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Road Running Shoes • May 6, 2024

Hoka Skyward X Review: Stepping Through the Stratosphere

hoka skyward x - feature

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What You Need To Know


11.8 oz. (334 g) for a US M10.5,

9.4 oz. (266 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

Men: 48 mm in heel, 43 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Women: 46 mm in heel, 41 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Best For

Comfortable paces or long runs

Key Features

Knit upper, Peba & supercritical EVA midsole, carbon fiber plate, flat knit upper

On The Run
Extremely comfortable Surprisingly stable Pretty weighty
Price / Availability

Available now for $225

hoka skyward x - both colors

One of these colorways is better than the other

Introduction to the Hoka Skyward X

THOMAS: It’s 2011 and my throat is dry. The landscape is dust and rocks; if it weren’t for the cactus and scrub brush, you could mistake the place for Mars. Two local Arizona runners invited my Ragnar team for a post-flight jog through the desert. Those same runners were wearing the most enormous shoes I had ever seen.

“What are those??” I asked.

“Hoka One One Mafate.” 

Was that Italian? Nothing that came out of the man’s mouth made sense to me. At that time, 20 mm of stack was the norm, if not high. The shoes looked ridiculous to me and I had no interest in them at the time. It took me nearly three more years before I would try a Hoka. What seemed ginormous at the time is now the standard stack height when it comes to running shoes. 

Ironically enough, we’ve seen those lower stack brands transcend Hoka when it comes to platform-style trainers– shoes like the Adidas Prime X 2 Strung, Asics Superblast, New Balance SC Trainer, Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro, and more. So it was high time for Hoka to throw their weight around with a shoe whose stack height matched the history of the brand.

Enter the Hoka Skyward X, a true embodiment of Hoka big.

hoka skyward x - lateral side
hoka skyward x - heel

MEAGHAN: “When are we getting those?” That was my first question when I saw the Skyward X leaked on Instagram. I’m a sucker for high stack and a good time, which is exactly what the Hoka Skyward X screams. How can you not be intrigued? Built on over 45 mm of stack, a suspension system with a carbon fiber plate, and a mix of Peba and supercritical EVA foam in the midsole, this shoe has everything interesting in running right now. Finished off with a flat knit upper, traditional Hoka rocker shape and a rubber outsole, this trainer looks like a Hoka, but feels like an upgrade. Does all this fun tech justify the $225 price tag? Let’s talk about it.

CHAD: After years of slipping behind the big players like Nike, Adidas, Saucony, etc., Hoka has stepped up its game as of late and dropped some incredibly solid shoes in every category. The Clifton 9 was a big hit as a daily trainer (as usual), the Rocket X 2 was one of the crew’s favorite race day shoes of 2023, and recently the Cielo X1 staked its claim as one of the most fun shoes we’ve ever worn. Other than the widely maligned Arahi 7 (quite possibly the worst shoe of 2024), Hoka is close to entering “they can’t miss” status with every release. I almost expect to hear “HE’S ON FIRE” when I open the box and lace up a new pair of Hokas, like I’m in the OG NBA Jam arcade game.

What shoe is “heating up” now? The Skyward X, the max to the max cushioned super trainer. I, like Meg, saw this popping up on Instagram and Reddit before its release and my interest was piqued immediately. The look reminded me of the New Balance SC Trainer v1 in terms of stack height, which I’ll admit was a shoe I never ran in because I was terrified of the height. Since then I have run in other high stack shoes (Adidas Prime X Strung 2 and the Asics Superblast), so I’ve sort of put those fears to rest.  Meg hit on the specs of the Skyward X, so let’s get to the good stuff.

hoka skyward x - red white both

What We Like About the Hoka Skyward X

THOMAS: The cushioning in the Skyward X is otherworldly. Upon landing, you feel the Peba give and soften the effects of gravity. The plate stabilizes the impact and is paired perfectly with the firmer carrier foam. Here comes the magic. Like a trampoline, the Peba expands and returns the energy to your stride. It is a near-perfect blend of soft and responsive cushioning. There is plenty of rubber on the outsole, and it is holding up as well as you would expect. 

The upper construction is nothing special until you realize it cradles your foot securely over the massive midsole. The laces loop through a system like a sling that goes down both sides of the upper, creating a hammock for your midfoot. You are locked in very comfortably between that and a reinforced heel counter. Breathability is moderate to warm. My size 10.5 fits true to size.

Between the sturdy upper, two performance foams, the carbon plate, and a fair amount of rubber on the outsole, the Skyward X should last well over the 300-500 mile mark, which is good considering the price tag.

hoka skyward x - heel counter
hoka skyward x - medial heel

MEAGHAN: As you probably guessed from my intro, I couldn’t wait to lace this one up. Between a layer of Peba beneath the foot, a carbon fiber plate and 46 mm of stack, it felt like this shoe was built for me. The step-in feel is plush and comfortable and the shoes fit true to size. There is ample room in the forefoot and toe box and the simple, stretchy laces keep the foot locked down well. I never had any issues with rubbing or hot spots and shoes are just generally very comfortable. 

