When Hoka launched the new Hoka Tecton X, my first thought was “why do you need a carbon fibre plate shoe off road?” As Hoka’s first carbon fibre plated trail shoe, I did wonder how it would stand up on the trails and what advantage would it offer? Do you really need carbon plates off road? I also wondered, with such excellent trail shoes contenders as the Speedboat and the Challenger, how would it compete/compare? Well, the only way to answer this is with an in depth Hoka Tecton X review so here we go.
Please note – we only provide reviews on shoes that we have tried and tested and based on our own experience of trail running. You can discover more about us and our experience here.
Spec and Review Conditions
- Terrain – Tested on moderate wet and dry terrain including rocky paths, grass fields and gravel
- Distance – Medium to Long – Tested on runs of between 6 and 12 miles in both wet and dry
- Type of Shoe – Neutral
- Drop – 4mm
- Heel stack height – 33mm
- Forefoot stack height – 29mm
- Lugs – 4mm
- Weight – 252g men/210g women
A Bit About the Hoka Tecton X
This light, flexible and responsive shoe is the first of Hoka’s impressive range to feature not one but two, unconnected, carbon fibre plates which run parallel to the length of the shoe. The aim of this design is to offer a smooth propulsive ride. Featuring Hoka’s Vibram Megagrip sole and innovative ProFly X, the shoe is designed to offer a soft and bouncy ride over moderate terrains.
While not the first trail shoe to use this technology, the North Face Flight Vectiv was the first, it is certainly one of few to be launched in this market at this price point. The Vectiv are available at a similar price point from North Face at £180. In all honesty, it’s not a million miles away from the price point of the popular Altra Lone 4 at £149.99.
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My Hoka Tecton X Review
I could bang on about tech spec, design, materials used etc. all day. In fact, you will find plenty of reviews out there that do exactly that but any decent Hoka Tecton X review needs to come from wearing the shoe on a variety of terrains so that’s exactly what I did. To get a thorough overview of any trail shoes, wearing it for a couple of runs just won’t do so before we wrote this, I made sure to put it through it’s paces over various terrains, in different conditions and at different distances. After all, it’s not until you have ‘worn a pair of shoes in’ that you can get a proper idea.
My first impression go the Hoka Tecton X, as I popped them on, was “wow, they feel like slippers”. I then proceeded to wear them around the house commenting to myself how comfy they were. I even took them along to a training session in the box that night to show them to my running peers. Why miss an opportunity to show off having Hoka’s first carbon fibre plated trail shoe?
Let’s be honest though – appearances are one thing but what happens when you actually hit the trails?
As someone who struggles to find a shoe that accommodates my wide feet and doesn’t completely obliterate my toes, I was delighted to discover that the Tecton X has a wide toe box. This is a massive tick for me as I have lost countless toenails, suffered from squashed and pinched feet and gone through my fair share of running shoes (both road and trails) in search of ‘the one’. Truthfully, I don’t think there is one trail shoes that answers all but instead a collection that complement the terrain, distance, season and type of run.
Running in the Hoka Tecton X
I didn’t have to wait long to test my new shoes out, as I went for a Saturday morning trot at a local beauty spot on the coast. Much of this run was on a mixture of grass and gravel terrain, with plenty of elevation.
What really impressed me from the get go was the feel of the shoe once on. At first glance, you may feel that the lightweight flexibilty of the shoe would do little to offer support and protection but this would be wrong. The upper hugs your feet and makes you feel well supported and comfortable.
Now of course, as a carbon fibre plated trail shoe, the test was going to be on the more compact gravel surface and they didn’t disappoint. They certainly do have that propulsion which you would expect from the carbon plates. I was actually due to coach a session straight after this run with my local club which was grass hill reps.
Rather than standing there and blowing my whistle, I decided to have a bash at a couple myself. Suffice to say on short, dry grass, they certainly felt good on contact and I was able to put the hammer down and get some decent reps in.
As someone who has worn through a fair amount of trail shoes, one of my biggest beefs is turning an ankle and having nothing to really stop you. I did exactly this as I lost my footing on that first run and immediately the shoe was there for me, stopping me from rolling as much as I usually do in my inov8s. I felt supported.
Hoka Tecton X review – So far so good – comfort and security box ticked.
Testing Them on a Longer Run
OK, so they performed well on a short 5 mile run. Now for a longer test on my Sunday longest run of the week. After a heavy downpour during the night, the previously dry ground was wet the next day. My route involved a fair amount of rocky terrain which would be freshly wet and slippy, so I did actually consider not wearing them, but then I figured what would a decent review be if you didn’t test them on all terrains and in all conditions.
