10 Best Carbon Plate Running Shoes I’ve Reviewed This Year [2024]

Find the best race day super shoes for YOUR running requirements. All carbon shoes in this roundup are ranked in order of overall performance AND include links to in-depth reviews here on Trail & Kale Running Co. and Youtube.

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All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. If you buy through links, we may earn a commission.

Welcome to our roundup of the best carbon plate running shoes of 2024! If you’re looking to supercharge your race day performance or enhance your speed training sessions, you’re in the right place. These “super shoes” are engineered with carbon fiber plates embedded in their midsoles, designed to provide exceptional energy return, reduce fatigue, and help you run faster with less effort (improve efficiency).

Every shoe on this list has been tested and reviewed by myself, as such I have a detailed understanding of how they compare to one another, in terms of performance, comfort, support, and stability. So, whether you’re a competitive racer or a dedicated non elite runner like myself, each one of these racing shoes can give you that extra edge you need to score new PRs.

More Road Running Shoes Roundups:

If you’re looking for our trail running shoe recommendations, head over to our Best Trail Running Shoes Roundup.

It’s no secret that carbon fiber shoes can significantly improve your race times and speed workouts but not all super shoes are made equal, and although most will allow you to run faster, not all will get you to the finish line in comfort and with the stability that so many normal runners crave when wunning for hours at a time.

Carbon plate shoes, when combined with advanced foam technologies, and rocker geometries helps in propelling you forward with each stride, giving you a noticeable boost, especially during high-intensity efforts. This technology aids in maintaining your pace but also reduces the impact on your legs, allowing you to recover quicker and perform better over longer distances, like marathons, for example.

These Are The Best Carbon Plate Running Shoes I've Reviewed This Year

When choosing the perfect race day super shoe from our list of the best carbon plate running shoes, consider the following key factors:

  1. Weight: Lighter shoes are generally faster over longer distances but make sure they still provide the necessary support and stability for your stride.
  2. Comfort: Look for features like breathable uppers, cushioned midsoles, and a fit that suits your foot shape to avoid discomfort during long runs. Some super shoes can run extremely narrow or may have an overly high drop but I’ll point this out, if this is the case.
  3. Propulsion: Check how the carbon plate, midsole foam, and rocker geometry work together to provide energy return and forward propulsion.
  4. Stability: Ensure the shoe offers adequate stability, especially if you tend to overpronate or require extra support. This is often overlooked but most non-elite runners will really appreciate this over long distances.

Our list includes top picks like the HOKA Cielo X1, Nike Alphafly 3, ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ Paris, Saucony Endorphin Pro 4, and Nike Vaporfly 3. Each of these models has been reviewed for their unique benefits and potential drawbacks to help you make an informed decision. Happy running and may you achieve all your personal bests! 🏃‍♂️🏅

Hoka Cielo X1

1. Hoka Cielo X1 – WINNER

Read our in-depth Hoka Cielo X1 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The HOKA Cielo X1 is designed for race day and speedwork, offering both performance, stability and comfort for every runner – not just elites! And it’s this key point that makes them the best carbon plate running shoes for most runners – hence making it to the number 1 spot.

The Cielo X1 weighs in at 8.9oz and features a responsive dual-layer PEBA foam midsole, a wildly pronounced (in a good way) rocker geometry, and a winged carbon plate that propels you forward with each stride while maintaining great stability. Stability is something that 50% of super shoes seem to lack. The knit breathable upper is incredibly comfortable, with a gusseted sock-like tongue and minimal collar design that cushions the Achilles without compromising on heel lock.

At $275, the Cielo X1 is a premium investment, but its performance 100% justifies the cost – I’ve broken my 5K PB twice since wearing these. Ideal for distances from 5K to marathons, this shoe is perfect for runners aiming to achieve their fastest speeds while enjoying a comfortable ride.

DRAWBACKS: It’s a little heavier than most of the other shoes on this list but it makes up for it in performance. The flat, durable laces might require a bit of effort to adjust initially but the snug fit once laced up is worth it.

Nike Alphafly 3

2. Nike Alphafly 3

Read our in-depth Nike Alphafly 3 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The Nike Alphafly 3 is a race day shoe designed for exceptional speed and comfort. Weighing just 7.2 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it features an 8mm drop and a full-length carbon fiber plate (what Nike has coined, the Flyplate) for maximal propulsion. The AtomKnit upper is very breathable and hugs the foot well, while the integrated tongue and notched laces provide a secure, comfortable fit.

