Our verdict

The Tecton X 2 from Hoka is an outstanding follow-up to its predecessor, ideal for anyone craving high-speed trail runs. Despite its premium price, we were impressed by its standout features—a stable, cushioned, and dynamic ride. Our lab analysis revealed its dual-density midsole and twin carbon plates in parallel, and a surprisingly lightweight design for its size. We especially liked the MATRYX upper, which combines breathability with durability, making it an ideal choice for serious trail runners looking for top-tier performance across all seasons.

Pros

  • Incredibly speedy and enjoyable ride
  • Breathable yet sturdy upper
  • Reliable traction across various terrains
  • Exceptionally durable upper and outsole
  • Surprisingly lighter
  • Perfect for speedwork and racing on mild to moderate trails
  • Sufficiently cushioned for ultra-distance comfort
  • Accommodates all types of footstrikes effectively

Cons

  • Limited space in the toe area
  • Lacks energy return from the EVA midsole
  • The $225 price tag might be steep for some buyers

Audience verdict

89
Great!

Who should buy

Based on our tests, the Hoka Tecton X 2 is an excellent pick for:

  • Trail enthusiasts looking for a feather-light, carbon-plated shoe for racing or speed training.
  • Hoka aficionados willing to invest in the absolute best trail shoe from their preferred brand, regardless of the price tag.
  • Runners seeking a high-end, cushioned shoe that's perfect for ultra-distance challenges.

Hoka Tecton X 2

Who should NOT buy

If you're in the market for a racing shoe for the trails but have wide feet, the Tecton X 2 might not be the best fit. Thankfully, many brands now offer top-tier trail racing shoes. For instance, we discovered the Nike Ultrafly not only accommodates wider feet but also comes with the bonus of a full-length, responsive ZoomX midsole.

Concerned about the $225 price tag? There are still nice alternatives, though you might have to forego the carbon plate. We liked the Hoka Speedgoat 5, which also boasts a Vibram outsole and a light build, while the Saucony Peregrine 13 stands out as a jack-of-all-trades option that's easier on the budget.

Hoka Tecton X 2

Breathability

Breathability in trail running shoes can be challenging as they need to be more rugged than road running shoes. Yet, Hoka's collaboration with MATRYX seemed quite promising to us in addressing this challenge.

In the Tecton X 2, we discovered an exceptionally breathable upper, perfectly suited for ultra-distance races. We rated it at 4/5 in this test.

Using a light, we identified the areas with the most breathability. The upper is thinner in the toebox and the front part of the medial side, providing breathability, while it becomes thicker in the midfoot and heel for added support.

Hoka Tecton X 2 upper

We then examined the MATRYX upper under a microscope to get a closer look.

Hoka Tecton X 2 microscope

Surprisingly, there were hardly any holes for air flow, indicating the use of very thin mesh. This might raise some questions about durability, which we will explore in our next test.

Upon analyzing the cut upper, the contrast between the padded heel and midfoot areas and the race-focused, thin forefoot area was quite evident.

Test results
Tecton X 2 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 83 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Just earlier, we mentioned some initial concerns about the upper seeming rather thin. However, it was the Dremel test that revealed the true story of its durability.

To our pleasure, the upper held up remarkably well, scoring an impressive 4 out of 5.

This isn't just a great result; it positions the shoe as one of the few in the market that excels both in breathability and durability. Such high-quality performance is precisely what we expect from a shoe priced at $225.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Toebox durability
Test results
Tecton X 2 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 63 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Yet, the heel tells a different story. In our back-to-back Dremel test, this area scored poorly, only achieving a 1 out of 5.

Therefore, runners who typically experience wear in the heel should tread cautiously with the Tecton X 2 and carefully select their socks.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Heel padding durability
Test results
Tecton X 2 1
Average 2.9
Compared to 61 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Transitioning to the outsole, we were excited to put the Vibram Megagrip Litebase compound to the test, widely regarded as the gold standard in the trail running industry.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Vibram

Vibram is in da house, though not on the entire outsole. Weight savings!

Our initial evaluation on the outsole focused on determining the rubber's hardness. True to expectations, it registered a solid 88.4 HC, indicating that it should offer excellent durability.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Outsole hardness
Test results
Tecton X 2 88.4 HC
Average 85.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

We've established that the outsole is hard, but that doesn't automatically ensure durability.

