Thursday, February 03, 2022

Hoka Tecton X Multi Tester Review: Light, Fast, Flexible Carbon and Super Critical Foam Energetic Trail Racer. 12 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum and Jeff Valliere


Hoka Tecton X ($200)


Introduction

Sam: The Tecton X is a carbon plated, max cushion trail racing and training shoe. It is from my standpoint the most significantly important Hoka trail and maybe road shoe as well introduction since the original Speedgoat and later EVO Speedgoat. The key innovations and details

  • very low weight coming in at about 8.9 oz / 252g with a 33mm heel / 29mm forefoot so about 0.4 oz less than the EVO Speedgoat with 1mm more stack on a similarly very broad, stable platform and at the same stack height as the Speedgoat 5 which weighs 0.85 oz / 24g more.

  • supercritical EVA foam primary cushion is provided by a new (also in Carbon X 3) very light and springy foam in a dual density ProFlyX construction with a softer foam directly underfoot.

  • dual parallel carbon plates provide some forward and lateral flex along with springy impulse

  • Vibram MegaGrip LiteBase with 4mm lugs.

Hoka is positioning the Tecton X as the fast all terrain race and training companion to the Speedgoat which leans more training but of course can also race, especially ultras.

The result appears to be a super light, super stable, carbon powered  trail racing and training  machine which I was eager to test (and did) on multiple surfaces including dirt, snow, pavement, and through mud.


Pros:

Leading trail weight to cushion ratio - Sam/Jeff V

Carbon done right for trails (and roads): non rigid, terrain conforming with clearly felt impulse and protection - Sam/Jeff V

Dynamic springy firmer yet well cushioned ride with plenty of protection - Sam/Jeff V

Light, protective and comfortable upper - Sam/Jeff V


Cons:

Priced as carbon plated shoes tend to be, up there at $200 - Sam/Jeff V

Upper hold may suffer a bit in highly technical terrain-Jeff V

Midsole can feel a bit firm on fast downhills-Jeff V


Stats

Approx. Weight: men's 8.9 oz  / 252 g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  8.65 oz  / 244 g (US8.5),  9.5 oz / 268 g (US9.5)

                             EVO Speedgoat in a US8.5 weighs 9.06 oz / 257g

Stack Height: men’s 33 mm heel / 29mm forefoot 

Available June 1 2022. $200 


First Impressions, Fit, and Upper

Sam:  Striking in orange with dark blue the look screams speed. What is immediately noticeable is how light this big shoe is. It is very, very light in hand for such a big stack shoe.


The upper is Jacquard engineered mesh with a thin gusset tongue. Beyond a stout short toe bumper/rand, there are no other overlays. Upper durability remains to be seen but recall this is a race focused shoe.

The fit is true to size with a soft toe box feel from the pliable thin mesh with plenty of foot splay for my medium to narrower feet.  The lace pattern reaches far to the toe and unlike the Speedgoats there is no toe stretch inset.  It is easy to pull up the very lightly padded breathable tongue as the grid mesh below the top is very slightly stretchy.  In the picture below notice how much baggier the EVO Speedgoat's toe box looks at the same size.

I think given the light very pliable mesh here that a stretch piece up front would compromise hold given the mesh. I think wider feet can be accommodated by keeping the very front lacing up front a bit looser. 

Mid foot hold is solid and overall this upper is more supportive than the EVO Speedgoat’s with both in the lighter trail race upper category. It reminds me in upper feel and fit,  although roomier, of the Zinal, also a seemingly too light and pliable upper that just works.  

The heel counter is mostly pliable except down low where it is stiffer but this is not a rigid heel counter. Heel hold is very good if not super technical terrain bombproof.


Jeff V:  The bright orange colorway, with a classy strip of blue around the upper midsole is striking and fast looking, stating that this shoe means business!  I find the Tecton X to be a little bit larger than I expected (but it is a Hoka, so not sure why I expected a smaller shoe, maybe because of the Zinal), but when compared with other shoes in its class, is not necessarily any larger.  Either way, the Tecton X is light in the hand and light on the foot, and especially so given the stack height.


