Our verdict

I think Hoka has a winner here. I am really impressed with this shoe. For the price, I think they’ve done something amazing here. It feels more like an everyday shoe but sure does perform like a race shoe. It doesn’t look crazy either, and it feels great. There is lots of cushioning and it has a super smooth transition. It’s fast as hell! Hoka, you sold me. It’s probably the best race shoe out there, all things considered. Well done!

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Carbon-plated design
  • Light
  • Best-priced
  • Robust upper

Cons

  • Break-in period
  • Heel slip

Audience verdict

89
Great!

Hoka Rocket X: what is it all about

This is what a race shoe should look like. Everyone, the Rocket X from Hoka. 

This here is Hoka’s lightest racing flat. It’s a super-fast, super-light carbon race shoe with a surprisingly soft landing and plenty of energy. 

It is kind of a progression of the Carbon X, but different enough to be its own shoe. Contrary to the Hoka Carbon X, this shoe is lighter, narrower, and has less underfoot cushioning. 

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The Rocket X feels a little tight

For a race shoe, it fits nicely. Others run narrow, while this one actually accommodates my foot nicely. Initially, I have felt a little tightness in my forefoot, but this went away after the break-in period. 

It comes in unisex sizing, so there are no widths to choose from. This can be an issue for those with really narrow or wide feet. 

Personally, I have experienced some heel slip, which I think is due to the heel counter; it has some form, unlike other racers. It ends halfway up so a little of both worlds. However, this is easily resolved by cinching down the laces. 

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Stiffer heel counter

I think a lot will appreciate the Rocket X’s stiffer heel counter, making it feel like a traditional road shoe

In terms of midfoot lockdown, the gusseted tongue and mesh upper keep the foot in place. These gussets are stretchy, which I really love. I think they are also an awesome addition since Hoka has been a little inconsistent with their gusset design. 

Lastly, the soft laces are very easy to adjust, and you don’t have to worry about them. They stay nice and tight. 

The Rocket X is a comfortable shoe

The Hoka Rocket X has loads of cushioning underfoot, and it’s surprisingly comfortable.

It has a nice consistent rocker, with the caveat that it is a race shoe. This is not on the same comfort level as the Clifton 7. 

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Compared to other racing flats that have very unique designs, you’ll feel very at home as you switch to the Rocket X. However, it can feel slightly unstable because of the upper, which is a bit wide for my liking. The midsole, meanwhile, is a little narrow and I sure felt it. 

In contrast, the Hyperion Elite 2 from Brooks is almost half an inch wider in the forefoot and the heel, giving the shoe a nice, confident ride for a springy, high-stack shoe.

On the one hand, the tongue is minimally padded with a sewn edge to it. 

The carbon plate brings the shoe to life! 

It makes it responsive but not overly bouncy, thanks to the EVA midsole. Don’t fix what’s broken, and they did well here. 

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One gripe I have with the insole is it’s super minimal and cheap. I’d suggest a slightly thicker insole for better comfort. 

It is lightweight

It weighs 7.62 oz, and you’ll immediately notice the lightness when you take it out of the box.

Curious as to how the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 compares? It weighs 7.48 oz so even slightly lighter. When compared to the Hoka Carbon X, the Rocket X is almost half an ounce lighter. 

Keep it for race day

Because it’s a race shoe, it’s hard to say how far it’ll go. It nearly has no outsole at all, which I do want to mention as an issue on set roads.

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I ran as the snow was melting and the wet spots spooked me, and I was nervous around painted lines. 

Since it is composed of compression-molded EVA midsole instead of the hydrogen-filled foams in this category, I think it will last. The upper is also robust enough while still ultra-light. 

However, the outsole might be where this shoe deteriorates quickly.

I love how this shoe looks!

Simple, understated, cool colors—I love how this shoe looks! I really like that it doesn’t look like a carbon-plated shoe. It’s not crazy-looking, and I don’t feel like Kramer in his jumping shoes like I do in other carbon platforms. 

It also comes in a few colors that other shoes in the category don’t offer. So, I dig that too! 

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Best-priced race shoe

Sold for $180, it’s the best-priced race shoe in the market! For reference, Brooks is at $250, and Nike even higher. There’s plenty of others out there, and none of them at $180.

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