A New Elite Option From HOKA: The HOKA Rocket X 2

We have been fans of HOKA for many years and have tried many models. You come to expect certain things from HOKA and I will tell you right now – the Rocket X 2 is different than any other HOKA shoe we’ve ever slipped onto our feet.

Read all our reviews on HOKA here!

The HOKA Rocket X 2 is geared toward elite runners. From the look to the construction and the feel, you can’t honestly compare these to what you’d typically expect from HOKA. For some, that might be disappointing, but thankfully HOKA still has shoes for those people too. If you’re looking for a little more spring in your step and a “run like the wind” sort of feel, the Rocket X 2 was made for you.


These shoes will stop traffic. The Ceramic / Evening Primrose color combo is as bold as it gets and they are really gorgeous in real life. There’s no doubt what these are for, as the materials surrounding your feet are so thin you’ll see your sock pattern just beneath the surface. But that’s what an elite shoe should be, something lightweight and a close-to-foot hug thanks to the technical synthetic mesh upper. These shoes are just like an extension of your feet, but springy.


“Best For: Racing.” Yep, that’s what the website says, and that’s true. If you’re looking for an everyday runner or daily trainer, these probably aren’t the shoes. If you’re looking for something to propel you closer towards a PR or BQ, strap these puppies to your feet. We’re not fast runners most days, but these make us want to be.

We’ve taken them on a few long runs and have experienced minimal foot fatigue, which is always a plus. While they have felt great at all paces, they feel really responsive when running at a faster pace. So if you’re looking to pick up the pace, these shoes will definitely help you out.



Though the upper is made of a lightweight mesh material, it almost feels plastic-y. It may not be the most breathable upper out there, despite its thinness. It does hold the foot in place quite well and the partially-gusseted tongue has stayed in place for the most part.

The padding on the back of the heel took a little getting used to, as it does not wrap completely around the foot. The very back of the heel is left unpadded and the pads on either side provided a small cushioned “pinch”. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all, just a little different feeling to it is all. You may want to give these a few training runs to see if there is any heel rub. We didn’t experience any, but it may be a possibility.


The thing that makes these a competitor in the elite shoe field is the addition of a a carbon fiber plate in the midsole. That is not a construction sphere with which HOKA typically operates in. We can be hit or miss on carbon plated shoes, but these seemed to provide a nice springy feel when running. Chalk this up to years of HOKA perfecting their signature cushioning, which we always find to be super comfortable and supportive.


To keep things lighter, the outsole rubber is strategically placed, with much of the underfoot foam exposed.

Overall we found these to be thin but tough, light but supportive, and still deliver on some decent padding underfoot.


Nikki: I got the Rocket in a size up from my every-day shoe, which is what I always do for running shoes. Sometimes HOKA shoes tend to run a little larger than other running shoes, so it’s sometimes a bit of a gamble as far as what size to get. In this case, I was grateful to have ordered the shoes in the larger size, as these are relatively narrow by HOKA standards. Because these are “all gender” shoes, I wasn’t sure if that would translate to them being a bit too large.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry. These are not only meant to hug your feet, but they take a bit more work to get on than a typical shoe might be. This is no doubt because the material is so minimal that it’s more challenging to get a good grip on them when you’re trying to get them over your heel. Once they are on, they are a dream. I would absolutely recommend sizing up at least a half size in these.

Matt: I would agree that there is less room in these shoes – by design – than most trainers out there. The toe box is pretty narrow, which is fine for me – but I know not for everyone. When you are attempting to cut weight and keep things light for racing, even the smallest excess can add to the ounces. I did not necessarily feel like I personally needed to size up in these. I am a size 12 and the 12 that I received, while snug, did not feel overly constricted. I am guessing that a half size up will provide a more standard fit for most runners.

I do think that it is important to have the right socks with these however. A thicker padded sock will likely make these tighter and may cause the padded heel to dig into your heels (as they did with Nikki on her first run). Thinner socks are definitely the way to go.

Elite shoes have a bit of a learning curve but they are worth it.

Final Thoughts

HOKA is generally known to be a pretty chunky shoe, but that’s not what you’re getting with these. That being said, they have more bounce and cushion than a lot of elite racing shoes and feel great on the feet. It provides a super nice heel off and transition. Wearing these have us just begging to go a little faster.

If you are seeking a racing pair that has more road feel, you won’t find it here. This is definitely a HOKA take on an elite shoe – creating a neutral shoe with ultra-responsive cushioning and a good amount of stability (something we have found lacking in this category). They have ton of spring that may allow for those who desire more cushion for those long runs to get into the elite game.

In the world of elite racing shoes, these are not the lightest of the bunch. At 8.3 ounces in men’s 9, they are definitely on the heavier side of this style.

Finally, though a $250 price tag for running shoes is nothing to sneeze at, its (sadly) still a pretty even price point as the others in this elite category. It’s definitely an investment, but man does this feel like it can propel you even further forward in your race life.

The Rocket X 2 is one of (if not our number one) favorite elite shoe right now. It has the typical high-performance quality that you’d expect of HOKA, but in brand new geometries. They are definitely worth checking out!

HOKA Rocket X 2 $250


  • Weight: 8.3 oz (Mens 9)
  • Drop: 5 mm


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Thank you to Hoka for providing us with test shoes. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.


About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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