Following our third Dremel test in the lab, we observed a mere 0.7-mm indentation in the rubber. This is a good performance, strongly suggesting that the outsole will be long-lasting and durable.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Outsole durability
Test results
Tecton X 2 0.7 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

For the Tecton X 2, excelling in durability was crucial, especially since its outsole isn't the thickest around at 1.7 mm and there's a lot of exposed foam.

However, this thinner outsole has a silver lining—it enhances the plush sensation you feel while running, adding to the overall comfort.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Outsole thickness
Test results
Tecton X 2 1.7 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

Weighing in at just 9.1 oz (257g), the Tecton X 2 stands as a remarkable example of creating a trail running shoe that's both lightweight and cushioned.

Kudos to Hoka—the shoe truly feels light and nimble underfoot.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Weight
Test results
Tecton X 2 9.07 oz (257g)
Average 10.30 oz (292g)
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Designed with Jim Walmsley's input, this shoe is built to assist ultrarunners in conquering hundreds of miles.

Hoka Tecton X 2 heel stack

That's why it boasts a substantial 37.4 mm in the heel, offering ample dual-density ProFly+ cushioning for such demanding distances.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Heel stack
Test results
Tecton X 2 37.4 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot also packs plenty of cushioning, measuring 31.8 mm.

This is excellent news for midfoot and forefoot strikers looking to cover ultra distances in the Tecton X 2.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Forefoot stack
Test results
Tecton X 2 31.8 mm
Average 24.5 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

This results in a real 5.6-mm heel-to-toe drop, closely aligning with Hoka's official claim of a 5-mm drop, as measured according to World Athletics guidelines.

The small difference between what brands say and what we measure may be interesting to you. If that's the case, check out our guide for more details.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Drop
Test results
Tecton X 2 5.6 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 105 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

The insole is pretty standard at 5.0 mm. We would have preferred a thinner insole with more foam instead, but it works fine.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Insole thickness
Test results
Tecton X 2 5.0 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
2.7 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

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

The midsole is the star feature of the Tecton X 2. It's made up of a dual-density ProFlyX configuration, where two distinct layers of foam are separated by two carbon-fiber plates arranged in parallel. This unique setup, inspired by tectonic plates, even influenced the shoe's name.

We first measured the top layer of foam, which is closest to the feet and the softest. At 21.8 HA, it strikes a good balance between softness and stability, making it well-suited for trail racing.

However, there's a catch for us. With a $225 price tag, we expect to run in a world-class foam like PWRRUN PB in the Saucony Endorphin Edge. What we got instead was a CMEVA compound with run-of-the-mill energy return that doesn't quite match up to the best foams available in the market.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Midsole softness
Test results
Tecton X 2 21.8 HA
Average 22.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Secondary foam softness

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

We clocked the secondary foam's softness at 26.1 HA in the lab. This firmer, denser compound, positioned closer to the ground, enhances stability and protection.

We find this combination well-suited for trail use. It contrasts with what other brands are doing on the road with their dual-foam configurations. For example, ASICS with the Superblast places the softer foam (FFBlast+) nearer to the ground for a plush ride.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Secondary foam softness
Test results
Tecton X 2 26.1 HA
Average 24.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Midsole softness in cold

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

In colder temperatures, the midsole maintains a similar feel. To gauge the exact change, we remeasured it after 20 minutes in the freezer. The resulting measurement was a slightly firmer 23.5 HA.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Tecton X 2 23.5 HA
Average 28.2 HA
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.8 HA
Midsole softness in cold (soft to firm)
48.4 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

This is just a 7.8% difference, aligning with the best foams in the market. We were genuinely impressed with this outcome!

While it's true that the energy return doesn't quite match PEBA compounds, the performance of this CMEVA foam under cold temperatures is remarkable.

Test results
Tecton X 2 7.8%
Average 26.4%
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Featuring a well-balanced midsole softness, two parallel carbon plates, and a low heel-to-toe drop, we anticipated excellent stability despite its height, and that's exactly what the Tecton X 2 delivered.

We consistently felt stable in the shoe, even while running at high speeds during intervals in gravel roads and easy trails.

Torsional rigidity

Many runners believe carbon plates in top-tier running shoes are all about boosting propulsion, but their main advantage lies in increasing stability and rigidity.

