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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inov-8 TERRAULTRA G270 Review

I first got a hold of the original TERRAULTRA 2-years ago, the G260. It was a groundbreaking shoe for inov-8 not only introducing a zero-drop shoe to the brands line-up but also paving the way for Graphene technology.

A great deal has happened in the past 2-years with Graphene appearing in more and more inov-8 shoes but interestingly no other zero drop shoes have been added to the line-up.

The TERRAULTRA G260 was warmly welcomed, particularly by any trail runner using Altra who now had a zero-drop alternative now available with a brand who really know how to make off-road shoes from a long history in the fells of the UK.

Now, the G260 has been updated and we welcome the TERRAULTRA G270.

On first glance, it could look like the same shoe. That green colour is somewhat distinctive! However, one does not need to look longer to see some immediate significant changes.

The upper, the lacing, the outsole and the cushioning all sort of look the same but they are not.

In the words on inov-8:

  • Graphene outsole has 4mm deep cleats all now armed with dispersion channels and rubber dimples to give better grip on wet and dry trails. Cleats are repositioned in key areas and flex grooves fine-tuned for agile sticky traction that lasts longer.
  • Cushioning is a new POWERFLOW MAX that has been increased by 3mm for a plush ride, improved cushioning and double the durability. A BOOMERANG insole apparently will increase energy return by 20 and 40% respectively over the previous model.
  • The upper has ADAPTERFIT which adjusts to the foot and the use of stronger materials will add to durability and protection.

The Shoe

With a fit scale of 5, this is as wide as you can go in an inov-8 shoe, So, toe splay and room at the front end comes no better.

Cushioning is 12mm front and rear providing a zero drop. Using POWERFLOW MAX.

The footbed is 6mm and the lug depth of the outsole is 4mm made of Graphene grip.

It G270 has the necessary points to attach a trail gaiter.

At 270g (UK8) the new TERRAULTRA is 10g heavier than the previous version.

Sizing is true to size BUT take into consideration the wider toe box, maybe (?) a half-size smaller would be better. I always use EU44/ UK9.5 and these were ideal for me.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The G270 is light and it’s clear to see some of the immediate improvements over the previous version. The lacing is flatter, the tongue is different, the upper is different, the toe box protection is increased, and the shoes have the flagship Graphene outsole that looks very different.

Zero drop is NOT for everyone, so, what makes the G270 great for some also make the G270 potentially unusable for others. This is not a negative comment, it’s just a heads-up to say, that if you have not used zero drop before, don’t be tempted to get the G270 and start racking miles up… You will almost certainly get sore Achilles, calf and potentially get injured. Like barefoot running, zero drop running needs to be learnt and the body needs to adapt. Typically, 6-months would be a good transition period. However, some zero-drop running (initially short periods) is great for improving run form, so, the G270 could be a nice new weapon in your shoe line-up?

If zero drop is your thing, then you will already have a big smile on your face.

Following on from the G260, the G270 has a wide toe box that echoes what brands like Altra have been doing for years. Toe splay is king and the G270 has loads of room for that. I had issues with the G260 in that I always felt I had too much room, the room at the front was made worse by the upper and lacing system not holding my foot how I wanted to compensate for the additional width, space and foot movement.

Slipping the G270 on I was initially worried, the space in the toe box was as much if not a little more than the previous version. However, as soon as I adjusted and tightened the laces, I immediately noticed significant changes. The tongue was a much better fit. The lacing was great improved, and I could really adjust the tension from top to bottom. The ADAPTERFIT pulled in holding my foot. Walking around immediately felt 100% better than the G260. My foot was being held reassuringly.

The upper is far more breathable that the G260.

The cushioning and bounce were notable and the outsole at this stage left me with many questions.

IN USE

The G260 was a little lifeless and felt flat. The G270 immediately felt different with a couple of miles on the road before hitting the trails. So, this was already a great improvement.

With META-FLEX at the front, the propulsive phase felt really good no doubt added to with the insole that inov-8 say increases energy return by 40%. I definitely felt some bounce, but 40% more?

The cushioning was noticeable, particularly over the G260 as was the zero drop. I use zero drop shoes occasionally, but always prefer 4/5mm for faster and more technical running and if going long, 8mm works perfect for me. So, considering the G270 is designed for long-distance running, zero drop would be a challenge for me.

The wide toe box still feels mega wide (too wide for me) BUT the lacing and ADAPTERFIT allowed me to compensate for the room at the front by tightening appropriately. However, I did fine once or twice I over-tightened the laces only having to stop and loosen them a little.

