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HOKA Skyward X Review
By David Salas, Andrea Myers, and Matt Klein

With the Skyward X, HOKA is jumping into the super trainer game. What started with shoes like the Prime X from Adidas and New Balance SuperComp Trainer, the category of super trainers features characteristics similar to a super shoe - Peba midsole, carbon fiber plate, aggressive shaping - along with breaking the legal stack height amount with over 40+ mm of midsole in the heel.What was a novelty has become a necessity in each brand's lineup. The Skyward is a big leap forward for HOKA who continues to impress with their recent super shoe releases.

Hoka Skyward X
Price: $224.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 11.3 oz, 320 g (men's size 10), 9.6 oz, 272 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 49 mm / 44 mm
Drop: 5mm
Shoe Purpose: Super Trainer

Pros: Highly cushioned and rhythmic ride, decently stable super trainers
Cons: Pricey, Large sidewalls may not work for everyone


The HOKA Skyward X is a super trainer aimed at providing the most cushion possible underfoot for your mileage. The shoe uses a new generation Peba midsole, a supercritical EVA frame underfoot, and a carbon plate. It also features really large sidewalls - which may be a make-or-break component for some runners - and big sole flaring.  The Skyward is a premium daily trainer built to eat mileage.  

: New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer v1

(To learn how a shoe should fit, check out our full podcast on fit by Matt Klein.)

Matt: The HOKA Skyward X fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The Skyward fits fairly normal in width overall with a slightly wider forefoot and a quickly tapered toe box. The volume, especially up front, is on the lower side. The quick taper is due to an extra stiff toe guard that does maintain structure but tapers the front quickly. The rest of the forefoot is a light mesh that does have some mild stretch to it. This transitions into a normal to slightly snug fitting midfoot. There is a non-gusseted, moderately thick tongue. The tongue is extremely wide, so I fortunately have not had any slippage side-to-side. The laces lock down the foot well and I have not had any security issues. The laces also have their own gusseted that separately wraps the foot from the tongue that easily lock the midfoot down. The heel is normal in width with a moderate amount of padding and a stiffer rounded heel counter. There is padding between the heel and the counter and the rounded nature both holds the heel well and seems to take some pressure off. Those with heel sensitivities should approach with caution but I have not had any major issues. I would highly recommend socks with this shoe as there are several internal seams and the toe guard can cause some rubbing. As long as you are wearing good socks, you will be fine. 

Typical Size: Men's US Size 10
Shoes that have fit Matt well: Saucony Guide 17, ASICS Kayano 30, Hoka Gaviota 5, Saucony Endorphin Elite, Nike Ultrafly
Shoes that have fit snug: Hoka Arahi 7, Saucony Kinvara 14
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2, Altra Timp 5

David: The HOKA Skyward X fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The length feels good, though perhaps a tiny bit long. The shoe has good volume throughout the shoe for swelling accommodation. The heel and midfoot are normal width, with the forefoot wide. There are large sidewalls both medially and laterally through the midfoot that you can feel. The mesh material is on the thicker end, though I had no issues with overheating or blistering. The thickness was noticeable though. The tongue is padded well and I had no issues with biting. There is an internal and external heel counter that does a good job of holding the heel in place. The classic bucket hold in the heel from HOKA is definitely present in this model. The fit throughout the Skyward X is pretty darn good, though I think I would like for the mesh to be just a tad thinner and breathable. I had no issues with the large sidewalls, though some with wider midfoots may notice the pressure there pretty quickly. 

David's Typical Size: Men's US Size 9.5
Shoes that have fit David well: Nike Vomero 17, Saucony Ride 16, Puma Velocity Nitro 3

Shoes that have fit snug: HOKA Arahi 7
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon Aero Glide

Andrea: The HOKA Skyward X fits true to size in my usual women's 9.5 Whenever I test a HOKA shoe, my main concern is how prominent the sidewalls will be in the midfoot and forefoot. I definitely had to loosen the laces over my forefoot to reduce pressure just behind my 1st MTP. It took a few runs for the medial midfoot sidewall to break in, but once it did, I no longer felt any pressure in that area. There is a lateral midfoot sidewall that stops just before my 5th MTP and I was thankfully not aware of pressure on my lateral foot at all while running. The toe box has enough width, even with the sidewalls, that I found it comfortable and did not experience any rubbing on my 1st MTP or IP (toe) joint. The sidewalls do make the midfoot fit snug, which may be an issue for those with a wider midfoot. The rearfoot is normal width and fit comfortably. The tongue is thick and padded and I found it to integrate nicely with the upper. Besides having to loosen the laces to open up the midfoot, it was easy to achieve comfortable lockdown in this shoe without a lot of mid-run stops. The rigid heel counter has moderate padding internally and I had no issues with heel discomfort or slippage. The shoe fits very securely thanks to the large sidewalls and midfoot wrap that integrates with the laces and tongue. The Skyward X is a HOKA that I can wear comfortably despite the large sidewalls, but those with wider feet may need to tread carefully.

