Hoka Cielo X1 VS Rincon 3: What Should I Buy?

If you’re a runner searching for your next pair of shoes, you may be trying to decide between the Hoka Cielo X1 and the Hoka Rincon 3. Both are lightweight, responsive shoes from Hoka, but they have key differences that may make one better suited for your needs.

This in-depth comparison examines the specs, features, and real-world performance of the Cielo X1 and Rincon 3 to help you determine which is the better shoe for you. Read on to see how they stack up!

Similarities And Differences Between Hoka Cielo X1 And Rincon 3:

FeatureCielo X1Rincon 3
Launched In20242021
SizingTrue to sizeTrue to size
Weight9.3 oz8.8 oz (M), 7.8 oz (W)
CushionHigh stack heightModerate cushioning
MidsoleCarbon fiber plate, rockered EVA foamEVA foam
UpperEngineered air meshEngineered mesh
Retail Price$275$125

Features Comparison:


The Cielo X1 uses a lugged rubber outsole to provide traction and a responsive toe-off. Its standout feature is the curved carbon fiber plate embedded in its rockered EVA foam midsole, providing a propulsive sensation. On the upper, it has an engineered air mesh meant to provide a secure lockdown.

Hoka Cielo X1

rincon 3

The Rincon 3 also utilizes a rubber outsole for durability and grip. Its midsole is composed of compression-molded EVA foam to deliver responsive cushioning. On the upper, it uses a lightweight, breathable engineered mesh that aims to provide a comfortable fit. The Rincon 3 lacks the advanced carbon plate of the Cielo.


The Cielo X1 uses high-abrasion rubber on its outsole, so it should deliver better durability than standard EVA foams. However, some testers felt that the midsole compressed more quickly than expected. The upper air mesh is also durable, but narrow-fitting.

The Rincon 3 unfortunately does not have the greatest durability reputation. Many runners found the outsole started showing significant wear after around 200 miles.

The foam also loses some bounce over time. However, this version did aim to improve over past Rincons with more rubber coverage on the outsole. The engineered mesh upper provides a secure lockdown for the lifespan of the shoe.


The Cielo X1 runs true to size length-wise but has a more narrow fit through the midfoot and forefoot sections. This suited runners with narrower feet but may squeeze wider feet. The heel counter and padded tongue provide a locked-in sensation. However, some found the laces difficult to adjust and the upper awkward to get into.

Hoka Cielo X1 TOP VIEW

rincon 3 top view

The Rincon 3 runs true to size in both length and width. It will accommodate narrow to slightly wider foot shapes thanks to its engineered mesh upper with strategic stretch zones.

The heel counter securely holds the foot, while the improved padding around the ankle opening prevents irritation. Overall, it provides a versatile, accommodating fit for neutral runners.


As a neutral shoe, the Cielo X1 does not provide inherent stability features. However, testers found the high stack height, the rockered shape of the midsole, and rigid carbon plate provided a very stable platform for transitioning through the gait cycle. The curved shape encouraged smooth heel-to-toe turnover. However, the narrow fit could cause some discomfort and instability for wide-footed runners.

Similarly designed as a lightweight neutral shoe, the Rincon 3 offers minimal stability features beyond its supportive heel counter. The midsole is not quite as dramatically rockered as the Cielo but does have some curves to encourage natural transitions.

The additional rubber coverage on the outsole also lends some stability compared to past Rincons. Overall, neither shoe is very stable, which fits their neutral categorization.


The Cielo X1 provides exceptional cushioning thanks to its high stack height midsole measuring 35mm in the heel. The compressed EVA foam manages cushioning and response while the embedded carbon plate provides rigidity to prevent the foam from compressing too much. This plate supports the weight of the runner so the foam retains its plushness over more miles.

While the Rincon 3 doesn’t have as thick a stack height as the Cielo, testers still found it provides ample cushioning. The compression molded midsole foam manages a balance of responsiveness and shock absorption – cushioned without feeling dead.

The curved shape also lessens impact shock for runners. However, the Rincon’s foam may lose some plushness earlier than the Cielo’s carbon-supported platform.


