HOKA Skyward X

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To me the Skyward X is the ultimate essence of what a running shoe should be, it takes all the best tech HOKA have available, and puts it together not for speed, but to give you the ultimate ride. It’s a big dream, and one the hugely cushioned new shoe looks to live up to.

Key Info
Price: £185
Foot type: Neutral
Weight: 320g (Men’s) 261g (Women’s)
Stack height: 48mm – 43mm (Men’s) 46 – 41mm (Women’s)
Heel drop: 5mm
Surface: Road
Best for: A plush, soft ride

History

 HOKA may have started out trying to make the ultimate downhill runner, but they became famous for their combination of lightness, deep cushioning, and the smooth transition created by their meta rockers, or curving underfoot. All three features are now considered standard across almost all brands, so is the Skyward X going to include the next big idea to catch on across the industry?

 

Not just a brand-new shoe, it could be a brand-new style of shoe, it’s certainly the first shoe I have seen that uses a carbon plate to improve your comfort, rather than focus purely on speed/stability.

 

 

Closer Look

 The first thing you notice about the Skyward X, even beyond the colours, is that massive stack of foam and plate under the foot. At 48mm in the men’s (46 in the women’s, it is second only to the adidas Adizero Prime X 2 Strung, at 50mm as the highest of the shoes we sell here at Pro:Direct Sport. The Prime X is a stripped back racer, using all that foam to power you forward, and the Skyward X uses it for the same reasons, but it is also tuned to give you comfort and cushioning that feels great under the foot.

 

A clear example of the difference between the Skyward X and a stripped back racer is that carbon plate. In the Skyward X the plate is bowed in the middle to give what HOKA are describing as a “suspended” feeling. A normal plate is tuned to provide a stable ride with forward motion and efficiency, this plate is tuned to pop you up in the air, giving a light, fun, but still fast motion. It is also reinforced at the arms under the forefoot for an extra pop during toe off.

 

The foams used in the midsole are the perfect blend of comfort, performance, and durability. The same PEBA based foam as you would find in their top end race shoes offers up a lively, lightweight, and cushioned feel above the plate, while below it a Super Critical EVA offers further lightness with enhanced stability and longevity.

 

With all that going on, it’s easy to overlook its aesthetics, but this is a shoe that has a striking look to match its build. Bold sweeping lines and colours swing through the midsole, while the flat knit upper has a modern, luxurious appearance. Zonal engineering gives you the best combination of hold and breathability while construction gives a sock-like feel that moulds to your foot.

 

As HOKA lovers would have come to expect, it features a Meta-rocker, a curving up of the shoes base towards the toes, to give a smooth flow from your landing point to the last point of contact in your stride at toe off.

 

The outsole features high abrasion rubber in high wear areas. The rubber outsole is the heaviest part of any runner, and a high abrasion rubber is the heaviest type of outsole. By adding in this reinforcement, but sacrificing some lightness, Hoka are ensuring you really can use this tech heavy shoe every single day.

Conclusion

 Perhaps the most interesting shoe in a long time, certainly for those runners who want daily miles to feel plush, smooth and a little easier, the Skyward X has made it to the top of my wish list immediately, but will it make it to the top of the sales charts?

 

Perhaps it’s price point will keep some away, but at a similar price to other plush daily milage shoes such as the ASICS Nimbus and Saucony Triumph, neither of which feature a plate of any kind, it certainly offers a new option to the market.

 

 

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Ray Barlow

Having suffered from Chronic Fatigue for over a decade, I am a recent convert to the joys of running. Although every run steals a lot of energy, the mental health and fitness benefits more than make up for it. My runs are mainly across the back of the nearby beaches, dodging between the tourists. When not geeking out over the latest running tech, you can find me trying new gins, making gins, or boring anyone within earshot about gin.
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HOKA Skyward X

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