Fit is true to size and in line with all of my other size 10 Hoka.  The Jacquard engineered mesh upper is flexible with a premium feeling construction and feels quite secure, with excellent lockdown in the midfoot assisted by secure lacing.  The Jacquard weave is somewhat thick and dense, and feels quite durable and adds to the secure feel, butit is not particularly breathable. 


The forefoot is slightly accommodating for my narrow foot and the lacing gives some leeway here such that I can crank the laces and snug up to my liking for more technical terrain, or I can relax the laces a bit for a bit more wiggle room for longer runs.  


The heel counter is somewhat malleable, but comfortable and supportive.  On my first run I did notice a bit of heel lift, so I stopped for a re-lace to change to the extra rear eyelet, which helped a lot.  I think the heel lift is somewhat due to fit, even though I do not think sizing down would help, as I am sure my toes would then not have enough room.  As I mentioned, using that extra eyelet helps lock the heel a little better (not a lace lock), but I think the reason for this lift is perhaps exacerbated by the stiffness of the carbon plates (as I only noticed heel lift when running uphill).


Midsole


Sam: The midsole features a bottom layer of Hoka’s new responsive supercritical CMEVA foam. Above we have a slightly softer bouncier layer of foam. Together the construction is what Hoka calls ProFly X.  The weight to cushion ratio is outstanding here as we have an 8.9 oz / 252 g shoe with the same big 33/29 stack height as the now lighter Speedgoat 5 in a shoe that weighs 0.85 oz / 24g less than the Speedgoat. Ah the advantages in weight and ride of supercritical foam!


The midsole feel is both highly protective and responsive with a softer landing feel followed by a springy dense rebound from the lower supercritical foam, reminding somewhat of Skechers Hyperburst in the lower layer with yet more springy impulse on toe off from the carbon plates.


Embedded in the midsole are dual parallel carbon plates. Unlike “conventional” carbon road race shoe plates, the Tecton X has some moderate longitudinal as well as lateral flex for contouring trail terrain and climbing. As the plates are still quite stiff, steep climbing segments require quite a bit of drive to really use the plate while on flats and easy climbs they provide a lot of springy impulse.  Moderate smoother trails are where the midsole and plates really shine for me. 

These forgiving, yet still plated characteristics, also make Tecton X a joy to run on road, understanding you will notice the Vibram outsole. Replace the Vibram with a more conventional road outsole and you would have a superb long road trainer racer. 


The full stack height of 33/29  along with the carbon plates and Vibram Lite Base outsole provide the rock protection and it is ample.

Jeff V:  Sam provides a great detailed description of the midsole, carbon plates and performance.  I was able to test the Tecton X on a wide variety of terrain including dirt roads, paved roads, buffed singletrack, semi technical singletrack and even very steep technical trails.  I found performance to vary significantly depending upon gradient, trail surface and pace.  In general, on uphills of any gradient, I did not find the carbon plates to provide much, if any propulsive advantage, but they are light, lively and responsive overall.  When feeling strong on lower gradient uphills however, I did find them to offer a little pop when really pushed, but on steeper and especially more technical terrain, I did not detect an advantage.  


When  running on flats or low gradients, not too technical downhills, I could feel the plate working to generate energy when moving at faster speeds and when I really opened up my stride.  


I find protection to be very good and can feel the carbon plates flexing over varied terrain, though still feels a bit stiff, but not nearly as rigid as The North Face Flight Vectiv or Vimana Carbon runner, but also not quite as compliant and flexible as the Speedland SL:PDX’s flexible Carbitex plate.  


Cushioning is adequate, but I actually found it to be on the firm side and noticed this more at higher speeds on longer downhills.  While not a dealbreaker, for longer distances I would favor the Speedgoat 5 for longer efforts (especially if terrain were more technical) due to the more forgiving cushion and overall more plush feel.


