Hoka Tecton X 2 Review: Trail Shoe of The Year, Again?
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8.8 oz. (252 g) for a US M9,
7.4 oz. (211 g) for a US W7.5
Men: 32 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop),
Women: 30 mm in heel, 25 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
Trail racing, road to trail
Lightweight, parallel carbon fiber plates, nitrogen-infused ProflyX midsole, Vibram Megagrip w/ Litebase outsole
ALEX: To be completely honest, my heart sank a bit when I learned that Hoka would be releasing the Tecton X 2 already. I loved the first version, and having spent most of my 2022 summer and fall miles in it, I couldn’t help but wonder: why mess with perfection? Change is hard, and my deeply rooted trust issues were on full display as I questioned the rollout of the X 2. I have trusted a shoe more than once, only to have it changed into an unrecognizable, repulsive form the following season.
Then, the Hoka Tecton X 2 arrived, and my faith in shoe companies doing the right thing was restored. Just kidding, there is no trust. I’m just glad they didn’t mess this one up. This time, anyway.
Simply put, the Tecton X 2 is a work of art. It has been re-engineered to maximize weight savings via a new Matryx upper while maintaining the same parallel carbon plates and responsive midsole material that made version one fun and fast. Most importantly, the toe box has the stretchy, forgiving comfort reminiscent of the much-loved Speedgoat Evo.
MATT: When Hoka debuted the original Tecton X, it seemed to have succeeded where other brands had failed when introducing carbon plate technology to the trail world.
The dual parallel plate design gave a spring and energy return in a trail shoe that actually felt reminiscent of what we have been experiencing with carbon fiber on the roads. In fact, Robbe and I had some interesting discussions when first testing the shoe because, at the time, we actually agreed that the Tecton X was not only a great trail shoe but was probably Hoka’s best road shoe. We thought Hoka may have been falling behind in the shoe game, but with the phenomenal Rocket X 2 and now the Tecton X 2, Hoka has shown that it has some promising products in the pipeline for those who wait.
Just like Alex, I was worried Hoka would do too much and ruin a great thing. When I first saw photos of the updated model, I even panicked and reached out to verify the stack and drop measurements because the midsole looked a little beefed up. Fear not, though, the shoe remains unchanged below the upper, with just some styling and logo changes across the midsole area giving the effect of the shoe being taller.
So if Hoka left all the goodness in the midsole and outsole intact, what did they change? Well, the upper is totally redesigned, but is it for the better? Time to find out.
TAYLOR: Carbon plates are still a trivial pursuit among companies that are schlepping out trail shoes. Even more skeptical are the consumers. This panel here would tell you there are certain paces and places where carbon plates could be of benefit to trail runners – just not always in the ways you would expect.
Go to any trail race, and you’ll find that most runners still roll with a traditional trail shoe; however, more are making the shift to a high-performance racer. A quick glance around will show that the Hoka Tecton X is a leading choice in this category. There’s a good reason for that. Simply put, the Hoka Tecton X is the gold standard for carbon fiber trail shoes.
Like Alex, I was a bit hesitant to learn more about the Tecton X 2 until we got our hands on it at TRE, and my fears were allayed. This version comes with somehow minimal yet major changes. One of the very few critiques of version one was the overall fit. Most criticism was aimed toward the atypical approach to the vamp area of the toe box. Personally, I enjoyed it.
Since I’ve been dealing with a foot injury, I’ve only been able to hit slower paces in the Hoka Tecton X 2. I still feel confident about the fact that this is one of the few properly applied carbon plated shoe offerings in the trail realm. There’s also no doubt that it retains a gold standard.Shop Hoka Tecton X 2 - Men Shop Hoka Tecton X 2 - Women
ALEX: The Tecton X 2 is light! The weight savings is brought about by the brand new Matryx mesh upper; it’s light, breathable, and hydrophobic (they claim). Although, given the transparency of the material, this feels a bit lost on me. While I am not sold on the hydrophobic properties of the shoe, the mesh is tightly woven enough to keep debris out and I have no doubt that it will dry faster than its predecessor when it comes to post-stream crossings.
