Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Hoka Tecton X in hand

Hoka Tecton X Review: Dual Plated Trail Running!?
By Chief Editor Matt Klein and Senior Contributor David Salas

While carbon fiber plated super foam shoes have been hitting the roads hard, only a few have made their way to the trail racing scene. Outside of the Nike ACG Moutain Fly (which is extremely heavy and does not fly), the North Face Flight Vectiv was one of the first carbon plated trail racing shoes on the market in 2021. The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra Trail was next, although it featured renewable carbon plate/TPE bio-based plate mix and was heavy enough to be a training shoe rather than a serious lightweight racer. It is more common for trail shoes to have plates, but in the form of rock plates for protection but few have used them specifically for aggressive fast racing. That has now changed with the Hoka Tecton X. Featuring a lightweight, race worth weight of 8.5 oz (men's size 9) and duel carbon plates, a serious plated racer has finally entered the field. 

Price: $199.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 8.5 oz, 240 g (men's size 9), 6.9 oz, 196 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: M: 32 mm / 27 mm; W: 30 mm / 25 mm
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Carbon Plated Trail Racer

Hoka Tecton X up close. Orange upper with bright yellow midsole and blue sidewalls


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Hoka Tecton X is a serious, duel carbon plated trail racing shoe for those looking to run fast and far. Coming in at 8.5 ounces (men's size 9) with a cushioned and responsive ride on both trail and road, the Tecton X works well for moderate to ultra-distance trail races or faster efforts on a variety of terrain. The upper fits comfortably with enough room for swelling yet still has a secure fit. The dual plates provide a snappy ride when the pace picks up while a ProFlyX midsole feels soft and protective underfoot. A solid amount of traction grips a variety of surfaces, making the Hoka Tecton X a secure and fast shoe for your next half marathon to ultramarathon trail racer. 

David: The HOKA Tecton X is a trail racing shoe that I think may shake up the trail market. The shoe provides a bouncy and protective midsole that still feels stable while navigating trails of any terrain. The upper dials in well and isn't overly narrow or wide in any sections. I think this will be a wide ranging shoe for both training and racing both below and above 50k. It uses a dual carbon plated midsole and runs smooth both on trail and road. A very versatile piece of footwear. 


Hoka Tecton X upper


FIT 

Matt: The Hoka Tecton X fits me true to size with a slight taper at the toes secondary to the toe guard in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is on the wider side throughout for a Hoka, however, it is secure. I have not had to lace lock this shoe at all and have not had any heel slippage even on aggressive terrain. The fit overall is normal to slightly wide in the heel and midfoot, then transitions to normal width in the forefoot. The toebox does taper slightly due to the protective toe guard, but this stretches with time. The lacing system extends almost the entire length of the upper. This allows for adjustments to the fit throughout the length of the shoe as the laces interact a great deal with the upper. This allowed me to adjust the forefoot for a little more room and snug down the midfoot and heel without lace locking the shoe. The tongue is gussetted and sits securely on the foot. The upper is a jacquard mesh, further secures the foot while being tough enough to handle anything on the trail that comes at it. The heel collar has some additional cushioning, which surrounds a fairly flexible heel counter. I did notice the counter initially, but the flexibility made me forget about it on the run. The internal jacquard mesh is a bit rough, so I would suggest wearing socks with this shoe. Overall, despite being a trail racing shoe, the Tecton X fits normal to slightly wide (particularly for a Hoka), providing a comfortable fit that accommodates swelling over long miles.

David:
The HOKA Tecton X fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5. The shoe does seem to be a tiny bit long but nothing that creates any problems. Width throughout is normal in the heel, midfoot, and forefoot. The lacing system is done well and has individual strap-like pieces that correspond with each eyelet as it ascends up the dorsal aspect of the foot. The material is an engineered mesh that leans on the thicker end but is still breathable enough for long, harder, or hotter efforts. The tongue is similar to the Rocket X material and provides enough protection for lacing the shoe down but not overly thick either. There is a semi rigid heel counter in the inferior half of the calcaneus that does a good job of keeping the shoes structure. I didn't need to lace lock the shoe for heel security was good, though I did anyways since I like just doing that for some extra connection to the platform out in technical trails. Overall, a very impressive upper that is just a tad long. 