Outsole

The outsole is Vibram MegaGrip in the Lite Base format. Lugs are 4mm in height with coverage in all the key areas with an exposed central midfoot but with some coverage along the edges there.  

The central “X” does have a tendency to accumulate and reluctantly release mud. In addition to indicating carbon I think the X  also serves to decouple the shoe. 

Grip has been good on dirt and adequate on very hard packed snow.  As a race shoe, I think focused on hard ground, the outsole is more than adequate. 


Jeff V:  Grip is overall very good despite the relatively low profile lugs and performs as expected for door to trail, light trails and moderate trails.  While not necessarily designed for technical terrain, I still found grip to be adequate for all but the most loose, off trail chaff.


Ride

The Tecton X has a do it all ride. Agile and capable on up to more technical trails, it is well cushioned with a lively spring but not with no soft mush.  The carbon plate provides a flexible clearly felt impulse. The ride here is incredibly versatile but struggles a bit and is a bit too stiff and tippy upfront on more technical terrain not contouring as well as less rigid shoes. 

I have run them on snow, frozen ground, bigger vert non technical dirt, as well as roads and everywhere I went they were up to the task. I am quite certain Hoka elites will be racing this shoe at Western States and UTMB.


I worried a bit that climbing would suffer on steeper grades due to the plates but not so as on an 1800 foot climb in a bit more than 4 miles on well groomed trails and dirt road as long as I kept the pace lively to really activate the plate.  I bounded up with no issues. he shoe had none of the regular Speedgoat’s requirement to lift the knees to get through the rocker. It is not quite as flexible or soft up front as the EVO Speedgoat but sure flies flatter sections better. On the long steep downhill the cushion was highly protective and the heel very stable if on the firmer side compared to a Speedgoat, upcoming Xodus Ultra from Saucony or the Scrapa Spin Infinity. 


I took them several times on pavement and the road ride with the noticed Vibram outsole was not in the way and the flex of the carbon plate was in no way prescriptive, rigid or overly dictating fast paces as road carbon racers mostly do. Particularly noticed was the broad stable platform at the heel and midfoot on all terrain. If you are looking for a super light max cushion door to trail shoe with carbon in the mix that is of the friendlier more flexible variety, it delivers a great ride.

Jeff V:  Sam sums up the ride very well and I do not have much to add.  The ride is smooth, quick and precise, quite versatile, responsive and protective, with just enough flex to allow for fast running on moderate trails and even a bit of technical trails without trepidation, though the Tecton X shines best on moderate to less technical trails and fire roads.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: The Tecton X sets the fast and smoother long trail race bar shoe very high with the Tecton X.  It also sets the bar very high in all terrain versatility as it is a fantastic road and door to trail trainer/racer. Seriously, a pleasure to run roads in and among the best trail shoes ever for those uses for me.  I kept reaching for them for road runs when I had plenty of road shoes in test.


The ride is highly cushioned yet lively and springy from the combination of the more flexible dual carbon plates and ProFly X combination of foams including the primary supercritical main layer.  Is it the ideal Hoka for more technical terrain, probably not, although likely Hoka elites will race everything medium to long in them.  We have the Speedgoat 5 and Torrent 2 for that and for the short and fast Hoka Zinal but none of those come close to providing the rush and impulse of the Tecton X when you wind them up. 


Having recently tested the road Carbon X 3 with its identical super critical foam but with a totally rigid carbon plate, a more speed road focused shoe, I can say I much prefer the relative flex and increased agility of the Tecton X’s more flexible C003 dual carbon plates on road over the X3.  I encourage Hoka to use this C003 plate in road trainers and racers as well. This said I do wish for trail purposes the Tecton X plate was yet more flexible as say the Speedland and Kima RT from Scarpa are.


The Tecton X is for me the first true trail "super race shoe" for its effectively carbon plated lively energetic ride, versatility, decent stability, and of course supercritical foam driven light weight and big cushion. 

