Verdict from 18 experts and 19 user reviews

5 reasons to buy

  • Fit: Compared to other carbon racers, the Hoka Rocket X has the ideal race-day fit, experts claim. It is snug in the midfoot, but sufficiently roomy in the forefoot. It is very secure that there's no need to adjust lace tensions. 
  • Ride: It's a low-to-the-ground ride with loads of stability, thanks to the shoe's "reasonable" stack height and balanced cushion. 
  • Cushion: It's forgiving like the Endorphin Pro but is a firmer version of the Hyperion Elite 2. In short, it's soft but not marshmallowy nor bouncy.
  • Toe box: There's ample room for swelling and natural toe splay without any pressure. 
  • Upper comfort: Well-executed, form-fitting, breathable, and light. Racers even go as far as saying that it's the "most comfortable" competition shoe uppers they've tried. 

5 reasons not to buy

  • Heel fit issues: There are reports of the heel lifting up a bit when going uphills. Even after using the extra lace eyelets and tying the laces tighter, the issue persists and there's even discomfort at the front of the ankle. 
  • Excessively long laces: Runners find this a distraction and unnecessary. They tend to flop around, which is quite annoying for some. 
  • So-so traction: It's "good but not great." It does well on any dry road sections, but is "very bad" on grass, sand paths, wet pavement. As athletes say: it would've had more grip if it had more outsole texture. 
  • Short tongue: Testers claim that the tongue doesn't give protection from the lace pressure because of its length or the lack thereof. 
  • Insufficient cushion: The Rocket X doesn't have "towering" stacks like other super shoes. Because of this, there are those whose legs feel beat up after their tempo and long runs.

Bottom line

If you're expecting a carbon-plated shoe that can wow you, the Hoka Rocket X is NOT that shoe. It sits in the middle — more traditional-feeling (stable with a balanced cushion) but it doesn't mechanically make you run faster, which is contrary to what you're supposed to have from a super shoe. And despite Hoka's heavy advertising on the early-stage meta rocker, there's little to none of that "falling off the cliff" sensation. 

Overall, the Rocket X is a perfect shoe if you're looking for a less cushy, more affordable contender to the Alphafly or the Adios Pro. But be warned, this also means that the shoe can feel a bit awkward when running slow paces. 

Tip: see the best running shoes.

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94
/100 by , posted on .

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

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. 

 

hoka-one-one-rocket-x.jpg

Fit

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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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. 

Comfort

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. 

Weight 

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. 

Durability 

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. My advice: break this shoe in and keep it for race day. 

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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Price 

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. 

Overall conclusion 

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’s 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! 

 

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| Level 4 expert Verified
Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.

Hoka One One Rocket X: What to look forward to

Lightweight cushioning. The new midsole foam of the racing flat is designed to employ minimal bulk for a more propulsive performance. 

Efficient ride. The rocker form of the shoe drives you forward without requiring much effort.

Pronounced breathability. Ample ventilation is secured by the shoe’s upper, keeping the foot feeling cool and dry. 

Where can I use the Hoka Rocket X? 

Despite being branded as a short-distance shoe, experts agree that the Rocket X from Hoka One One is suitable for the following: 

  • Tempo runs
  • Progressive runs
  • Half marathons 
  • Marathons

Rocket X vs. Carbon X

The Hoka One One Rocket X is dubbed as the better version of the Carbon X, and here are some of the changes you can find in the Rocket X: 

More ground feel. This is all due to the lower stack height of the Hoka Rocket X (30/25 mm) contrary to the Carbon X (32/27 mm). Because of the better ground feel, a more efficient gait is achieved. 

Lighter weight. This is attributable to the revamped midsole foam of the runner. Because of this, the Rocket X (7.4 oz) is 1.3 oz lighter than the Carbon X (8.7 oz). This also allows for less energy consumption during the run for a faster, more enduring ride.

Wider platform. Although not as broad as the Rincon nor the Clifton, the Hoka Rocket X has a broader base than the Carbon X. This means that it offers a more stable, surefooted ride.

Nice to know

  • Hoka has three categories for its running shoes: Fly, Glide, and Sky. The Rocket X belongs to the Fly category which is for the speed-oriented, uptempo models.  
  • The shoe also has reflective details for nighttime runs. 

How Rocket X compares

This shoe: 86
All shoes average: 82
56 95
This shoe: £170
All shoes average: £120
£40 £290
This shoe: 210g
All shoes average: 270g
100g 437g
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com