Andrea's Typical Size: Women's US Size 9.5
Shoes that have fit Andrea well: New Balance Beacon v3, Brooks Hyperion Max, Topo Cyclone 2, Nike Vaporfly 3, Altra Via Olympus 2
Shoes that have fit snug: Saucony Kinvara 14 (length and toe box width), Altra FWD Experience (length and width), Hoka Cielo Road (toe box width), Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro 1-3 (length)
Shoes that have fit large: Adidas Boston 12 (length), Adidas Adios 8 (length)

Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: No
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing: No
Is the Forefoot Flexible: No
How Flexible is the Shoe: Stiff
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: Yes
Recommended for Haglunds: No
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Average


Matt: The HOKA Skyward X is a maximal daily trainer with super components. There is a ton of foam underfoot with a combination of both a PEBA foam and an EVA frame. There is a decent amount of bounce and a huge amount of underfoot protection. Although the midsole is soft, it is firmer than expected for how much foam is underfoot. The low drop is noticeable but is offset by the good rocker. There is a solid centered heel bevel with a large lateral crash pad that compresses well. The midfoot transition is a little stiff at first thanks to the plate but is progressed by the good forefoot rocker. The forefoot is stiff with no flexibility but has a low-toe spring that should work well for those with limited toe mobility.

Despite the lack of flexibility, the forefoot transition is quite smooth and easy at a variety of paces. Pace-wise it is best for easier miles thanks to the heavier weight and larger size. The PEBA midsole does allow some uptempo work and it can pick up the pace a little but only for short periods. The 11 oz weight does become apparent with any pace changes but is less noticeable with consistent efforts. The taller midsole does allow some mild terrain flexibility but the huge gap in the outsole and average midsole durability make it best for smooth road use. I have 35 miles on my pair and I am already seeing a decent amount of outsole wear. This has not impact the ride but I only expect average durability. Those miles will be comfortable though as this is a solid super trainer that emphasizes the "trainer" part.

David:  The HOKA Skyward X performed well for me. This felt like a lot of shoe on my first few steps but I settled in pretty well. The shoe is definitely the softest shoe from HOKA that I have run in so far. The quick comparison would be a softer and more bouncy Bondi... but it is still different from that shoe. The Peba midsole is very compliant and provides plenty of cushion, though the firmer footbed and plate help stabilize that. The shoe certainly uses a rocker geometry to propel you forward. The quick rocker geometry and stiff forefoot do give you a surprisingly bouncy toe off experience. There are large sidewalls in the rearfoot and midfoot that give you a sensation of centering, though do give the potential for some abrasion with how prominent they are.

The outsole traction underfoot is quite good for a shoe like this and I had no issues using it for road and packed dirt. There is a large midline cutout that did seem to help give a soft and centered feel to the shoe as well. The plate does give the shoe quite a bit of rigidity when coupled with how much foam there is. With that said, the shoe does still have a decent amount of responsiveness for the weight. I found I could still do some uptempo controlled efforts (though still shy of marathon racing pace for me) with decent comfort. This will be an easy day and long run monster for me. This could also be an option for those looking to have a recreational racing shoe with a bit more structure to it.

Andrea: The HOKA Skyward X has been an enjoyable shoe to test on my easy runs the past couple of weeks. I have had the opportunity to test many shoes in this maximalist category, with the New Balance SC Trainer v1 and On Cloudmonster Hyper being my favorite. The Skyward X feels softer and more responsive than both of these shoes, making it work well for slow recovery runs and slightly faster easy runs. I definitely had an awareness of the convex carbon plate at initial contact, particularly because I land at my midfoot, which is where the convexity is located. The shoe feels soft, protective, and a little snappy at initial contact and midstance due to the top midsole layer of PEBA, the convex plate, and the forefoot rocker.

