Hoka Cielo X1 VS Clifton 9: What Should I Buy?

If you’re a runner looking for your next pair of shoes, you may be trying to decide between the Hoka Cielo X1 and the Hoka Clifton 9. Both shoes are made by the popular running brand Hoka One One and offer responsive cushioning in a lightweight package. However, there are some key differences between the two models.

This in-depth comparison examines all the details of the Hoka Cielo X1 and Clifton 9, including specs, features, performance, and overall value. Read on to find out which Hoka shoe is better for your running needs.

Similarities And Differences Between Hoka Clifton 9 And Cielo X1:

FeatureHoka Cielo X1Hoka Clifton 9
Launched In20242023
StabilityNeutralNeutral
FlexibilityModerateModerate
SizingStandardStandard
Weight9.3 oz (men’s size 10)9.5 oz (men’s size 9), 8.8 oz (women’s size 8)
CushionFirm, responsiveSoft, plush
OutsoleRubberRubber
MidsoleCarbon fiber plate, rockered EVA foamCMEVA foam
UpperEngineered meshEngineered mesh
Retail Price$275$145

Features Comparison:

Materials:

The Hoka Cielo X1 uses a breathable engineered mesh for the upper with strategic overlays for structure and support. The midsole combines a carbon fiber plate with rockered EVA foam for energetic propulsion through your stride. The rubber outsole is designed for durability and traction.

Hoka Cielo X1
CIELO X1

Clifton 9
CLIFTON 9

The Hoka Clifton 9 also uses an engineered mesh upper and rubber outsole, but the similarities end there. This shoe has a softer CMEVA foam midsole that provides plush cushioning for comfort. The materials are focused more on delivering a smooth, well-cushioned ride.

Durability:

Testers found that both the Cielo X1 and Clifton 9 are durable shoes that can handle hundreds of miles of running. The rubber outsoles are abrasion-resistant in high-wear areas and help protect the cushioning foams beneath. The engineered mesh uppers maintain their structural integrity well over time and mileage.

Of the two, the Clifton 9 may have a slight edge in longevity. The softer midsole foam does not pack out or crease as quickly as the firmer foam in the Cielo X1. However, both are well-made shoes that resist breakdown from typical use.

Fit:

The Hoka Cielo X1 fits true to size for most runners, but the snug upper may require some break-in time. The sleek design hugs the midfoot and heel securely.

Hoka Cielo X1 TOP VIEW
CIELO X1 TOP VIEW

Clifton 9 Top View
CLIFTON 9 TOP VIEW

The Clifton 9 runs slightly narrow, especially in the toe box area. Trying both options on in-store is recommended to find the best fit. Those with wider feet may prefer the roomier toe box of the Cielo X1.

Stability:

With their neutral platforms and moderate midsole heights, neither shoe provides inherent stability features. However, the close-wrapping upper of the Cielo X1 gives it a more locked-in feel for desired support. For those needing some guidance, the Clifton 9 is the better choice of the two.

Cushioning:

The biggest difference between these two shoes is the cushioning. The Hoka Cielo X1 uses firmer, responsive foam paired with a carbon fiber plate for energy return. The ride feels fast and snappy but not overly soft.

In contrast, the Clifton 9 focuses solely on delivering ultra-plush cushioning. The soft CMEVA foam absorbs impact comfortably and conforms to your foot. This shoe offers more all-day wearability for those wanting pillow-like comfort.

Value for Money:

With a $275 price tag, the Hoka Cielo X1 sits at the high end of the spectrum. You’re mainly paying for the advanced carbon fiber plate technology. The supportive fit and energetic ride make it a good investment for dedicated runners training for their next PR.

The Hoka Clifton 9 provides excellent value at only $145. This shoe delivers proven Hoka cushioning at an accessible price point. High-mileage runners will appreciate the comfort and durability built into this daily trainer model.

Performance comparison:

Walking:

The plush Clifton 9 is better suited for walking than the low-drop Cielo X1. The soft foam midsole and smooth heel-to-toe transition create comfortable walking strides. The Cielo X1’s responsive plate feels too stiff for all-day wear and walking breaks.

Running:

For traditional road running and training, the Clifton 9 shines. It provides the cushioning needed to absorb impact across miles of pavement pounding. The flexible traction of the outsole also grips well on tarmac and cement.

However, for faster-paced running and racing, the Cielo X1 takes the lead. The carbon plate gives you a propulsive toe-off and the lightweight build picks up speed easily. It’s a great shoe for tempo runs, intervals, and PR attempts.

Plantar Fasciitis:

Runners with plantar fasciitis need ample midsole cushioning to prevent pain and irritation. The soft CMEVA foam of the Clifton 9 gently compresses with each step, reducing pressure on the plantar fascia. Its higher drop also takes tension off the Achilles tendon.

The lower drop and firm plate of the Cielo X1 may aggravate plantar fasciitis flare-ups. Stick with the Clifton 9 or similar plush shoes for PF relief.

All Day Standing:

For prolonged standing, cushioning is key to maintaining comfort and energy. Again, the Clifton 9 is the preferable choice between these two Hokas. The soft foam retains its shock absorption even after hours on your feet.

The rigid Cielo X1 loses its energetic springiness when standing still. Opt for the Clifton 9 or similar cushy shoes for all-day wear.

Final Verdict:

The right choice between the Hoka Cielo X1 and Clifton 9 depends largely on your running needs and preferences.

The Cielo X1 is ideal for runners prioritizing fast rides, speed work, and racing performance. Its carbon plate and lightweight build excel at faster paces. However, it may feel too stiff for simple training runs or recovery days.


On the other hand, most runners will get more versatility and value from the Clifton 9. It provides Hoka’s renowned soft cushioning in a durable package built for high mileage. The plush comfort works well for long runs, walking, recovery, and standing all day.

Both are well-constructed, neutral running shoes. If you want a responsive racing shoe, go for the Hoka Cielo X1. But for an everyday workhorse trainer with cloud-like cushioning, choose the Clifton 9. Analyze your needs and running style to decide which Hoka is the better fit.

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