The midsole combines two Air Zoom units in the forefoot and full-length ZoomX foam, delivering outstanding bounce and energy return. This setup makes the Alphafly 3 ideal for half and full marathons, as well as speed work like tempo runs and interval training.

Priced at $285, the Alphafly 3 is a significant investment, but its lightweight construction, superior energy return, and advanced design features make it worth the cost for serious runners. If you’re looking for a race day shoe that excels in performance and comfort, the Alphafly 3 is a fantastic choice.

ASICS Metaspeed Sky Paris

3. ASICS Metaspeed Sky Paris

Read our in-depth ASICS Metaspeed Sky Paris review / watch our video review on Youtube

The ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ Paris is built for speed, featuring a lightweight design at 7.2 ounces for a US men’s size 9. Its FF Blast Turbo foam midsole and carbon fiber plate provide exceptional energy return and propulsion, making it ideal for race day and fast training sessions.

The Metaspeed Sky+ Paris excels with its responsive cushioning and efficient ride. If you’re a serious runner looking for a high-performance shoe to help you achieve your personal best, the ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ Paris is a strong contender. Its blend of speed, comfort, and advanced technology makes it a top choice for competitive runners.

DRAWBACKS: The breathable mesh upper ensures comfort, while the improved fit offers better lockdown and stability. However, the narrow toe box might be uncomfortable for those with wider feet.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 4

4. Saucony Endorphin Pro 4

Read our in-depth Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is a solid choice for non-elite runners seeking performance and comfort and a better price than any other super shoe on this list. Weighing 7.5 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it combines PWRRUN PB and PWRRUN HG foams in the midsole with a full-length carbon fiber plate, delivering excellent propulsion and energy return. The 8mm drop and breathable mesh upper ensure a comfortable, and airy fit, keeping your feet cool during races.

At $225, the Endorphin Pro 4 offers the best value on this list, in my opinion. Its roomy toe box and integrated tongue enhance comfort, while the SpeedRoll Technology provides a smooth, forward-rolling motion, ideal for marathons and speed workouts. They also have great stability due to its wide footprint and carbon fiber plate, which help maintain proper form over long distances. It’s a super shoe that gives a “normal’ fitting shoe, with the performance of a super shoe.

DRAWBACKS: The outsole may lack grip during sharp turns on slick surfaces like cobbled streets for examples – that’s a niche case but it’s worth knowing for some runners in Uk and Europe who face these types of surfaces regularly, you know who you are!

Hoka Rocket X2

5. Hoka Rocket X2

Read our in-depth Hoka Rocket X2 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The HOKA Rocket X 2 is another high performance elite race day shoe engineered for all out speed but it’s also super comfortable and fun to run in. Weighing 7.6 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it features a responsive PROFLY-X midsole with PEBA foam and of course, a carbon fiber plate, delivering impressive energy return and propulsion for the weight. The 5mm drop and early-stage Meta-Rocker ensure a smooth and fast transition from heel to toe.

At $250, the Rocket X 2 is priced competitively among super shoes and its breathable synthetic mesh upper provides a snug and secure fit, while the gusseted tongue and internal midfoot cage keep the foot locked in place. The durabrasion zoned rubber outsole offers excellent grip and durability too.

DRAWBACKS: The material used to create the heel counter and rim can make the shoes difficult to put on (when wearing some types of socks) and may cause rubbing if not properly adjusted. Loosening the laces more than usual helps mitigate these issues. Despite these minor drawbacks, the Rocket X 2 is a seriously epic running shoe.

New Balance SuperComp Elite V4

6. New Balance SuperComp Elite V4

Read our in-depth New Balance SC Elite V4 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The FuelCell SC Elite v4 is New Balance’s top of the line race day shoe designed for speed and comfort. Weighing 8.4 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it features a responsive FuelCell midsole with PEBA foam and an Energy Arc carbon fiber plate, delivering really impressive energy return. The 4mm drop and rockered profile ensure a smooth transition from heel to toe.