Sam’s Score: 9.28/10

Ride: 9.4 (30%) Fit:9.4( 30%)  Value:8.5 (10%)  Style:9.3 (5%)  Traction:9.2 (15%) Rock Protect:9.4 (10%)


Jeff V: I see the Tecton X as an ideal pick for a mid to long distance race shoe for courses that involve moderate to less technical trails, stretches of road, yet can easily handle short stretches of technical trails with aplomb.  As Sam mentions, road performance is excellent, making this an excellent door to trail option or just a great all around uptempo road shoe, as the lugs are low profile enough to go mostly unnoticed.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.5/10

Ride: 9.5

Fit: 9.5 - fits my foot like a glove, however I think most would prefer a bit more toe room for longer distances

Value: 9 - while $200, you do get a lot of performance for the money and I anticipate excellent longevity from the midsole foam and outsole.

Style: 10 - I find these to have an Italian supercar sort of look

Traction: 9 - very good for intended purpose

Rock Protection: 10 - I have never even remotely felt a poke or jab underfoot


10 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Hoka EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review)

Sam: The EVO Speedgoat is softer, mushier, less dynamic in ride and has a less secure upper. It does have an easier and more forward flex so for some will climb very steep better.I confirmed this with a short A/B test run against the Tecton. The Tecton X is Hoka’s new pinnacle elite race shoe.


Jeff V:  Agreed with Sam 100%.  While I think the outsole and flexibility of the EVO Speedgoat is advantageous for technical terrain, that is neither here nor there, as the upper is not secure enough to utilize those advantages, where the Tecton X still has very good traction, reasonable flex and is much more firm/responsive.


Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review SG5)

Sam: I have A/B trail and road run compared the Speedgoat 5 to the Tecton X and the differences are clear. The Tecton X shares the same 33/29 stack height yet is a big 1.2 oz lighter coming in at 8.9 oz / 252g in a US9 vs. 9.7 oz / 275g for the SG5. It has a supercritical foam midsole and dual carbon plates which give it a noticeably springier and more dynamic ride to the SG5's slightly softer and mushier feel. 


As such the Tecton X is clearly superior on hard firmer ground and road and not far behind the somewhat more substantially outsole shod Speedgoat on the more technical.  I was surprised that the upper hold of the Tecton X was superior and the fit more precise while the Speedgoat 5 is slightly more generous, less secure and softer in fit. Clear advantage in upper to Tecton X for me. 


Overall if your trails are smoother and you will also run some road, the Tecton X is worth its $200 price, $45 more than Speedgoat 5  for its lighter weight, faster, more energetic ride and close to Speedgoat technical terrain capabilities.


Jeff V:  Sam compares well and I will emphasize that both are amazing shoes, yet fill a different niche.  For faster, less technical running, the lighter weight, lower profile tread, responsive supercritical foam and carbon plate of the Tecton X is advantageous, where the softer cushion, better flexibility, grippier more aggressive outsole of the Speedgoat is much better for longer duration technical running.  I personally prefer the softer cushioning and more relaxed ride of the Speedgoat 5 for most of my running.


Watch the Speedgoat 5 to Tecton X to Speedgoat EVO Video Comparison Review


Hoka Mafate Speed 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Surprisingly, the Mafate Speed 3 weighs 2 ounces more than the Tecton, however it runs lighter and is surprisingly responsive and agile.  The Mafate has a bottomless soft cushion feel with adequate support underfoot to not feel tippy and marshmallowy, where the Tecton feels much more firm underfoot and perhaps a bit more stable. The Tecton is more responsive, but best suited for less technical and Mafate better on a wider variety of terrain and has superior traction/deeper lugs.


Hoka Zinal (RTR Review)

Sam: The Zinal is the short race complement to the Tecton X. Considerably lower stack with a mere 22/18 to the 33/29 here and about 0.5 oz lighter the Zinal is considerably firmer and of course less cushioned. It has a similar stiff flex up front but with a more pronounced flex point at mid foot


Jeff V: I find the Zinal to be speedier and more agile than the Tecton X, as it is a lighter shoe and lower profile overall. This said I would limit use to shorter more all out pace races on less technical terrain, where the Tecton X more protective and energy saving over the longer haul.


