HOKA Skyward X Review: A Max Cushion Training Weapon With Carbon Fiber Speed

Alastair explains how HOKA's Skyward X super trainer is able to give you a incredibly plush ride AND performance you'd expect from a carbon fiber plate.

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I’ll start this HOKA Skyward X review by telling you that I was intrigued right from the start, or maybe that’s not the right word, no, I was more sceptical that such a high stack height could provide such an as-advertised high propulsion ride. The Skyward X are not your average running shoes, they’re unusual in that they boast a blend of max cushioning and a carbon fiber plate convexly curving through the midsole, which is how they get their name – these shoes are intended to propel you skyward with each stride.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably curious about what sets these super trainers apart, especially considering their hefty price of $225 – and I’ll get into all of that in this review, including my opinion on whether they’re worth the investment.

From the zoned flat-knit upper to the articulated heel counter, every element of the Skyward X has been thoughtfully designed – and that’s before we check out that midsole, crafted from PEBA foam to provide a plush, cushioned ride for all your training runs, including long marathon training runs and recovery runs, and featuring a signature bowed carbon fiber plate that’s designed to benefit you from a performance perspective making it a good option for tempo work too.

HOKA Skyward X Review | Trail & Kale
HOKA Skyward X Review | Trail & Kale

So, without further ado, let’s get into this in-depth HOKA Skyward X review where I’ll take you through all of those key features, how they perform on the roads, why they could well replace more than one of your existing running shoes you have in rotation, and ultimately whether they’re worth the price tag.

🔔 As a reminder, we always create video reviews of all the running shoes we review, so you can watch our HOKA Skyward X video review, next, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for reviews of all the latest running shoes as they drop.

The Key Specifications

  • Price: $225 at HOKA.com in men’s and women’s sizes
  • Sizing and fit: True to size.
  • Weight: Weighs 10.8 ounces for a size US men’s 9.
  • Drop: 5mm
  • Toe box width: Medium width, with a roomy toe box.
  • Stability: While not described as a ‘stability shoe’, they do have good stability through a combination of features, including the carbon fiber plate, wide footprint, and deep active foot frame.
  • Midsole Cushioning: PEBA foam midsole coupled with a carbon fiber plate.
  • Best for: Runners seeking a max-cushioned, plush daily trainer that offers stability and responsiveness. Ideal for long training runs and recovery runs.

Expanding on those key statistics and explaining what they actually mean for you on your run

Let’s explore the HOKA Skyward X’s key specifications some more.

In terms of fit and feel, the Skyward X fits true to size, making it a reliable choice for those accustomed to HOKA’s sizing. With a medium width and a roomy toe box, these shoes provide a comfortable fit for most runners, although individuals with very wide feet might find them a bit snug.

A closer look at the HOKA Skyward X from the front, including that wide toe box, wrapover outsole and asymmetrical tongue.
A closer look at the HOKA Skyward X from the front, including that wide toe box, wrapover outsole and asymmetrical tongue.

Moving on to the upper, the Skyward X features a zoned flat-knit design, offering a balance of breathability and support. The articulated heel counter enhances flexibility and ease of movement, making it an ideal choice for runners dealing with Achilles tendonitis. If that’s you, follow my Achilles tendinitis recovery advice, to heel up quickly (pun intended).

There's that mesh upper with perforations to enhance breathability | HOKA Skyward X Review
There’s that mesh upper with perforations to enhance breathability | HOKA Skyward X Review

Now, let’s talk about the heart of the shoe – the midsole. Utilizing PEBA foam and a bowed carbon fiber plate, the Skyward X is intended to not only deliver plush cushioning, but also, exceptional energy return – two running shoe benefits that not many shoes can offer at the same time, you normally have to prioritize having one over the other.

The beefy midsole of the HOKA Skyward X incorporates plenty of PEBA foam cushioning AND a carbon fiber plate.
The HOKA Skyward X’s beefy midsole incorporates PEBA foam cushioning AND a carbon fiber plate. Also note that nice heel counter that curves back, away from the Achilles Heel area.

The combination of rocker geometry and carbon fiber technology is designed to provide a smooth transition from heel to toe, which can help with speed as well as making long runs feel easier and more effortless.

As for the outsole, the Skyward X doesn’t disappoint. With a grippy rubber compound, these shoes offer reliable traction on a variety of surfaces.

