Shoe Review: HOKA Rocket X 2
Get ready to blast off the starting line in the new HOKA Rocket X 2. HOKA’s carbon-plated road-racing shoe has gotten a major facelift with this latest addition, and Fleet Feet reviewers were anxious to test it out.
The main updates to the HOKA Rocket X 2 are an additional 6 millimeters of stack height, a new, peppy PEBA midsole foam and a spoon-shaped carbon-fiber plate to enhance energy return during landings and takeoffs.
Fleet Feet reviewers took the HOKA Rocket X 2 along for some tough workouts to get a feel for how it fits and performs. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest version of the Rocket X 2.
HOKA Rocket X 2
|Weight||6.7 oz (W), 8.3 oz (M)|
|Heel-to-toe drop||5 mm|
|Stack height (heel/forefoot)||36 mm/31 mm|
|Comparable to...||Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, ASICS Metaspeed Sky+|
New Mesh Upper Offers Snug, Race-day Fit
The HOKA Rocket X 2 looks like a completely different shoe compared to the previous version of the Rocket X. It appears sleeker and more modern, thanks to new materials and geometry.
“The first thing I noticed about the Rocket X2 is the paper-thin upper,” Nate says. “The material is so thin it’s practically translucent. Because the purpose of this shoe is to go fast, I appreciate the weight savings here. The upper contours my foot pretty perfectly and I like the extra padding around the heel collar that gives me extra support.”
The upper is comprised of a technical, synthetic mesh material that hugs your foot in all the right places. A thin, gusseted tongue sits atop your foot while light padding on the sides of the heel collar holds you in place. Reviewers felt that the Rocket X 2 does a better job of holding your foot in place compared to other carbon-plated super shoes.
“The use of the thin, plastic upper on the Rocket X makes my ankles feel really secure,” Max says. “The upper locks my foot into place a bit more than other competitors, and the material feels more durable as well.”
The Rocket X 2 features a performance fit, so it’s a bit snugger than other HOKA models. Racing shoes typically offer a dialed-in fit to eliminate movement within the shoe, helping you run as efficiently as possible and shave off those precious seconds.
“I usually order a half size down in HOKA because of the roomy fit, but I ordered my regular 6.5 size in these because I was told they had a snugger, performance fit, and they fit perfectly,” Caroline says.
PEBA Midsole Propels You Into Takeoff
The featherlight upper of the Rocket X 2 holds you atop the soft, bouncy midsole foam infused with a carbon-fiber plate. HOKA uses a dual-density PEBA midsole foam in the Rocket X 2, which is softer and more responsive than the compression-molded EVA foam used in the previous version. Reviewers noticed the difference.
“I decided to test these shoes out for the very first time during a five by one mile repeat workout at 6:45 pace,” Caroline says. “I was really nervous for this workout to begin with, and wearing a brand new pair of shoes definitely heightened my anxiety. But, they answered the call! They felt light and snappy, and my strides felt quick and efficient.”
Caroline also noticed how well the shoe handled sharp turns, which can be difficult to do in racing shoes, which are typically high in stack height and low in support.
The Rocket X 2 sits at a stack height of 36 millimeters in the heel and 30 in the forefoot, which is a 6 millimeter increase from the previous version, adding more protection underfoot from the impact of pounding pavement.
While the stack height has increased, it still stays well below World Athletic’s maximum allowable height of 40-millimeters for road racing shoes. While these rules don’t apply to amateur runners, all racing super shoes are created with these guidelines in mind so that sponsored athletes can wear them, which is why we see other competing super shoes go right up to 40 millimeters. The Rocket X 2 is slightly lower in stack height, making it a great choice for runners who want to feel a bit closer to the ground for better proprioception.
“The midsole cushioning in the Rocket X 2 is soft, responsive and feels energetic, but the stack height isn’t as gigantic as some of the other options out there that can be intimidating to newer runners,” Max says.
HOKA Rocket X 2 vs HOKA Rocket X
HOKA Rocket X 2
HOKA Rocket X
6.7 oz (W), 8.3 oz (M)
7.4 oz (unisex sizing)
Stack height (heel/forefoot)
36 mm/30 mm
30 mm/25 mm
The HOKA Rocket X 2 has gotten a complete facelift from the previous model, making it sleeker, more modern and a true competitor to the other super shoes out there.
An increased stack height combined with a new PEBA midsole foam makes the Rocket X 2 feel much softer and bouncier than the previous model. HOKA says the new PEBA midsole foam exhibits a higher rebound performance than the compression-molded EVA midsole foam used in the Rocket X.
“I ran in the Rocket X 2 just two days after my first race of the season, so my legs were a little tired and my pace wasn’t that fast,” Nate says. “Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised with how bouncy the shoes felt and how quick they made me feel.”
The carbon-fiber plate embedded in the midsole has taken on a new shape, too. Shoe designers call it a “spoon shape,” and it's angled forward to give you maximum propulsion.
“HOKA loyalists have been looking for a go-to race day shoe for a little while and this shoe feels like a really great mix of technology that other brands have been using in their super shoes, with a distinctly HOKA feel,” Max says.
How Does the HOKA Rocket X 2 Compare?
We took a look at some comparable shoes to see how they stack up against the HOKA Rocket X 2. Here’s what we found.
HOKA Rocket X 2
Nike Zoom X Vaporfly Next % 2
ASICS Metaspeed Sky+
6.7 oz (W), 8.3 oz (M)
5.9 oz (W) 6.6 oz (M)
7.2 oz (unisex)
36 mm/31 mm
40 mm/32 mm
33 mm/28 mm
The HOKA Rocket X 2 offers a unique ride, thanks to a dual-density midsole foam that combines both rigid and soft elements. A technical mesh upper offers a sturdy and supportive fit while still remaining lightweight. Reviewers thought the shoe felt akin to the Nike Zoom X Vaporfly NEXT % 2 and the ASICS Metaspeed Sky+.
“The upper in the Rocket X 2 fits like the Nike Vaporfly, which I love because it really holds my foot in firmly. I don’t want to have any extra movement within the shoe when I’m trying to run a PR,” Caroline says. “Cushion-wise, I think this shoe feels like a softer version of the ASICS Metaspeed Sky+. It’s got the same heel-to-toe drop, giving it a similar feeling, but it has a bit more bounce to it.”
Who is the HOKA Rocket X 2 Best For?
The HOKA Rocket X 2 will be appreciated by both HOKA loyalists and those new to the brand, thanks to its soft yet springy ride and sleek fit. It’s got the technology needed for faster runners seeking a new PR, but it has a reasonable stack height so as to not be intimidating to newer runners who have never worn super shoes.
“I’ve been excited to test these shoes ever since seeing them at The Running Event, and they definitely live up to my expectations,” Caroline says. “The ride offers the perfect blend of softness and bounciness, and they don’t max out at the maximum 40-millimeter allowable stack height, either, so they’re a good fit for those who don’t want to feel like they’re towering over in their racing shoes.”