Hoka Tecton X: two plates, a solution for the roads too?
The Hoka Tecton X is a weird animal. To begin with it is the first trail plated shoe from Hoka and only one of the very few already on the market (the other one that comes directly to mind is the Speedland SL:PDX). But not only is it plated, it actually comes with two parallel plates – called C003 according to Hoka’s plate naming system. And it has a lot of positives, that even Hoka themselves should re-use…on the roads.
Specs: the Tecton X and its crazy weight to cushion ratio
At 269g (9.48oz) in my size US 10.5 (yes I received half a size down compared to my usual US 11 – more on that in the fit section), the Hoka Tecton X has one the best weight to cushion ratio in the trail realm. If not THE best. Especially when considering the 33/29 stack (4mm drop), the plates and the fairly generous coverage of rubber on the outsole. As a comparison point, Hoka’s marathon racer the Carbon X 3 is “only” 2g (0.1 oz) lighter.
The platform is wide, especially in the midfoot and heel. For specific values, please check the Shoe Comparator in which you can compare the width for the forefoot, midfoot and heel against other shoes.
Upper: an accomodating lacing system
The upper is an engineered mesh that does not require much comments as such. But it has some nice outstanding features. But first let’s mention the fit. While it’s certainly a TTS (true to size) fit for most, my half size down actually worked quite fine and I would stick to that should I run in this shoe on the roads (see ride section below) or rather flat non-technical trails. For hillier terrains, TTS is the way to go. Lockdown is good despite some movement in the heel area where using the extra eyelet will be useful.
So what are those cool features of the Tecton X upper? The tongue is certainly one of them. Similar to the Mach 4 tongue, it’s one of the best tongues I’ve experiences (length, amount of cushion, breathability, everything seems to be done right). And that lacing system needs to be mentioned! The eyelet chains go very far up towards the forefoot which allows for a very precise and dialed in lockdown. But which also allows to loosen things up, a feature that should help people with wider feet to make a good use of this shoe.
Midsole: Profly X and two plates for a great ride
The midsole of the Hoka Tecton X is the most recent Profly X system from Hoka. That dual layered system comprises two different densities of foam (softer at the top for a nicer contact with the feet, and firmer at the bottom for stability and durability purposes). The top foam is a supercritical cmEVA compound just like on the Carbon X 3. However the durometer score is lower on the Tecton X (31/100 on the durometer scale, versus 37/100 for the Carbon X 3) which should indicate a softer ride. The midsole of the Tecton X is also where all that plated magic happens. Two parallel plates are placed side by side (not one on top of the other) between the two layers of foam. While rigid, the two plates offer more flex than a conventional plate and therefore more adaptability to various terrains and surfaces.
A dynamic ride on all surfaces
The Tecton X ride is more exciting than it may sound on paper. The Profly X midsole system is far better here than on the Carbon X 3. It is softer, bouncier, and less “rocker-driven”. At least it works better from my stride type gait cycle. The plates are noticeable but more so on the road, where this shoe really shines. On the trails, the two plates seem to add more stability than dynamism, but they also tend to rigidify the shoe in the descents. The forefoot flex is limited (not due to the plates though) and that will be a limiting factor for the Tecton X in steepier climbs.
Outsole: give us more Vibram Megagrip
While this will be contradicting with my very positive assessment of the Tecton X on the roads, I would love to get more lug depth (or at least more aggressively designed lugs). That Vibram outsole is certainly not bad, but the Tecton X should be that all-round trail racing shoe that fears no terrains. Here I’m afraid it will show its limits on more wet, muddier stuff as well as on some rocky descent portions for instance. The coverage is nevertheless good and leaves the “X” visible (both to indicate the presence of carbon plates like on other Hoka plated shoes but also to add some decoupling).
Stability on the Hoka Tecton X
The Hoka Tecton X is stable. Period. The width of the platform already provides with a decent amount of inherent stability and the two plates offer an extra layer of rigidity both on the lateral and medial sides. The shoe also feels “secure” (should you find a nice heel lockdown with the extra eyelet) in descents and at faster cadences and paces.
At €210/$200 the Hoka Tecton X is not a cheap shoe. I even said it was too expensive for what it is in my Youtube video. Someone nicely commented saying that the Hoka Speedgoat EVO was already €180, which helps to put things into perspective. My reference points are of course road shoes and that’s why I’m maybe not super objective. Yes at that pricepoint you can get better road plated shoes. But can you get better long-distance trail racing shoes, let alone plated? The answer is no. The Speedland SL:PDX could enter the battle but its $375 pricetag is just in another dimension. And when purchasing the Hoka Tecton X you’re also getting one the best weight/cushion ratio on the trail market. So who is this shoe for? Door to trail runners, ultra runners with moderately difficult terrains, and anyone willing to have a good amount of fun and speed on the trails.
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