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Hoka One One Skyward X review

7 expert score
0 user's score
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples. We purchased this pair at Running Warehouse with our own money.
Review written on 13th May by Brandon Law Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
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Hoka One One Skyward X Verdict

The Hoka Skyward X is a highly cushioned, stable trainer best suited to easy runs. It has a convex carbon plate which isn't really needed because you can't feel the so-called “suspension system” and it makes it feel at very slow paces . The Skyward X replaces the Bondi X. It's softer, more cushioned and feels more energetic than the Bondi X due to the PEBA in its midsole but it's still not worth its retail price.

The pros

  • Extremely high level of cushioning which is great for long runs
  • Stiff plate and high toe-spring results in prominent rocker
  • More energetic ride than its predecessor, the Bondi X
  • Very stable for such a thick midsole

The cons

  • Higher price than similar shoes from other brands
  • Heavier than the Bondi X
  • Very narrow fit


Rating breakdown

Comfort
7.0
Build quality
8.0
Upper
8.0
Sole unit
7.0
Landing
7.0
Transition
7.0
Toe-off
7.0
Traction
8.0
Durability
8.0
Value / Price
5.0

Facts / Specs

Model
Skyward X
Weight
11.3 oz (320 g)
MSRP
$225.00

Heel
49 mm.
Toe
44 mm.
Heel drop
5 mm.
Carbon plate
Full length carbon plate

Size/Fit

Sizing
True to size
Heel fit
Normal
Midfoot fit
Normal
Toebox fit
Normal

Cushioning & ride

Type of cushioning
Balanced
Amount of cushioning
Highly cushioned
Stability
Very stable
Flexibility
Rigid

Usage

Racing
Speedwork
Daily training  
Long distance racing
Ultra distance racing

Who should buy the Hoka One One Skyward X ?

If you’re looking for a stiff, stable, maximalist trainer for easy runs, the Skyward X is a good option. If you find the regular Bondi too firm and too flat, the Skyward is a plusher, livelier option.

Who should not buy the Hoka One One Skyward X ?

If you’re looking for a versatile carbon-plated trainer which you can use for both slow and fast runs, the Skyward is not the shoe for you. If you’re looking for something similar to the Mach X which is a very soft but energetic trainer, the Skyward is not for you.

Hoka One One Skyward X Introduction

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

The Hoka Bondi X never made much sense. It was a shoe built for slow runs but it had a stiff carbon plate in its midsole- a running shoe paradox.

After I reviewed it, I didn’t use it again. For slow runs, I don’t need a carbon plate. There were better options which were lighter and more efficient than the Bondi X.

Since then, Hoka has improved by leaps and bounds in the super trainer category. Last year’s Hoka Mach X was one of my favourite plated trainers to date; soft, versatile and snappy.

The Skyward X is a brand new super trainer that replaces the Bondi X. The Bondi X was a flop so it makes sense to rebrand it the Skyward X. It’s marketed as a very plush, smooth-riding trainer for easy miles, according to the Hoka website. It’s part of the new generation of Hokas that feature the premium PEBA foam in the midsole.

The Skyward X weighs 11.3 ounces (US 9) which is really heavy for a trainer these days. It has a 48 mm heel stack height, making it illegal in World Athletics races and it costs $225, the price of a (cheaper) long-distance super shoe.

Hoka One One Skyward X First Impressions

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

My first run was an easy 10K. It was a much more enjoyable ride than the Bondi X. The Skyward midsole had more energy return and it felt less blocky.

It was quite firm for a PEBA midsole but the EVA frame made it feel really stable. The fit was narrow and I also had to stop mid-run to adjust the lacing to improve the heel lockdown.

What surprised me was how loud it sounded. Foot strikes were almost as loud as the Alphafly 3 due to the large cavity underneath it.

The shoe it reminded me of most was the Saucony Endorphin Shift (which has been discontinued). Both of them have firmish rides, tall midsoles and prominent forefoot rockers. The Skyward was just more of everything: more cushioned, more energetic and stiffer.

Hoka One One Skyward X Upper

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

The Skyward X has a very narrow fit which is typical of Hokas and it doesn’t come in a wide version unfortunately. It fits true to size and it’s best suited to narrow, low-volume feet.

It’s a very built-up, plush upper which was designed with comfort in mind. It’s made from flat knit which is soft but not very breathable. There are both internal and external heel counters for maximum support and the heel counter flares away from your leg so as not to irritate it. Heel lockdown is good but I have to use a runner’s knot.

The tongue is wide and lightly padded. It reminds me of the Nike Pegasus 38 tongue but it’s not gusseted. It doesn’t slide around at all during runs because of its wide wings.

