The design department of Hoka is top level and they proved it once again with the latest design of the Hoka carbon plated series, the Hoka Carbon X3. An amazing-looking shoe with a color combination that you can spot from a mile away, whether you are running on the road or on the trails.
Looks are of course something to take into account when you pick up a new pair of shoes. However, the way the shoe handles and the type of runner you are, determines whether those good-looking shoes end up on your feet or in your closet. So let's find out what else the Hoka Carbon X3 has got going for it other than its good looks.
The latest model in the very popular Hoka Carbon series is instantly recognizable and has kept most of the top features that made its predecessor so popular. Just like the X2, the X3 has that nice soft cushioned sole with it's beautiful roll-through-feel. This makes the shoe suitable for a wide range of runners. The shape of the sole gently guides you to that nice roll through and toe-off in your stride. In comparison with the X2, the X3 uses a different type of responsive foam in the sole which really brings out the bounce you get from the carbon plate. If the X2 felt a bit flat on the higher paces in comparison to some of the other carbon plated shoes, this new foam in the X3 definitely delivers on the bounce. Especially at a higher cadence and faster pace, this shoe gives you that extra kick you are looking for and reduces your ground contact time (GCT). If I had to use one word to describe how the shoe handles, I would say: "snappy". A shoe that gives you a nice kick and almost makes you snap back to your toe-off as you go through your stance phase in the gait cycle.
Train like its race day
For me, the Hoka Carbon X3 feels like a training shoe that mimics race-day feel. The reason I say that is because of it's durability. More often than not, the race day running shoes tend to be quite fragile, sacrificing longevity for pure speed. I am perfectly ok with that if I am chasing a PB. However, I would like my training shoes to last me a few more miles to avoid discussions in the household about how often I need new shoes. The Hoka's bring durability to the carbon plated shoe segment. That makes them ideal shoes for those runners wanting to put a lot of mileage in and still like to have the carbon technology assist them. I can see how a lot of ultrarunners will run both training sessions and longer races in them.
The upper layer of the shoe not only looks good but also sports a knitted, breathable fabric. Very good for warmer climates. And the slightly wider toe box makes it a good shoe for people who like their feet to have some space. The freedom for your feet comes at a cost though. The X3 does not wrap around your foot as nicely as some of the other brands or even the X2. If you like your shoe to be nice and tight around your foot so you can really strap your heel in, this shoe leaves a bit to think about.
Now for the verdict on the Hoka Carbon X3. If you are a Hoka fan, you will love this new Carbon X3. It managed to improve some of the elements the X2 missed out on, most notably the responsiveness of the sole. The X3 definitely has an edge over the X2 on that one. Durability is another great feature of this shoe as well as its upper layer of breathable tight-knit fabric. The question you have to ask yourself when thinking about purchasing this shoe is how much freedom do I want my foot to have. If you don't mind a bit of heel slip to allow your toes to wiggle around nicely, then go for it. If you must have your foot strapped in to run properly, you might want to forgo this model.
Once you made up your mind, you can rest assured that when you go out for a run with your new X3's you will look fabulous!
March 2022 - Erik Bohm, Effortless Running
Disclaimer: Hoka nor any other brand pays me to review their products. I don't receive compensation for these articles and all of the opinions voiced in this article are my own.