Additional weight savings come from a less-robust toe bumper, which still does the job. I was able to achieve a secure lockdown on the first try and spent a couple of hours in this one on the first outing. It required no break in period for me.
Probably the most exciting update on this one is in the toe box. Instead of the lacing system going down well over the tops of the toes (think bowling shoe lacing), they shortened it to be a more traditional length and added in some Speedgoat Evo-esque (RIP) forgiving material at the end of the tongue over the toe box. I know the previous lacing system was a dealbreaker for some runners.
The secure fit, underfoot protection, and traction make it an all around great option for long days in the mountains. The first version of the Tecton helped me personally to navigate a couple of minor injuries last season via lots of underfoot protection and a firmer, more supportive midsole.
I was happy to learn that the midsole and outsole remain unchanged from the previous version. The ProflyX midsole, Vibram Megagrip outsole, and parallel carbon plates combine to make these shoes extremely versatile, performing well on everything from the most technical trails to gravel and even pavement and the occasional treadmill run. My feet felt right at home and knew what to expect.
Hoka has perfected their heel collar and ankle support over the past two years. When it comes to padding and support, they achieved a goldilocks balance. Not too high, not too low, and just enough cushion in all of the right places to feel comfortable and secure.
The colorways are bright and fresh. Bonus points for not assigning specific color ways to a specific gender.
MATT: I don’t want to regurgitate all the things I love about the Tecton X, you can go read our review of the OG version and know that all the good stuff is still applicable. But I will highlight the things that really make the Tecton X stand out as a top performer on the trail scene.So let’s start with the magic formula that Hoka nailed with version 1, and did not mess with for version 2.
The ride in the Tecton X 2 is one that I have a hard time finding a comparison to on the trails, in the best way possible. The only thing that comes close is maybe the latest versions of the North Face Vectiv line, but even there I see a difference.
Hoka nailed the combination of well cushioned, but responsive, ProflyX foam in tandem with the aforementioned dual carbon fiber plates. Add in the early stage meta-rocker shaping and this shoe promotes a ride that feels smooth, efficient, and fast. Just like with version 1, the versatility of the shoe is really amazing. I purposely planned out two long runs with the Tecton X 2 that covered a mixed bag of terrain. Fire roads, stream crossings, single track, gravel, and stretches of black top. The Tecton X 2 felt at home across everything I threw at it, although it really shines on stretches of non-technical trail and fire/gravel roads as you can take full advantage of the carbon plate and rocker and find that flow state.
While also unchanged, I’d be remiss to not give Hoka a big shout-out for always opting for Vibram outsoles on their trail models. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and Vibram Megagrip Litebase is far from broke. In fact, it’s probably my most trusted outsole compound when it comes to staying upright on the often wet, root-infested Mid-Atlantic trails I frequent. The outsole performs so well that the moderate 4 mm lug set-up doesn’t feel inadequate or overmatched.
I mentioned in the opening that the upper is where Hoka decided to make some changes, and they aren’t minor. This feels like an upper overhaul, and in my opinion, it is all for the better. As Alex mentioned, the move to a lightweight, durable, and breathable Matryx woven upper checks many boxes on a trail runner’s wishlist. The material definitely feels lighter, and the lock-in and cushion around heel counter and across the lacing area are noticeable right away.
I put the durability and abrasion resistance claims to the test on a wet, 3+ hour long run where I kicked my share of post-storm debris, including a number of thorny branch encounters. The shoe protected me like a charm. Where I really felt the improvement was in the overall shape of the footbed and toe box.
I found version 1 of the Tecton X to be oddly long, and when combined with an extended lacing design, the overall fit of the shoe gave off some canoe vibes. It was a fit that I got used to, but just felt a little odd. I felt it had extra materials that, if eliminated, could make a light shoe even lighter. Hoka seemed to hear that feedback and make some top-notch adjustments.