This 11 mile route was fairly new to me, but I knew it would be a great test for the shoe as it combined road, grass , rocky terrain, wooded paths and gravel paths. In fact, I don’t think there was anything missing – we even managed to find some fairly sticky mud near the banks of the lake that we ran round.
Straight out of the car and we were into a downhill through woods with tree roots and loose rocks. I tentatively took those first steps, but I needn’t have worried. The shoe dealt with the terrain efficiently and I didn’t slip. Now, during this particular route, there was a fair amount of tarmac of the country lanes. This is always a good test of a shoe. Some trail shoes just aren’t built for road which inevitably you will encounter on many runs in the UK, but the Hoka Tecton X ate up the tarmac and we even found ourselves having to slow down as we got a bit carried away.
After the Long Run
By the end of the run, after some dewy grass running and a few puddles, I had wet feet but my toes once again loved me as they had freedom to breathe within the shoe. I found it a really comfortable ride and I am definitely using these as my go to shoes throughout the summer.
- Comfort – definitely
- Grip – more than I expected
- Cushioning – so much more than my current trail shoes
- Bounce – most noticeable on harder trails and road sections
My next long run was on familiar ground on a route I had run several times before. A woodland trail in the rain. This time a lot of rain and a good chance to give a good Hoka Tecton X review on wet ground. Now, these shoes aren’t designed to stick in mud but their didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of slippery rock and a lot of uneven wet trails but they served me well and when asked if I felt unsteady on the descent, my immediate reaction was “no, not at all”.
When I uploaded my run to strava there were plenty of PRs or “bling” as I like to call it. One of my friends even commented how it was funny that I had racked up so many segment PRs in a new pair of carbon plate shoes!!! So proof that they do go well over the trails?
Anyway, shoes well and truly put to the test let’s move onto the technical stuff…
With Hoka’s Vibram Megagrip with Litebase, the shoe maximises ground contact and traction on challenging terrains. The purpose of the carbon fibre plates is to offer the propulsion that you require from a shoe but on the trails. In reality, running off road, the terrain is never smooth or compacted for too long so you do need a shoe that can cope with tougher terrain too.
The lugs are 4mm and strategically placed to offer maximum grip and traction. You will notice that the central part of the shoe is left bare. This replicates other models in the Hoka range and means that these shoes aren’t specifically designed to handle too much mud or wet ground. That said, it’s not designed to be that kind of shoe.
Protective Toe Rand
This is perhaps our only criticsm of the shoe overall but its not necessarily a negative. If you are going to kick a rock in these shoes, the protective toe rand isn’t going to offer you as much protection as you would get from the Speedgoat for example.
The innovative ProFly X midsole offers support and flexibility for a soft and supported ride.
With a thin and flexible, jacquard engineered mesh upper, there is nothing other than a protective stone guard at the front of the shoe to offer protection from loose stones. This will delight those looking to reduce their carbon footprint as this eco-friendly shoe is made from recycled, vegan materials. The design offers a more precise mid foot lockdown which gave us a much more supported ride. The gusseted tongue is breathable and the shoe offers a very secure fit.
Pleasantly surprised is how I would describe my overall feeling towards this shoe. I wasn’t sure how it would fare, if the carbon plates were just a gimmick, but I can easily see now how this level of comfort, support and bounce is great for those who are racing on moderate terrain. Of course, it’s too early to say how many miles I will get out of this shoe. On most of my trail shoes, I get to around 300-400 miles before I put my toes through them. I am hoping for at least similar for this particular pair. Not least because they are slightly more than I would normally spend on a pair of trail running shoes, but it is a similar price point to other carbon fibre plated shoes so competes well in that market.
One of the key things that we search for buying a shoe are reviews as to the sizing. Do they come up small or are they a generous size? In this instance as someone, who takes between a 6.5-7, I would recommend going up half a size to a 7.5.
Do Carbon Plated Trail Shoes Have a Place?
While having proven themselves to improve speed and recovery times on the road since their inception in 2017, is there a place for carbon plated shoes in trial running. The key is in their design. If used with the right type of foam, they can decrease linear energy costs. This could save energy in certain sections of races. Very important in ultra marathon trail races when small savings could lead to large gains. We also like to think that they can give you an edge on flatter sections of a trail during shorter races.
If you fancy trying them out the Hoka Tecton X for yourself, you will find them here on Hoka’s website. Let us know if you buy a pair – we’d love to hear your feedback.