Our verdict

For years, Hoka enthusiasts have awaited the Rocket X 2, and it doesn't disappoint. Boasting an all-new, bouncy PEBA midsole, we are happy to confirm it delivers the same energy return as the world's best racing shoes. The rocker design offers a smooth, stable ride, and we found the outsole truly shines in durability and grip. However, the $250 MSRP combined with a narrow upper might not meet everyone's expectations.

Pros

  • Ultra-responsive PEBA foam
  • Long-lasting outsole with extensive heel coverage
  • Maximum cushioning
  • Superb energy return
  • Remarkably stable
  • Suitable for all foot strike types
  • Excellent traction
  • Fantastic rocker geometry

Cons

  • Narrow upper
  • Heavier than the competition

Audience verdict

86
Good!

Who should buy

In our view, the Hoka Rocket X 2 is a match for:

  • Runners with narrow feet still searching for that just-right racing shoe fit.
  • Those looking for a versatile racing shoe suitable for distances ranging from a mile to a marathon.
  • Die-hard Hoka fans who've been exploring other brands for a racing shoe due to the absence of PEBA foam. With this release, it's time to get back home!

Hoka Rocket X 2

Who should NOT buy

If you have wide feet, the Rocket X 2 might not be the right choice for you—even if you consider going up a full size. We found that there are other top-notch racing shoes out there, like the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 or the ASICS Metaspeed Edge+, which will be a better fit.

Additionally, runners who are on the hunt for the absolute lightest racing shoe might want to look elsewhere, as we noted the Rocket X 2 is on the heavier side.

For comparison, the Nike Vaporfly 2 delivers similar cushioning and Pebax foam but comes in a much lighter package.

Hoka Rocket X 2 parts

Breathability

While the Rocket X 2 scored a 4/5—a solid score by any standard—we had hoped for a perfect 5/5. As Hoka's premier marathon shoe, and priced at $250, it should stand out in every performance category, including airflow.

At first glance, we genuinely believed we were looking at an ultra-breathable shoe. This impression was reinforced by a light test where parts of the upper seemed almost transparent. It was an effect we hadn't encountered before!

Even without the light, we could easily see our hand through the other side—a rarity in our lab tests.

Puzzled by this, we turned to our lab's microscope for answers.

Hoka Rocket X 2 microscope

We discovered that the Rocket X 2 features an engineered mesh that is denser than the uppers found in other racing shoes. That's the reason why it fails to achieve a 5/5.

Hoka Rocket X 2 upper miscroscope

The difference with the Nike Streakfly (5/5 in this test) is notorious.

Test results
Rocket X 2 4
Average 3.8
Compared to 235 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

You might think that sacrificing top-tier breathability would mean the Rocket X 2 excels in durability. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

After conducting our dremel test in the lab, we discovered that the Rocket X 2 earned the lowest possible score. This low durability score, however, is typical for racing shoes except for some outliers like the Nike Alphafly 2.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Toebox durability
Test results
Rocket X 2 1
Average 2.4
Compared to 169 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The story changes dramatically when we look at the heel. It's remarkably durable (5/5) and there's a good reason behind this.

While daily trainers typically feature a lot of padding and softer materials in the heel for comfort, racing shoes actually go the opposite way.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Heel padding durability
Test results
Rocket X 2 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 165 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

The rubber in the outsole of the Rocket v2 is notably hard for a racing-focused shoe.

Hoka Rocket X 2 outsole

There's more rubber coverage in this shoe compared to many marathon shoes, enhancing its durability—especially beneficial for heel strikers. And look at that midsole cutout that reveals the carbon plate!

Typically, we find that softer rubber offers better grip. Yet, this shoe measures in at 81.6 HC—similar to what we see in daily trainers and it remains impressively grippy in both dry and wet conditions.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Outsole hardness
Test results
Rocket X 2 81.6 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 286 running shoes
Number of shoes
52.1 HC
Outsole hardness
93.0 HC

Outsole durability

We were eager to see if our initial thoughts on durability held up during the dremel test.

We're pleased to share that we measured a tiny 0.5 mm indentation in the rubber.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Outsole durability
Test results
Rocket X 2 0.5 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 147 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

After conducting the two previous tests and now discovering a thickness of 2.0 mm, we confidently believe that this shoe will effortlessly serve runners for an impressive 200-300 miles without showing significant wear on the outsole.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Outsole thickness
Test results
Rocket X 2 2.0 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

No, this isn't the lightest supershoe ever made. We discovered that the outsole, which we just examined, adds to its weight.

If you're purely chasing performance, perhaps a lighter choice like the Endorphin Elite or the Metaspeed Sky+ would suit you better. However, if you're seeking great durability in a racing shoe, that's the trade-off.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Weight
Test results
Rocket X 2 7.69 oz (218g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

We found that the heel has a generous 37.7 mm of foam. This comes close to the 40-mm maximum set by World Athletics.

It also meets our expectations and offers confidence that our legs will be well-supported throughout a full marathon.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Heel stack
Test results
Rocket X 2 37.7 mm
Average 33.7 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
45.7 mm

Forefoot stack

We moved to the forefoot and found it to be slightly above the 30-mm mark, coming in at 31.1 mm. This is crucial for both forefoot and midfoot strikers who need cushion in this area.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Forefoot stack
Test results
Rocket X 2 31.1 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
36.9 mm

Drop

Based on the two measurements we took in the lab, we discovered that the shoe has an actual drop of 6.6 mm.

This offers a well-rounded balance suitable for all types of foot strikes. Interestingly, there's a slight discrepancy with Hoka's own specs—they list it as a 5-mm shoe. So, they're close, but not quite right!

Hoka Rocket X 2 Drop
Test results
Rocket X 2 6.6 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

In our lab, we found that the insole is among the thinnest we've ever measured, coming in at 2.5 mm. But that's not an issue.