Hoka Tecton X insole and padded heel collar

Hoka Tecton X heel counter

PERFORMANCE 

Matt: The Hoka Tecton X is a dual carbon plated trail racer/performance trainer. Two separate foams, one ProFly X, create a cushioned ride throughout the length of the shoe. Two parallel carbon plates add rigidity to the sole, protection from rocks and some pop when the pace picks up. The ride is initially stiff, particularly at the forefoot. With 10-15 miles this breaks in and creates a shoe with two personalities. The first is a solid, efficient riding ultramarathon shoe that rolls you forward without feeling like there is an artificial rocker. The sole is however well-rockered with a solid heel bevel and toe spring. The 5mm heel drop was not super noticeable due to the rocker for that reason. This does create a protective ride that feels great over long miles even at slower training paces. The second is a faster, propulsive feeling ride as the pace picks up. The base/last of the shoe is fairly wide, creating an inherently stable ride throughout the entirety of the transition. This does make the Tecton X a little clunky for fast efforts below 10k-15k distances, whereas something like the Hoka Zinal may work better. However, for tempo runs and longer uptempo efforts the Tecton X shines. This feel occurs on both road and trail as I have been able to use them for several miles during an uptempo run on the road before I transitioned to the trail. The Vibram Megagrip and Litebase outsole do a great job of gripping on aggressive terrain. I have used this shoe during steep climbs and felt confident. However, the outsole is durable enough that it can handle road wear, particularly road to trail efforts. So not only will this shoe do well during uptempo efforts on trail, it can handle road crossings and transitions easily. During my first road run in these, I almost forgot they were trail shoes. This makes the Tecton X an excellent choice for those that have a mix of road and trail at their disposable while also having a shoe that can pick up the pace as well as it can go the distance.

David:
The HOKA Tecton X is a trail racing shoe that is redefining what you can do with plates. Rather than just using a plate as a rock plate, this model uses two carbon plates that are tuned to perform and respond to the loads pushed into them. The midsole is soft and bouncy but stabilized really well by the plate. There is a centralized heel bevel present and a moderate toe spring. Upon loading the shoe transitions smooth throughout all of the rocker points but does seem to favor the rear foot a little more. For those that land harder on the heel this may provide a real smooth transition point for initial  contact. The Vibram Litebase lugs are done pretty well in that they provide good enough traction for nearly all trail conditions while also not being too aggressive on the road. For me this has worked great as a road to trail shoe and I have been able to push several trail sections in these shoes. The result of everything above is a smooth and balanced ride accompanied with a good rocker and a responsive midsole. I came away very impressed with the Tecton X. I feel comfortable taking this on a large variety of runs and at this moment would most likely reach for it on race day too if I'm racing in the trails. 

Hoka Tecton X medial

Hoka Tecton X outsole with lugs

STABILITY 

Matt: The Hoka Tecton X is a neutral trail racing option. However, there are a few aspects that provide some inherent stability. The sole flare and wider base make for a stable foundation. There is a little more lateral sole flare, so those with a history of ankle sprains or excessive lateral roll will enjoy this shoe. The dual plates also create a guidance line through the shoe that makes it more stable the faster you go. However, there is a bit of medial bias at the rearfoot especially with the additional lateral sole flare. For those that have a little too much medial motion, this shoe may not be the best option for easy paces. This is compensated for slightly by the raised sidewalls on both the medial and lateral side of the heel and midfoot that provide additional guidance forward. However, the medial sidewalls is more anterior and does not cover the heel, while the lateral does. This again causes a bit of a lateral bias at the posterior most aspect of the heel. Those sensitive to this shoe be cautious, however, those with neutral mechanics will not notice this much.

