Hoka Tecton X Shoe Review

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Here I am again, writing about and reviewing ‘another’ Hoka shoe!

It’s kinda weird and I will hold my hands up and admit, Hoka have really got me interested in their shoes again. It all started with the Torrent 2 – a shoe that I absolutely love, it is one of my ‘go to’ shoes and I am now on my fifth pair.

The Torrent 2 tempted me to the Zinal, and yes, I love the Zinal.

And now, the Tecton X.

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There is a pattern here and I admit, I am still not a fan of ‘too’ much cushioning and ‘too’ much stack height, BUT, the Torrent, Zinal and now the Tecton X firmly sit at what is now the more ‘normal’ end of cushioned shoes.

Image ©Hoka

The Tecton X has two carbon fibre plates that run parallel in the shoe (see photo above) designed to propel and push through the propulsive phase. I must admit, up to now, I have not been impressed with shoes I have tested that contain a carbon (or similar) plate. The exception being the Scarpa Goldengate Kima which is superb.

Ultimately, the addition of a plate, and I don’t mean rock plate, but carbon or similar has just added too much weight and stiffness, resulting in a lackluster and boring run.

The Tecton X is most certainly addressing this with two thin strips in contrast to one, or two, larger plates as often used in other shoes.

THE SHOE

X in the outsole for the Tecton X ©iancorless

On first impressions, the Tecton X has the impression of a Torrent 2 and Zinal merged together. This for me is a good thing!

Neutral with a 5mm drop, the Tecton X ticks the boxes. Drop on the Torrent 2 and Zinal is also 5mm. I make the cushioning 28mm front and 33mm at the rear. NOTE – The women’s shoe is 27/31mm with 4mm drop.

S, V and C ©iancorless

Once again, I am confused with the scribble on the side of the shoe:

  • S36.26
  • V701
  • C003

C’mon Hoka, what does this ‘really’ mean. S = Spring. V= Volume and C? The C is the version of carbon plate, so, in the Tecton X that is 003. In other models, the Zinal for example, the stats were: S32x19|V490|W242 (w being the weight.)

Here in the Tecton X we have: S36x26|V701|C003

Volume at 701cm³ made up of 2 different materials. ©iancorless

Spring measurement is, ‘Curvature of the shoe, measuring how high the heel and toe are off the ground.’ Basically, it is the ‘rocker’ effect. So, for the Tecton X, this means 36mm and 26mm. Don’t get confused here with drop, this does not mean a 10mm drop! But what does it ‘really’ mean?

Volume relates to the total amount of foam (cm³) in the midsole. So here in the Tecton X there is 701, considerably more than the Zinal at 490 and the Torrent 2 at 395.

I wrote in my Zinal review:

“One would assume that the higher the volume number, the more cushioned or plush the shoe would be, but that is not the case. Here in the ZINAL, the shoe has a lower profile keeping you, the runner, closer to the ground and the cushioning is firmer to provide a more efficient and speedier propulsion in the transition phase. When I wrote about the Torrent 2, the thing I liked and others liked was a firmer ride; less Hoka like, by that I mean less plush and bouncy. Here in the ZINAL that is taken one step farther and the ride is firmer. So, it’s fair to assume that plush ride Hoka fans will find the ZINAL less appealing. Whereas, by contrast, runners who prefer a more conventional shoe who have wanted to try Hoka, will find the ZINAL appealing.”

So, what does that mean for the Tecton X and the 701-volume figure?

Like the Torrent 2 and Zinal, the Tecton X uses dual-density PROFLY cushioning; Hoka blend soft and responsive foams to provide cushioning and excellent energy return. With the addition of the carbon fibre and increased volume (701) the Tecton X is ‘in theory’ faster and more responsive. It is!

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The upper is mesh, extremely comfortable and breathable.

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There is a protective toe rand which works well, it’s simple and not over engineered.

With a sock like fit, the Tecton X has great foot hold and comfort.

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Lacing is via 7 eyelets and the optional 8th eyelet should you require to lock lace or similar. Hoka call this Ghillie lacing, and I had to look it up? “The trend on this shoe, Ghillie Ties. At its origin, Ghillies referred to specially designed shoes used in Irish dance, notable for their soft and supple build featuring crisscross laces across the top of the foot for flexible movement. Now, Ghillies is a laces trend sweeping across the US.”

Vibram Litebase ©iancorless

Like the Zinal, Tecton X uses Vibram Megagrip Litebase with 4mm lugs. Note, there is no outsole in the middle of the shoe. The outsole is zonal, front, and rear – this helps reduce weight.

The Tecton X is lower profile, keeping the runner lower to the ground with firmer cushioning and a more responsive ride.

IN USE

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Fit is great and the sock like fit gives a secure hold of the foot without the need to lock lace. Fit is true to size, I am EU44/ UK9.5 and these fit perfect. Just like my Torrent 2 and Zinal. However, the fit or feel is not the same… The Tecton X fits like the Zinal around the bridge of the foot and the toe box is wider, a 3.5 on a scale of 1-5, 1 being narrow and 5 being wide.

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I was surprised how cushioned the shoe felt just standing and in comparison, to the Zinal, they felt higher off the ground. Despite the two carbon strips, flex behind the metatarsals was ok, obviously not bendy, and flexible, but certainly acceptable, especially in comparison to other shoes with inserts.

Weight for my EU44/ UK9.5 was a crazy 269g – light for a shoe like this.

The rocker is definitely noticeable and maybe more so due to the carbon plates. It’s a pleasant feel and certainly you can see, even just by walking, how the rocker combined with the plates will propel you forward.

