The best HOKA to date!
There, we’ve said it. And it’s true, HOKA Rocket X 2 is the best running shoe the brand has produced, and it’s a shoe that brings the brand into the current age of running shoes.
Ever since the brand was launched, they’ve simply been producing shoes that used EVA cushioning. The same type of cushioning that’s been around for over 20 years, they simply used more of it!
By using a PEBA-based midsole they now have a shoe to compete with the likes of the Nike Vaporfly and Adidas Adios Pro.
It’s a lightweight racer and, of course, it features a carbon plate to complement that cushioning.
HOKA Rocket X 2 – First Impression:
Wow, this shoe is soft. The PEBA cushioning is light, soft and squishy.
As soon as you slip it on, or should I say squeeze and wiggle your foot into the shoe, it has a familiar carbon-racer soft, bouncy feel.
The fit is true-to-size in terms of it fitting the same as other HOKA models. The brand use just a half-size conversion from a USA to UK size (like New Balance) but other brands use a full-size difference.
So a US Size 10 from HOKA is a UK9.5 (Brooks, Saucony, Mizuno etc US10 = UK9).
This is an ‘all-gender’ model too, so no separate Men’s / Women’s size or color differences.
The upper is a single-layer mesh with minimal padding, so all excess weight has been removed from the shoe.
HOKA Rocket X 2 – The Tech:
The new PROFLY-X Construction is essentially a dual-density PEBA midsole.
This is what has been missing from HOKA shoes for a couple of years, a high-tech, soft and responsive midsole. Here it’s lightweight and provides great cushioning with a good level of energy return.
A scooped carbon fibre plate is placed between the twin layers of PEBA. This helps distribute force through the soft cushioning, as well as adding an extra level of propulsion.
The super-lightweight upper uses a single-layer mesh with a ripstop-like construction for high levels of breathability and support.
Carefully placed internally bonded pieces provide extra structure and shape to the upper.
HOKA Rocket X 2 – Road Test:
My first run, as always in race day shoes was again on the treadmill. An interval session of mile reps usually provides a good idea of how the shoe will feel at speed.
Getting the shoes on my feet was a bit of a struggle and I can see this being a real issue, particularly for triathletes.
The tongue is gusseted into place with four midfoot straps, two on either side. These succeed in keeping the tongue in place, but also reduce the amount of volume in which to get your foot.
The heel counter of the shoe is non-existent. There’s no heel counter, just the fabric of the upper, which curves inwards.
This lack of structure, while not an issue for performance, does mean it collapses a little when putting the shoes on, making it a two-handed affair.
Once on and on the move, the shoe is surprising. I was expecting it to be somewhat unstable, but when running this feeling quickly disappears and the performance kicks in.
HOKA Rocket X 2 feels soft on the first impact, but then almost firms up on toe-off.
Perhaps this is due to the particular design of the carbon plate and the twin density of the PEBA foam. Under the heel, the overall feel is much softer than under the forefoot.
At 5:30min mile pace the shoe rolls along really well, with nice levels of ‘bounce’ or ‘energy return’. During my recoveries, any instability concerns weren’t an issue, so I’m pleased to report no further issues there.
On my next run, a tempo pace 6-mile effort, it was more of the same. A nice smooth ride with a great responsive feel.
I keep this type of shoe for its intended purpose, running fast or racing, hence testing it at this type of pace. Some may use it as a more general-purpose shoe, but my belief would be to keep race shoes for race day.
HOKA Rocket X 2- Conclusion:
HOKA Rocket X 2 is certainly the best shoe yet from HOKA. The feel is fantastic and right up there with other carbon racers such as the New Balance FuelCell Elite.
The slightly lower drop of the HOKA might be a deciding factor for some runners but they should be able to gauge when they pull the shoes on.
On that subject, pulling the shoes on is the only real concern. It’s not going to be a deal breaker for runners but for triathletes, it might. You certainly can’t get these on quickly. The way the heel counter collapses doesn’t help and the close fit of the tongue again makes things tricky.
Once on the feet and on the move, it’s great.
The HOKA Rocket X 2 feels amazing, a really responsive, springy feel, and right up there with the lead pack of carbon racers. Next, let’s have some of this midsole in the daily trainers please HOKA.