Hoka One One Carbon X 2 review – Speedy running shoes with bags more support than ever before

The Hoka One One Carbon X 2 offers more support than its predecessor without compromising on speed and agility

T3 Platinum Award
Hoka One One Carbon X 2 review
(Image credit: Hoka One One)
T3 Verdict

This upgrade of the Carbon X offers many improvements from the first iteration. The upper of the X 2 is where you’ll notice the most significant tech upgrades, with a much more supportive offering to ensure your feet stay locked in. Maximum cushioning, a carbon fibre plate and an extended sole also allow you to run faster and further, though the outsole is a little less impressive.

Reasons to buy
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    Ultra-light PROFLY midsole is wide and supportive

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    Carbon plate will propel you forwards naturally

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    Versatility; will perform well in most distances

Reasons to avoid
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    Can feel like a big investment

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    Some find the HOKA fit a bit too narrow

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    The pull tab has been taken off

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    The outsole could be sturdier

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In this Hoka One One Carbon X 2 review, we'll find out if the updated version of Hoka's speedy racing shoes lives up to the reputation set by the original Hoka One One Carbon X, and if it's worth being included in our best running shoes women guide. 

When the Carbon X's hit the market they felt revolutionary, however, there’s no doubt what they offered in propulsion and speed they lacked in support in the upper of the shoe. Hoka has kept similar technology in the midsole for the Carbon X 2 but redeveloped the upper. 

These upgrades from the first model feel obvious as soon as you try them out, and the Carbon X 2 performed brilliantly in both interval sessions and longer runs. It’s hard to find fault with them.  

The upper is noticeably different, with much more support so your feet don't move on foot strike. Hoka has also improved this shoe when it comes to being more supportive and cushioned for longer racing. It’s a dream for long-distance running and those training for ultras.

Hoka One One Carbon X 2 review: Tech and ergonomics

There’s now a plush tongue to secure the top of your foot; the Carbon X didn’t feel like it offered this and my feet tended to move forward on foot strike. Also, you get much-improved heel support with an extended Achilles protector which feels vastly different, both strong and sturdy. There’s much more cushioning from your mid-foot through to rear of foot, but the shoe stays ultra-light... you don't notice the super-sized midsole. Yes, it does extend to the rear of the footprint but you don’t notice this.

What you’ll be thinking is how can a shoe with such a thick midsole feel so light. The midsole foam is less dense, giving a softer feel and making it more forgiving. This does mean the shoe may wear out quicker than the first model, as there is less dense foam at the bottom of the midsole, forming the outsole. Run your hand along with this outsole and you’ll notice it feels soft; you’d expect to find ridges of thicker rubber or lugs to improve grip in wet conditions but there aren’t any. Even though the shoes felt fine to run in on wet pavements, without this extra layer they are probably going to wear out quicker than you’d expect.

The carbon-fibre plate feels natural as it works with the meta-rocker to propel you forwards. These certainly feel very fast and give great energy return as you push off. You get a 5mm heel-to-toe drop and they feel light, weighing in at 198g.

Hoka One One Carbon X 2 review

(Image credit: Hoka One One)

Hoka One One Carbon X 2 review: Aesthetics

As mentioned above, the X 2 has an extended midsole that protrudes past the heel. When HOKA first burst into the UK shoe scene they were the only brand offering super-sized soles, and now, just as back then, you have to mentally press fast-forward if you hit a glitch over running in shoes that, well, look slightly different. Because it does look like there is a small hoof extending from the back of the sole.

That said, they are a good-looking trainer and the extended rear suits the shoe. There are three colourways, the traditional HOKA blue, a gorgeous Hot Coral and darker Moroccan Blue. Hoka offer sleek, understated style; you’re never going to get a garish shoe. You do get a chunky white sole, but this and the upper clean up easily and quickly.

Hoka One One Carbon X 2 review: Verdict

The Carbon X 2 has improved dramatically when it comes to the overall fit of the shoe. Almost every aspect of the Carbon X fit has been updated, with a more plush and supportive upper. Teamed up with the PROFLY foam, carbon plate and meta rocker, they feel comfortable and fast to run in.

Even though the outsole isn’t as sturdy as it could be this doesn’t detract from such an impressive redesign. Maybe the Carbon X 3 will tick that box, but until then, if you don’t want these to wear down too quickly, they should be saved for important longer runs and races. 

Is the HOKA ONE ONE CARBON X 2 the very best running shoe out there?

When you work hard to design a shoe with extraordinary cushioning and add in a propulsive carbon plate, you are creating a breed of shoe that is hard to beat when it comes to ticking all the support and speed boxes. The versatility of this upgrade, and the promise of making those long runs easier on your legs, as well as faster, makes the Carbon X 2 a great shoe for all those long runs.

Tina Chantrey

Tina is fitness editor for Women’s Running magazine and published two books in 2020, The Little Book of Zen and Reflexology: Your Personal Guide. She is a UKA running coach, England Athletics Mental Health Champion and has her own running group, #runTLC. Follow her on Instagram @runtlc.uk