Hoka Carbon X 3 vs. Rocket X (2022)

The Hoka Carbon X 3 is the latest in the carbon-fiber plate shoe collection of the brand. On the other hand, the Rocket X is starting to get old since it was released in 2020. We don’t know if Hoka has a Rocket X 2 in the cards!

Two years is an eternity in the world of running shoes, and logically the Carbon X 3 displays a more modern configuration with a supercritical foam in the midsole. Simply put, it’s a manufacturing process that gives a more bouncy and lighter texture than more traditional processes.

Both shoes feature the same sole height (32 mm stack in the heel) and a low drop of 5 mm. They have a rocker for a smoother rolling motion while running and better propulsion.

The Rocket X is, according to Hoka, intended for the marathon, while the Carbon X is for even longer distances. In practice, it’s not so evident as they are very similar.

The main difference is their weight: the Carbon X 3 is 30 g/1.1 oz heavier, which starts to be noticeable.

Carbon X or Rocket X: Which One to Choose?

Unless you’re a Hoka fan, these two shoes struggle to convince and suffer from comparing with other carbon plate shoes like the Nike Vaporfly or the Adidas Adios Pro.

For the rest, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Overall, runners liked the Carbon X 3’s cushioning better for its comfort.

Side-By-Side Comparison

Bottom Line
A “super shoe” with a carbon-fiber plate. It’s versatile and responsive, but its foot lockdown is disappointing.
Firm, responsive, and comfortable cushioning
Smooth and stable ride
Good versatility
Effective grip on the road
Fairly durable shoe
Imprecise lockdown
A good carbon plate running shoe that offers an edgy configuration for competition.
Firm and efficient cushioning despite the absence of a “trampoline” effect
Well-designed upper that offers a perfect lockdown
Discreet carbon plate under the foot
Good stability for a carbon-plated racer
Good overall durability
Firm cushioning that lacks smoothness and responsiveness for a carbon shoe
Meta-Rocker is not very effective
Lack of versatility (shoe mainly recommended for forefoot strikers)

Hoka Carbon X 3

Hoka Rocket X

Technical Specs

Pronation typeNeutralNeutral
Drop5 mm5 mm
Heel stack height32 mm32 mm
Forefoot stack height27 mm27 mm
Weight (men)242 g/8.5 oz210 g/7.4 oz
Weight (women)214 g/7.55 oz210 g/7.4 oz
FeaturesRocker, Carbon plateCarbon plate, Unisex
AthletesJim WalmsleyJim Walmsley
Release year20222020


OutsoleRubberized foamZonal Rubber
MidsoleEarly Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry, PROFLY XCMEVA, carbon fiber plate, Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry
UpperEngineered meshEngineered mesh with open texture, anatomical tongue


Softness (1-5)2 – Firm2 – Firm
Bounce (1-5)4 – Bouncy3 – Moderate


Distance Mid, long, 10k, half marathon, marathonShort, mid, 5k, 10k, half marathon
WorkoutCompetition, daily runsCompetition
Kevin Le Gall

Kevin Le Gall

Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner's Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He's also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.