The forefoot rocker starts late enough that the shoe doesn't feel like it forces me into pushoff too early, but still has a nice rolling sensation, which is welcome on tired legs. The shoe actually feels like a little lower than its stated 5mm drop because of the deep heel cup. This wasn't a bad feeling, but I did find myself having to focus a little on not rocking back a little when running a slower recovery pace. The Skyward has high longitudinal bending stiffness, which is necessary for a shoe with such a high stack height. The large midsole cutout feels like it supplies a little bit of give in the shoe and aids the carbon plate in its responsiveness. I prefer the shoe for easy paces due to its weight and compliant midsole, but others may find it suitable for faster or longer runs. Most of my runs in the shoe were on wet roads and I had no issues with traction, even when running on muddy sidewalks. The outsole provides a good amount of rubber coverage and there is almost no visible wear on my pair after 25 miles.

(Learn more about stability in our full guide)

Matt: The Hoka Skyward X is technically a neutral shoe but has enough guided elements that I would consider it stable neutral. There are massive sidewalls on the medial and lateral sides of the heel and posterior midfoot. These are noticeable immediately but do break in. The full-length carbon fiber plate and thick midsole add a high level of midsole stiffness, especially in the frontal plane. The midsole width is also quite wide with a large amount of sole flare in the heel and forefoot (with a little more medially in the heel) and has a midfoot that does not taper too much. The PEBA foam sitting within a larger EVA frame combined with the good rocker also creates a forward and centered ride. This makes for a stable neutral ride, especially in the heel.

 The midsole in the HOKA Skyward X is certainly soft and compliant. With how much foam there is, stabilizing that can be difficult. I feel they did a pretty good job for what they are working with, but this is definitely a neutral shoe. The HOKA Skyward X does add quite a bit of sole flaring in the heel and forefoot, large sidewalls, and good underfoot traction. The upper has pretty good security throughout as well. One touch that I like with the Skyward X is the foot bed. The shoe has a supercritical EVA "rocker platform" that gives you some softness underfoot, but keeps it from feeling overly mushy. In a lot of ways, HOKA used their normal stabilizing mechanisms to an amplified degree in the Skyward X. 

The HOKA Skyward X is definitely a neutral shoe due to its high stack height and compliant midsole. The wide base and stiff platform do provide some stability to the large volume of midsole foam, but overall this shoe does not provide much in the way of stability. The forefoot rocker and convex plate also encourage forward motion. While the high sidewalls may help to center the foot in the shoe, if they are too snug on a person's foot, they may potentially reduce stability due to the effect on the abductor hallucis and flexor hallucis longus muscles.

Thoughts as a DPT: Guidance Elements
By David Salas

There is a lot going on in the HOKA Skyward X. The shoe is over the 11-ounce mark, but does give you a lot of positives underfoot. The HOKA Skyward X has a dual Peba-based midsole that gives a large amount of cushion underfoot, as well as a big bounce through the forefoot. The added weight comes from stabilizing the foam and giving some guidance measures. Despite some of these things, the foot will still do what it wants due to their preferred movement path, but it will at least give some proprioceptive feedback to your foot and help guide you forward. The big theme that I see with the Skyward X is a large emphasis on guidance.

Some of the things that HOKA does well is utilize the stiff plate with the platform. The shoe has a very noticeable rocker to it. The bouncy foam underfoot is stabilized by a carbon plate, and also an EVA footbed to keep things from feeling too compliant under your foot. This gives you a more rigid platform immediately underfoot. From there, the shoe builds out. The midsole has really large sidewalls through the rearfoot and midfoot, giving you a bucket like sensation through the heel and a soft guiderail feeling in the midfoot. The forefoot widens out and gives you a big sole flare. This creates more cross sectional area underfoot and a more trusty platform to lever from. The result is a guided path on this really stiff and rockered shoe. 


Agresta, C., Giacomazzi, C., Harrast, M., & Zendler, J. (2022). Running Injury Paradigms and Their Influence on Footwear Design Features and Runner Assessment Methods: A Focused Review to Advance Evidence-Based Practice for Running Medicine Clinicians. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, 4: 815675. 

Nigg, B. Baltich, J., Hoerzer, S., Enders, H. (2015). Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: 'preferred movement path' and 'comfort filter'. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49, 1290-1294. 