Out on the roads, this shoe comes to life. The best way to describe the sensation is: fun. It feels like running on mini trampolines; there is absolutely no ground feel (here for it), just a fun, springy sensation underfoot. And while you get the benefit of being a few inches taller with all that stack, because of its wide build and deep foot frame, the shoes feel quite stable.

hoka skyward x - pink outsole

CHAD: Where do I even start? This shoe is an engineering marvel, like the Eiffel Tower or the Hoover Dam. The Skyward X has 48 mm of soft and bouncy foam with a “suspension midsole plate” sandwiched in the middle. The rebound from the Peba based foam underfoot, the stabilization from the plate, and the intense rocker provide for a smooth ride that can best be described as fun. Meg’s analogies to mini-trampolines is particularly apt, even for a guy my size. I felt a bounce on each step of my runs, which ranged anywhere from 3 miles to 8 miles. I could easily see myself taking these well into the double digits.

The bounce is great and all, but the true beauty comes from the fact that the shoe is also stable. At no point did I ever feel any wobble medially or laterally. Add in the fact that the Skyward X features a pretty comfortable upper as well that locks you in over the platform, this shoe is a real winner.

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hoka skyward x - tongue
hoka skyward x - shoes on bricks

What we don’t like about the Hoka Skyward X

THOMAS: My colorway is clownish. The Skyward X isn’t a shoe I look at and get excited to strap on. However, you won’t remember the looks once you start moving, and the additional height is good for the ego.

Shoes are getting expensive, and there is no way around it– $225 is a nut to shell out for a daily trainer, even if it does feel this good on your feet.

Finally, this boat is heavy. For a size 10.5 US, it weighs 11.8 oz. / 337 grams! That’s nearly a half-ounce heavier than the original New Balance SC Trainer. The responsive feel of the midsole helps a lot, but you still notice the weight.

MEAGHAN: We obviously have to talk about the weight in this section: my women’s 7.5 comes in at 9.4 oz. (!). That’s a whole lotta shoe. However, the weight feels distributed evenly, so it’s less noticeable out on the roads vs. a shoe that feels bottom heavy (cough, Prime X 2, cough).

hoka skyward x - sunlight

CHAD: I agree with Thomas that the white, red, blue, and yellow colorway has a Playskool “My First Super Trainer” look to them. Not particularly inspiring, despite looking otherwise clean. The weight can be noticeable at times, but it doesn’t bother me the way it does for Meg; it feels balanced between the upper and the midsole. At some point I’ll stop including this in my Hoka reviews because it is expected at this point, but the midfoot narrows out quite a bit and could cause issues for those with flat feet or a wide midfoot.

My only other negative is that– despite a good amount of outsole rubber– the grip is not fantastic. I took these out on a 6-mile run in the rain and I had a few dicey moments cornering or if I ran on the lines on the road.

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Final thoughts on the Hoka Skyward X

THOMAS: When I think about Hoka and what the brand stands for, I think of comfort, cushioning, and experimentation. I thought Hoka had fallen asleep the last few years, and other brands came in to fill the category with better foams and lighter performance trainers. This year, Hoka is coming back swinging. The Skyward X is the modern version of the company’s original vision. I could take on stupid distances in this shoe. Between the Mach 6, the Cielo X1, and the Skyward X, I have been impressed with the re-energized direction in the Hoka road shoe lineup.

hoka skyward x - red white outsole

MEAGHAN: As I’m writing this review, I’ve worn the Hoka Skyward X for every single mile I’ve logged this week. It’s very rare that I will lace up a shoe multiple days in a row, let alone an entire week, but I’m really enjoying this one. I’m also in a phase of my training that doesn’t include much (or any) speedwork, so I can wear these shoes everyday. While the Skyward X might not be your do-it-all shoe, it’s by far the most fun and maybe my favorite shoe for all of the non-speedy days. I’m on my way to logging 200 miles, and we’ll share a YouTube video soon with those thoughts.

CHAD: Well, it’s a clean sweep. The Skyward X is something truly special, and can be thoroughly enjoyed by heavyweights like me, featherweights like Meg, and whatever weight class Thomas puts himself in; I’ll let him make that call. I most certainly won’t hit 200 miles in the same time Meg will, but I could definitely see this being a shoe I reach for time and time again, especially for long and easy efforts.

You can pick up the Hoka Skyward X for $225 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

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Shop The Shoe

hoka skyward x - shop women
Hoka Skyward X Women
hoka skyward x - shop men
Hoka Skyward X Men

Watch The Review
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Hoka Skyward X | Full Review


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Jason says:

    Who could forget the original Hokas? The Bondi. The Mafate. The Stinson (which I think was the 3rd).

    It’s amazing to me that the original Stinson “only” weighed like 11.2 oz. Maybe I just remember when those things would get wet and it was like having cement blocks on your feet.

    I remember walking into a local running store wearing a pair of Bondis in 2011 and almost being laughed out of the place.

  2. Pat says:

    But no one is opening their wallets until SuperBlast 2, right?

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Thomas Neuberger
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As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be. 

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