HOKA BONDI X REVIEW
Brian Metzler | October 1, 2021
A maximally cushioned neutral-oriented training shoe designed for long-distance running on the roads, the HOKA Bondi X is a soft but energetic model built with a propulsive carbon-fiber plate embedded in its midsole.
Styled off the soft, comfortable and extra-cushy ride of the original Bondi, the new Bondi X features an extended rocker design for efficient heel-to-toe transitions and the firm plate for a boost of energy in every stride.
This is a brand new shoe in the HOKA line-up, one that combines the soft, plush feeling of previous Bondi models with the lively snap similar to HOKA’s Carbon X s racing shoes.
A new engineered mesh upper, a curvy carbon-fiber plate, a soft but resilient compression-molded EVA midsole and a shapely, swallowtail heel design for zonal energy disbursement and more fluid transitions all contribute to making the Bondi X what it is.
Like most HOKA running shoes, the midsole/outsole chassis has a pronounced rocker or convex shape that creates a rolling sensation to help guide your feet from touchdown to toe-off. It has an extended rocker design that took cues from the lengthy outsole that HOKA developed for its Clifton Edge shoe.
The addition of a carbon-fiber plate to a max-cushioned training shoe is designed to provide a stiffer, more energy-efficient movement through each stride. It’s not a nimble speedster, but it’s still a performance upgrade to the Bondi 7, which retains a softer step-through sensation for a different form of support and comfort.
The Bondi X has more cushion and a softer foam compound than the dual-density midsole of the Carbon X 2, which is more performance-oriented than the comfort-meets-performance combination of the Bondi X.
The Bondi X fits true to size with a snug feeling in the heel and a slightly more roomy volume in the midfoot and forefoot. These comfy cruisers feel luxuriously soft and reliably secure the moment you lace them up, thanks to a cushy heel collar, a slim, secure tongue and a premium footbed.
But this shoe is all about a best-in-class maximally cushioned ride, and what gives this shoe considerable juice is the newfangled combination of its thick midsole and the carbon-fiber plate that serves up stabilizing structure and a spring-loaded ride.
While it’s not as light as the Bondi 7 or as race-day sharp at the Carbon X 2, it’s an idyllic combination that creates a lively, long-lasting vibe from the first mile to the last.
WHO IT'S BEST FOR
Runners who appreciate maximally cushioned shoes with a smooth, spirited vibe will relish in the fit, the feel and the ride of the Bondi X on long training runs. It is unfathomably soft in the heel and midfoot but relatively light and snappy as it rolls through to the toe-off phase of a new stride.
It’s an innovative combination designed to make the propulsive, efficient ride of carbon-fiber plate technology accessible for all athletes, not just competitive runners. It’s built for comfort and performance on long runs, but it’s not agile or fast enough to be marathon racing shoe (unless the finishing goal is more about comfort than speed).
HOKA BONDI X PROS
The overall footprint of this shoe is extremely wide — one of the widest available in 2021. Combined with the structure of created by the carbon-fiber plate, it provides a feeling of inherent stability for most runners, especially on the latter miles of long runs.
Although it’s not a featherweight shoe, it’s very hard to believe a shoe with this much cushioning is as light as it is. The midsole foam is dense, but the carbon-fiber plate serves up a good amount of responsiveness so it’s a shoe that feels and runs lighter than you’d expect it to, given its considerable girth.
The low-profile engineered mesh upper offers a bit of foot hold from 3D hot-melt yarn overlays that’s designed for minimal weight and maximal breathability and durability.
It features a segmented outsole with sections of durable rubber in high-wear areas interspersed with exposed foam. The rubber provides exceptional grip on wet and dry surfaces, and the foam is durable enough that it won’t wear down significantly after months of high-mileage running.
While $200 is a relatively high price tag for a training shoe, our wear-testers believe the durability of this shoe will justify the investment. Based on the materials and how it is built, you can expect to get several hundred miles of quality training before you begin to see any wear and tear.
HOKA BONDI X CONS
The Bondi X is an exceptionally high-off-the-ground shoe and thus is not especially nimble. If you like feel-for-the-ground proprioception or shoe with notable agility, this might not be your favorite shoe.