North Face Flight Vectiv (RTR Review)

Sam: Also carbon plated and $200, the Flight Vectiv’s plate has similar flexibility. Its midsole is firmer and less responsive and its upper awkward in its combination of stretch knit up front and non stretch Matryx towards midfoot.  It weighs about an ounce more and has a lower stack. Both target similar uses but it is no contest the Tecton X is more fun, lighter, faster, and more capable.


Jeff V:  Sam sums well, and I need to note that my Flight Vectiv are close to 2 ounces heavier and the added weight is noticed.  I only found the Flight Vectiv to be fast and responsive when pushing high speed strides on straight lower to moderate grade downhills on smooth trail or pavement, but otherwise they were rigid and tippy on even moderately technical terrain, things further complicated by an ill fitting upper.  The Tecton X surpasses in response, weight, fit, foothold, flexibility, versatility and all around performance.


Craft CTM Carbon Ultra (RTR Review)

Sam: More road focused than the Tecton X,  the Craft has a considerably higher stack at 40/30 but weighs only an ounce more. It is firmer, its plate is more rigid while still with some flex with the 10 mm drop really noticed. I prefer the springier ride of the Tecton X and its smoother fitting upper on trail and road.. 


Speedland SL: PDX (RTR Review)

Sam: The innovative and pricey Speedland has a more flexible carbon plate and a modular construction. Its dual micro adjustable BOA makes it more secure with its Dyneema fiber upper I expect to be more durable. It shines brighter than the Tecton X on more technical trails but other than that the Tecton X is lighter, faster and more versatile.


Jeff V:  The Speedland carbon plate is more for protection underfoot than it is response/propulsion as I found in the Tecton X.  I think the Speedland has overall better flexibility and as Sam says, is much more competent and adept in technical terrain than the Tecton, but weighs a good 2 ounces more and that weight is noticeable.  


Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT (RTR Review)

Sam: Considerably heavier at 10.46 oz / 298g (US9 / EU 42)  to the Tecton’s 9 oz, on a lower stack the Kima RT is the carbon plated option for more technical trails to the Tecton X smoother trails focus and strengths. Very stable,  more than adequately cushioned, the Kima’s more flexible plate gives noticeably more climbing impulse than Tecton X and I also find it is more stable on rockier sectoin. Its cushioning is about equivalent if denser and not as springy. 


Jeff V:  Sam gets it right, the Kima plate benefits a bit more on the uphills, but for me the main benefit of the Kima plate is rock protection and while flexible, I feel as though I need to exercise finesse on really technical terrain.  Tecton is better suited for faster running on less technical trails and shines most on flats or slight to moderate downhills.


Saucony Xodus Ultra (RTR Review soon)

Sam: The upcoming Xodus is a softer more mellow smooth flowing take on an ultra distance shoe. It weighs just sub 10 oz so more than Tecton X and features an outer carrier of PWRRUN EVA/TPU foam with an inner core of PWRRUN PB as springy supercritical foam similar to Tecton X in feel. Rock protection and a touch of propulsion is provided by a woven more fabric like plate which also makes the forefoot more flexible and softer than Tecton X’s and more ground conforming. It’s outsole is more substantial with 4mm lugs vs 2-3mm for Tecton and also I find the outsole is softer. Its fit is a touch more generous but I find not quite as secure and locked down despite having more overlays in the mix. It is not the more taut, long distance trail rocket the Tecton X is and also not quite as dynamic on trail or road  but for most may prove more versatile and at $150 is a better value.  


Jeff V:  Sam gives a good comparison and I will add that I find the Xodus Ultra to be much more fun, lively and competent on the trails with greater versatility.  While a little bit heavier than the Tecton, I think it is an overall faster shoe and much more dynamic and forgiving.  The upper is more accommodating, but less well held than the Tecton upper, but is not much of a limitation, unless in the most technical, off camber terrain, for which neither shoe is intended for.


