Shoe Review: HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2

The women's HOKA Carbon X 2 running shoe

Powered by a bouncy new midsole foam and stiff carbon-fiber plate, the HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2 gives you performance and comfort for the long haul.

HOKA’s updated version of the record-setting Carbon X boasts a softer and lighter midsole foam and a retooled fit for a more comfortable feel. But beneath the hood is the same efficient carbon-fiber performance that helps you chase down your PRs.

Fleet Feet runners put the HOKA Carbon X 2 to work on easy 5Ks and uptempo medium and long runs to get a feel for how it performs at a variety of distances and paces. Here’s what they thought of the latest from HOKA.

Tech specs

HOKA Carbon X 2

Weight

7 oz (W), 8.4 oz (M)

Drop

5 mm

Category

Neutral

Plate

Carbon-fiber

Use

Everyday training, racing

Surface

Road, track

Roomy Forefoot, Secure Overall

A pair of the HOKA Carbon X 2 leaning against a wall

Since HOKA bills the Carbon X 2 as an endurance racer, it has to be both comfortable and fast—and HOKA dialed up the comfort.

The long-range racer has an accommodating fit that’s a little bit different from the original. The new model feels slightly wider than before without bordering on sloppiness, which is ideal for longer runs.

One Fleet Feet reviewer praised the shoe’s updated fit.

“I noticed the width immediately,” she says. “I didn’t feel any pinching or smushing, and it runs true to length.”

Designers maintained the Cabron X’s static mesh upper. Many running shoes use stretchier uppers to help contour to the curves of your foot. The mesh on the Carbon X 2 doesn’t stretch, though, and it doesn’t need to since the forefoot is wide enough to be comfortable for a variety of foot shapes.

The static mesh also helps create a lockdown fit elsewhere. Another reviewer liked how the mesh provided a very secure midfoot to keep her foot from moving around in the shoe. Testers also noticed how lightweight and breathable the mesh is.

A thin tongue helps achieve the shoe’s feathery weight, and a flared heel collar creates a more comfortable fit. The flare helps keep the back of the shoe from rubbing on your heel and causing blisters. Plus, it lends the shoe a faster, more aggressive look, which testers love.

The traditional lacing system is familiar and secure. An empty seventh eyelet at the top of the shoe gives you options to customize the lacing and find a better fit. One reviewer who had trouble with the laces staying tied in the original Carbon X says she doesn’t have any problems with the laces now.

New Foam, Carbon Plate Create Propulsive Feel

The heel of the HOKA Carbon X 2

In addition to the noticeable change in fit, reviewers also immediately noticed the updated underfoot feel.

HOKA swapped in a new foam composition beneath the Carbon X 2. The new foam is both softer and lighter than the version HOKA used in the original Carbon X, which makes for more versatile performance.

“I think I could wear this shoe for any run—from easy, recovery days to uptempo workouts and races,” one tester says. “That’s because the updated model is truly soft like you’d expect a HOKA to be.”

Even with the softer foam, though, the Carbon X 2 is still stiff thanks to a carbon-fiber plate. The stiffness boosts efficiency by reducing the work your muscles have to do as you transition from landing to takeoff.

HOKA paired the plate with its aggressive Meta-Rocker technology. The midsole’s rocker shape provides a more propulsive toe-off that feels like it springs you forward with each step.

Together, testers say the foam, plate and shape deliver a fun, engaging ride.

“It feels smooth, bouncy and effortless,” according to one reviewer. “Each step feels natural and light and easy. I hardly noticed the shoe at all. It felt like it fit into my stride perfectly and offered the platform, cushion and ride I needed.”

While testers unanimously praised the shoe’s refreshed fit and engaging ride, there was one common note: The Carbon X 2 doesn’t provide a lot of traction in inclement conditions.

HOKA coated the shoe in a rubberized EVA outsole. The decision to use EVA instead of traditional rubber helps keep weight down, but testers found it to be more slippery on wet roads and damp bridges than rubber options.

That being said, testers still think the Carbon X 2 is an excellent choice for fast workouts, long runs and racing.

HOKA Carbon X vs. HOKA Carbon X 2

A side-by-side comparison of the original Cabon X and the new Carbon X 2

While the Carbon X 2 blueprint is similar to the original, there are a few key differences when you compare the HOKA Carbon X and HOKA Carbon X 2.

The biggest similarity is the carbon plate embedded into the midsole. Both shoes use a carbon-fiber plate to create a propulsive transition and stiff underfoot feel.

One major change, though, is the foam packed around the plate. HOKA used a softer foam in the new model, which Fleet Feet reviewers noticed right away. The foam is also lighter, knocking .3 oz off the men’s shoe and .2 oz off the women’s.

With the softer foam comes a new shape, too. The midsole is lower-profile now than in the previous model, and the foam extends farther out behind the shoe for a larger landing pad and smoother transition.

Designers also tweaked the fit. HOKA dialed in the heel fit with a new Achilles construction, and they added a slight flare to the collar that helps reduce friction (and gives it a speedier look).

Fleet Feet runners also noticed a slightly wider fit in the new Carbon X 2, which makes the shoe more comfortable over long distances.

Conclusion

There’s very little the HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2 can’t do.

The updated fit is more comfortable than before: It provides a little extra width in the forefoot while maintaining a secure midfoot, and the heel locks your foot into place without rubbing or chafing.

A new midsole foam underfoot creates softer, bouncier steps, while the carbon-fiber plate turns up the efficiency for a smooth and easy ride. While the shoe can be a little slippery in bad weather or around mud, the shoe is perfectly tuned for those hard workouts or race day efforts.

“They feel energetic and super comfy,” she says. “I would wear these for long runs and longer tempos (as long as I’m on a dry road). This would be a great race shoe for distances from 5K to full marathon or more.”

Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.

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