In fact, it's a benefit—the thinner the insole, the more bouncy midsole you get!

Hoka Rocket X 2 Insole thickness
Test results
Rocket X 2 2.5 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 301 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Moving on to the midsole—Hoka has made a significant change. They've shifted away from their old EVA-based foam and introduced a top-tier, high-performance PEBA foam that offers excellent energy return.

When it came to testing the softness of this material, we clocked it at 17.4 HA. While it's soft, it's not crazy plush. This ensures a responsive and springy ride without giving us the sensation that our feet are sinking into the shoe.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Midsole softness
Test results
Rocket X 2 17.4 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 233 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

To see how the new PEBA foam performs in colder conditions, we placed the shoe in the freezer for 20 minutes and then took new measurements.

We found that it did become slightly firmer, measuring up to 20.0 HA.

With an impressive 15.1%, this shoe ranks among the top-performing running shoes in this test. Indeed, the PEBA midsole delivered!

Hoka Rocket X 2 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Rocket X 2 15.1%
Average 25.5%
Compared to 232 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

While supershoes are typically unstable, this Hoka offers a reasonably stable experience, even at easy paces.

We discovered that the stability comes from a clever design element. The Rocket X 2 has a insole with walls, making us feel as though we're inside the shoe, not just standing on it. Like the bucket seats in a Porsche!

Torsional rigidity

With a carbon plate sandwiched between the two layers of PEBA foam, we naturally anticipated a 5/5 score in the torsional rigidity test. That's just what we got.

Test results
Rocket X 2 5
Average 3.3
Compared to 284 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The absence of structure in the heel results in a 1/5 stiffness rating in that area—yet we haven't noticed any heel-slippage at all.

Test results
Rocket X 2 1
Average 2.8
Compared to 268 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

At 113.3 mm, the midsole is similar in width to everyday trainers, like the Hoka Clifton 9.

We found that this design provides comfortable landings and adds to the shoe's stability. This is in contrast to some speed-oriented shoes that can be too narrow and feel more wobbly.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Rocket X 2 113.3 mm
Average 113.8 mm
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The story is different when we look at the heel. Measuring at 85.2 mm, it's on the narrower side.

We discovered that extreme heel strikers might prefer something wider in this area like the Hoka Carbon X 3. While it doesn't have the bouncy foam, it offers more stability for them.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Rocket X 2 85.2 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The Rocket X 2 is STIFF. In our 90-degree bend test, we measured a result of 80.7N, making it one of the stiffest shoes we've ever tested in the lab.

Hoka Rocket X 2 stiff

This level of stiffness can be fantastic for snappiness and a springy ride—just what many runners seek in races. However, we found that it might be a bit much for some. If you find this level of stiffness uncomfortable, perhaps a non-plated max-performance shoe like the ASICS Superblast would be a better fit.

Test results
Rocket X 2 80.7N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 288 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

After putting the shoe in the freezer for 20 minutes, we conducted the stiffness test again in our lab. We measured a result of 90.0N.

The result closely mirrors our room-temperature test.

This top-notch outcome is solely due to the PEBA foam. High-quality foam leads to high-quality outcomes...

Test results
Rocket X 2 11.5%
Average 35.9%
Compared to 288 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Internal length

Even though Hoka's size charts list this shoe at 270 mm, we measured it to be 259.9 mm. This aligns with our initial observations, suggesting the shoe might run a tad short.

Hoka Rocket X 2

But remember, the Rocket X 2 is designed for racing, and some runners do prefer that close fit. Ultimately, it's all about what you feel most comfortable with!

Hoka Rocket X 2 Internal length
Test results
Rocket X 2 259.9 mm
Average 269.3 mm
Compared to 168 running shoes
Number of shoes
259.9 mm
Internal length
280.4 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

The shoe's tight fit was evident in the toe box as well. We measured it at 89.5 mm, confirming its snug design.

It's simple—this shoe really caters to those with narrow feet. If your feet are of medium width, consider going half a size up. Meanwhile, individuals with wider feet might want to look at other options.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Rocket X 2 89.5 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe area is still slightly narrower than what's usually seen. We measured it at 75.4 mm in the lab.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Rocket X 2 75.4 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 180 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue of the Rocket X 2 is semi-gusseted, meaning it's partially attached to the sides.

Hoka Rocket X 2 tongue

We believe this is an excellent strategy for ensuring a nice lockdown, preventing the annoying tongue shifts that we've observed in racing shoes like the Nike Vaporfly 2.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Rocket X 2 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue of the Rocket X 2 is notably slim, especially when stacked up against many other running shoes.

Yet, it feels incredibly plush when compared to the typical racing shoe tongues, which often come in at under 1 mm. In our lab, we found that the 1.9 mm thickness offers a genuinely comfortable feel for this kind of shoe.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Tongue padding
Test results
Rocket X 2 1.9 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 303 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

Hoka decided not to include a heel tab on the Rocket X 2 to reduce its weight a bit. We believe that having one could have made slipping the shoe on a bit easier for some.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Heel tab
Test results
Rocket X 2 None

Removable insole

The insole of the Rocket X 2 is removable, which we appreciate for a racing shoe. However, if you're thinking of using third-party insoles or orthotics, you might find it challenging.

As we discussed earlier, this shoe is quite narrow, so the internal space is limited.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Removable insole
Test results
Rocket X 2 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Hoka chose not to add reflective elements to the Rocket X 2, and we understand their decision. We mentioned earlier that, for a racing shoe, the Rocket X 2 is a bit on the heavy side.

Adding more weight to a shoe that's mostly going to be used during the day wouldn't be practical.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Reflective elements
Test results
Rocket X 2 No