How are your ankles? Are you a runner who makes time for strength exercises, mobility, and more? If you are, then you will delight in using the new Hoka Tecton X 2 ($225) on all kinds of trail terrain.
But if you’re like me and tend to just run and wing the rest of the mechanical responsibilities of the well-rounded athlete, then you might not be the best candidate for this shoe on all terrain. I have rolled my ankles three times in the Hoka Tecton X 2 when the trail gets a bit more technical — thankfully without a serious sprain or worse — and yet there is still so much to love about it that I will continue to use it, albeit on more benign off-road routes.
If you loved the original Hoka Tecton X — read our Hoka Tecton X review — or if you are wary of the often-maligned carbon-plated trail shoes, you might find the Tecton X 2 a worthy option for a very lightweight shoe that offers excellent turnover and underfoot protection. It weighs in a little heavier than the previous model with an actual weight of 9.1 ounces, or 258 grams, for a U.S. men’s size 9.
We like this shoe so much that it got our vote as “most comfortable lightweight trail running shoe” in our best lightweight trail running shoes guide as well as the “best maximal trail shoe” in our best cushioned trail running shoes guide.
You’ll just want to be mindful that the carbon plates and general stack height might mask your foot’s ability for ground feel on uneven terrain, so we recommend this shoe for use on nontechnical terrain.
Hoka Tecton X 2 Upper
The most prominent update in the Hoka Tecton X 2 — versus the debut Hoka Tecton X — is the Matryx upper. In the most lightweight and expensive shoes, this is becoming the standard. Think the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 2, — here’s our Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 2 review — Arc’teryx Norvan SL 3, and Nnormal Kjerag, which are all opting for this material.
The technology behind Matryx is in the coating of the yarn. Where other shoes typically will use a fully coated textile, Matryx coats each yarn individually. At a structural level Matryx is a weave of polyurethane-coated recycled polyester wrapped around a nylon core. Maytrx is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, although it isn’t going to give Gore-Tex a run for its money anytime soon in terms of “waterproof-breathable,” in my opinion.
I haven’t noticed a dramatic improvement in breathability with Matryx compared to other shoes’ upper materials, but in terms of durability it brings a new level of respectability to the Hoka brand. For years we decried Hoka’s poor durability, in light of its wildly positive performance and running enjoyment. We were always blowing out the sidewalls, or ripping off the heel pull tabs, or wearing off the logos before the foam and outsoles deemed a proper retirement. Now with the Matryx upper, we have a Hoka shoe — albeit not in all models — that should last the right amount of time.
While it comes with a premium price tag, in 200 miles of testing so far, there is not a loose thread or worn spot to speak of.
While erring on the narrow side, the Matryx upper is more giving than, say, the new Hoka Zinal 2. And for all of Matryx’s durability, it is actually quite flexible and accommodating. My feet are not only wide, but I also have bunions on the insides of both, and though they push out, the shoe material is giving enough so as not to be uncomfortable on the insides and outsides of my feet.
The original Hoka Tecton X bore an upper with a couple of problems, which have all been addressed in this Tecton X 2. In the original model, the laces extended way down the forefoot, meaning there was less room with the laces cinched for your toes to spread out. And the tongue was neither gusseted nor well made. It didn’t take long for the Hoka logo on that shoe to start peeling off and flapping around. The tongue was prone to falling to the side and required some real lace lockdown efforts to keep in place. Fortunately, the Tecton X 2 has stopped the laces a bit shorter now and has a gusseted tongue. Both points are big improvements for the comfort and usability of the shoes.
Hoka Tecton X 2 Midsole
On the right surface and in a straight line, the Hoka Tecton X 2 throws down. It uses what’s becoming standard in a lot of shoes now, which is a two-foam front; one cushy on top with a firmer layer beneath it for absorbing landing forces. Hoka sticks its two, parallel carbon fiber plates between this dual-density sandwich to put forward propulsion in the mix. This is a dreamy midsole combination, dubbed ProFlyX, that isn’t just comfortable and a shoe you want to do all of your training in — but one that is worthy of running hard intervals, even on the road, or in a variety of different race distances.
Although I didn’t have a hard time controlling the original Tecton X, I find the Tecton X 2 to depart from the good stability of its predecessor. It generally feels not as connected to the ground as the first version. As I said before, I’ve rolled my ankles in these shoes several times, whereas I never did in the original Tecton X.
But when the trail is smooth, you can zone out and revel in the speed you generate. While other lightweight shoes produce a grinding-down effect to your legs on anything beyond 20 miles, the Tecton X 2 is still cushy and comfortable for 50 kilometers or 50 miles; perhaps more.
Hoka Tecton X 2 Outsole
The Hoka Tecton X 2 outsole is exactly the same as the original with its just-right, road-to-trail inviting lug depth of 4 millimeters. The pattern is not very aggressive but directional lugs assist in braking in the rear and gripping for pushoff in the front.
The rubber is again Vibram Megagrip Litebase — a lightweight compound compared to standard Megagrip. Traction is fantastic on a variety of surfaces and in the wet and dry. You won’t confuse it for a mud shoe by any means, but in the damp it is able to shed mud and keeps from building what might feel like an uninvited fourth midsole layer. The middle section of the outsole is simply exposed foam, but it has yet to become cracked or otherwise damaged. Though it’s a shoe specifically for fast trail running, it has excellent road-to-trail characteristics — or even just road.
Hoka Tecton X 2 Overall Impressions
The Hoka Tecton X 2 probably won’t convert runners already skeptical of carbon-plated shoes — for that they should seek out the first version — because, for me at least, control on technical terrain actually takes a step backward in this version compared to the original. But for many runners, this should be another standout lightweight trail racing shoe, that is much better equipped for long distances compared to the other similar-weight shoes we’ve tested, which was why we named it “most comfortable lightweight trail running shoe” in our best lightweight trail running shoes guide. We also named it “best maximal trail shoe” in our best cushioned trail running shoes guide, because, as mentioned, it has maximal stack height and can be worn to run quite long and far. With these added mileage advantages, combined with much better durability in the upper, the Tecton X 2 is a shoe more deserving of its $225 price tag.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Hoka Tecton X 2? How did you find it?
- Did you find it unstable compared to its predecessor?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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