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Road Running Shoes • October 11, 2023

Hoka Clifton 9 GTX Review: Waterproof Comfort

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What You Need To Know


9.6 oz. (273 g) for a US M10,

8.3 oz. (235 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

Men: 38 mm in heel, 33 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Women: 36 mm in heel, 31 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Best For

Daily trainin’ in the rain

Key Features

Gore-Tex upper, 360-degree reflectivity, CMEVA midsole

On The Run
Solid traction in wet conditions Gore-Tex is the truth Gotta sacrifice some upper comfort


Introduction to the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX

CHAD: Wanna talk about a roller coaster of emotions? The Hoka Clifton 9 and I have been riding one in 2023. I was excited earlier this year when I saw that I was slated to review the standard Clifton 9, which would be my first time running in any Hoka shoe. I was equally bummed when it didn’t show up, meaning I didn’t have a chance to try it out. Fast forward a few months, and all of a sudden, it’s go-time again because Robbe was able to snag me the GTX model so I could jump in on the review this time around. What a ride!

For those not in the know, GTX means that this version of the Clifton 9 features a Gore-Tex upper, adding some all-weather protection to keep the water where it should be, outside of the shoe. Other features of this model include increased reflective elements for visibility and traction pods to increase the grip on wet roads. Other than that, Hoka says it performs the same as the regular Clifton 9.

CARYN: I’ve talked a bit in previous reviews about how my time with Hoka has been a real roller coaster — and I’m not an amusement park girlie. Chad’s ride seems a bit different, so let me explain my issue. For as many Hoka shoes as I’ve loved, I’ve found just as many that put me in the hurt locker. The Clifton has been a win, the Bondi, not so much. I loved the most recent two versions of the Mach but was downright confused by the hype over the Mach X. Then, the Cielo Road was alright, but not really something I’d need in my rotation, and I still believe the Rocket X 2 is Hoka’s best shoe to date.

You can see why I feel like I’m on Space Mountain here. My best, longest-lasting Hoka relationship has been with the Clifton. I’ve had some version of the Clifton in my closet for years, and it’s a shoe I can reliably run in, work in, and live in. When the Clifton 9 GTX hit my front porch, I was definitely intrigued. A Gore-Tex, all-weather version of my Hoka fave? Sign me up!

RYAN: I… haven’t had the same Hoka roller coaster as my fellow reviewers. Not because I’ve had all hits or all misses, but because I hadn’t run in a Hoka shoe before this year. Then, like a tidal wave, all of the Hokas came at once. I got the Challenger ATR 7, the Clifton 9, the Cielo Road, and now the Clifton 9 GTX in the span of a few months. Honestly, it’s a wave I’ve been happy to ride.

I enjoyed all three of my initial Hoka experiences, with the Clifton 9 sticking around in my rotation as a comfortable and simple go-to. It’s not the most stylish of daily trainers (I got the dad-friendly black and white version), but the reliability more than made up for it. Then, I found out I was slated for the Gore-Tex edition, and I wasn’t sure what to think. On the one hand, I love a good all-weather shoe, but on the other, it was probably going to be a boring black-on-black colorway.

As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry about the latter. Instead of bland black, Hoka sent over a royal blue version that hit the spot. It’s ready for the elements without also feeling like I’m heading for a shift at the local Chili’s. Of course, looks aren’t really the focus when it comes to Gore-Tex kicks (who am I kidding, of course they are), so let’s dig into how the Clifton 9 GTX tackles the elements.

What we like about the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX

CHAD: The first test for this shoe was walking my daughter to school on a wet day. Rather than walking along the pavement like I normally do, I trudged through grass that was soaked from the sprinklers on the golf course I live next to. After a total of one mile, where I was mostly dragging my feet through damp grass, my feet were dry as a bone. Guys and gals, the waterproofing on this shoe is legit. My first actual run in the Clifton 9 GTX was after a four-day rain spell in Central PA, and rather than avoid the puddles like I normally do, I aimed right for them. Once again, after 5-plus miles, my feet were still dry, and I had great traction the whole time.