TAYLOR: I try not to take things personally, but one of the many comments that I get on “the socials” are about how carbon plates make zero sense on trails. I passive aggressively type a reply (and promptly delete) about how obvious it is that these runners have yet to try a shoe like the Tecton X 2. Everything about this shoe is geared towards race day performance. Just like its plated cousins on the road, but with a wider range of possibilities this time around.
These benefits are really felt underfoot on mild-to-moderate terrain where your legs can churn out some decent turnover. This type of terrain is also where the shoe is the most fun.
The recipe remains the same as the original version with a ProflyX midsole with two side-by-side plates sandwiched in the middle. A softer, comfort-oriented foam makes up the top layer of the midsole while a slightly firmer, medium-density foam bears the brunt underneath. This combo of foams with the carbon plates creates quite a snappy ride and with a medium density. Because of the early stage Meta-Rocker, the ride is smooth and efficient at slower paces too.
Performance of the carbon plates is not limited to a highly responsive forward motion. Uniquely, there are actually two carbon plates in the Tecton X 2 that act as a suspension system. One of the major conclusions from adding a plate of any style or material into any trail shoe is stability. The Tecton X 2 does it best, though. Since the plate is not a single piece, it does have the chance for the midsole to flex (to an extent), giving runners more stability over any terrain.
Over the right terrain, the Tecton X 2 underfoot recipe hums in near perfect harmony. In the trail realm, this is such a unique feeling that has been limited to a few shoes like the North Face Summit Vectiv Pro and Saucony Endorphin Edge.
Even more so than the first, the Hoka Tecton X 2 will have more technical trail and downhill capabilities. A completely new upper brings in a slightly altered fit with a Matryx upper. There’s simply more security throughout the whole foot. I wouldn’t say it feels slimmer. It just has a better foothold because of some extra padding and structure in the heel and light structure from the Matryx mesh upper.
Another difference is that the lacing chain doesn’t go quite as far down into the vamp/toe box area. Again, this is a part of the original that I didn’t mind, but many others did. The width of the toe box is fairly moderate too. It’s more rounded and wider than both the Speedgoat 5 and Mafate Speed 4. I can’t argue that overall fit has become more secure and predictable in the Hoka Tecton X 2.
We’ve seen a similar Matryx upper in a couple of other shoes like the Salomon S/Lab Puslar SG 2, Hoka Evo Mafate 2, The North Face Flight Vectiv, and the legendary Hoka Evo Speedgoat 4. Abrasion resistance and hydrophobic fibers are the draw. I can certainly vouch for the first. Durability is pretty much at the top of the charts when Matryx is involved. Breathability is mid-range. This particular mesh is also so dang light that it’s translucent and it still holds its shape very well. I was worried about the shoe feeling plasticky, but it doesn’t at all.
Anytime Vibram is invited to the party, you know it will be a highlight. Since this shoe is geared toward more moderate terrain and fast running, the low-profile (4 mm) Megagrip Litebase lugs give a surprising amount of grip over a variety of surfaces.
When all is wrapped up, my men’s US10.5 weighs in at 9.7 ounces (275 grams). That’s very lightweight for the performance and protection you get.Shop Hoka Tecton X 2 - Men Shop Hoka Tecton X 2 - Women
ALEX: Carbon fiber shoes are so expensive. At $225, this isn’t going to be an accessible option for the masses. It’s also $25 more than last year’s version, which is quite the hike for a minimal amount of changes. Outside of price, I have zero complaints. I only have anxieties that someone else will have complaints and changes will come along next spring.
MATT: I loved version 1, and my primary complaints of that one were tied to the upper. Hoka has addressed those short-comings and left me with no choice but to nit-pick. The only issue I experienced was a need to stop and re-tie my laces a couple times over long runs. I felt like the super-tight, locked in fit I prefer would slowly loosen over time. This very much could be unique to me and how I chose to lace the shoes, or just my particular running style as neither Taylor or Alex shared that issue.