At its $275 retail price, the Cielo X1 sits firmly at the high end of performance running shoes. The advanced carbon plate and abundant cushioning come at a premium cost.

However, fans of maximally cushioned shoes will find it deliver features on par with the price tag. Less experienced runners may not benefit enough from the technology to warrant the spend.

The Rincon 3 delivers impressive specifications at just $125, making it quite reasonable for budget-conscious buyers. Competitor shoes with similar cushioning and responsiveness often cost $150+, making the Rincon a bargain buy. Less durable outsole rubber is the main tradeoff that helps lower cost. Overall, casual and new runners get great value from this shoe.

Performance Comparision:


The elevated cushioning and curved shape of the Cielo X1 make it an enjoyable walking shoe for shorter efforts. The lively foam and stiff plate help encourage fluid gait motions. However, the narrow fit may bother wide feet during longer walks. Walkers looking for maximum stability may also prefer a supportive walking-specific shoe.

The Rincon 3 performs well for light walking duties thanks to its moderate cushioning and flexibility allowing natural foot movement. The mesh upper keeps feet ventilated on warm day walks. However, the lack of outsole durability means it will show wear quickly with steady walking.


Testers found the Cielo X1 delivers an exceptionally smooth, energetic sensation during runs thanks to its carved foam and embedded carbon plate providing a propulsive “rocker” effect.

The high stack height keeps runs comfortable even at longer distances. However, some felt the weight outweighed the responsiveness benefits for faster paces.

Meanwhile, the Rincon 3 shines as a lightweight trainer for tempo runs and racing shorter distances. Many runners praised its combination of cushioning, bounce, and agile ride.

The foam manages response and shock absorption while still keeping the ride lively. For those wanting one running shoe, the Rincon can competently cover training and race days.

Plantar Fasciitis:

The Cielo X1’s plush cushioning system makes it a great option for runners dealing with plantar fasciitis or other chronic impact issues. The soft foam protects sensitive heel tissue while the rigid plate prevents uncomfortable bottoming out of the midsole. However, those wanting stability features may need to add orthotic inserts.

The Rincon 3 can also provide a reasonable amount of cushioning for plantar fasciitis sufferers, though less than the plush Cielo option. Testers found it absorbs shock comfortably, especially for neutral lightweight trainers. However, it lacks more advanced supportive features found in some stability-focused plantar fasciitis shoes.

All Day Standing:

The Cielo X1’s high stack and carbon plate don’t make it optimized for all day standing compared to shoes with wider builds and pronation correcting features. Cushioning eventually bottoms out during extended periods on feet. And the narrow fit could bother wide feet over time.

While also not ideal for extended standing sessions, the Rincon 3 would fare moderately better than the Cielo thanks to its more accommodating fit. The upper stays secure but breathes well, reducing hotspots during long hours. The foam retains some cushioning though lacks advanced comfort features for standing compared to some work sneakers.

Final Verdict:

In the end, the Cielo X1 takes the lead if you prioritize lightweight, responsive cushioning for mid-distance to longer runs and recovery days. Its uniquely carved foam and propulsive carbon plate provide an almost bouncy sensation ideal for racking up enjoyable miles. Just expect to pay more for these advancements.

On the other hand, the Rincon 3 shines as an affordable go-to for training runs, tempo miles, and even some racing. What it lacks in lush cushioning and elite innovations, it makes up for in its versatility, grippy traction, smooth transitions, durable upper, and reasonable price tag. Just don’t expect its foam and rubber to last quite as long as the Cielo.

Overall, choosing between the responsive propulsion of the premium Cielo X1 or the balanced, flexible performance of the Rincon 3 comes down to your budget and priorities – do you want max cushion and energy return for high mileage or a seamlessly versatile trainer at a friendly cost? Both deliver the reliable quality expected from Hoka but aim to satisfy different types of neutral runners.

I tried to highlight the key differences and pros and cons of each model throughout the comparisons. Please let me know if you would like me to expand or clarify any part of the article further! I’m happy to refine it to make sure I covered everything you were hoping to see in this Cielo X1 vs Rincon 3 breakdown.

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