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Hoka Rocket X 2: Ready for Takeoff
By David Salas and Matthew Klein

The HOKA Rocket X 2 comes in hot with some big updates from the previous version. The updates may seem like an overhaul, though they all feel like improvements to the shoe. The shoe now uses a PEBA-based midsole, a more streamlined upper, and a sharper spooned carbon plate. The Rocket X2 brings a new offering to the super shoe lineup and is a worthy contender. 

Hoka Rocket X 2
Price: $249.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 7.5 oz, 212 g (men's size 9/women's size 10.5 Unisex sizing)
Stack Height: 36 mm / 31 mm
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Plated Super Racing Shoe


Matt: The Hoka Rocket X 2 is Hoka's first true super shoe. A new dual-layer PEBA midsole provides a fast ride with more bounce in the heel and an aggressive forefoot to push off from. The upper is light and secure despite not having a heel counter. While on the firmer side for super shoes, the Rocket X 2 checks off all the boxes for a fast, inherently stable, and aggressive racer. 

David: The HOKA Rocket X 2 is the newest super shoe offering from HOKA. This shoe comes with some big updates featuring a balanced rocker profile, a PEBA-based midsole, and a new upper. It's an overhaul in all the right ways and definitely a worthy member of the super shoe family. 

: ASICS Metaspeed Sky+, Nike Vaporfly Next% 2


Matt: The Hoka Rocket X 2 fits me true to size in my normal Men's US Size 10. Initially, I felt that this shoe fit short, but that was due to the lower volume in the forefoot. This stretched quickly after 1-2 runs and now fits true to size and secure. The fit is definitely a performance one, fitting a bit more snug and lower volume throughout. The forefoot is on the snug side and the upper sits low across the toes. The midfoot is slightly snug and features a thin gusseted tongue. The tongue further locks the foot down and although I did have to tighten the laces a bit, I did not have to lace lock this shoe. The heel is thin and does not have a counter. This is perfect for those with sensitive heels or Haglund deformities. The are two pads in the upper that sit against the foot and add security to the rearfoot. Despite the thin upper, the security is quite good. This comes from the midfoot gusseting and snug fit, which seem to hug the foot well. The upper does not breath super well, so socks are a must. An attempt at sockless running left me with sweaty feet and with some mild blisters, so keep the socks on with this shoe. 

David: The HOKA Rocket X 2 fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The fit is very dialed in throughout. The length is very true to size and the overall fit is consistent with most performance shoes. The shoe has slightly lower volume throughout and hugs the foot well along the dorsal aspect of the foot. The heel is snug and the midfoot is normal to slightly snug. The forefoot is decently wide for a racing shoe and does not have a dramatic taper as it enters the toe box. The mesh material is translucent and synthetic-like, similar to the uppers of Vaporfly Next% 1 or Puma Deviate Nitro Elite. There is some small reinforcement throughout the upper with really light fabric. The tongue is thin and race ready, but does provide enough protection for a good lockdown. Despite some light reinforcement from the fabric, there is no heel counter. The hold on the heel is actually quite good though. There is some suede on the inside of the heel that helps with holding the heel and preventing slipping. There is also a small, padded heel collar on the inside of the material as well. The fit throughout is actually very good for a super shoe and I did not have any major issues. I like the anatomic fit throughout and I felt secure in nearly all situations.

Listen to our full podcast review of the Hoka Rocket X 2
(and New Balance SC Elite v3) here.


Matt: The Rocket X 2 is a slightly firmer super shoe with a bouncy heel and more responsive forefoot. The heel is softer than the forefoot and has much more give to it. There is a large bevel, although it is centered. I did not notice this as much given the compression of the midsole. This transitions forward quickly through the midfoot, which was quite stable for me thanks to the sidewalls and wider shape. The plate is incredibly stiff and makes the forefoot feel a bump you have to get over initially. This felt awkward and made the shoe feel extremely low drop at first. The forefoot is also firmer, which creates an interesting contrast between the front and the back. The toe off is quite sharp and feels a little awkward running at slower speeds. When the pace picks up, especially faster, this shoe shines. It took the plate and foam a little to break in but when it did, I found this shoe worked best for tempo runs and intervals. I had a hard time keep a moderate uptempo pace as the aggressiveness and lower drop begs to be pushed faster. At tempo down to 5k effort this shoe really shined. I ran a two-mile tempo, splitting 5:30/5:17 and found the shoe felt great at fast efforts but even better when really pushing hard. Intervals are a little mixed as I found this shoe to struggle a bit with pace transitions. If you are holding a faster pace and slow press the gas, the Rocket X 2 feels like it will keep your legs rolling. For that reason, I think this shoe is best for 5k to half marathon efforts.

