The protection comes from the Carbon X’s two layers of midsole foam. HOKA used its PROFLY X foam above the carbon-fiber plate to give it a soft landing and a rubberized foam beneath the plate for a better response.
All that foam provides ample protection against hard pavement and debris. It doesn’t have the same squishy feeling as other HOKA running shoes, like the Bondi 6 or Clifton 6, but it’s not supposed to.
“The Carbon X is lightweight and fast on the flats and uphill, and super-high cushion on the downhill, especially in the heel,” one tester says. “I was running fast on irregular trail surfaces from gravel to grass to dirt and felt stable and efficient.”
Our testers love the Carbon X’s inherent stability. HOKA built the shoe with a wide footbed and flared midsole that provide a stable platform to land on and push off from. Thanks to the width, the shoe feels confident in any situation.
There’s no outsole rubber to give it extra grip (or any extra weight), but none of our testers noticed any problems with their footing on dry pavement or hard-packed trails.