Hoka, the buzzy footwear brand that last month exceeded its goal to become a $1 billion business, has introduced a new performance running shoe.
Called the Rocket X 2, the shoe is being touted as the brand’s “most pinnacle performance road racing shoe created to date.” Although developed with feedback from elite runners and triathletes, the shoe is intended to serve all runners, according to Bekah Broe, director of performance product for Hoka.
“A lot of super shoes are targeted to just elite athletes,” she said. “But we wanted this to be accessible to mere mortals as well so we tested them at slower paces and at distances from a 5K to a marathon.”
The Rocket X 2 is a totally reinvented version of the Rocket X 1, which was introduced four years ago. It features a dual density PEBA midsole foam and a spoon-shaped, offset carbon fiber plate with an early stage MetaRocker that results in a higher rebound and enhanced propulsion. It also features a ProFlyX two-part layer of foam and rubber pieces placed on high-traction areas on the outsole.
The upper is made from a synthetic mesh for a lightweight and a tighter-than-usual fit, and there’s a dual-sided tongue gusset. The shoes are light, weighing 6.7 oz for a women’s size 8 and 8.3 oz for a men’s size 10, with a 40mm stack height and 5mm drop. The sizing is all-gender, which could be confusing for some customers, with the shoe’s men’s 8 translating into a women’s 9 and a men’s 10 equal to a women’s 11. Broe said Hoka’s racing spikes are also sized this way.
With all these bells and whistles, the shoe also packs a punch when it comes to price, retailing for $250. But Broe said the ticket is not much different than high-end shoes offered by other performance footwear companies. “Our competitors are going even higher,” she said. “The advanced compounds and materials cost more so we felt like this was our sweet spot.”
Now available to the public, the shoe has already made a mark among Hoka’s athlete ambassadors including Futsum Zienasellassie, who wore it when winning the USATF Marathon Championships in 2:11:01, as well as Olympian Aliphine Tuliamuk who was the top American finisher at the 2022 New York City Marathon with a time of 2:26:18.
The initial launch offers the shoe in one colorway, a vibrant blue with yellow accents, but Broe said other options will be available later this year. Also in 2023, the company will be introducing a daily training shoe with some of the same innovations as the Rocket X 2, as well as other lifestyle models. And coming in April, Hoka is introducing its first children’s collection with the Clifton, Speedgoat and Ora Slide models being offered for kids.