The transition from road to gravel trail was seamless and comfortable. The TERRAULTRA is an out and out ultra-shoe designed for trails that are more groomed, say Western States in the USA or UTMB in Europe. So hard packed single-track felt really good in the G270, equally rocky and stoney ground felt good.

Running up hill surprised me. The META-FLEX allowed for great flexibility and propulsion, but it was the outsole that really gripped. A massive improvement over the G260.

I have to say, I have not always been a fan with the addition of Graphene. At times, I felt it compromised the sticky outsoles and made them less grippy, albeit providing longer life. But on many occasions, for me particularly, grip is king and if it is compromised, I am not happy.

Here, in the G270 there was noticeable difference, and this was coming from just 4mm lugs.

The test of course would really come when I threw in some mud and wet rock.

Gladly, mud (loads of it) rocks, tree routes, climbs, descents, wooden planks, forests and yes, a little fire trail all make up my daily and local runs. So, throwing the G270 in the thick of things was easy to do. And yes, I was being unfair as I actively searched out and aimed for steep rocks with water on them and I aimed for every puddle and sloppy mud I could.

I was impressed.

At times, I would think to myself, almost wanting the G270 outsole to fail;

‘This will get them… wait for the slip!’

But the slip never came, especially on dry and wet rock. On a 3-hour run, as the minutes clicked by, I started to relax more and more and eventually stopped worrying and asking;

‘Will the G270 grip here?’

They did, at all times provide me with the grip I required.

Surprisingly, in really sloppy mud, I did not slip or move as I had expected. Partially due to the fact that I did apply the brakes a little and respect the conditions.

Technical trail is where the G270 shows some flaws. The wider toe box lacks precision, allows one’s toes to move and therefore I felt that there was just ‘too much’ shoe to navigate between rocks, roots, stones and a plethora of other obstacles. But of course, I am being unfair! The G270 is designed for less technical trails, long hours and all-day comfort – that they do really well!

The shoes are responsive and do work well when running fast. However, the wide toe box, zero drop and cushioning do make them feel a little like a saloon car… Plenty of room, comfy seats, and can get the miles done. But I craved a more performance car at times with more precision, tighter handling and a little more fire and daring, especially when coming of road, fire trails or single-track.

The cushioning was plush and considering it is only 12mm, it felt like more. Especially noticeable extra comfort over the 9mm G260 which also was a little hard and lifeless. One thing to note, I found on tree routes and some stones, I could feel them in the bottom of my foot, so protection from obstacles is minimal. The toe box though has a good bumper and that worked really well.

The heel box was noticeably secure on the flat and going uphill, I had little to no slippage.

SUMMARY

Damian Hall just ran 260-miles on the Pennine Way in the G270 and set a new FKT, so, that gives some indication of the intended use of this shoe. Having said that, the Pennine Way is not all single-track and wonderful cruising trail, so, the shoe can handle the rough stuff too.

I was impressed by how versatile the 4mm Graphene outsole worked. There has been some significant improvement over the G260 and in the Graphene outsole in general.

The upper, lacing and tongue now really hold the foot and that for me is essential, especially with such a wide toe box. The toe box is one of the key selling points of this shoe. It allows toe splay, plenty of room and flexibility for a foot to swell wider with accumulated miles.

The cushioning increased from 9mm (G260) to 12mm for the G270 is noticeable. More importantly, the G270 now has life, the G260 felt a little dead.

CONCLUSION

The G270 is a marked improvement over the G260, so, if you liked the previous model you are going to love the latest incarnation.

Zero drop and a wide toe box will be exactly what some people are looking for and they will have a big smile on their face. For me, and this of course is very personal, I can’t run in zero for hours and hours and I feel that the toe box is a little roomier than it needs to be.

So, imagine a Trail Talon 290 made like a TERRAULTRA G270 – slightly narrower toe box (4 fit) 8mm drop; 11mm and 19mm cushioning and this Graphene outsole – that would be a winning shoe IMO. (inov-8 take note)

The G270 is a winning shoe and all packaged perfectly for ultra-distance runner who needs grip, cushioning and comfort for the long-haul out on the trails. It would even make a great road shoe if required.

For multi-day adventures, such as Marathon des Sables, just like the Trail Talon, the G270 would be really excellent.

Get the TERRAULTRA G270 at inov-8 HERE

If technical trail and mud is your thing, this is not the best shoe for that, however, it can handle it remarkably well, so, if you only wanted one trail shoe (with zero drop) to do all, the G270 would be ideal. By contrast, if you wanted a one-stop trail shoe with 8mm drop, I recommend the Trail Talon 290.

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