At $250, the FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 is competitively priced among its peers, and its breathable Fantom Fit upper and stretchy laces provide a snug, comfortable fit, while the midsole cutouts reduce weight and enhance flexibility. The zoned traction outsole ensures a firm grip and control during high-speed runs.

DRAWBACKS: The short tongue can shift during runs, which might be improved with internal gusseting. Overall, the FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 is an excellent investment for serious runners seeking performance, comfort, and style on race day.

10 Best Carbon Plate Running Shoes I've Reviewed This Year [2024] 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

7. Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2

Read our in-depth Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 is another high-performance super shoe that’s great for speed work and intervals. Weighing just 7.4 ounces, it features a full-length carbon fiber plate and plenty of cushioning for a responsive and comfortable ride. The shoe fits true to size with a medium width but has a narrow midfoot, typical of Salomon’s design – so if you have wide feet, I recommend avoiding these.

At $250, the Phantasm 2 is priced competitively for a carbon plate shoe, and the breathable synthetic mesh upper ensures good ventilation, while the Contagrip rubber outsole offers excellent traction. The shoe’s relatively broad platform also provides stability, despite being a neutral shoe.

DRAWBACKS: The narrow midfoot will not suit runners with wider feet, and the high collar could be uncomfortable for those with low-set ankles. Additionally, the laces will need to be double-knotting to stay secure during runs.

Brooks Hyperion Elite 4

8. Brooks Hyperion Elite 4

Read our in-depth Hyperion Elite 4 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The Hyperion Elite 4 is Brooks’ highest performing race day shoe designed for all out speed. Weighing 7.6 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it features an ARRIS Engineered SpeedVault Plus carbon fiber plate and DNA FLASH nitrogen-injected midsole foam, providing excellent propulsion and energy return. The 8mm drop and breathable upper ensure a comfortable fit, keeping your feet cool during intense efforts.

At $250, the Hyperion Elite 4 is priced competitively among super shoes and its moderate cushioning and secure fit make it ideal for races from 5K to marathons. The cutout in the midsole showcases the carbon plate, adding a cool design element, and the shoe’s breathability and secure fit around the Achilles, make them very comfortable overall.

DRAWBACKS: The narrow heel width may affect stability for heel strikers, and additional cushioning could improve comfort for marathon distances.

On Cloudboom Echo 3

9. On Cloudboom Echo 3

Read our in-depth Cloudboom Echo 3 review

The On Cloudboom Echo 3 is designed for runners aiming to bag personal records in races from 5K to marathons. Weighing 7.7 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it features a Pebax Helion midsole with a carbon speedboard and rocker geometry for smooth, propulsive energy return. The breathable microfiber upper ensures comfort, while the silicon strips inside the footbed prevent slippage within the shoe.

At $290, the Cloudboom Echo 3 is On’s most expensive shoe, offering excellent speed and responsiveness. Despite the high cost, its combination of lightweight design, cushioning, and forward propulsion makes it a strong contender for serious racers.

DRAWBACKS: Those with extra sensitive Achilles heels may find the heel counter puts too much pressure on the heel and a squeak may develop after extended use, it did for me but may not for you. Also, the outsole durability may be less than ideal for extensive training.

Nike Vaporfly 3

10. Nike Vaporfly 3

Read my in-depth Nike Vaporfly 3 review / watch our video review on Youtube

The Nike Vaporfly 3 is crafted for runners aiming for their next PR. Weighing just 6.5 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it’s incredibly light, making it ideal for race day. The ZoomX foam midsole and full-length carbon fiber plate deliver unmatched energy return and propulsion, creating a springy and fast ride. The breathable upper and improved fit ensure comfort and support, keeping your feet cool during intense efforts.

At $250, the Vaporfly 3 is a significant investment. Despite some durability concerns and fit issues, its superior speed, lightweight build, and comfort make it a worthy choice for serious runners aiming to shave seconds off their times. For races and speedwork, the Vaporfly 3 is a standout option.

DRAWBACKS: The very narrow fit might not suit runners with wider feet and the midsole/outsole is also narrow making them quite unstable, so although they’re great for a niche segment of runners (elites), they’re not the best carbon plated running shoes for the average runner.


Bookmark this roundup as we do make frequent changes, as and when new carbon plated running shoes are reviewed here at Trail & Kale Running Co. – and be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter to ensure you don’t miss new running shoe reviews and tips as we publish them.

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

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