Hoka Cielo X1 VS Brooks Glycerin 21: What Should I Buy?

With so many running shoes on the market today, it can be tough to decide which model is right for you and your specific needs. Two popular cushioned trainers from reputable running brands are the Hoka Cielo X1 and the Brooks Glycerin 21. But how do you choose between these two comfortable, well-reviewed shoes?

This in-depth comparison covers all the key features and performance factors to help you determine whether the Hoka Cielo X1 or the Brooks Glycerin 21 is the better daily trainer or long-run shoe for you.

We’ll compare the shoes across various metrics like weight, cushioning, stability, fit and feel, and value. Read on to find out which trainer is the ideal pick for your running needs!

Similarities And Differences Between Hoka Cielo X1 And Brooks Glycerin 21

FeatureHoka Cielo X1Brooks Glycerin 21
Launched In20242024
StabilityStableVery stable
FlexibilityModerately flexibleModerately flexible
SizingRuns smallTrue to size
Weight9.3 oz (men’s), 7.4 oz (women’s)9.30-10.50 oz
CushionVery soft, bouncyPlush, comfortable
OutsoleDurable rubberDurable rubber
MidsolePeba foam, carbon plateDNA Loft foam
UpperKnit meshEngineered mesh
Retail Price$275$160

Features Comparison:

Materials:

The Hoka Cielo X1 uses a breathable knit mesh upper for a comfortable, sock-like fit. The durable rubber outsole provides good traction while the soft, bouncy Peba foam midsole gives a smooth ride. The X1 also has a carbon fiber plate embedded in the midsole to enhance efficiency.

Hoka Cielo X1
CIELO X1

GLYCERIN 21
GLYCERIN 21

The Brooks Glycerin 21 features an engineered mesh upper for breathability and plush comfort. The shoe has a DNA Loft midsole which provides soft cushioning without being overly mushy. The durable rubber outsole offers reliable traction mile after mile.

Durability:

Testers found that both the Cielo X1 and Glycerin 21 are durable shoes that can withstand significant mileage. The rubber outsoles on each model are resistant to wear and tear from prolonged use.

The knit upper of the X1 may be slightly less durable than the engineered mesh of the Glycerin 21, but overall both shoes rate well in terms of longevity.

Fit:

The Hoka Cielo X1 runs small so most recommend sizing up half a size. The knit upper hugs the foot comfortably while allowing room for swelling on longer runs.

Hoka Cielo X1 TOP VIEW
CIELO X1 TOP VIEW

GLYCERIN 21 TOP VIEW
GLYCERIN 21 TOP VIEW

The Glycerin 21 fits true to size for most runners. Its engineered mesh upper adapts to the shape of the foot. Both models offer a secure midfoot wrap to lock down the foot over the platform.

Stability:

While not specified as a stability shoe, testers found the Cielo X1 to have decent stability thanks to its wide platform and upper lockdown. The Glycerin 21 is specifically designed for maximum stability, especially in the rearfoot area most prone to rolling. This makes the Glycerin a better choice for severe overpronators.

Cushioning:

The Peba foam midsole of the Cielo X1 provides an incredibly soft, bouncy ride that adapts well on both slow and fast runs. The embedded carbon plate enhances energy return for a propulsive feel.

The DNA Loft foam of the Glycerin 21 offers plush softness without excessive mush, resulting in a comfortable yet responsive cushioning experience.

Value:

With a $275 retail price, the Cielo X1 is significantly pricier than many trainers on the market. However, testers felt the innovative technologies and premium features make these shoes well worth the investment for serious runners.

The Glycerin 21 costs $160, which is very reasonable for a durable, comfortable daily trainer from a leading brand like Brooks. Overall, both models deliver solid value but the X1 comes at a steep premium price point.

Runners will have to weigh if the extra cushioning and energetic ride of the Cielo X1 warrant spending over $100 more than the well-rounded Glycerin 21.

Performance Comparison:

For Walking:

The thick, soft cushioning of the Cielo X1 provides greater shock absorption and comfort for walking than the Glycerin 21. The X1’s rockered midsole also makes it easier to transition from heel to toe when walking.

However, the Glycerin 21 offers more stability which some walkers may prefer. Overall, the X1 is likely the better choice for pure walking but the Glycerin still performs well.

For Running:

The Cielo X1’s carbon plate and rockered midsole promote an energetic, propulsive stride that makes this shoe ideal for tempo runs and faster training.

The Glycerin 21 has a more flexible platform that allows smoother transitions during easy and moderate-paced running. It offers a stable, consistent ride for daily miles. For serious runners, the X1 claims the edge for faster days while the Glycerin shines on slower runs.

For Plantar Fasciitis:

With its highly cushioned, shock-absorbing midsole, the Cielo X1 receives rave reviews for alleviating pain from plantar fasciitis. The rockered profile also enhances the foot’s natural motion for reduced stress on the plantar fascia.

While still relatively well-cushioned, testers found the Glycerin 21 to be firmer with less bounce back, making the X1 the clear choice for plantar fasciitis sufferers.

For Standing All Day:

The Cielo X1 again claims the advantage for all-day standing comfort, thanks to its ultra-plush foam midsole which remains resilient hour after hour. The shoe’s wide, stable platform also minimizes muscle fatigue from prolonged standing. While decently cushioned, the Glycerin 21 lacks the long-lasting softness and support needed for extended time on your feet.

final verdict:

Overall, the Hoka Cielo X1 is the clear winner if you want maximum cushioning and bounce in a durable package. From walking to running, standing all day, or relieving plantar fasciitis pain, the Cielo X1 offers superior comfort performance. It does come at a premium price, but serious runners find the shoe well worth it.


The Brooks Glycerin 21 remains a solid, well-rounded trainer at a more affordable cost. It shines for stability, moderate pace runs, and consistent daily mileage rather than specialized comfort needs.

Depending on your priorities and intended uses, either model could potentially be the right pick – but the Cielo X1 claims the advantage in direct head-to-head comparison testing.

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