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These Carbon-Plated Trail Runners Are Fun, Fast, Look Fantastic: The HOKA Tecton X2 Review

The Hoka Tecton X2 is a surprisingly versatile running shoe that provides a complete and fun package for trail runners seeking a quick, comfortable, and sharp-looking trail shoe.

(Photo/Nathan Lemin)
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Last July, my partner, our dogs, and I stopped to visit my sister in Estes Park, Colo., along our way back home to Arizona. My sister is a college cross-country and track athlete, and she spent the summer working and running at elevation. Rather than get destroyed trying to keep up with her on a run, we decided a long hike would better suit our stop.

We settled on a route in Roosevelt National Forest. We spent a chunk of the day on trail, logging around a dozen miles in intermittent drizzle and bright sunshine so characteristic of summertime in the Colorado Rockies. For a trail shoe so suited to going fast, the Hoka Tecton X2 felt, well, amazing going slow.

Flash forward 6 months. On any given trail day, the Hoka Tecton X2 is the first shoe out of my closet. Sometimes I’ve even been bummed out having to test other trail running shoes for deadlines in favor of the Tecton. This pair of shoes has logged running and hiking miles in Costa Rica, California, Colorado, and many places in between. Suffice it to say: This is one of my favorite trail runners this year.

In short: For something of a trail “super shoe” (it features carbon plates and the same ProFly foam found in Hoka’s road racing shoes), the Hoka Tecton X2 has huge appeal for the masses, aka, me. I’m not a fast runner, and I won’t be shattering records, but I still want to benefit from the latest technology shoe companies have to offer. The X2 provides a complete and fun package for trail runners seeking a quick, comfortable, and sharp-looking trail shoe.

If you’re shopping for trail running shoes and want some others to compare, check out our Best Men’s Trail Running Shoes of 2024.

HOKA Tecton X2 Shoes


  • Materials Matryx fast-dry upper, PROFLY-X construction, Parallel carbon fiber plates, Vibram Megagrip with Litebase Outsole
  • Weight Claimed 8.8 oz., Actual (size 10.5) 9.6 oz.
  • Lug depth 4mm
  • Heel-to-toe drop 5mm
  • Price $225


  • Nimble, lightweight, and fast on technical terrain
  • Great balance of comfort and trail feedback
  • Parallel carbon plates
  • Excellent Matryx upper (secure and durable)
  • Tacky and surprisingly durable outsole


  • Narrow fit (especially in the midfoot)
  • Not super plush (longer mileage or sharp terrain may affect feet)
  • Expensive

HOKA Tecton X2 Shoes Review

Basically, the Hoka Tecton X2 is a slimmed-down trail running shoe designed to go fast over a variety of distances. After all, our GearJunkie team awarded it 2023’s “Fastest Trail Running Shoe.”

The extremely lightweight construction (measured under 10 ounces for a trail shoe), peppy carbon-plated midsole, and well-designed upper all contribute to a nimble, exciting running experience. And don’t shy away if you’re worried about comfort: While the Tecton X2 isn’t Hoka’s softest shoe, it’s still plenty comfortable for long days on the trail.

Hoka Tecton X2 Fit

(Photo/Nathan Lemin)

Running shoe fit — especially trail running shoe fit — always contains some level of subjectivity. However, I tested the Hoka Tecton X2 with multiple runners over the summer, and we all found the shoe to fit somewhat snugly. I still recommend fitting this true-to-size. But if you tend to be between sizes or like a little more room in the forefoot, I might suggest half-sizing up.

My feet are pretty regular-width, have a long arch, and are relatively low-volume. I actually found the snuggest part of the shoe to be in the midfoot (not the toebox), which is typically OK because individual lacing strategies can accommodate some different foot volumes.

Oh, and while we’re on lacing: the laces + Matryx upper provides one of the most secure lacing setups of any shoe — road or trail — that I tested this year.

(Photo/Nathan Lemin)

For me, the Hoka Tecton X2 is ideal for moving quickly through terrain. When road running, I don’t mind toebox room and a little slop. There is less ankle rollover risk and odd angles to create rubbing. But on the trail, I prefer a locked-in fit, which the Matryx upper provides in spades.

I sprained my ankle twice while trail running this year, and neither time I was wearing the Tecton X2. Coincidence? Probably. But still, a good sign.

