Hoka Carbon X 3 Review
by iRUN Singapore on March 29, 2022
Weight: 222grams / 7.8oz
Price: $299 SGD
Stack Height: 32/27mm (5mm drop)
Pros & Cons
Decent Midsole Change From V2
Poor Upper Lockdown
Inconsistent Upper Fit
Midsole Could Be More Responsive
The announcement of the Hoka Carbon X3 and Mach Supersonic drew a significant amount of buzz to these shoes. This was mainly because of a new “energized foam midsole” compound that Hoka utilized in these two shoes. The midsole is said to be of supercritical EVA, which on paper would be bouncier and softer than traditional compression moulded EVA (cmEVA) foam.
However, the initial reviewers based in America had very negative initial impressions of the Carbon X3. Some equated the ride to a firm feeling brick, while others felt that there was no difference between the v2 and v3. I found my first impressions to be vastly different, and I highly suspect its due to one attribute that I will cover in this review. Read on!
Upper & Fit
The upper is made of an engineered knit that is designed to be lightweight and breathable. The v2 and v1 used engineered mesh uppers in contrast. I find that knit uppers are usually a hit or miss; they either fit perfectly or have numerous flaws.
The toe-box was surprisingly roomy, something you don’t really see in many knitted uppers. Those with a narrower foot might face some side-to-side movement problems but I very much welcomed this feature.
The main issue I had with the upper was the lack of the last lace hole. This made it quite impossible to lock down my foot to prevent heel slippage. I don’t think that many people will encounter this problem (blame my narrow heel), but this is something definitely worth noting. Do try this out in stores before purchasing.
Overall, the knit upper had a decent fit besides the heel slippage issue. Like most knit uppers, it is not on the “very breathable” side but has better ventilation than some other pairs I’ve tried.
The midsole is where the hype was created. Hoka calls their new foam “PROFLY X”, a supercritical EVA compound. Both the v1 and v2 utilized a standard compression moulded EVA foam.
On foot, the ride was noticeably softer and bouncier than the past 2 iteration. You might be thinking: “But this contradicts all the other reviews I’ve read from American reviewers”. Here’s what I think: the main trend I noticed with Hoka's shoes is that they tend to be softer in tropical climates than colder ones, probably due to the foam's properties.
That said, the ride was still on the firmer side. I measured the durometer score at 33 Shore A, though it feels slightly firmer than the measurement. The ride was smooth, due to the carbon plate. The plate here isn’t as aggressive as what you would find on other plated shoes; the geometry is a smooth curve vs the spoon shaped plate in other brands. This results in a great training shoe due to the increased stability you get, but the trade-off is a less dynamic ride. I wouldn’t use this for racing or shorter intervals, but the plate combined with the rocker works well for longer up-tempo runs.
If Hoka wishes to keep the plate geometry as it is, softening the foam further would aid in a more responsive and livelier ride. Hoka is on the right track, but progressing a little slowly.
Outsole & Durability
The outsole is a rubberized EVA foam compound. You wouldn’t find any blown rubber here. Surprisingly, the outsole holds up really well after a certain point. The initial wear is obvious, but the rubberized EVA surprisingly holds up after a long time. You can expect around 600-800km on this pair, which is really good for a plated shoe.
Grip-wise the Carbon X3 performs well. Its not the best in wet conditions, but holds up well on daily runs.
Areas of Improvement
Improve Upper Fit
Soften Midsole Compound
Improve Heel Lockdown
The Hoka Carbon X3 is a premium performance option from Hoka for runners who want to try a plated shoe for their longer distance runs. It is a great update from the v2, but has much room for improvement.
Reviewed by Xtride Running
Check out Hoka Carbon X 3 Collection Here