Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Hoka Carbon X 3, Mach Supersonic and Kawana Initial Runs Impressions and Shoe Details

Article by Sam Winebaum

Hoka is highlighting 3 road models in the first part of 2022. They all share a 5mm drop, close to the same stack height, Metarocker geometry, and differing shapes of Hoka’s Swallowtail rear geometry. All are road trainers, yet all have very different personalities and best uses. All fit true to size. I now have several runs in each and even a race in the Supersonic and share some first impressions here. 

Kawana ($140)

Best for: moderate paces, recovery runs, heavier and beginner runners, heel strikers, highest volume feet-plushest and most accommodating fit

The Kawana (RTR Review) is the steady cruising  “accessible”  model designed for well cushioned, stable, more moderate daily training and even workouts and all day use. The heaviest of the three, it weighs 10.28 oz / 290g (US men’s 8.5) . It rides on a broad stable 30/25 platform with a copious podded rubber outsole, and is the only shoe of the three with a rubber outsole.

On the run, they have a denser rubbery feel with some bounce and a very smooth and consistent flow at all paces The asymmetrical swallow tail provides a distinct noticeable lever forward upon heel landing with its impulse most felt the further back on the heel one lands. 

The upper is broad, soft and pliable and very well held. It has the roomiest and plushest of the three uppers.

Expected to release January 2022.  (RTR Review

Mach Supersonic  ($150)

Best for: all around daily training at faster paces, tempo, long “non plated” racing

Mach Supersonic (Multi Tester Review  with 10 comparisons) is the lightest of the three at 8.13 /  231g US men’s 8.5 so over 2 oz lighter than Kawana on a platform which is only 1 millimeter lower than the Kawana but without as pronounced a Swallowtail. The Supersonic tweaks the successful Mach 4 formula (RTR Review) of plenty of cushion on a stable easy flowing 29mm heel, 24 mm forefoot platform of mostly rubberized foam (also acting as the outsole) with a bouncy top layer of softer responsive foam underfoot. Slightly stiffer than Mach 4 and with a long flex its rocker effect is more pronounced compared to Mach 4, with the top layer of foam in the ProFly construction slightly more responsive. Weighing almost the same it neatly bridges daily training as Mach 4 did but now with a somewhat snappier, faster and smoother flowing toe off.

The upper is now a denser thin and more secure mesh with a thicker, more padded short tongue. The difference in hold and security is clearly felt compared to the Mach 4 where I sometimes felt I was slipping forward while not as well held in its more unstructured upper.

I ran a 10K race in the rain in the Supersonic and the upper held me flawlessly with lace up once and done.  The ride, while not plated fast is very protective, comfortable stable and incredibly smooth and consistent. This can make the Supersonic not only a great choice for all around training (including tempo and faster long runs) but for longer racing for those preferring a non plated ride on rough pavement with lots of forefoot cushion and inherent stability that does not get in the way. I can say that the day after that 10K I had no soreness whatsoever.

Expected to release March 2022. 

Carbon X 3 ($180)

Best for: uptempo training and long racing.

The X 3 is almost as light as the Supersonic weighing 8.29g / 234g US men's 8.5 and sits on a somewhat higher 32mm heel / 27mm platform. Instead of a thick layer of rubberized foam as midsole/outsole as in the Mach the rubberized foam outsole  is thinner with above that a new supercritical light and responsive foam and of course an embedded carbon plate. The general construction is similar to the X 2 in terms of the layer heights and different from the X 1 (RTR Review) which had a thicker lower rubberized foam layer. 

Of the three here, the X 3 with its carbon plate has the most (and a totally) rigid flex profile. Propulsion is via the rocker and the plate unlike the others where flex to toe off is in the mix. Unlike the others, slower paces are not as friendly here but doable. Faster training paces are smooth and I find them more consistent and stable than pure race carbon shoes which at about the same weight, or less, also tend to have yet more stack height. My next race will be in them to test further.

The new main midsole foam has more energy return feel than Carbon X 1 did with also a slightly softer feel (but still not soft and bouncy as some foams are) making the X 3 somewhat more training friendly while I expect also more race lively.

The upper is an unusual engineered stretch knit with in its fiber mix non stretch mono mesh fibers in key areas for support and structure.  Knit uppers do tend to add weight but  compared to the X 2 (RTR Review)  with its light engineered mesh upper we still lose about 0.2 oz likely due to the new supercritical foam. This is one secure comfortable road upper and about the best stretch knit upper I have tested. That said, I wonder what a more conventional mesh upper (as before) might have reduced weight further to get the X 3 closer to super race shoes in weight while also increasing breathability.

Expected to release April 2022. Multi tester review soon.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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