while in the US, you can choose from three distinctively different colourways for both women and men. I tested the Ocean Mist / Lime Glow version.
Hoka Mach X review: specifications
- Weight: 8.0 oz/ 227g (W8), 9.4 oz/ 266g (M10)
- Stack height: 37mm/32mm (W8), 39mm/34mm (M10)
- Drop: 5 mm
- Plate: Pebax nylon
- Fit: True to size
- Recommended use: tempo sessions, daily runs
- Other features: vegan
Hoka Mach X review: design and build quality
Hoka described the Mach X as a "pace-pushing trainer built with high-rebound cushioning." The shoes feature an extra layer of PEBA foam that is said to be 34% more resilient than the Carbon X 3 foam. Another new addition compared to their namesake shoes is the inclusion of a Pebax nylon plate, found encased in the middle of PEBA and EVA foams – Hoka calls this the ProflyX construction.
Other features include some Hoka classics, such as the creel Jacquard upper, the Durabrasion rubber outsole and the Early-Stage Metarocker construction. Some of these technologies go back years, such as the Early-Stage Metarocker, which was already present in one of my all-time favourite running shoes, the Hoka One One Carbon X.
Hoka Mach X review: running performance
I've long been a massive fan of Hoka's chunky trainers. They are not only comfortable and funky but often provide excellent energy return. Not to mention, apart from the generally narrow toe box construction, the shoes are usually comfortable to wear (bar the Hoka Clifton 9, which is very narrow). Indeed, the Hoka Mach X isn't wide, but it's not uncomfortable, either, even for me, who has a wide toe spread.
On the contrary, I found the step-in comfort spot on. I love the slightly elastic laces and the padded tongue, both of which help keep the shoes securely tight but not suffocating. The slight give of the creel Jacquard upper counterbalances the somewhat narrow and long construction of the upper.
Like other super trainers, the idea with the Hoka Mach X is that it's a crossbreed of super shoes and daily trainers. They do it by adding more foam underfoot and a propulsive plate to the mix. In the case of the Hoka Mach X, that's precisely the case.
Although the Hoka Mach X is named after the Mach franchise, it's more similar to the Bondi line of shoes, particularly the Hoka Bondi X. It's a little less chunky and narrower but provides a similar running experience. Said experience can be summarised as a well-cushioned, moderately fact-paced run.
I don't think I'd choose the Hoka Mach X if I really wanted to push myself, but for pacy longer sessions when leg preservation is key, I might pick them over, let's say, the On Cloudmonster or the Nike Pegasus 40. It's fun to run in the shoes, though.
Hoka Mach X review: verdict
The way I look at the Hoka Mach X is that although no one really needs the shoes, it's important they exist. At this point, most big-ticket manufacturers have their super trainers, so it only makes sense that Hoka came out with theirs. From that perspective, it's obvious these shoes exist.
Better still, the Hoka Mach X is cheaper than similar super trainers, notably the Saucony Kinvara Pro or the New Balance SuperComp Trainer 2.0, yet offers a very similar running experience, which means Hoka's offering is a better option for people on a shoestring budget (pun very much intended).
A slight issue is that the Hoka Mach 5 is a super-popular shoe, and it's also cheaper than the Hoka Mach X. They are different shoes, sure, but for tempo runs, I'd probably still pick the former over the latter. Still, if you can only afford one shoe for training and racing and yearn for that super trainer experience, you can't dismiss the Hoka Mach X.
Hoka Mach X review: also consider
The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 has a similarly tall stack height and provides a perky, bouncy running experience. Its redesigned upper is the most comfortable of all the super shoes, although the heel counter could be firmer to provide more support at the rear. It's much cheaper than RRP these days, and I'd highly recommend them. Read my full Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 review.
Another one of my all-time favourite running shoes, the Brooks Hyperion Tempo, is an awesome tempo trainer that's also lightweight and offers sublime ground control. It's less tall than the Hoka Mach X, so if you aren't too keen on the foam, go with the Brooks. Read my full Brooks Hyperion Tempo review.