This is clearly evident in the Tecton X 2. The dual parallel carbon plates earn it a solid 5/5 in our torsional rigidity test. So, don't anticipate a bendable, flexible shoe—it's quite the contrary.

Test results
Tecton X 2 5
Average 3.5
Compared to 100 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter strikes a nice balance between stability and comfort, earning a solid 3 out of 5 from us. It effectively holds the heel in place and prevents any slippage, performing its job admirably.

Test results
Tecton X 2 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Now let's delve into the dimensions of the Tecton X 2. In the forefoot, we discovered a width of 114.6 mm, which is quite unexpected for a race-oriented shoe. Typically, these shoes feature narrower platforms to reduce weight and enhance agility.

Hoka Tecton X 2

Yet, we believe this wider design is a smart approach, especially since this shoe is tailored for gravel paths and easy trails, with a focus on ultra-endurance events.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Tecton X 2 114.6 mm
Average 112.1 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The same thoughtful design approach is applied to the heel, boasting a width of 95.1 mm, making it particularly accommodating for rearfoot strikers.

Indeed, this is one of the most versatile shoes we have ever tested, catering to all types of footstrikes.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Tecton X 2 95.1 mm
Average 89.7 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

With not just one, but two carbon plates, most people would likely expect extreme stiffness. However, that's not the case, thanks to the plates being arranged in parallel, side by side.

This setup means they function like one plate but split down the middle, resulting in less stiffness than if it were a single, solid plate. That's why in our test, we only needed to apply 42.5N of force, which isn't a lot for a carbon-plated shoe.

Test results
Tecton X 2 42.5N
Average 28.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Stiffness in cold

After placing the shoe in the freezer a second time to simulate cold conditions, we conducted the same test again. This time around, the force required was 51.4N.

Test results
Tecton X 2 51.4N
Average 38.0N
Compared to 103 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.9N
Stiffness in cold
92.1N

Difference in stiffness in cold

This represents a 20.9% increase in stiffness, which should be hardly discernible, even during the chilliest trail adventures.

Test results
Tecton X 2 20.9%
Average 35.1%
Compared to 103 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Regarding the lugs, it's always a tough call for brands, as it involves striking a balance. Opt for too short, and the shoe struggles on technical terrain or softer surfaces; choose deep lugs, and it underperforms on easy trails.

This is probably why Hoka chose a middle-ground approach with an average lug length of 3.6 mm, aiming to create a well-rounded shoe suitable for various trail conditions.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Lug depth
Test results
Tecton X 2 3.6 mm
Average 3.6 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Although the shoe's midsole is wide, the toebox tells a different story.

Measuring 96.0 mm at its widest point, you can expect a performance fit à la Hoka's racing shoes, like the Rocket X 2.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Tecton X 2 96.0 mm
Average 98.8 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The measurement around the big toe area is quite narrow at 73.8 mm, which might be an issue for those with wider toes. If you're unsure, consider sizing up, particularly for ultra distances. This is important as feet tend to swell over long miles.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Tecton X 2 73.8 mm
Average 79.0 mm
Compared to 68 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The semi-gusseted tongue we found offers an exceptional lockdown. Although we typically favor fully-gusseted or boot-like tongues in trail running shoes, in this specific instance, we believe this design choice is spot on.

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

Comfort

Tongue padding

Hoka's dedication to minimizing weight in the Tecton X 2 is evident, especially with the inclusion of a thin tongue, which we measured at just 2.6 mm.

Hoka Tecton X 2 tongue

This design choice might concern some, particularly for ultra-distance racing and the risk of lace bite. However, we were content during our tests.

It's worth noting, though, that you might need to be more cautious when tying the laces compared to shoes with double or triple this amount of padding.

Hoka Tecton X 2 Tongue padding
Test results
Tecton X 2 2.6 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

The absence of a heel tab wasn't an issue for us, and it contributes to the overall weight savings of the shoe.

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

Removable insole

The insole can be taken out, and there's plenty of space inside the shoe. This allowed us to easily test OTC orthotics without any problems.

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

Misc

Reflective elements

Regrettably, Hoka overlooked including reflective elements in the Tecton X 2, a significant oversight. For a shoe designed for ultra distances which usually involves racing at night, the absence of this feature is quite disappointing.

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