1. Hoka One One Carbon X
Price: £ 160
Weight: 241 g (M), 204 g (W)
Heel / Toe Drop: 5 mm
The shoe was brought to a fanfare in California in May when Hoka athlete Jim Walmsley put on a pair to break the 50-mile world record. It is a model that represents a big change for the brand that has made a name for itself with highly cushioned “maximum” shoes and sneakers. In 2018, Hoka released a ‘Fly’ range of stripped-down shoes (Cavu, Elevon and Mach), which are now being further developed with the Carbon X.
This is the branded version of the Nike Vaporfly 4% because it is light, slim and fast and has a carbon fiber plate over the entire midsole to ensure stiff driving and energy return and to lift the foot off the ground faster. Together with the improved, curved “Metarocker” shape, the blown rubber outsole (for less weight), a racy 5 mm slope and a light upper material, our testers impress so much that they become a contender for an award. The only thing stopping it was that the curved outsole made more than one runner restless on fast descents.
2. Under Armour HOVR Guardian
Price: £ 115
Weight: 340 g (M), 278 g (W)
Heel / Toe Drop: 8 mm
People who like this shoe: heavy overpronators for whom maximum protection is a top priority. People who don’t like it: everyone else. It may sound like we’re going to destroy the Guardian, but we don’t. We were amazed at the reappearance of a model that we thought was extinct: the motion control shoe. This is a heavy, stiff shoe with an old-fashioned mullion that does a great job of keeping your foot from rolling inward, but lacks the subtleties found in most running shoes today.
The market has developed so far in terms of cushioning, weight and stability approach that for many, as one tester commented, it feels “like an anachronism”. But it was the only shoe that was tested with Smart Tech: a sensor in the shoe pairs with the Under Armor MapMyRun app that gives you training data, and that was a pleasure. Some runners (usually heavier or beginners) need or prefer such a robust model. The Kacamata Rayban guardian will be ideal for them.