If you are a faster/elite runner, this will definitely be a marathon shoe (David). The firmer super foam lends itself to faster distance running and is on the aggressive side. As with most super shoes, this is really meant for the road. I am sure David will get some trail miles in it, but I would prefer the Torrent or Tecton X 2. The durability has been fairly good as there are thick cutouts of Durabrasion rubber that also grip the road and track quite well even in wet conditions. I am still seeing wear in my normal areas, albeit a little farther forward than normal, so I expect a slightly above average number of miles out of these for a super racing shoe.

David: The Rocket X 2 performed very well for my mechanics. I tend to heel strike, though not too sharply. The heel has a solid centralized heel bevel that is rounded enough to help with the initial contact transition. The plate is stiff and rigid throughout and provides a good amount of structure through toe off. The toe spring and forefoot rocker are decently sharp, but start early. This makes for a smoother rolling sensation through the forefoot. The foam is PEBA-based and feels like it. The shoe does have a good amount of bounce upon loading it. The design of the shoe makes you want to turn over and start running fast. I find this to be doable at slower paces, though I definitely prefer to run faster paces and efforts in the Rocket X 2. The shoe has good traction underfoot as well, which is rare for this category. I felt decently grounded and connected to the floor regardless of surface in the Rocket X 2. I have been able to take this on track and the road with no issues. I think this shoe has the most appeal at the half marathon distance for myself. This shoe likes to run fast but still wants to have some rhythm to the stride. I think one can definitely take this a marathon, though some might find the design a tad aggressive on the transition forward. Everything is pretty quick moving in this shoe and I find it to flow well with my stride. 


Matt: The Hoka Rocket X 2 has solid stability for a neutral racing shoe. The sidewalls in the rearfoot on both the medial and lateral sides are quite high and continue into the midfoot. The midfoot sole does not taper too much and a central groove from the heel to midfoot helps center the foot. The forefoot has a decent amount of sole flare with a high level of torsional stiffness. The foam is on the firmer side for a super foam (especially up front) which further creates inherent stability. It is still softer than most shoes and does soften with time. All-in-all, this is a fairly centered shoe.

David: The HOKA Rocket X 2 has surprisingly good stability for a super shoe. The outsole traction is really good and makes you feel like you can trust where you are moving on the floor. The upper lockdown is done really well and holds in both turns and uneven footing. The shoe uses sidewalls really well through the midfoot both medially and laterally to give you a sense of guidance and linear movement. The shoe also has a deep midline groove that extends all the way to the plate. This gives you a sense of a crash pad and line to follow when landing. With all this said the foam is still pretty soft and bouncy and that will require some additional usage of our stabilizing muscles. The only thing I'd probably recommend with shifting in this model is the bevel in the heel to help augment the initial contact even more. The shift to the bevel being slightly laterally would help with landing and rolling into the shoes platform even more. This would take away from some of the medial collapse I do feel from the softer foam. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Variable Responses to Super Shoes Across Speeds and Individuals
By Matthew Klein

We frequently write (and talk) about how "shoes are tools." Different types of shoes will work for different people and our goal here is help teach people what may or may not work for them. Racing/Super shoes are a unique type of tool meant for racing and running faster. Not everyone needs these to race, but those seeking higher performances are often drawn to these. The typical super shoe is far different from the racing shoes of the past, which were minimal, low to the ground, as light as possible and often highly flexible. The lower cushioning of these shoes often scared people away. However, super racing shoes have brought a whole of fast highly cushioned racing shoes that have attracted a far greater number of runners. Like all shoes, some may work for people while others may not. 

The Hoka Rocket X 2 has a unique design with an aggressive spooned plate and a ride that is softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot. This creates an even lower drop feel that initially one feels like they have to climb out of until the midsole breaks in. The slightly firmer ride makes it better for shorter distances if the average runner is interested, but it is quite stiff and aggressive. This is a shoe that everyone could wear, but may not be appropriate for everyone. 

