Hoka One One Carbon X 3 Review

The Hoka Carbon X 3 is a shoe designed to help you run fast. It does this with a combination of a meta rocker or curve in the midsole and a clever carbon plate. The carbon plate in the Carbon X 3 maintains the curve in the midsole and gives a bit of extra spring at toe off. The carbon plate is lower down in the midsole than in the original Carbon X, which gives a softer and less forceful feel to the ride. The original Carbon X kept your legs turning at a quick pace like a hamster’s wheel! The Carbon X 3 still does this, but it feels a lot less forced. This makes you feel a bit more in control and the ride feels a lot smoother. This configuration is largely the same as it was in the Carbon X 2.

How the midsole differs in the Carbon X 3 to the Carbon X 2 is in the foam that is used for the midsole. The Carbon X 3 foam is a lighter, softer and springier EVA. This contributes to the very smooth feel to the ride of the shoes.

The upper of the Carbon X 3 is knitted and feels very sock-like. The upper is one piece there is no separate tongue, it is just part of the sock upper. The heel is a ghost type fit. It doesn’t feel snug, but I experienced no slipping uphill or downhill. The laces pull the upper in over the midfoot well. I have quite narrow feet, so there was some wrinkling in the upper, but this didn’t cause any issues. The toe box has a surprisingly nice amount of room thanks to the stretchy knitted upper that makes it feel like your toes are free to move. I prefer my toes to be able to move! It’s what they are designed to do and I feel like I get better toe off when there is enough space for this to happen.

If you haven’t used a Carbon plated shoe before then it is probably quite hard to comprehend that a shoe can ‘make you run faster’. The Carbon X 3 partly does this by helping you run with a good posture and a quick cadence. As well as helping you run quicker the Carbon X 3 also reduces your perception of the effort required to run quickly. This is probably because when you run with a good posture you are lighter on your feet and have a longer stride length. This makes it ideal for longer races as you feel like you can keep going at the same pace. The fatigue just doesn’t seem to accumulate as quickly as it does in non-carbon-plated shoes.

The Carbon X 3 is a shoe designed for longer races, tempo runs and intervals. I have used them mainly for my quicker workouts. The shoes would be durable enough for other running too but you need to be aware that the carbon plate and rocker in the shoes is doing some work for your feet. It’s best to alternate a carbon plated shoe with a shoe that will allow your feet to function more naturally. You don’t want to become dependent or make other shoes feel like a much harder effort. This way your feet will get stronger and push you along to quicker times. A shoe designed to keep you moving quickly wouldn’t be ideal for slower recovery runs too! I found that my posture was improved in the Carbon X 3 and that this does carry over to when I am running in non-carbon-plated shoes. The day after running a tempo run or intervals in the Carbon X 3 I find that although my legs are tied from the previous days exertions I am lighter on my feet and these easy runs have got quicker as a result with less effort. The Carbon X 3 has in essence helped me remember to run in a better posture.

I felt the Carbon X 3 to be a lot easier to run in than the previous versions. Although the shoes are stiffened by the carbon plate, they feel a bit snappier and more flexible than the previous versions. There also feels like there is a bit more propulsion from the shoes. An example of how much quicker a shoe like this could be; I often do a long warm up of 6 miles into 10x 200m (roughly) of speed work and a warm down of 4 miles. It’s very hilly near where I live and the 200m ish where I do my fast bits are the only bit of flat. This run usually takes 1hour 30 minutes. In the Carbon X 3 it took 1 hour 25 minutes. The 200m efforts in my speed work were over a second quicker and rather than feeling glad to be home after running back up the hill to the house I felt like I could keep running with less effort.

Hoka One One make three road running shoes that contain carbon plates. The Rocket X is the out-and-out racing shoe. These are lighter than the Carbon X 3 and naturally less durable. They would be a race day/interval shoe and best used for distances of 10 miles or less (unless you’re a skinny whippet like the Hoka sponsored Athletes and maybe they are a nice marathon shoe!). Next comes the Carbon X 3, which is more durable and more cushioned than the Rocket X, so they are also suitable for long tempo runs and ultra-distance races on the road. The Bondi X is the third carbon plated shoe in Hoka’s running shoe range. These offer a lot more cushioning and have a soft cushioned feel to the ride, essentially designed for ‘pure comfort with a boost. The benefits of a carbon plated shoe are still there in the Bonxi X in that they reduce the perception of effort, help improve your posture and help you run faster but they feel more like a nice, cushioned everyday training shoe.


The Carbon X 3 was a genuinely pleasant surprise and I’m using them often, which I didn’t expect to. I’ll be using them on my faster work when I fancy the boost of propulsion and these are therefore great option for someone looking to run faster (potentially training for a race day) and they are versatile enough to use for longer races, intervals, tempo runs & more. I’d suggest using them alongside non-carbon plate shoes, so you don’t get dependent on that boost.

Other Considerations

Scott Speed Carbon RC: More of a race shoe feel. Not as versatile. Here is our review:

Hoka Rocket X: More of a race shoe. Less durable. Here is our review:

Hoka Bondi X: More of a training shoe feel. Here is our review:

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