Hoka’s punchy and versatile carbon super shoe is well worth the wait…

Men’s Fitness verdict

Its well-balanced ride makes this a versatile shoe for a range of speeds and distances. That it’s one of the cheapest super shoes going makes the Rocket X 2 even more compelling.
  • Springy and lively ride
  • Good versatility
  • Relatively stable for a carbon super shoe
  • Very tight fitting
  • Not as propulsive as some rivals

How we test the best running shoes

Our testers put each shoe through their paces over a mixture of distances and paces to see where they excel, and clocked up significant distances in each one to examine how they wear over time. Each reviewer focused on speed, stability and comfort during test runs, while also assessing the effectiveness of any high-tech features on offer. Their detailed reviews are sure to help you choose the right running shoe for you.

Hoka Rocket X 2 features

The Rocket X 2 now features an updated ProFlyX midsole unit that combines a higher stack dual-density PEBA midsole, a tweaked rocker and a reshaped carbon fibre plate.

That spoon-shaped plate is sandwiched between a softer layer of foam closer to the foot and a firmer, more responsive layer on the bottom, and works well with the more responsive foam to enhance rebound. The early-stage rocker also adds extra toe spring and makes for smoother transitions.

The synthetic mesh upper, gusseted tongue and internal foot cage create a race-ready, locked-in feel with no foot slipping. But the fit is fussy and the somewhat cramped Rocket X 2 can be difficult to get into, especially for wide feet with a high instep.

However, once it’s on and you’re running, there’s just – but only just – about enough room to make it a comfortable ride. The glove-like fit also means there’s no slipping off the midsole unit, even on tight turns at pace. So I found this to be a good cornering shoe.

That’s helped by the weight-saving zonal outsole rubber reinforcements on high-traction areas that makes for good grip and durability.

Hoka Rocket X 2 weight, stack and drop

At 221g (7.8oz) in my UK men’s size 8.5 test shoe, the Hoka Rocket X 2 is among the lightest carbon shoes and that’s noticeable on the run. From the moment you lace them up they feel compact, agile, nimble and race ready. There’s an early-gen Nike Vaporfly feel here.

The Rocket X 2 also has the lowest stack height (36mm / 31mm) and drop (5mm) of the leading super shoes. It might not be as punchy as bigger stack shoes like the Nike Alphafly and the Adidas Prime X Strung, but that lower drop and smaller wedge of foam makes for a subtle, stable and reliable platform to run off.

Hoka Rocket X 2 performance

In my tests over more than 50 miles, the Rocket X 2 showed it’s everything you want in a race shoe: it’s light, lively, compact, agile and fun. It puts plenty of spring under the ball of your foot without being overcooked and that dual-density midsole makes for a nice platform to run off at a range of paces. The clip-along transition from the rocker gives it a nice roll that helps spare tired legs deep into longer runs.

This is by far Hoka’s best race shoe yet. The ride is wonderfully well balanced, soft yet energetic and more compact than some of its bulkier rivals. There’s great versatility here, too. This shoe copes better than many carbon racers at a range of paces and distances.

At £220, the Rocket X 2 is at the lower end of the carbon super shoe price range and that makes it even more compelling. The only caveat: you’ll need to enjoy a very tight, foot-hugging fit and/or work hard to get the sizing spot on to guarantee comfort on long-haul runs.