David: The stability in the Tecton X is done pretty well. The dual carbon plate midsole provides a good amount of rigidity throughout the platform and stabilizes the foam pretty well. The rocker design provides pretty smooth transitions independent of technicality of trails or road settings. The integrates the medial and lateral sole flaring of the midsole well and creates more cross sectional area underfoot for a stable platform. The Vibram outsole does a great job of sticking to the ground underneath you and keeps you confident in nearly all conditions. Upper lockdown is also done well and secures the foot well when in uneven terrain. Because of the softer midsole and the apex point of the heel I did tend to land in the heel a tad harder than I would have liked but I can live with that. That makes the initial contact a tad unstable for me but it isn't problematic. I am thinking perhaps if the apex was shifted posterior a tad that make the rear foot a little smoother at initial contact, but that is me being picky. 

Hoka Tecton X medial


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: The Hoka Tecton X has a slight medial bias at the rearfoot that will work well for those with a history of lateral ankle sprains. Trail running, particularly those in shorter distance racing, have a higher incidence of ankle sprains (Scheer & Krabak, 2021). This may be due to the uneven terrain seen in trail and off-road ultra endurance running. With uneven terrain comes the potential for a misteps and poor footing. The lateral ankle ligaments that are most commonly sprained include the anterior talofibular ligament (most commonly sprained), calcanofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament (Doherty et al., 2017). Repeated injuries to this area have many effects, including proprioception of the ankle, reaction times and other things that may alter performance (Wikstrom et al., 2013)).

For those with a history of lateral ankle sprains, it may be helpful to find a trail shoe with either lateral sole flare or a lateral sidewall. This is something the Hoka Tecton X does well both at the rearfoot and forefoot. This provides additional resistance to any lateral motion and may help pivot your foot medially in a precarious mistep. The addition of the parallel carbon plates is another great addition to this as the space between them becomes a guideline of sorts. Meanwhile, the plates provide additional resistance and torsional rigidity, which means resistance to frontal plane motion.

However, those with a history of ankle sprains should be working on their fibular muscles/evertor strength, single-leg balance (eyes open and closed) and single limb power/reaction ability in a variety of directions. We know from the literature and clinical experience that these three things are often impaired in those with this history and can be beneficial for rehabilitation. Those that have this history should  ease back into activities with uneven or unstable surfaces and make sure they address any residual impairments to reduce their risk of reinjury. Appropriate footwear choice is important as well, but both must be addressed for a safe return to one's desired activities. 

References

Doherty, C., Bleakley, C., Delahunt, E., & Holden, S. (2017). Treatment and prevention of acute and recurrent ankle sprain: an overview of systematic reviews with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine51(2), 113-125. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096178

Scheer, V., & Krabak, B. J. (2021). Musculoskeletal Injuries in Ultra-Endurance Running: A Scoping Review. 
Frontiers in Physiology12, 434. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.664071

Wikstrom, E. A., Hubbard-Turner, T., & McKeon, P. O. (2013). Understanding and treating lateral ankle sprains and their consequences. 
Sports Medicine43(6), 385-393. DOI 10.1007/s40279-013-0043-z


Hoka Tecton X in snow


RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: My major recommendation is to extend the medial sidewall into the posterior heel. Hoka has usually been good about this, although I wonder if a rationale was made that if this was a faster shoe that runners would be landing farther forward. Changes in speed do not necessarily translate to a change in initial foot contact position. Since the Tecton X also does well as a lightweight performance trainer on the trail and can handle a variety of paces, I would extend the medial sidewall back to provide stability for rearfoot strikers who need guidance at that spot.

