For trail runners looking for a fast, responsive race shoe that will go the distance on less technical terrain, smoother single track, fire roads
Runners with narrow foot may find this shoe too wide. This shoe also is not preferable for more technical or slippery terrain.
The Hoka Tecton X is Hoka’s first carbon-plated trail race shoe. The $199 price point is on the high end for trail runners, but similar to other carbon-plate road and trail running shoes.
The Tecton X follows the release of the North Face Flight Vectiv, the first carbon plate trail running shoe, and the Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra – both of which were released in 2021.
The Tecton X is lighter weight than its competitors and introduces unique dual carbon plates that make them more versatile for the trails
In some ways, the Tecton X is the first of its kind – pioneering the trail shoe market by introducing dual carbon plates and minimizing weight to maximize speed.
Pulling the shoe out of the box, I was struck by how lightweight (and how orange!) they were. At 6.9 oz. for women’s (8.5 oz. for men’s), these are the lightest weight running shoes I have ever tested.
On the first run in these, the Tecton X was responsive on smooth, hard packed dirt, grass, and other smooth surfaces. The mid-foot and toe box are generous, which provide ample space for swelling and toe splay on a long run; but often times feel cumbersome, especially for a narrow foot. The lugs on the Vibram outsole are shorter but tacky and durable enough for most terrain.
I wore these for a downhill trail marathon and they were ideal for the fast, hard packed course. I also wore these for a downhill marathon on fire roads and a 50k on smooth but steep hard packed dirt and they were the perfect balance of quick, responsive, and comfortable for a long, fast effort.
The Tecton X has decent protection underfoot thanks to a hard mid-height stack (32mm heel/27mm forefoot).
While the Tecton X minimizes weight by reducing the amount of materials used, strategic use of rubber on the Vibram Megagrip with Litebase outsole contributes to reliable underfoot protection.
The protective toe cap effectively protects the front of the foot against rocks and other trail debris.
The jacquard engineered mesh upper was generally insufficient protection upon contact anywhere else on the top of the foot. The upper felt paper thin if contact was made anywhere on the upper beyond the toe cap.
The only “durability issue” that I have with the Tecton X is that the initially shocking bright orange upper attracted and retained dirt and became a much more muted color after the first (16-mile) in them.
Aside from that, the Tecton X is a durable shoe that has maintained its integrity over hundreds of miles of testing over tough and varied mountain terrain. The lugs have worn down a bit, but they’re still sufficiently effective thanks to strategically placed Vibram rubber. The upper shows minimal abrasion despite repeated contact with rocks and tree roots.
The Tecton X would be a desirable option for a long ultra distance race. I’ve worn these for multiple race distances of marathon distance and above, and they’re in good enough condition to last for another long race.
Non-technical trails, like hard packed dirt or grass, is where the Tecton X really shines, especially on a downhill.
Use of parallel carbon fiber plates encapsulated within the ProFly X midsole maximize energy return with every step. This is especially enjoyed when opening up on a smooth downhill.
The use of dual plates (instead of a single sheet of carbon) is meant to provide some flexibility and better versatility on uneven surfaces. This paired with the lightness of the Tecton X makes occasional rocks and roots easy to avoid.
While short, the Vibram lugs are still sticky, providing adequate traction both uphill and downhill on most terrain types. The lug depth and less-aggressive outsole design can be limiting in mud or wet rock.
The Tecton X has an early stage meta rocker, which offers an earlier and longer transition zone from heel to toe. The result is a faster heel to toe transition to propel every step forward without sacrificing too much stability.
The Tecton X was very comfortable after I was able to tune the fit to my foot. While generally true to size, they run wide. On a few of my first runs in the Tecton X, my foot moved around in the toe box causing blisters on my toes.
The Ghillie lacing system in place of the second and third to last eyelets allowed for tighter lacing and a firmer lockdown, but I had to pull them close to as tight as they could go.
The tongue is very thin, which provided more space in the top of the shoe. This wasn’t ideal for me getting the fit tight, but it didn’t impact comfort.
The Tecton X’s lightness and cushioning make them a joy to run in for many miles.. While they don’t offer the same level of plush cushioning as a Hoka Stinson or Speedgoat, they are still comfortable enough to wear over long distances. The generous toe box provides ample room for any splaying.
For most trail races of any distance (1-mile to ultra), the Hoka Tecton X would be my shoe of choice. Only on a highly technical, wet, muddy, or super cold day would I opt for something else due to the traction and protection issues mentioned.
Hoka’s integration of the dual carbon plates and ProFlyX foam offers a new level of energy return and speed. The signature rocker shape and remarkably minimal weight further equip this shoe to feel great at speed over distance.
Strategic use of Vibram and rubber on the outsole maximize ground contact increases reliability and stability on most trail terrain. The only tradeoff of minimizing weight on the Tecton X is the upper, which doesn’t provide as much protection as I’d prefer in the conditions these could excel in.
While the Tecton X runs on the wide side, the lacing system allows for a tighter lockdown for a range of foot shapes. Further, the generous toe box is usually an advantage for longer races.
The Tecton X delivers a stellar complement of both the oldie but goodie and new technologies Hoka has to offer for trail racing.
If you’re looking for a super lightweight and versatile shoe to both train in and then PR your next trail race, this is definitely a shoe I would recommend.