Say hello to the Skyward X's outsole, which includes a window to this HOKA running shoe's curved carbon fiber plate.
Say hello to the Skyward X’s outsole, which includes a window to this HOKA running shoe’s curved carbon fiber plate.

The weight, which is 10.8 ounces for a size US men’s 9, is not particularly light, like other carbon fiber plated shoes on the market. However, that’s actually to be expected when you consider this is a max cushioned shoe, not an ultralight performance Race Day Super Shoe like other carbon fiber plated running shoes I review.

Taking all these premium features into account, you can see why the HOKA Skyward X is a premium running shoe when you want a highly capable daily trainer that offers performance as well as plushness – I’d go as far as to say this is a super trainer.

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The features of the HOKA Skyward X that work really well, and some that could be improved for the next version

So, what makes the HOKA Skyward X truly shine on the run? First and foremost, its cushioning is excellent; with an abundance of plushness, these shoes provide a level of support that your knees will thank you for, especially during those grueling long runs.

It’s like the HOKA Bondi on steroids – an epitome of comfort and forgiveness that keeps your legs feeling fresh even after pounding the pavement for miles.

HOKA has clearly poured extensive design efforts into crafting a shoe that not only cushions your every step but also propels you forward with ease. It’s a versatile companion that excels whether you’re tackling fast tempo runs or leisurely logging in those long miles.

Another look at the Skyward X from the outsole and heel perspective.
Another look at the Skyward X from the outsole and heel perspective.

One of the great features of the Skyward X is its stability, despite being described as a ‘Neutral’ running shoe on HOKA’s website. Thanks to the carbon fiber plate, wide footprint, and deep active foot cradle, these shoes offer a level of stability that instills confidence when you run in them.

Moving on to the upper, the Skyward X boasts a plush and supportive design that hugs your foot.

HOKA Skyward X Review: A Max Cushion Training Weapon With Carbon Fiber Speed 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

The heel lock and lacing system work together well to create a secure fit, while the breathable construction ensures good temperature regulation throughout your run.

Now, let’s address one of the elephants in the room – the weight (the other elephant is the price, in case you’re wondering). As I mentioned earlier in this review, they weigh 10.8 ounces (for a US men’s 9), which may seem a tad hefty for lighter runners.

However, when you consider the multitude of features packed into this shoe – from the cushioned upper to the towering stack height made with PEBA foam, a carbon fiber plate, and rubber compound outsole – the weight becomes a non-issue, especially for medium to heavy-built runners who reap the benefits of its performance-driven design.

These HOKA running shoes definitely surprised me and defied my expectations based on their initial appearance, they don’t feel as bulky on as they initially looked upon on unboxing, and are a pair I’ll be hanging onto in my rotation for those long, tough training runs and recovery jogs.

➡ If you’re enjoying this review do me a favor, drop a comment down below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more running shoe reviews just like this one. If you’re familiar with these running shoes, share your thoughts on them in the comments.

Is the Skyward X worth buying?

Now, the big question… Is the HOKA Skyward X worth its $225 price tag? In my opinion, absolutely yes, it is. This shoe offers exceptional value for money, serving as a versatile training companion that can easily replace multiple pairs in your arsenal. With its carbon fiber plate, super cushioned midsole, and stellar performance across various types of runs, the Skyward X proves to be a worthy investment for any serious runner.

While it may not be the ideal choice for race day, its capabilities as a training shoe are unmatched. And if you’re in need of a lightning-fast race day option, I highly recommend checking out the HOKA Cielo X1 – a shoe that’s sure to impress with its speed and stability. Only yesterday I knocked 20 seconds off my 5K PR wearing them to achieve a time of 19 minutes and 50 seconds.

Thank you for reading this HOKA Skyward X review, I hope you found the insights helpful – and if you did, share it with friends who might also find it useful. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Newsletter, so you don’t miss our other in-depth running shoe reviews as they drop. Your support means a lot, and I look forward to bringing you more running shoe reviews you can rely on. Until next time, take care and keep running. -Alastair

YouTube Video review

Did you know we also create shoe review videos on our YouTube Channel too? Click the image below to watch our HOKA Skyward X review on YouTube next.

HOKA Skyward X Video Review
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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