Hoka One One Skyward X Sole Unit

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

The Skyward performs the best when doing the types of runs that Hoka designed it for: the easiest of easy runs. It has a super stiff midsole though so easy runs don’t feel natural and it doesn’t feel like you’re in control of the shoe.

When you pick up the pace, it feels more natural but its heavy weight makes it feel cumbersome and sluggish so any type of speedwork is out of the question. You can do short, fast bursts but it’s hard to hold a fast pace for extended periods.

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

It’s not often that you find new carbon plate “innovation” in running shoes. The Skyward X has a plate which has a bump in the middle of it, situated in the midfoot.

The idea is that when the midfoot is loaded, the plate flattens and when released, it propels you forward. Hoka calls it a suspension system.

In reality, I don’t feel it. It could be that I’m not heavy enough (60 kg) so I’m not striking the midsole hard enough but it could also be that the midsole foam is too dense and it’s not compressing enough.

New Balance’s Energy Arc is a similar concept but it works much better because their FuelCell foam is a lot softer so you can feel the carbon plate flatten and spring back when loaded.

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

The Skyward’s midsole is dual-density. It has a layer of medium-soft PEBA foam directly under the foot and a firmer EVA frame underneath it for stability. It’s a deeply cushioned ride but it’s not a squishy-feeling ride like you get in the Hoka Mach X and the Hoka Rocket X 2 which also have PEBA in their midsoles.

The problem with having an EVA frame underneath is that it mutes the feeling of the PEBA on top of it so the entire PEBA experience is diluted. It feels like the entire midsole is supercritical EVA.

The Skyward is very stiff and structured so it feels like a modern stability trainer; foot strikes always feel very planted in it and it dictates the way you strike. One of the negatives is that there’s no ground feel so it doesn’t feel very “engaging”. It feels like you’re running on top of a shoe and not inside of it.

The longest run I did in the Skyward was 27 kilometres. It’s a good long run shoe, not a great one. The forefoot rocker is energy-saving but I prefer a slightly softer ride and a wider last which is more comfortable for long distances.

Towards the end of the run, my feet had swelled up and the bucket seat started to annoy me.

The Skyward has the Hoka bucket seat midsole. If you’ve ever run in the Clifton or Bondi, you would have experienced the same Hoka feature. The bucket seat has raised edges designed to centre and support your feet but it can be troublesome for wide feet or flat arches. In the Skyward, it only annoys me during long runs.

The outsole takes inspiration from the Bondi 8 but it has even more rubber coverage on the outer lateral heel and the medial side of the forefoot.

Outsole durability is average- on my pair, the piece of rubber on the lateral heel (where I heel strike) is smooth but that’s normal for me. Grip is good even on wet surfaces.

Hoka One One Skyward X Conclusions

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

The Skyward X doesn’t feel as polished as the Cielo X1 or the Mach X.

I don’t think that it needs a carbon plate. Its midsole is thick enough to prevent it from flexing so even without the plate, the forefoot rocker would work. The plate makes it feel awkward at very slow paces.

I think it suits heavier runners more than light runners such as myself. I don’t feel the convex plate at work when I load the midsole and the midsole feels a bit too firm for me for easy runs, which is what I will be using it for.

I prefer the Skyward X to the Bondi X because it’s softer and has more bounce but the negatives are that it’s heavier and it also costs a lot more than its predecessor.

Picture of Hoka Skyward X

At $225, I don’t think the Skyward is worth its price. There are much cheaper options which feel more natural and more engaging: the ASICS GlideRide and Endorphin Shift 3 are examples.

The New Balance SC Trainer v2 is similar in that it also has a convex carbon plate but it has more versatility due to its lower weight and its more energetic ride.

How does the Skyward X compare?

Hoka One One Clifton 9
Hoka One One Skyward X
Hoka One One Hoka Bondi 8
Expert score
8
7
7
User score
Best price
Retail price
US$144.95
US$225
US$165
Weight
8.7 oz
11.3 oz
10.8 oz
Heel Drop
5 mm
5 mm
4 mm
Recommended for
Daily training, long distance racing
Daily training
Daily training, long distance racing
Cushioning type
balanced/plush
balanced
balanced
Cushioning amount
Highly cushioned
Highly cushioned
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
flexible
rigid
rigid
Stability
very stable
very stable
very stable
Sizing
true to size
true to size
true to size

Why you can trust us

As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Hoka One One at Running Warehouse  with our own money.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our policy.

Reviewed by Brandon

This review was written by Brandon Law on 13th May.
Brandon is a South African who lives and trains in Malaysia. He is a marathon runner who eats, sleeps and dreams running shoes. While most people wear shoes to run, he runs to wear shoes.

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