I also now know why the Clifton 9 has such a cult following because this shoe is all that when it comes to daily trainer performance. When I’m out there churning out easy run miles, I want a shoe where I can set the pace from the start and just cruise, and that’s exactly what the Clifton 9 does. The midsole foam is somewhat firm but with adequate cushioning, which increases responsiveness, and the ride is pleasantly stable.

Also, the look is killer. The colorway I received is a royal blue with bright green accents that’s incredibly appealing to the eye.

CARYN: I’ve been loving the Clifton 9, so I was excited to see how this version held up in some less-than-favorable conditions. Hoka noted that in addition to the closed-construction Gore-Tex mesh upper, they added traction pods and reflective elements to support this shoe’s purpose. There’s also a variety of recyclable materials throughout this shoe, which is always nice to see as long as the performance is there.

While I didn’t have a nice downpour during this test period, I found plenty of ways to put the Gore-Tex to the test. The foam felt very familiar, which I appreciated as an OG Clifton fan. I found the feel fit very similar to my Clifton 9, but of course, my feet stayed completely dry. I was fortunate to test this shoe out in some cooler, misty weather, so I didn’t feel like it was especially warm, despite the all-weather upper. Outside of the run, I tested the Clifton 9 GTX at work and out walking my labrador, Gus. Gus enjoys off-road adventures, and my feet stayed nice and dry as we traversed every puddle and soggy grass field after tropical storm Ophelia.

I also tested this one out at work because the ICU world loves a waterproof shoe. The Clifton 9 GTX bravely repelled the various fluids (use your imagination or don’t) of the ICU and was also extremely easy to wipe down at the end of the day.

RYAN: The Clifton 9 was a sleeper hit of mine early in the year. It’s not like I was expecting it to be a flop, but I’d never really considered myself a Hoka guy. I much preferred to rock New Balance running shoes for just about everything. However, the Clifton worked its way into my heart, and I’ve found myself coming back to it whenever I just need something simple and stacked for daily miles. As such, I also had high expectations for its Gore-Tex sibling.

The good news is that the Clifton 9 GTX lived up to those requirements. Like Caryn, I didn’t exactly have a lot of wet weather in which to test the shoe, but I made do. In fact, I wasn’t expecting to be caught in New York City’s biblical flooding the other week, so I left the shoe at home — silly me. Anyway, I did finally get to put the Gore-Tex to the Gore-Test on a rainy Monday night in Stoke (actually Mount Vernon), and it fit the bill.

It started drizzling about a mile into our run, quickly developing into driving rain, yet my feet stayed comfortable and dry. The rest of me was soaked, but man, my feet were dry. That’s about all there is to say for the Gore-Tex feature — it does its job, and that’s all I can ask of it.

I think I like the styling of the Clifton 9 GTX better than the standard shoe, too. It’s not that much different, but I’ll take the mix of greens and blues over the boring black and white any day. However, I’m probably not going to be a casual Clifton wearer so much as a Clifton runner, so I don’t mind the fact that the blue is very, very blue.

What we don’t like about the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX

CHAD: This is probably a necessary trade-off for having a Gore-Tex shoe, but the upper isn’t super comfortable or plush. It’s particularly noticeable when tying the shoe because it almost feels difficult to cinch the shoe down to get that solid lockdown. It took me a few tries to make sure I’d be able to run without having heel slip while at the same time not crushing the top of my feet.

CARYN: I don’t know why Hoka insists on sending black-on-black colorways. Who’s wearing these? Truly holler at a girl if you know. There is one other option in a nice blue shade for those of you not seeking a career in the restaurant or mail-carrying industry, but otherwise, it’s the all-black, baby. As Chad mentioned, the upper isn’t super soft or breathable, but I’m not sure I can criticize this because, well, that’s the point of the shoe. The upper stiffness did make locking the shoe down a bit difficult, but not enough for me to make a fuss.

