Shoe review: Carbon X2, HOKA ONE ONE

The carbon-plate revolution transforming running shoes is both a good and bad thing, depending on you outlook on life. It’s good, obviously, because the carbon plates—an energy return system incorporating a thin layer of carbon beneath the arch and above the foam in a sneaker—offer immediate response and create a propulsive sensation otherwise lacking in a typical, non-carbon plated shoe. The bad, however, is that these plates—which are now offered by most running shoe brands and worn on race day by the world’s top athletes—have driven up the price of shoes, and sneakers now routinely top $250 and sometimes three-hundred dollars. I like running because it’s inexpensive, so $300 sneakers fit funny to me; and yet, I buy them, because who doesn’t want the best possible shoes on race day?

The Carbon X2 by HOKA ONE ONE costs $224, which is on the lower range of a carbon shoe and they’ve been a lightweight, trusted trainer that can absorb mileage and are built for speed. A great marathon racing shoe, I once did a Sunday long run in my Carbon X2 shoes and stepped on a nail, which the shoe, with a 5mm heel drop, absorbed completely. I lived, thanks to my shoes, to run another day.

Caroline Bolduc is a friend of mine who works in an ICU in Toronto and she also wears the Carbon X2 shoes. Sometimes she wears them during her 12-hour shifts, and this is her report:

Great colour scheme! Such a breath of fresh air to not have any pink on them.
They are so light but highly cushioned and stable.
They have great energy return and they propel you forward!
They are very breathable, so a great shoe to wear especially during the summer humid months.  I love them because my feet always get hot.
They can truly help improve your stride when focusing on your foot placement and cadence.

I agree with my friend and think the unique shape of the shoe’s body adds a certain rocket ship dimension to the garment. It has a low cushion bend so the foot stays close to the ground, but elevates somewhat at the heel. A responsive, neutral shoe, the Carbon X2, the second carbon shoe of the popular HOKA brand, weighs 8.4 ounces and has a removable sock liner, which I’ve never touched. Like all carbon shoes, and this is the price you pay, it’s not meant for massive mileage and after a few hard months of massive workouts, I felt relief upon transitioning the sneakers out for a different pair. These carbon-plated shoes all have a limited lifespan, so wear them wisely: select long runs and workouts, and then race day. You don’t want these to be your everyday shoe, or they’ll stop doing what you want them to do.

For anyone looking to dip their toe in the carbon-plate shoe revolution, the Carbon X2 from HOKA ONE ONE is highly recommended. It’s priced fairly, it moves quickly, it looks good and, if you happen to step on a nail, you’ll be off and running in no time. Enjoy!