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Best Carbon Plated Running Shoes 2021

Buyers Guide | Fleet Feet

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From the mile to the marathon, running shoes with carbon-fiber plates have revolutionized the sport.

The boom of shoes with carbon-fiber plates came in the wake of the original Nike Vaporfly 4%, which promised a 4 percent improvement in running economy. Nike’s claim was initially backed up by independent lab tests, and it was bolstered by a steady stream of boundary-breaking performances by athletes like Eluid Kipchoge, who ran the marathon in under two hours in the Nike AlphaFly Next% in 2019.

Soon, other brands began releasing their own models packed with ultra-responsive foam compositions and propulsive carbon-fiber plates. HOKA ONE ONE debuted the Carbon X at a special event in California, and New Balance unleashed the FuelCell 5280 for one of the premier mile events in the country.

By propelling athletes to new world records, surpassing the perceived limits of human performance and claiming podium spots around the world, this new generation of speedy shoes has proven it's here to stay—and there are more on the way.

Here are the best carbon fiber-plated running shoes you need to know about:


HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2

HOKA Carbon X2 Product

The updated HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2 improves upon the groundbreaking tech found in the Carbon X by adding classic HOKA comfort to a blistering-fast shoe.

The Carbon X 2 features a carbon-fiber plate integrated into the super-light midsole foam to deliver a responsive yet cushioned ride for fast road races or long training runs. A redesigned, robust Meta-Rocker in the midsole supports a rolling cadence to keep your transitions quick and light.

Shop HOKA Carbon X 2

Brooks Hyperion Elite 2

The Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 carbon-fiber plated running shoe

Brooks powered the updated Hyperion Elite 2 with a DNA Flash midsole designed to cushion fast transitions and deliver big energy returns with each step. An integrated carbon-fiber plate propels you forward with each step and keeps the shoe responsive so you can reach top speeds on the road. Brooks also carved the midsole foam into a newly engineered Rapid Roll shape to support smooth heel-toe transitions as you run.

Designed with durability in mind, the Hyperion Elite 2 will last anywhere between 200-400 miles, giving you the premium speed of a race shoe and the endurance of an everyday trainer.

Shop Brooks Hyperion Elite 2

New Balance FuelCel RC Elite

NB FuelCell RC Elite Product

New Balance engineered the FuelCell RC Elite for the fastest feel yet. The FuelCell midsole foam is uniquely designed to deliver high energy returns and provide lightweight cushion so you can float through your next race.

A full-length carbon-fiber plate keeps the ride snappy and maximizes the efficiency of each step to push you to faster speeds. The Dynaride outsole provides the traction you need to take on unpredictable road race conditions without slowing you down. Designed to push 5K or marathon pace, the FuelCell RC Elite is streamlined for performance.

Shop NB FuelCell RC Elite

Saucony Endorphin Pro

Saucony Endorphin Pro Product

Featuring a full-length carbon-fiber plate and Saucony's newly engineered PWRRUN PB foam, the Endorphin Pro is built for speed. These two new technologies work together to deliver smooth transitions, high energy returns and unbeatable responsiveness. Saucony also features SPEEDROLL construction in the Endorphin Pro that uses elevated cushioning and a stiff forefoot to generate power with each step.

Combined with a foot-contouring fit and a grippy outsole, the Endorphin Pro delivers a cushioned feel and top speeds.

Shop Saucony Endorphin Pro

New Balance FuelCell 5280

New Balance carbon-plated FuelCell 5280

Built to tackle the road mile, the New Balance FuelCell 5280 was first debuted by brand-sponsored athlete Jenny Simpson in 2018 at the 5th Avenue Mile in New York.

The FuelCell 5280 is designed for top speeds in short road races. Featuring a multi-directional carbon-fiber plate the FuelCell 5280 delivers a propulsive, snappy ride while FuelCell midsole foam works to cushion each step. New Balance designed the 5280's with a specially engineered outsole to provide traction on slick roads so you can chase your PR in any conditions.

Shop NB FuelCell 5280

ASICS Metaracer

ASICS carbon-fiber plated Metaracer road shoe.

The ASICS Metaracer is packed with speedy technology to help you reach your fastest times yet.

Featuring a FlyteFoam midsole designed for soft landings and responsive takeoffs, the Metaracer is built to push you forward. A carbon-fiber plate throughout the midsole and forefoot powers high energy returns and fast transitions. This fast tech works with ASICS' signature Guidesole construction to relieve stress from our legs as you run and keep you feeling fresh for longer.

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HOKA ONE ONE Rocket X

HOKA Rocket X Product

HOKA ONE ONE engineered the Rocket X with its lightest components yet to float you through your next race. Featuring a carbon-fiber plate throughout the midsole to create a responsive, snappy ride, the Rocket X is a cushioned, lightweight alternative to the Carbon X or the Carbon X 2. The midsole is designed with super-light EVA foam to support each step and propel you forward toward your next PR.

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Nike Zoom Vaporfly NEXT%

Nike Vaporfly NEXT Product

Nothing beats the original. From top performances by professional athletes to up and coming NCAA runners, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly NEXT% has pushed the limits of speeds achievable. Packed with Nike's lightest ever ZoomX foam, the Vaporfly is designed for energy return and responsiveness. A carbon-fiber plate lines the entire midsole for a propulsive ride that has proven itself on world-class courses. The higher midsole promotes smooth transitions without weighing you down so you can push your boundaries in comfort.

Shop Nike Vaporfly NEXT%