Of course, if you tend toward trail running shoes like Topo or Altra designed with a wide toebox, these Hokas might not be for you. There won’t be a lot of space for your toes to splay out. So, if you feel too buttoned-up in a narrow shoe, then I wouldn’t recommend the Tecton X2. At the very least, I’d again recommend trying a half-size up.

Trail Chops

Despite a variety of shoe offerings, Hoka holds its reputation as a maker of super-plush, max-stack shoes. Yet, the Tecton X2 turned out to be one of the most nimble trail runners I tested this year. Now, I’m not saying it is a minimal shoe, because there is plenty of cushion and comfort here to log long miles. But after a very short break-in period, there is no unnecessary softness or fluff in the midsole.

In fact, despite the relatively stiff midsole (thanks to a firm foam and parallel carbon plates), I get a surprising amount of trail feedback in these shoes. That’s something I’ve sought out in other Hoka trail runners.

(Photo/Nathan Lemin)

As for traction, the Tecton X2’s Vibram Megagrip with Litebase outsole performed swimmingly (runningly?). An initial concern for this shoe (as with many Hoka trail shoes) was that the exposed midsole sections on the bottom of the shoe would get chewed up by rougher terrain.

However, unlike my Hoka Challengers, which do show significant bites and trail damage, the Tecton X2’s stiffer foam has held up surprisingly well to consistent abuse over 6 months. And while the fit of this shoe is decidedly narrow, the outsole shape felt wide enough to provide confidence-inspiring stability on rocky or angled trails.

I especially enjoyed this Hoka trail runner for uphill efforts. They feel so light on the foot that steep mountain grades are more manageable. And the propulsive nature of carbon-plated shoes shined on the inclines. The stiffer midsole helps shoulder some of the load your foot muscles might otherwise have to bear when climbing.

Notable Runs

Two particularly memorable runs come to mind in the Tecton X2. The first, I was on vacation in Costa Rica, on a light, low-tide beach run. The terrain was solid wet sand with intermittent — and super-technical — volcanic rock outcroppings.

After a mile or so, I came to a wide-open stretch of beach. The tide was out and so the sand was almost perfectly flat. I got the childlike urge to just … run. I launched into a dead sprint until I lost my breath. Then again, and again about four more times. It was probably as fast as I’ve run in 10 years.

These shoes, on the wet, dense, and solid sand, felt practically like track spikes. It was fun.

(Photo/Nathan Lemin)

The second, my sister (the college runner), was visiting us here in Tucson. She had a rest day (which apparently still requires a run), so we decided to do an easy trail run in the Catalina Mountains. The only problem was I didn’t research closely enough, and our easy run turned out to be a steep uphill menace of a section of the Arizona Trail.

As I watched my sister get farther and farther ahead, switchbacking hundreds of feet above me, I dug my toes in and did my best to hold a steady cadence. As tough as it was, the Hokas were the right tool for the job, and I made it back to the top alive (many minutes behind with a significantly higher heart rate).

Hoka Tecton X2 Review: Bottom Line

(Photo/Nathan Lemin)

To be perfectly honest, if I looked at the Hoka trail running shoe lineup with no prior experience, I would probably shy away from the Tecton X2 initially. I would assume it was designed for faster runners than me, that it was too performance-oriented. My goal with this review is to invite trail runners — all trail runners — to try the Hoka Tecton X2.

My one overarching hesitation with this shoe is the price: $225 is a lot of money for a casual trail runner. However, if you run the occasional trail race and want to spell your everyday trail trainer with a speedy trail shoe with faster efforts, then I do see the Tecton X2 as a good long-term investment. Because mine have held up so well, I would be confident you could get a couple of racing seasons out of the Tecton X2s.

Yes, this is a race-oriented shoe: Their lightweight construction, carbon plates, and responsive midsole foam are designed for speed. But it’s the overall versatility and performance that has me singing this shoe’s praises. The upper is super secure and durable. The outsole is lightweight yet tacky enough for technical pursuits. It’s comfortable enough to go long and firm enough to yield trail feedback.

And the shoe just looks great. While fit can be slightly finicky, if you can dial the X2 to your foot, it’s a ton of fun to run in. I’m eager to put another 6 months’ of miles on mine!

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