I’ll add that in this instance, the particular use case for this shoe (race day over cleaner terrain) should be taken pretty literal. I could beat the shoe up for only having 4 mm lugs and not being able to slice through mud, or that it’s not ideal for traversing long, super-technical routes, but Hoka doesn’t promote the shoe for those things! This shoe does so many things well that I think the only issue is that I want to use it for all my races, but I know it’s not designed for some of the courses.
TAYLOR: This section ends up being like a comedic roast for the Hoka Tecton X 2. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it is so good that we have to bring out the magnifying glass to create some content here.
I could pick on the outsole for lack of performance over mud or snow, but it wasn’t really made to handle those conditions. I could also go out of my way to say, “Hey! This isn’t the best shoe for technical terrain because the plates give less flex to the midsole.” Then again, this was made for more moderate terrain than you would experience in a Skyrun race. What else do you want to know? For what this shoe is intended for, it’s really hard to rack up anything else against it.
How about the price at $225? It’s steep but not too surprising given that anything with a carbon plate is $200 or higher. Is the performance worth it? Probably.Shop Hoka Tecton X 2 - Men Shop Hoka Tecton X 2 - Women
ALEX: I will be spending a lot of time in these this season and plan to bring them to all of my races: Canyons, San Juan Solstice, and the IMTUF 100. With highly variable terrain and lots of long days out in the mountains, I have no doubt the Tecton X 2 will shine across all of the conditions that those races have to throw at them.
Save your money and buy them all before they change it again. (Or pick up the original Tecton X for half the price if it’s still avaialable in your size).
MATT: I’m still in love with the original Tecton X, and the romance has gone up a notch with the Tecton X 2. This is an amazing shoe that can handle a wide variety of terrain and distances, and the improvements made to the upper have only made it better. Just like with version 1, this is a shoe that you could pack for a trip and be able to run both trails and roads and be happy with how it feels underfoot on both. I will be spending the rest of the summer and fall justifying why the Tecton X 2 should be on my feet every race day because the shoe is just so fun to run in.
TAYLOR: As far as consistent high-end performance goes, the Hoka Tecton X 2 holds the champion belt in the trail running world. It was already arguably the best, but it just got even better. Keeping the underfoot recipe the same and overhauling the upper is exactly what this shoe needed to take another major step in performance. Really, the adjustments give Tecton X 2 more range in terrain because of the more secure fit and longevity of the shoe because of durability.
Besides the sticker shock, it will be very hard to beat out the Hoka Tecton X 2 in the long-distance racing category.
You can pick up the Hoka Tecton X 2 for $225 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the shop links below.
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Alex is a trail and ultra runner from the upper midwest who loves Minnesota’s long winters and logging miles on the rooty, rocky, steep trails of Lake Superior’s North Shore. She was the first female to set a supported FKT on the 310 mile Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) and enjoys multi-day events and races, especially if they involve snow and -20 degree temps.
All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Speedgoat Evo, Hoka Tecton X, Altra Timp.More from Alex
Matt is a recovering triathlete who fell in love with running and left the dark side behind. Trail and ultra running are where he is most in his element, but he can still be found routinely running the streets in and around Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. Aside from running, he is a lover of coffee, mezcal, beer, and 90s country music.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Atreyu The Artist, Speedland SL:PDXMore from Matt
Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.
All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Tecton X, Speedland SL:PDX, Merrell MTL Long Sky 2.More from Taylor
How does the Tecton x2 compare to the Speedgoat5. It seems that the speedgoat is pretty much a do it all shoe minus the plates and about 70$ cheaper.
They’re just… SO . DAMN . UGLY .
Now that’s a spicy take. We’re generally fans of the look here on the team, but Hoka definitely doesn’t do subtlety.