We know from prior research that the original super shoe studies actually had variable responses in running economy. While many people demonstrate improvements in their running efficiency (economy) and performance, others may experience a worsening. It is well known that plate mechanics can be positive or negative depending on whether they line up with your foot mechanics (Mcleod et al., 2020). We also know that speed plays a factor as there tend to be far less improvements running at slower speeds compared to faster speeds in these new shoes (Joubert et al., 2023). What this all means is that different people will respond differently to these shoes. Some may do extremely well in an aggressive ride like the one in the Rocket X 2, while others may do better in another shoe. There are additional people who will not do well in these and may need something closer to the ground (of which there is a small and slow resurgence). The key is not to look for the shoe that has the greatest purported economy improvement, but the one that works the best with your individual body and mechanics. 


Joubert, D. P., Dominy, T. A., & Burns, G. T. (2023). Effects of Highly Cushioned and Resilient Racing Shoes on Running Economy at Slower Running Speeds. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance1(aop), 1-7.

McLeod, A. R., Bruening, D., Johnson, A. W., Ward, J., & Hunter, I. (2020). Improving running economy through altered shoe bending stiffness across speeds. Footwear Science12(2), 79-89.


Matt: The Rocket X 2 started out firm, bulbous in the forefoot and a bit weird. As it broke in, it became an aggressive, fast, short to moderate-distance racer that I keep reaching for. I am really enjoying the relatively firmer bounce combined with the inherent stability. My major recommendations for the Rocket X 2 is to add a posterior lateral heel bevel rather than a centered one and to consider reducing the toe spring. Both suggestions are to facilitate normal gait mechanics and we have touched on those extensively. I would like to see a little more volume up front to reduce pressure on the toes, but I did not have any issues with this. Outside of that, this is a great first true super shoe for Hoka!

The Rocket X 2 was a hit for me. I felt this shoe did a lot of things well and deserves a spot on the super shoe wall. The main recommendation I would have for the Rocket X2 would be to shift the heel bevel laterally a tad. That would smooth out the initial contact and give less of a medial "give" to the foam. Otherwise, I feel they did a great job.


Matt: The Hoka Rocket X 2 is a slightly firmer super shoe for those who want an aggressive ride. It will work best over longer distances for faster runners and 5k to half for most of the rest of us. The midsole has plenty of bounce, with the majority of that in the heel. The forefoot feels bulbous and at high speeds is fun to push off from. The sole design is inherently stable, although with many shoes could still use a lateral heel bevel. It is ironic that the leading company for high-stack height racing shoes created a shoe that was on the firmer side and did not max out the stack. Fortunately, it is different than other racers on the market with the firmer super foam and those wanting something a bit faster over shorter distances may be surprised that a Hoka shoe might fit the bill for them. 

David: The HOKA Rocket X 2 is definitely a racing shoe for someone looking to have a fast but controlled rolling sensation through the forefoot. The midsole does provide good bounce as well, though a little less that of ZoomX or PWRRUN HG for myself. Compared to other super shoes, the Rocket X 2 has a slightly wider platform and a little more guidance built into the shoe. For someone looking for those components, this is certainly a shoe worth looking into. 



Fit: A- (Snug secure fit without a heel counter. Lower volume and needs a few runs to break in)
Performance: A- 
(Aggressive ride with softer/bouncier heel and firmer more responsive forefoot. Feels really low drop and best for 5k to half marathon for most people)
Stability: A- [Borderline Stable Neutral] (High sidewalls, in heel/midfoot, wider midfoot and midline groove make for a surprisingly stable ride despite the softer heel)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Excellent upgrade while keeping shoe stable. Plate may be a bit too stiff for many people, but for the elite this is a fast aggressive shoe.)
Personal: A- (Aggressive, slightly firmer shoe that works best for fast consistent efforts)
Overall: A-

Fit: (Great fit throughout with solid lockdown. A very trusty upper to have on a super shoe)
A- (Very nice transitions and good responsiveness throughout to paces. A posterior lateral bevel would smooth out the heel a little more)
Stability: A- (Similar to above, though I did have some give medially on the foam. I could feel my foot having to work a little and I think the posterior lateral bevel would help with smoothing that out.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Successful overhaul)
Personal: A (A balanced super shoe that works well with my mechanics and responds well to a variety of paces)
Overall: A-/A (A worthy contender to the super shoe lineup)


Hoka Rocket X2
Price: $249.95 at Running Warehouse

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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 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.

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