Vibram outsoles are a selling point for many trail shoes. The name comes with its own reputation, accrued from years of engineering some of the best treads on the market. Hoka’s relationship with the outsole manufacturer is extensive, with some of the first iterations of the Speedgoat shod in Vibram Megagrip rubber. The two companies continue to play off one another as demand for innovation within the shoe industry increases.
In 2021 Hoka debuted the Zinal, a lightweight trail shoe named after the celebrated 31K Swiss race. To slim down, Hoka crafted the shoe’s outsole from zonally constructed Vibram Megagrip Litebase, a tread 30% lighter than Vibram’s other styles. Our review of the Zinal came down favorably on its outsole, with consideration paid to the shoe’s intended use — shorter, faster efforts on buffed-out trails.
A very similar Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole appears on the Tecton X. Again we see patches of Litebase tread limited to the forefoot and heel, separated by an exposed area of bald EVA foam. 4 mm lugs cover slightly more surface area on the Tecton X than they do on the bottom of the Zinal, but considering the Tecton X’s intended use and various stability issues, it’s surprising not to see a more robust outsole.
In practice, the Tecton X struggled to maintain traction on steep, wet, and/or loose trails. Road-adjacent surfaces like bike paths and groomed gravel roads suit the shoe’s tread much better, consistent with the types of terrain its upper and midsole fare well on. Nevertheless, the Tecton X still feels separated from its potential. Providing the shoe with a generous layer of Vibram Megagrip the length of the outsole instead of the dietary amount it currently has would go a long way in bridging that distance.