Matt: The Hoka Skyward X has become a staple for training miles and for grabbing something that is protective but doesn't necessarily have the crazy soft/insane bouncy feel that most super shoes do. My big suggests for this shoe is to fix the toe box taper and drop the weight. The toe box taper is a bit unnecessary that may cause some issues over longer efforts. I personally have not had issues yet but appropriate foot room is key for longer distance training. The weight is quite high for a shoe using a PEBA-based midsole. It is firmer than I would expect for such a tall stack height and foam, so I would like to see it soften a bit and drop in weight. That could happen by decreasing the durometer or experimenting with the midsole geometry further. 

David: I did enjoy my time with the Skyward X. The shoe is what I was hoping Bondi and Bondi X to feel like in some ways. The one thing I would play with though is the upper. The material can get a little warm and I do think it would benefit from some more breathability. 

Andrea: Any HOKA shoe that does not kill my foot with sidewalls is typically a good shoe for me (with the Cielo X1 being the best example). The Skyward X took some breaking in and adjusting of laces, but I am pleased that I was able to run in this shoe without getting blisters on my big toe or pain in my midfoot. The only thing I would recommend is opening up the midfoot a bit, perhaps by paring down the midfoot wrap, to make this shoe work better for people with a wider midfoot. 


Matt: The HOKA Skyward X is a super trainer best for recovery and easy runs. Those who have normal-width feet who are okay with a slightly lower volume will do best with the fit. Those who want a ton of cushioning with some bounce that IS NOT the bounciest or softest will do best. Those who also want a highly rockered ride with a stiff forefoot with a low-toe spring but still having a good transition off the front will also do well. The Skyward X does qualify as a stable neutral shoe for those who want a centered ride and is a good but expensive option for those wanting to eat up tons of mileage. 

David: If you want a really soft and bouncy rockered shoe, you found one. This is the softest HOKA I've personally worn. The shoe is also very stiff throughout, so those wanting a stiff platform with some guidance mechanisms built in will have that here. The shoe will be for easy day and long run miles for me. Those wanting a comfortable shoe for the marathon with some super shoe elements, but need some guidance mechanisms and a more "built up" shoe this can double for that.   

Andrea: The HOKA Skyward X is a maximalist shoe that has a nice combination of softness, responsiveness, and rocker geometry. It is a great shoe to run in when you have tired legs or just want the shoe to do a little more of the work (this is what I enjoyed the most about the New Balance SC Trainer v1). For those who are typically sensitive to HOKA sidewalls like I am, this shoe may actually work for you, but of course try it on before buying. If you race in the Cielo X1 and want a super trainer companion, this could be a great option.


Fit: B+ (Secure midfoot with good forefoot room but tapered toe box)
B+ (Heavy but solid ride for training miles and longer runs)
Stability: B+/A- [Stable Neutral] (Wide base, sidewalls, plated, rockered shoe creates stable heel and forefoot)
Value: B-/B (A ton of shoe with somewhat average durability and limited versatility due to higher weight)
Personal: B+/A- (A great training shoe, but limited mostly to easier and longer efforts)
Overall Design: B+ 

Fit: B+/A- (Upper runs on the warmer end, but it is secure. )
Performance: A- 
(It does its job. The shoe is max cushion with a touch of responsiveness. Weight is a little high, but this aimed at training miles.)
Stability: A- (Good foot bed and plate, rocker geometry, large sidewalls and big sole flaring. Sidewalls might be too big for some.)
Value: B+/A- (Time will tell on durability. The shoe is comparable with pricing on other super trainers and does stack up from a performance standpoint.)
Personal: A- (I really enjoy this shoe. It is a lot though, and really only reach for it when I want large amounts of cushioning with some bounce.)
Overall Design: A- 

Fit: A- (Comfortable toe box width, snug sidewalls but no irritation after a few runs, secure lockdown)
Performance: A- 
(Soft, responsive, and protective for easy runs. Convex carbon plate noticeable in a good way with midfoot landings.)
Stability: B- [neutral] (Wide base, stiff platform, and rocker geometry provide some stability to high stack midsole, but overall a neutral shoe)
Value: B+/A- (A good value from a ride standpoint, but ultimate value will depend on outsole and midsole durability)
Personal: A- (Another super trainer that I will reach for on easy days. Always happy when HOKA sidewalls do not bother me.)
Overall Design: A-


Hoka Skyward X
Price: $224.95 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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we 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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