Running is a sport that almost anyone can take up at any time, as there is very little equipment you need to buy before you can start. All you need is a good pair of running shoes, and you can instantly start training your legs to cover significant distances.
However, not all running shoes are built the same, and you will need very different footwear depending on the type of terrain you will be running on. The Hoka Carbon X 3’s are super shoes which are built for road races and marathons.
In this review, we will be looking at these shoes to tell you all their advantages and disadvantages, as well as how they compare to the competition.
Hoka is a French company that was founded in 2009 by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, both of whom were former Salomon employees.
They were one of the first shoe manufacturers to add an extended outsole to their shoes, which enabled runners to travel faster downhill.
Their name comes from a Maori phrase that translates to ‘fly over earth’ representing the companies’ dedication to producing shoes for those who have a need for speed.
Carbon X 3 Overview
The Carbon X 3s are described as super shoes, since they are built to offer a lot of bounce, when running on concrete.
They are slightly heavier than their predecessors the Carbon X 2s and sport a knitter mesh upper rather than one made from synthetic mesh.
The X 3s also mark Hoka’s first shoe that uses the supercritical foam, ProFly X for its midsole.
Some runners found the Carbon X 2s to be too narrow, which made them uncomfortable for those with very broad feet. The new knitted upper found on the X 3s presents the complete opposite problem.
It is uncommon to find racing shoes that have a knitted upper, because this kind of fabric is very liable to stretch.
This leads to the shoe becoming looser on your feet, so your heel is properly locked down into the back of the shoe. As such, one area where the Carbon X 3s struggle is stability, and they are not the best running shoe for those with narrow feet.
However, those with wider feet will find that the knit provides enough stretch for them to be comfortable while running.
While the upper is a little too loose for a racing shoe, the midsole is greatly improved and very comfortable to run on. The ProFly X foam provides lots of cushioning and shock absorption, so you can run over concrete as if it were clouds.
Speed & Responsiveness
Hoka was one of the first brands to offer carbon plated running shoes. As such, there is a sheet of carbon fiber placed along the whole length of the sole in these running shoes.
The idea behind this addition is to create greater responsiveness so that the shoe actively propels the runner forward.
This is very useful for marathon and road race runners, since it helps them to go longer distances without their feet getting too tired. The Carbon X 3s have such a carbon plate built into their sole as well as an outsole that is extended at the rear.
When running downhill, this extended outsole helps you to maintain traction while still propelling you forward.
The EVA ProFly X midsole and the rubberized EVA outsole combine together to make this a very smooth running shoe. It works with your stride to help you maximize your speed while soaking up any impacts so that your feet won’t get tired over long distances.
The rubberized EVA outsole on the Carbon X 3s offers good traction when running on concrete, which is what they are designed for.
They are also flared at the bottom, which provides a much more stable running experience than you would get with most other super shoes.
One issue with the outsole on the Carbon X 3s is that it is very soft and therefore susceptible to wearing down. As such, you may want to save these shoes for special occasions, as they will likely wear down very fast with extended use.
Since they aren’t built for cross country courses or dirt tracks, racing shoes don’t need to protect your foot from much except the concrete.
Thanks to their thick EVA foam midsole, the Carbon X 3s feel very comfortable underfoot when running on concrete.
However, the knit upper is very porous and will likely get soaked through very quickly in wet conditions. This will not only get your feet wet, but it will also make the show quite heavy, which might slow you down.
Generally the knit upper is the weakest component of these shoes, and won’t offer much protection from flying pebbles, or heavy rain.
Who Are The Hoka Carbon X 3s For?
The Hoka Carbon X 3s are perfect for roadrunners who have naturally broad feet. One advantage of the stretchy knit upper is that it will provide plenty of room to prevent your feet overheating or getting too cramped.
They are great shoes for races that take place on concrete, and their responsiveness will help you to run faster over greater distances. Because of this, they would also be very suitable for marathon runners, provided their feet aren’t too narrow.
In the next few sections, we will compare the Hoka Cabron X 3s to other popular super shoes, so you can see how they stack up against the competition.
Hoka Carbon X 3 vs Saucony Endorphin Pro
The Saucony Endorphin Pros are super shoes that are built for comfort and speed. They are significantly lighter than the Carbon X 3s, which helps you to move even faster when wearing them.
They have an outsole that tapers at the bottom, unlike the Carbon X 3s which flare out. This gives them more of a rocking motion that propels your feet forward with minimal effort.
They also have a much firmer outsole than that found on the Hoka’s, showing minimal wear and tear after running half-marathons.
As such, in many respects they are the better racing shoe, although they may be too narrow for those with exceptionally broad feet. The mesh upper is very breathable, but won’t hold up well in wet conditions, much like the knit upper found on the Carbon X 3s
Some runners have also noted that the laces can bite into your foot, which is not what you want when running long distance routes.
Overall, the Saucony shoes will be better for those with narrow feet who want to maximize their speed during long distance runs. Meanwhile, the Carbon X 3s are more suitable for those with wider feet who plan on running shorter races.
Hoka Carbon X 3 vs Nike ZoomX Vaporfly
The ZoomX Vaporfly is another pair of shoes that feels like strapping trampolines to your feet. They are very bouncy, and are a great race day shoe since they will help you run longer distances with less effort.
Like the Saucony’s we just looked at, they have a breathable mesh upper that will prevent your feet getting too hot.
However, the Vaporflys have a significant disadvantage over the Carbon X 3s, which is stability. While the flared outsole on the Hokas’s shoes offers excellent stability, the heel on the Vaporflys is very poorly designed.
It tapers oddly at the back, which can provide much greater speed if you are a runner who lands on their forefoot. Those who land on the backfoot, will find these shoes very unstable, and potentially dangerous to use.
They are also very narrow, which means they are not suitable for those with broad feet, unlike the Carbon X 3s. The tongue on the Nike’s is also quite loose, which can cause it to slip around while you are running.
This isn’t great as when you are running long distance you will want your shoe to remain stable and secure for the entire duration of your race.
Are The Carbon X 3s Worth It?
Overall, if you can tolerate the stretchy knit upper, the Hoka Carbon X 3s are a worthwhile investment.
They are roomy, stable and like most super shoes provide plenty of spring in your step so you can move as fast as possible. While there are better road running shoes out there, you could do far worse than the Carbon X 3s.
That being said, they are certainly a shoe worth saving for the say of your race. The soft outsole will wear down fast with repeated use, so you won’t get the longest lifetime out of it.
It may be a good idea to buy a separate set of shoes for training so you can save your Hokas for the big day.
- Flared outsole provides better traction and stability on concrete.
- Carbon plate propels you forward.
- Suitable for runners with broad feet.
- EVA foam midsole offers plenty of cushioning while still being responsive.
- Outsole is extended at the back to help with running downhill.
- Knit upper is breathable and reasonably lightweight.
- Knit upper will stretch and become looser over time.
- The outsole is soft and will wear away with repeated use.
- Not the best running shoe for wet conditions.