The HOKA ONE ONE Rocket X was one of those shoes we saw early 2020 and it sporadically showed up here and there, but we are happy to announce it is now here for the rest of us. We saw the Carbon X from HOKA, but honestly that shoe was a mixed bag as it felt more like a prototype than a final shoe. The Rocket X feels polished and well thought out and more like a mainstream shoe in terms of production quality and honestly it just feels like a HOKA. The real question is how does it run and compare, so lets get into it.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Just a much better carbon shoe overall from the Carbon X and can easily go head to head with competitors.
- Uses elements you love from other HOKA’s to produce a simple yet aggressive racer.
- Weighs in at 7.4oz or 210g for a US Men’s 9.
- Features 30mm of cushion and has a 5mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $180.00 USD and comes in 1 color for Men and Women.
First off, let’s get it out of the way and say no one is going to miss you in these shoes or wonder what brand you’re wearing. We get it, but most of these shoes are racing shoes and for all these companies it is a brand element so they want it as big as possible during races. Just get over it expect new colors down the pipe. Moving on…
The easiest way to describe this to people who run in HOKAs and in particular those who have run in the Rincons is that this upper feels very similar, just a little narrower and more aggressive. As you slide your foot in that gusset grabs you and pulls you into place and the only downside here is that the toe box is slightly narrower than on your more everyday shoe like a Clifton or other. We definitely prefer this upper to the Carbon X which felt almost t-shirt like and did seem to break down faster. The fit on the upper is in fact one of the high points of the shoe as it has a nice heel counter which locks you in place so from the mid-foot back you feel very secure.
Underfoot, the carbon definitely makes the midsole feel a bit stiffer and this is very normal with all these carbon played in shoes. It is really about what happens when they warm up and activate that we are looking for and in this case, it does stay a little bit on the firmer side. If you’re expecting a plush feeling like other hookah shoes provide, you’re not going to find that here. As we said, this is a racing shoe though or even your speed day shoe so not something for every day. if you are looking at these for a marathon, then definitely get some miles on them beforehand and strengthen those legs because they will take a beating.
On the performance side, all of these carbon shoes really live up to the height. Carbon clearly is a game-changing addition for running in general and the Rocket X is no exception. It definitely makes things feel more up-tempo and gets you moving faster and helps you stay faster longer. To that end, we say if you would love a HOKA and are looking for a race day shoe, then look no further as this is the best choice from them right now. If we are comparing it to what is in the market right now, we can say it is definitely a solid competitor and will go head-to-head with pretty much any of the big boys.
The upper on the Rocket X is a dual layer of engineered mesh with much larger cells internally that helps increase breathability while maintaining structure. it features a nicely gusseted tongue which gives just enough allow for easy entry into the shoe as well as a moderately padded collar and finishes with a pretty decent internal heel counter. it does come in a bit narrower than other HOKA shoes, but given its racing design this makes a bit of sense.
The midsole is such a simple tweak to a very traditional HOKA design and really just takes what you know and love and inserts a carbon plate. It uses their CMEVA foam, 30mm of it, which provides ample absorption across the entire foot. They have then inserted a carbon plate which helps with a smoother transition and take off and obviously helps with that speed increase. And then of course because it’s a HOKA it features their Meta-Rocker design which always gives you a more over your toes up-tempo style run.
The outsole is very simple in that it features a single piece of thin rubber on the forefoot and two smaller pieces on the heel. This rubber is only a few millimeters thick and is set just a touch into the midsole. The remainder is rubberized EVA. There are diagonal striations that help with traction and control across varying surfaces.
Style & Aesthetics
I’m not sure if it’s you could visually scream HOKA in a louder way than the Rocket X does. It uses their very traditional blue and yellow color palette so it is very clear what is coming at you when you see them out on the roads. A lot of folks won’t love this, but we would expect the see these in more colorways soon.
The thing we truly love about the HOKA Rocket X is that they really didn’t mess with their formula much. The upper feels like other shoes we have seen including the Rincon and that gusset holds you so well. The EVA blend in the midsole feels like any HOKA you might have tried before. The addition of the carbon plate adds a touch of firmness, but that 30 mm of cushioning does help mitigate some of that stiffness. All in all, it feels like a HOKA and yet it runs like a beast, it is the best carbon shoe they have produced to date and this is due really to them not overthinking it. It is definitely still a racing shoe though, so expect a little more narrowness and a more aggressive run.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.