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Hoka Tecton X Review: Changing My Mind on Carbon Trail Runners

Here's how this innovative design has me eager to hit the summer trails.

orange hoka one tecton x running shoes sitting on a rock
Ben Emminger

When launched earlier this month, the Hoka Tecton X immediately caught our attention as the brand's first carbon-plated trail runner, but the intrigue didn't stop there. In true-to-brand boldness, this all-new shoe included not one, but two independent carbon plates, marking a seismic shift in design aimed at tackling the uneven terrain in a speedy silhouette.

Aside from the carbon plates, the all-new Hoka Tecton X boasts a dual-density Profly X midsole for optimal cushioning and energy return, as well as a jacquard engineered mesh upper for a lockdown feel.

But how would this marvel of trail-running design fare on the terrain? Would the split carbon plates offer that pop you'd expect in a road running shoe, like the Carbon x 3? Additionally, how would this new kick sit in comparison to other Hoka trail standouts, namely the Speedgoat 5?

To answer these questions, we took to the rolling hills and trails of southwestern Pennsylvania. Across beaten paths, muddy bogs, step ascents and paved throughways, we shook up our typical running routine to see how revolutionary these Tectons could be. Here's what we found.

The Tecton X is definitely race-ready

According to the brand, the Tecton X was designed as a race-first, training-second shoe featuring a lightweight frame that's responsive and capable when eyeing up that first-place finish. With this notion in mind, I expected the shoe to be fast, so catered some of my trail runs to accommodate the purpose — pacing faster than normal to feel the full scope of the new kicks.

Immediately upon my first trail, I could see that Hoka really honed in on trail racing for the Tecton X. The split carbon plates provided that pop you'd expect, albeit subdued when compared to road-oriented carbon runners. I enjoyed how the plates retained that springiness over uneven terrain for a stable yet comfortable ride, and really felt their presence when traversing paved throughways or down connecting streets. Combine this with the responsive, slightly-cushioned feel of the Profly X midsole and you can see how this shoe caters to racers.

But the carbon plates aren't the only factor giving the Tecton X the race day nod. This shoe is light, and I mean light. At 8.5 ounces for a men's size 9 — less than one ounce more than the road-ready Carbon x 3 — the Tecton X features phenomenal pickup. I experienced no issues transitioning between landings and takeoffs, despite the minimal rocker.

orange hoka tecton one x running shoes
Ben Emminger

Muddy conditions make for muddled running

The 4mm lugs across the Vibram Megagrip outsole in the Tecton X provide an exceptional grip across dry, less technical terrain. In wet or muddy conditions, however, you might want to slow the pace down.

After some rather dreary afternoons over the past few weeks, I found myself running on a handful of caked-up, washed-out trails. When navigating puddles or flatter terrain, the Tecton Xs worked fine, but any mud-filled bend or slippy hill climb left me sliding off-course. The lugs just aren't deep enough to grip the loose soil, so if you typically run in muddy conditions, consider going with a more aggressive tread.

This Hoka is a durable shoe...with one Achilles heel

In testing the Tecton Xs, I never took the shoe's durability into question. The jacquard engineered mesh and protective toe rand seem fit for the tough tasks associated with trail running, and I don't see these "pancaking out" anytime soon.

That said, however, there is one key area I think will fail sooner than others. The top eyelet extends over the top of the foot for a lockdown feel, and while it accomplishes this job, the seam seems unfinished, which can lead to potential fraying or tears if I cinch down tightly. The eyelets are reinforced with a polymer, but that unfinished seam has me a little cautious. Only time will tell if my worries become reality.

orange hoka tecton one x running shoes
Ben Emminger

Hoka Tecton X: The Verdict

If you're looking for a race-ready trail runner that's lively and just downright fun to run in, the Tecton X delivers. I experienced a better ground feel in the Tectons as I did the more cushioned Speedgoat 5s, which works for my running style, but I can see where some might prefer a more plush ride.

Also, there is the cost to consider. Due to the carbon makeup of the Tecton Xs, these are one of the most expensive trail runners offered by Hoka. At $200, though, they're cheaper than other carbon-plated road racers, and right on-par with other carbon trail runners like The North Face Flight Vectiv — which only includes one carbon plate, mind you.

Hoka set out to shake up the trail running scene with the Tecton X, boasting innovative technology and a new way to look at carbon-plated trail shoes. After logging some miles and seeing firsthand what the shift's all about, I think the brand has reached new heights yet again.

HOKA
Tecton X
Hoka hoka.com
$200.00

  • Carbon plates provide a nice pop on faster runs
  • Lightweight frame makes pickups effortless

  • Not as grippy on muddier trails
  • Top eyelet looks unfinished, which could wear over time

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