Hoka Tecton X Trail - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hoka Tecton X is unlike any other shoe we have tested and, frankly, unlike most of the trail running shoes available on the market. The addition of the carbon plate makes for unforgettable runs, and the beefy lugs allow you to climb to inspiring heights. This lightweight, techy, do-it-all trail running shoe offers enough ground feel and plenty of bounce for added responsiveness.
Hoka has a way of constructing shoes with just enough foot protection, and the Tecton X falls in line. Those who run in more volatile conditions might find Hoka's protection style a bit too minimalistic. Instead of encasing their trail runners in firm rubber, the toe cap has just enough rubber to protect against accidental rock-kicking.
The jacquard mesh is strong and layered enough to deflect small bits of sand and other trail debris. But when it comes to weather protection, the Tecton X didn't outshine the competition. This shoe did well as we splashed through shallow puddles and ran through misty rain. But when we got down to the nitty-gritty and dunked them in water, they didn't shed it as readily as some of our other contenders. Because of this, the Tecton won't be our first choice if many water-crossings are on the horizon. But it will be our first choice for most sandy, central California trails.
The Tecton X has a 33mm stack height at its highest point, with only a 4mm heel-to-toe differential. The ultra-light underfoot cushion is very protective without being intrusive. In many lower-weight designs, the outsoles are more susceptible to abrasions, leading to less foot protection. That is not the case with the Tecton X, and we love that. We pounded over 100 miles in these shoes throughout our testing. During that time, we tripped over rocks and got snagged on branches. Never once did we injure our feet or damage the shoes (outside of normal wear and tear, of course). With a stripped-down version of foot protection, you will likely love the Tecton X for flowy, semi-technical trails.
With a sticky Vibram Megagrip sole and 4mm lugs, this trail runner is suitable for most terrain. The small-but-mighty multidirectional lugs and beefy outsole bite into the trail when needed but also let you cruise when smooth downhill sections beckon.
The lugs on the Tecton X are thick and strong, so they don't wear down easily if you run roads. We don't recommend this as a crossover shoe, but it also isn't quite as specific as some more aggressive trail runners. It grips when needed and makes for a great shoe when speed is your priority on the trail. The lugs don't extend onto the outsole like on a few of the burlier trail hogs, but the LiteBase outsole is grippy enough to provide optimal traction.
This is the metric where the Tecton X blew our expectations out of the water. We weren't sure that a carbon-plated shoe with a 33mm stack of foam would provide any sensitivity, but we were wrong. After a run or two, the internal fluff packs out a bit to truly accommodate the unique shape of your foot and provide information about the trail beneath you.
Even with the ample stack height, the ground feel and sensitivity of the Tecton X are pretty solid. This isn't the most sensitive trail running shoe around, but if you like a dampened sensation of the terrain underfoot, you'll love the feeling of the Tecton. While more sensitive options exist, the ultralight base of the Tecton offers balanced sensitivity. If you like the idea of being able to field ground-level information comfortably, the balanced elements of this runner are likely to suit your needs.
After years of hard lessons about ankle rolls, the anatomy of the ankle, and how to best heal sprains, we have learned a lot about the importance of stability. The lower-than-average heel-to-toe drop of the Tecton provides excellent stability when on the move. The lower your heel is to the ground, the less likely you are to roll an ankle. This is especially true when your legs are fatigued at the end of a long run — keeping your body moving in the right way is crucial to longevity in trail running, and the Tecton cradles the foot and seems to absorb the impact of ankle-twisting rocks.
Some trail runners are less susceptible to ankle rolls than others, and we certainly don't hesitate to recommend less stable trail shoes based on their scores in other metrics. That said, if you are prone to rolling your ankles and want to try out a pace-pushing trail running shoe, the Tecton is a safe bet. Even at our most fatigued, the shape and fit of this shoe felt super stable.
Comfort and Fit
The new Tecton X fits like many other shoes by Hoka. We understand that everyone has different anatomies and preferences, which makes this metric a bit fickle and subjective. We, however, cannot get enough Hoka in our lives. If you also lean toward loving this brand, the Tecton likely won't disappoint.
Our maiden voyage in the Tecton was a bit off-kilter, as many first runs in new shoes are. But after a few miles, we found that our feet settled into the engineered mesh, EVA sockliner, and PROFLY-X construction. The inner comfort of the Tecton is forgiving without being mushy. The jacquard mesh and molded sockliner are firm and durable but offer enough give to accommodate your foot shape. We love how the landing platform stays springy and fresh as it molds to your foot.
Our average-width feet felt right at home in the body of the Tecton, with plenty of room for our toes to splay while we ran. While we judge comfort and fit based on the most nuanced details of the shoe, we have also noticed that we tend to reach for the more comfortable shoes amid heavy-duty training blocks. The Tecton X is a shoe we have been reaching for more than any other, so when it comes to comfort and fit, we know that this shoe has our vote.
We have one small gripe here, though. The ankle collar is quite stiff and initially caused a bit of discomfort as we ran. We adapted, and the collar softened after a few runs, but it wasn't our favorite sensation out of the box. As usual, we think it is best to try shoes on before buying them since some runners might find the collar shape more intrusive than others. After a few miles, we made peace with the sensation and never had any issues with blisters or chafing. Additionally, the tongue of the Tecton is un-cushioned, causing the laces to dig in if you tie your shoes tight. On the flip side, the extra-long lace bed helps ensure a customizable body fit.
We love to fly down super technical trails, and if we could always do that in kicks that weigh less than 8 ounces, we would. Typically, trail running shoes are too beefy to be classified as "feather-weight." But here we are, singing praises for an ultra-techy trail running shoe that weighs 7.13 ounces per women's size 7 shoe. Wow.
The Tecton X is the lightest shoe we reviewed this time, earning it a perfect score in our weight metric. The advent of super lightweight materials in this one-of-a-kind shoe makes it a great choice for speedy trail runs. Look no further if you want a light but rugged shoe with a propulsive landing pad.
Should You Buy the Hoka One One Tecton X?
No shoe is right for everyone, but we feel like the Tecton X might be suitable for most. Of course, purchasing a trail running shoe ultimately depends on your preferences, fit, and budget. The Tecton is a bit pricier than many of the shoes in our lineup, but not exorbitantly so. The higher price tag is justified when we consider the new and still somewhat niche design. The Tecton is suitable for both short trail jaunts and ultra-distances, adding to its versatility as well. We tend to look at versatility as it relates to value, and since this is a do-it-all kind of shoe, we think it is worth its price. If you are looking for a responsive, lightweight trail runner with carbon plates, plenty of foot protection, great traction, and a comfortable profile, you'll love the Tecton. If you are on the fence about trying out a carbon-plated shoe, we recommend waiting until this tech becomes a bit more mainstream.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
The most comparable trail running shoe to the Tecton X is the Hoka Torrent 3. The Torrent fits much the same way as the Tecton but is a bit heavier and mushier underfoot. The Tecton prioritizes responsiveness in an uncommon way, so if a responsive and lightweight trail shoe is what you're after, we are confident it will be your new trail bestie. If you want a more streamlined profile, we recommend the Dynafit Feline SL or the La Sportiva Bushido II. For a wider and more luxurious fit, we love the Altra Lone Peak 7 and Salomon Pulsar Trail.
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