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Hoka Cielo X1 Performance Review: Aggressively Race Ready

Hoka Cielo X1

The Hoka Cielo X1 is the most aggressive Hoka running shoe ever made and is stuffed full of Hoka DNA. This is the super shoe Hoka should have made years ago instead of stumbling around while making three iterations of the Carbon X line that weren’t truly super shoes.

I like what Hoka is doing by adding the Cielo X1 alongside its other racing shoe, the Hoka Rocket X 2. Hoka athletes and fans now have options for race day. A bouncy, yet more traditional feeling Rocket X 2 will be the best option for most runners. But the Hoka Cielo X1 exists for runners who want to get up on their toes and go fast while turning heads with the Cielo X1’s unique construction.

Hoka Cielo X1

Release Date: February 1, 2024

Price: $275

Weight: Men’s 9.3 oz., Women’s 7.4 oz.

Drop: 7mm

Sizing: True to size

Buy Men's Cielo X1 Buy Women's Cielo X1
  • Rundown: The Hoka Cielo X1 is the most aggressive Hoka running shoe ever and shines when going fast and getting up on your toes.
Hoka Cielo X1 lateral side view

What Makes the Hoka Cielo X1 Unique?

The Hoka Cielo X1 packs a bunch of unique features that make it, in the words of my friend Kofuzi, “an unapologetically Hoka” shoe.

That starts with bright, wild colors. Just like the launch colorways of previous Cliftons, these are meant to grab attention. And it will continue after the Hoka Cielo X1’s launch colorway as the next one is coming March 1st in several shades of bright orange. The color schemes are designed to appeal to Hoka fans and those of us that love bright colors.

Also appealing to Hoka fans will be the shape of the two-layer Peba midsole. The curves at both the forefoot and heel aim to make this rocker as roll-y as possible (think Skechers Shape Ups). Walking in the Cielo X1 is an odd experience as the heel feels cut away and the shape ferociously pushes the foot from midfoot to toe.

But that same shape was a great help when I ran a hard hill workout. The sensation of being pushed to my toes was perfect for climbing a long, brutal hill (Editor’s Note: Boston training is going well I see). 

Hoka Cielo X1 deconstructed tech

I also found it a perfect fit when I used the Cielo X1 for a 5k in Orlando the day after the US Olympic Marathon Trials. I exhausted myself running over 8 miles around the sunny, exposed course cheering on runners the day prior and still ran a very respectable 5k. Plenty of credit should go to the Cielo X1. It forced me into good 5k form and I used that to my advantage.

The way it forces me onto my toes will likely work for me at the 5k, 10k, or Half Marathon distances but a marathon may be too much. Once I hit 16-18 miles in a marathon my form tends to break down and I lazily settle into a more heel centric footstrike that’s not the most efficient given my typical landing spot. Doing that in the Cielo X1 will likely result in achilles, ankle, or heel irritation and not be ideal for finishing strong.

For example, my first run (an easy run) in the Hoka Cielo X1 resulted in some ankle soreness as my body was tired from a workout the day prior. For some of us, the Cielo X1’s value will decline as the mileage (and resulting tiredness) increases. However, if you’re always on your toes, there are few better shoes to reinforce your ideal running position.

Hoka Cielo X1 outsole traction


  • Comfy knit upper
  • Winged carbon plate helps with side to side stability
  • Aggressive rocker
  • Squishy, bouncy Peba midsole
  • Solid traction
Hoka Cielo X1 laces


  • Gift ribbon laces come untied easily
  • Smaller runners may feel it’s heavy
Hoka Cielo X1 lighted from behind

Is the Hoka Cielo X1 wide foot friendly?

Yes, the Hoka Cielo X1 is wide foot friendly. I found it accommodating in the forefoot, midfoot, and heel which makes it a rare 3 for 3. The knit upper means there’s some margin for error too making this super shoe an option for even the widest of feet. Wide footers often lack choices in the super shoe arena so it’s nice to see their selection increasing.

The knit upper and gusseted knit tongue can cinch up nicely for narrow footers without the shoe getting weird creases. Both wide and narrow footers will want to replace the laces to make smaller fit adjustments as the included laces aren’t pliable enough to make minute changes without a lot of tinkering.

Hoka Cielo X1 red light

Is the Hoka Cielo X1 worth $275?

This is a tough question. The technology in the Hoka Cielo X1 (peba midsole, winged carbon plate, knit upper) justifies the price. I think long time Hoka fans will pay and be happy with the race day performance they get in return.

I’m just not sure that other runners will see enough here to skip over the high performing duo of the Saucony Endorphin Elite and the Nike Alphafly 3. Both sit in the $275-$285 range and are more forgiving when form breaks down while still feeling very, very fast.

I think the closest analog in terms of relentlessness of the shoe design is the Puma Fast-R 2. That shoe also put me on my toes and felt better the faster I ran. The Fast-R 2’s price point is $260. I think that’s the perfect price point for the Hoka Cielo X1 as well. $10 more than the less aggressive Rocket X 2 for the extra technology packed inside without having to go toe to toe with more well-rounded competition.

Hoka Cielo X1 overall

Hoka Cielo X1 Summary

The Hoka Cielo X1 is for runners that want to be on their toes and going fast. It’s got a rocker and midsole that pushes the wearer into a strong toe off. 

While the Cielo X1 might weigh too much for some small runners and suffers from poor laces, it will appeal to long time Hoka fans, wide footers looking for a race day shoe that actually fits, and those runners that want to be pushed onto their forefoots and feel like the shoe is making it easier for them to run fast.

How does the Author Run?

Drew Whitcomb (age 42, 6’6″ 195lbs): Runs daily with a once a week rest day. Runs a lot of miles due to testing needs and a growing affinity for long-distance races. Regularly competes in marathons, half-marathons, 10k, and 5k races.


While Hoka did provide a pair of the Hoka Cielo X1 to facilitate this review, they had no involvement in this review, didn’t receive an advance look at it, and have not attempted to influence it.

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