David: I don't have many recommendations for the Tecton X. The Tecton X performed very well in a large variety of conditions for me. The upper did seem to run a tiny bit long so leveling that out would be a small detail change. The apex point where the shoe pivots in the rearfoot also feels like it may be a little more anterior than I would like so shifting that further posterior may smoothen out the rear foot landing for me, though that may not be the case for everyone. Those that land harder in that region may actually feel smoother in that region upon initial contact.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR 

Matt: The Tecton X is a trail racing / trail performance training shoe that can handle fast and easy miles. A slightly wider fitting upper that provides comfort and room for swelling over long mileage is present up top. Meanwhile, protective cushioning and parallel carbon plates sit below, which along with a rockered sole provide an efficient ride over fast and long miles. This is my favorite of the recent Hoka offerings sent to us and despite the medial bias has been one of my top trail shoes recently. Great job Hoka for stepping up and creating a fast, unique carbon plated racer/performance trainer for the trail. For those wanting a lighter, solid, responsive trail running shoe for fast miles, long miles, and for road/trail transitions, the Tecton X should be on your try-on list. 

David: The Tecton X is a trail racing shoe that will work for many people I believe. This shoe helps bridge the gap between road racing shoes and the trail world. The dual carbon plated midsole and softer foam are integrated very well with the platform and upper. This is a shoe that feels good both slow and fast and does still have potential to dabble in longer distances as well. For me the shoe also runs pretty smooth on the roads and I have had a lot of success with road-to=trail use as well. For those that want a highly responsive trail running shoe with a softer but still grounded ride the Tecton X is worth looking into.

pair of Hoka Tecton X in snow


GRADING 


Matt
Fit: A-/B+ (Wider fit throughout for a Hoka, but laces help lock down upper without need for additional security)
Performance: 
A- (A fun, solid ride that can handle fast and easy running over aggressive trail or road to trail runs)
Stability: A- [Neutral Racing] (A neutral racing shoe but with additional stability for those who go too far lateral)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Solid use of dual plate design for stability, rock plate protection and propulsion)
Personal: A-/B+ (One of my favorite trail shoes, although i have to land a bit farther to overcome the medial bias at the rearfoot)
Overall: A- (A top trail racing option for 2022 that anyone looking to go fast over long-distance trail runs should check out)

David
Fit: A- (Dimensions with width and sidewall integration done really well. Length is a tad long however.)
Performance: 
A- (Solid protection, good ground interaction with soft and responsive midsole, heel could probably be reworked a tad but otherwise really good)
Stability: A- (Upper lockdown and integration great, traction is solid throughout a large variety of terrain, dual plate midsole keeps motion linear and prevents deformation of foam, heel a tiny bit unstable for me)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (I am really excited to see some performance midsole integration done with the trail running shoes, the dual plate design is also a risky but interesting take on geometry and means to provide responsiveness)
Personal: A (My favorite trail running shoe at the moment. The platform is well connected to the upper and there is plenty of protection for longer efforts as well. Responsiveness for racing at shorter distances as well.)
Overall: A-/A (A very well done trail racing model I think many will enjoy. A good blend of protection, responsiveness, and ability to tackle technical terrain)

VIDEO REVIEW



Our team discusses the Tecton X further! 

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Price: $199.95 at Running Warehouse


Using the following link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Check out Gear We Love
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Huma Chia GelNatural and goes down easy. Powered Contributor Nathan Brown to his marathon
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!

FURTHER READING

Saucony Ride 15 - The Ride 15 gets a huge update with a bigger stack that still manages its stable neutral identity
Topo Specter - An all-new Pebax performance trainer from Topo Athletics
Mizuno Wave Horizon 6 - Max cushion meets max stability
Asics Noosa Tri 14 - The latest update to the coloful, ultra comfortable workout trainer
Saucony Tempus - Superfoamed stability!?
Saysky Apparel Review - Dannish street styling meets performance running apparel

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

Thanks for reading!

FOLLOW DOCTORS OF RUNNING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook: Doctors of Running 
Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running 
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
LinkedIn: Doctors Of Running
Strava: Doctors of Running
Podcast: Virtual Roundtable
Pinterest: Doctors of Running

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at HOKA for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

NEXT:
Mizuno Wave Horizon 6

Bottom Ad [Post Page]