Salomon S/Lab Pulsar  & SG (RTR Pulsar SG)

Sam: Clearly Tecton and Pulsar are the two super trail race focused shoes of the moment. Impossibly light at barely 7 oz the upcoming SG sits on a far narrower platform particularly at the heel. It has no “plate” but its hardened foam rock plate provides not only rock protection but a plate-like impulse with further forward more flexibility than Tecton X for rapid climbing. Its Energy Surge midsole really comes alive at faster paces while the Tecton X is more consistent at all paces. Depends of course on the runner but for me at the moment the Pulsar SG is the shorter race and hard effort shoe and the Tecton X the long race shoe on smoother terrain.


Jeff V:  I have little to add here, Pulsar is so fast and light, but despite very adequate cushion, protection underfoot, the narrow platform can get tiring for longer distances, which is where the Tecton X will outperform.


ASICS Trabuco Max (RTR Review)

Sam: The ASICS has no plate but has a rigid propulsive rocker geometry.  At 10.65 oz/ 302 g  it is considerably heavier and also higher stacked with not quite as responsive FlyteFoam as Hoka’s ProFly X combo. It’s outsole is superior, its underfoot protection impenetrable and its upper while more supportive, burdened with an awkward quick lace.  Both are extremely good on road for trail shoes  with the Tecton X smoother and more easy going while on the trail the Tecton X more flexible geometry gives it more agility and everywhere its far lighter weight have it pulling away from the ASICS.


Jeff V:  Agreed with Sam.  The Trabuco Max is super stiff and while no carbon plate, has quite the rocker design and rolls along nicely on roads and smoother less technical surfaces.  The Trabuco Max is a bit too rigid and unforgiving for technical trails, where the Tecton X adapts better.  


Saucony Peregrine 12 (RTR Review)

Sam: Not really a direct comparison but more a complimentary shoe to Tecton X for more technical terrain. The Peregrine is somewhat heavier in weight at 9.6 oz  / 272g (US9) sits on a lower less broad 26.5mm  heel / mm 22.5 forefoot and is $70 less. It is considerably firmer (not as fun on road as Tecton X), has more aggressive traction and is more agile. It’s upper a softer  mesh, yet with well placed overlays is more secure and fits a bit snugger overall, though still true to size. Easy here for shorter more technical trail runs Peregrine, for longer and smoother terrain Tecton X.

Jeff V:  Peregrine 12 might be the best all around fast mountain trail shoe out there right now, but is certainly not a long distance cushioned speedster, as the Tecton X is.


Scarpa Spin Infinity (RTR Review)

Sam: More a competitor to the Speedgoat, the 2 oz heavier slightly higher stack Infinity is more heavy duty technical trails ready for me than Tecton. It has no plate but a similar long flex. Its foam is energetic and the platform highly protective and stable, running less than its actual weight. Its upper is more secure if not quite as comfortable. It is a great option as a long run and race more technical trails compliment to the Tecton X speedster. 

Jeff V:  Again agreed with Sam here, Infinity runs lighter than weight and a great long distance trail cruiser on more technical terrain, with superior outsole, flexibility and agility.


The Tecton X will release June 1, 2022

  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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6 comments:

Martin said...

What about comparison with Evo Mafate 2 - seems like same category.

guillet jean jacques said...

Des que cette Tecton X sort je l achetes direct , c est la chaussure que j attendais chez Hoka , une sorte de super zinal pour le long , capable d aller partout et bien , vivement le mois de mai , et je penses sincerement que je n aurais plus besoin de chercher d autres chaussures de trail apres cela , Merci HOKA !!!

Andreas said...

Evo Mafate 2 is not being made anymore and even heavier then the EVO Speedgoat. The upcoming Mafate Speed 4 might be interesting but its definately heavier and made for the longer cushier ultras.

Anonymous said...

The interesting comparison will be to the Pulsar Trail Pro. Any idea when you’ll get a chance to try? Still waiting on news of a release date.

Anonymous said...

So far no official word but expecting fairly soon. Yes should be an interesting compare

Jeff Valliere said...

Following