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Heel box is plush and secure.

I have thrown a mixture of terrain at the Tecton X, road, gravel path, single-track, forest trail littered with tree roots, rocks, and many obstacles. I have also run in wet and dry conditions.

On the road, the shoe performs well, and I was happy with the feel for the ground. Although this shoe has more volume it has great responsiveness and cushioning. The cushioning is not bouncy/ marshmallow like, it’s just cushioned… Do you know what I mean?

Gravel trail and all good. With more miles, I could feel the shoe getting better and I was allowing myself to notice how the propulsive phase of the shoe was helping me move forward. If I increased the pace and cadence, this propulsion increased – a benefit of the carbon!

I will say now, this is without doubt the best trail shoe with carbon inserts I have tried.

The shoe feels like a normal shoe. So, although the carbon is there, I am not thinking it is there. A problem with all the other shoes I have tested. Too much weight, too much stiffness, no feel for the ground, lacking life – these points do not apply with the Tecton X – a huge plus.

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Running downhill, I intentionally struck with the heel and there was a very definite compression in the cushioning and return in energy. Switching to mid or forefoot and once you get the rocker rolling you forward and the carbon propelling you, the benefits of the Tecton X are noticeable. I am not sure I have the fitness to maximise this, but it is noticeable.

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There is great comfort in the shoe. You feel protected and cushioned without losing a feel for what is happening around you and the combination of dual foam in the Profly, along with the carbon offers responsiveness and protection. I was surprised that the Tecton X felt this good.

On single track I felt confident and happy that the shoe would do the job and it’s only when I moved into some thicker mud that the 4mm lugs on the outsole started to lose grip – no surprises with such a modest outsole. The Vibram Litaebase Megagrip was excellent on dry rock and most wet rock. It did struggle a little when the rock had a nice white or green layer of extra trouble to confuse and irritate the outsole, but in fairness, many shoes struggle to grip here. However, as much I like this Vibram Megagrip I am perplexed that Hoka decide NOT to put the Litebase the full length of the shoe. I know it is to safe weight, but, when on trail, running on rocks, standing on tree routes, traversing gravel or whatever, the middle of the outsole is often a key contact point, we can’t always use the heel or forefoot. I noticed this especially on tree roots when I am pretty much always using the middle of the outsole and of course, I had minimum traction with the Tecton X – it makes no sense to me! It’s the same for the Zinal, maybe I am asking too much of this type of shoe and I should accept that it should be used on more groomed trail and technical trail is for another shoe, like the Torrent 2 that has a full and more aggressive outsole.

There are many similarities to the Zinal here and if I was to explain it in simple terms, the Tecton X is a beefed-up version of the Zinal with carbon inserts. The noticeable difference would be in the structure of the Profly and the volume difference in that cushioning. The additional stack height of the Tecton X is compensated for with a wide footprint (90mm at the rear and 112mm at the front) and this helps balance the shoe, particularly on more technical trail. The cushioning is not soft and squidgy but is protective and this works well on trail. There is always a risk of roll and additional stress in a shoe with more stack but the Tecton X does a great job of reducing this; it’s not perfect though.

A comfortable shoe, with excellent protection and comfort, however, for me, the lower stack height, structure and full out outsole of the Torrent 2 wins out. The Torrent 2 has better grip, greater control on technical trail and a more ‘connected’ feeling for the ground. But having said that, I’d have no issues lacing up a Tecton X any day and I do. I find the mix and balance between the Torrent, Zinal and Tecton perfect. Although they are three separate shoes, they feel connected.

The Tecton X comes in to its own USP when on less technical and groomed trail. For example, flowing single-track with less obstacles, gravel roads and so on. Here the shoe starts to gain from increased cadence and that helps the carbon propel you forward, the more you run, the more you a propelled forward. A great shoe for say Western States (or similar)? It’s lightweight too, Hoka do this so well. Comparing to the horrendous inov-8 Trailfly G300 which weighs over 100g more per shoe for equal size. It’s fair to say that with a high price, the carbon technology and the Vibram Litebase, the Tecton X is more of a ‘special’ shoe and for many, maybe a shoe for race day. But it easily could be an everyday shoe due to its comfort and protection, it is even a great road-to-trail shoe, but I am not sure how long the Litebase outsole would last on the road? The upper is very breathable and certainly helps reduce overheating, downside, they may run a little too cool in winter. 

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CONCLUSION

Tecton X for me, is the first trail shoe with carbon inserts that I have really enjoyed running in. The shoe offers protection, comfort, stability and great propulsion/ speed in a very good-looking shoe. It’s pricey (£175+/-) but currently, all shoes are increasing in price and if it has ‘new’ technology such as carbon, the price goes up. It’s a shoe for trail that is less technical and without doubt, it has the potential to be faster than other shoes. If you run in Hoka Speedgoat, the Tecton X would be a great shoe to place alongside and alternate: Use the Speedgoat for more technical and challenging trail and the Tecton X for faster/ groomed trail.

For me though, the Tecton X has just too much stack height, an equal problem with the Speedgoat. It’s a me thing and that is okay. Therefore the Torrent 2 wins out for me, Torrent 2 is also great value at £115.

So, while the Tecton X / Speedgoat combination would be ideal for a true Hoka user, for me, I would go Torrent 2 / Zinal (£140.) I just wish Hoka would put the Vibram Megagrip (as on the Speedgoat) on the Torrent 2.

Finally, The Tecton X is a great shoe and certainly a great addition to a shoe rotation for those specific runs when speed, comfort and extra propulsion is required. Recommended.

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