Hoka Carbon X3 Review: Speed and Comfort Combined

I gotta say, the Hoka Carbon X 3 is a fantastic shoe for anyone looking to get into the super shoe game without breaking the bank. The stability is top-notch and the energy-saving rocker geometry makes it easy on your legs during long runs.

Plus, the new ProFly X midsole provides more cushion than previous versions. However, the loose-fitting upper can be a bit of an issue, and at times the shoe feels heavier than its predecessor.

It’s not going to give you explosive propulsion like some other super shoes out there, but if you’re looking for a smooth ride at a great price point, the Carbon X 3 is definitely worth considering.

Hoka Carbon X3 Review

Who Should Buy Hoka Carbon X 3?

The Hoka Carbon X 3 is a carbon-plated racing shoe that is suitable for those who are looking for an ultramarathon racing shoe or plated long-run shoe with a flexible upper for longer or uptempo miles. It is also a good choice for runners who need to run as fast as possible or are looking for a supportive shoe. However, it may not be the best choice for runners who want a racer for short distances due to its weight.

Who Should Not Buy Hoka Carbon X 3?

The Hoka Carbon X 3 is not recommended for runners who want a racer for short distances because it is on the heavier side. Also, I found that runners who prioritize speed over distance or those who prefer a lighter shoe may not find the Hoka Carbon X 3 to be the best option.

Rating Breakdown

Comfort – 8.0

Build quality – 7.0

Upper – 7.0

Sole unit – 7.0

Landing – 6.0

Transition – 7.0

Toe-off – 8.0

Traction – 8.0

Durability – 8.0

Value / Price – 7.0


  • Brand – Hoka
  • Model – Carbon X 3
  • Previous Model – Carbon X 2
  • Type – Ultramarathon
  • MSRP – $180
  • Heel Drop – 5mm
  • Carbon Plate – Yes


  • Sizing – Men and Women
  • Heel Fit – Good
  • Midfoot Fit – Locked-in Fit
  • Toebox Fit – Good

Cushioning & Ride

  • Types of cushioning – Dual-Density Midsole
  • Stability – For Neutral Runners
  • Flexibility – Moderately Flexible


  • Wet or slippery surfaces
  • Heavy weightlifting
  • Cross-training or gym workouts
  • Long-distance running
  • Half or full marathons

First Impression

When I first got my hands on the Hoka Carbon X 3, I was thrilled to unbox them and see how they had improved from their predecessors. The sleek design caught my eye immediately and upon putting them on, I noticed how lightweight they were.

My first run in them was a bit of a letdown though. The knitted upper made it difficult for me to get a secure lockdown on my feet and I almost felt like I was slipping out of them at times. However, after tightening the laces as much as possible, I was able to continue my run with minimal discomfort. The midsole foam definitely felt softer than before which provided great cushioning during my runs.

Over the course of five days, my opinion changed slightly. While the knit upper still presented some challenges, I found that as I kept running in them, my feet adjusted and I didn’t feel as insecure in them anymore. Overall, I’m excited to keep testing out these shoes and seeing how they hold up over time.

Upper Mesh

I have to be honest, the Upper Mesh of Hoka Carbon X 3 has left me feeling a bit confused. I mean, it doesn’t really make sense – it’s not lighter, it’s not cooler and it definitely doesn’t give you that precise lockdown that you want in a racing shoe.

The knit is just too stretchy. When your foot moves around inside the shoe, it can cause all sorts of problems like blisters or even injury. And forget about doing a runner’s knot – it’s impossible with this bootie construction.

I did find a little trick though. By using the pull loop at the end of the tongue as an extra row of eyelets, I was able to get better heel lockdown. But even still, there was some heel lift.

And if you have narrow feet like me, beware. The Carbon X 3 has a roomy fit which might leave you swimming in excess material around the lacing area. If you’re looking for a more dialed-in fit, you should probably go a half-size down.

Sole Unit

So, let’s talk about the sole unit of the Hoka Carbon X 3. Personally, I don’t think it’s anything revolutionary compared to other midsole foams on the market.

The ProFly X foam is supposed to be supercritical, but I didn’t feel much of a difference in terms of energy return or bounce.

It doesn’t have those tiny bubbles that give New Balance FuelCell and Skechers HyperBurst their airy feel.

That being said, the Carbon X 3 still has a well-cushioned ride thanks to its 80% ProFly X and 20% rubberized EVA foam ratio. It’s not overly soft, but definitely padded and smooth. This shoe is designed for marathons and ultramarathons, so the cushioning makes sense for long-distance running.

Overall, while the sole unit might not blow you away with its technology, it gets the job done for what the Carbon X 3 was intended for.


In my opinion, the Hoka Carbon X 3 is a great shoe for steady long runs. Its smooth ride and excellent cushioning make it an efficient choice that saves you energy over the duration of a run. However, it does come with some drawbacks that may not make it ideal for racing.

The plate is too flat and the toe spring isn’t high enough to give you an explosive toe-off as the A-tier carbon fiber racers do.

Additionally, the new knit upper gives the shoe a sloppy fit with heel lift which is disappointing. Overall, I still recommend the Carbon X 3 as a solid option for training runs, but it’s not the best for races.

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