If you are all caught up drooling over the latest Nike Zoom Turbo 2 or Adidas Ultraboost 19 running shoes, I'm telling you, you're missing out. There are so many good running shoe brands no one really talks about outside running circles, and one of them is Hoka One One. No, that's not a typo.
The reason why you should know about a brand like Hoka One One is because they manufacture shoes like the Carbon X. As soon as you open the box and take a look at these beautiful shoes in the flesh, you will want to put them on and go for a run, straight away.
And once you're out on the run, you will not want to stop. It will be difficult to do so anyway, because not only the Carbon X makes even long runs a very pleasant experience, but it was also designed to make your feet go forward. And it is very efficient in that, too.
These great qualities made the Hoka One One Carbon X achieve the third place on our best running shoes list. They also happen to fit my running style perfectly, so I love 'em.
Hoka One One Carbon X review: the Tech
When it comes to tech, the Carbon X excels all round.
The upper mesh is single layered and locks you foot down as you run. Thanks to the venting holes placed along the surface, your foot is never suffocated and feels fresh even after ramping up 10-15 miles in a sunny afternoon. The embroidered heel not only looks cool but it also reinforces the rear area of the shoes.
As much as I like the soft, super-cushioned tongue of the Nike Joyride Flyknit, the gusseted tongue of the Carbon X is so unobtrusive, you can't even feel it's there.
The Profly X midsole will land you softly and shoot you out like a rocket at toe off. The softer cushioning in the heel makes touchdowns much smoother and the firmer foam at the front is exactly what you need to leave the ground quickly.
The Meta-rocker technology puts geometry at your side. The low heel-toe drop (only 5 mm) and the special-shaped midsole will make running feel like you have wheels in place of your feet.
And of course, the carbon fibre plate in the midsole smooths out the transition throughout the gait cycle. I was expecting more rigidity but there was none to be found. The bounce is excellent with a supreme energy return.
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Hoka One One Carbon X review: the Ergonomics
Once you slip on the Carbon X on – and you will do this after you got them out of the box – you will be surprised how natural it feels like walking in them. You will instantly recognise the Meta-rocker-effect, the kind of rolling motion that will help you tremendously on your runs.
I was really surprised how much you can't feel the Carbon X as you run. Most usually, you can pinpoint exactly where the shoes hold your feet; let it be the midfoot area or at the front, or both. After like five seconds of running, the lightweight upper mesh of the Carbon X just disappears, the feeling of holding your foot dispersed all across the surface of your feet.
Your feet becomes one with the shoes; you won't be able to tell where one ends and where the other one starts. This feeling will be with you throughout your runs, the weightlessness and ultimate comfort that makes you not want to stop.
Needless to say, the Hoka One One Carbon X is one of the fastest shoes I ever tested. It might not be as fast as the Asics Gel Nimbus 21 or the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, but it is pretty fast nevertheless.
Be mindful of the sizing, if you don't like a snug fit, order half a size up, the Carbon X being on the tight side.
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Hoka One One Carbon X review: the Aesthetics
The Hoka One One Carbon X looks like a cute chunk of American design.
The bold, contrasty colours, the embroidered heels, the gusseted cuts on the upper mesh, even the branded tongue and insole, they all form one singular unit to deliver the strong look that distinguishes the Hoka from the competition. The Carbon X's audacious looks will make even non-runners curios about the shoes.
You wouldn't expect this much style from a pair of grey running shoes. The white embroidered stitching – reminiscent of the Nazca-lines in Peru – sits over the bright red heel panel which gradually gives way to the main grey colour of the front of the shoes. The mesh is so thin that you can see the sock through them, yet it locks down your feet perfectly.
The best thing about the Hoka is that it looks like a running shoe; yet, no one will think you are either pretentious or horrendously unstylish if you wear them to the shops or for a walk.
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Hoka One One Carbon X review: the verdict
Running is a personal thing and for me, the Hoka One One Carbon X is as close as it gets to being the perfect pair of running shoes. The Meta-rocker technology moves me forward more easily when I run and the Profly X midsole helps me land softer and toe off faster, providing softer cushioning at the back and firmer at the front.
The gusseted upper mesh and tongue provides excellent breathability and does it without being too loose either. The Carbon X won't get in your way, even doing long distances; conversely, wearing them will make you faster and more agile, wanting to go (and run) the extra mile.
Not only that, but the Carbon X also just looks great. It is chunky, exuberant yet not harsh, efficient yet not pretentious.
The only problem with the Hoka One One Carbon X is that you have to take them off sometimes. That's something no one really wants to do in their right mind.
10/10. Would ride again.