RYAN: I don’t actually have too many complaints regarding the Clifton 9 GTX — most of my issues follow exactly what Chad and Caryn said. The upper, while waterproof, is tough to get cinched in place. I think it just comes down to the extra Gore-Tex material, despite the fact that the brand says its Invisible Fit mesh is, well, invisible. I was always able to get a good enough fit, just maybe not quite as tight as I would like.

Also, I think the Clifton 9 GTX seems to run a hair longer than its standard sibling. I felt like there was a little extra room in the toe, which I didn’t really love. My foot didn’t slip or slide around, but it felt just a little too long.

Shop Hoka Clifton 9 - Men Shop Hoka Clifton 9 - Women

Hoka Clifton 9 GTX Conclusion

CHAD: As we head into the fall and winter months and I enter my marathon training cycle, an all-weather shoe will probably come in handy in Central PA’s unpredictable weather. Will we get 10 feet of snow this year? Will we get nothing but rain and slush for months? No one knows, and if they say they do, they’re lying. The Hoka Clifton 9 GTX is definitely going to stay in my rotation to be taken out on days when the main goal is going to be finishing my miles while keeping my feet dry.

CARYN: The Hoka rollercoaster seems to have hit a nice upswing with the Clifton 9 GTX. While I didn’t feel this shoe was absolutely necessary for my rotation, the GTX is a great addition to Hoka’s line-up as its first all-weather road option. I don’t run in soggy conditions enough to purchase a shoe specifically designed for this, but if you’re regularly out on the trails in the elements or even have a job where you’re outdoors, regardless of the weather, the Clifton 9 GTX would be a great pick.

RYAN: If you’re ridin’ the Hoka wave, the Clifton 9 GTX can definitely keep you goin’. I liked my miles in the shoe, even if they weren’t quite as rainy as I might have liked. Either way, the Gore-Tex layer did its job, keeping my feet nice and dry while the EVA midsole rolled along nicely underfoot. If you’re after an all-weather daily trainer with enough cushion for daily miles and long runs, it’s easy to recommend the Clifton 9 GTX.

You can pick up the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop Hoka Clifton 9 Men
Shop Hoka Clifton 9 Women

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Chad Zimmermann
Clydesdale Reviewer
  • Instagram
  • Strava

An attorney by day, Chad lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife and three kids. Never much for running growing up, Chad began running as a way to improve his physical health. He went from his first 5k in 2015 to running the Paris Marathon in 2016.  Given his larger physical build, Chad is the resident Clydesdale runner, providing shoe and gear insights for those with a bigger build and taller stature.

More from Chad
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Fav. Distance


  • 5:42

  • 56:33

  • 26:34

  • 2:11:05

    Half Marathon
Caryn Just
Road Reviewer
  • Instagram

Caryn is a recovering ball sports athlete and native Baltimorean who used to cry before the timed mile in gym class. Discovered running somewhat reluctantly when her pants stopped fitting in college, now a big fan of the marathon– go figure! Pediatric ICU nurse and avid UVA sports fan. Can usually be found with her chocolate lab, Gus, looking for a good cup of coffee.

More from Caryn
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Fav. Distance


  • 2:52

  • 1:21

    Half Marathon
  • 18:45

Ryan Haines
Assistant Editor
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Ryan is kind of like Robbe’s Igor behind the scenes. He helps to compile and clean up everyone’s reviews, and finds time to get in a few miles of his own. When he’s not running or editing, Ryan writes and reviews for Android Authority, spending time with the latest tech and complaining when things don’t work quite right. If he’s not doing any of that, maybe you’ll find him nose-deep in a crossword puzzle or trying to catch up on an endless backlog of shows to stream.

More from Ryan
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Fav. Distance


  • 3:54

  • 1:28

    Half Marathon
  • 39:09

  • 19:02

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