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Hoka Clifton Review

Post by Peter Stauart @theloudmouse

Jack of all trades, Master of…

The Clifton is, as advertised, light and seemingly impossibly cushioned. I’m still trying to get my head around this shoe. On paper it’s exactly what I’ve been asking for—a super-cushioned shoe for long runs or recovery days that doesn’t feel like a lead weight. As I get a bit older (40’s) and as I run more miles (40-50 per week) I’ve found that I’m feeling pretty beaten up, so I’ve been looking for some cushier miles. I tried the Hoka One One Bondi and, while I liked the ride, I felt like I was weightlifting by the end of a run. So, I was very excited to get into the Clifton…

The Good

Super light: Hoka Lists the men’s 9 at 7.7 oz. I wear an 11 and it’s still a very light shoe—noticeably lighter than the New Balance 890 that I’ve been logging a lot of miles on.
Fast: This shoe moves. My second run in these had a bunch of striders and picking up the speed on these is easy. They move really well when you lean into them. The speed is a bit of a mixed blessing as I’ve tended to go way faster on my “easy” runs when wearing these. They’re easy to get moving in and fun too.
Ride: Definitely VERY cushioned—but not mushy. Not the most ‘efficient’ shoe I have, but pretty good. The sole is showing relatively little wear for the 60 miles or so I’ve put on them so far.
Upper: The upper is nice and light, though I’ll address some fit issues in the “bad” section.

The Bad

Fit: The shoe is a LITTLE bit too roomy for my low(ish) volume foot. I have to cinch down the laces pretty tight to keep from moving around. The insole provided is as minimal as they come, so I’ve been playing around with different insoles to see if it helps me fill out the shoe a bit.
I’ve had a couple of blisters that I’ve not gotten before. One just behind the ball of one of my feet on the inside (front of the arch). Can’t really figure out what’s aggravating it.
Fatigue: I’m wondering if there’s a little bit of leg and foot fatigue due to the amount of cushioning. It’s really hard to say. Legs may be fatigued from mileage and my easy workouts being too fast. There’s a little bit of fatigue on the balls of my feet up above 15 miles. Certainly less than in my Newtons, but it’s there. In the least scientific way possible, I’ll just say that it seems that to get this much cushion, one gives up just a bit of efficiency—just a bit.


Okay, let’s start with this: I love the Clifton and think it’s a great shoe for anyone to have in their rotation. That said, I’m still figuring out exactly what to do with it. I’ve done several “easy” days, a couple of fartlek runs, some striders and a couple of long days (one of them a bunch of 1/2 mile MP intervals). As I mentioned in the review, I’m tending to go WAY faster on my easy workouts than I intend to (partly because the Clifton is just so fun to get moving in). I think I can reign that in, and on today’s 17 miler I managed to keep it contained. In a way, the Clifton is a great jack of all trades: It’s light, it’s fast, it’s nice and cushy to recover in and it’s got a pretty good ‘barely there’ fit. Is it a good shoe for tempo workouts? Yes, it’s felt great at speed. Is it a good shoe for long, slow distance? Yes. That said, I don’t think I’d race a marathon in it, because I feel a little bit of efficiency is lost. I’m hearing that the Huaka, though slightly heavier, may be a slightly more efficient ride. I’ll probably give that a go next. If I had to pick just one shoe to use for all of my training, it would be the Clifton (providing that I can dial the fit in perfectly)—luckily I don’ t have to choose!
What they say:

“Quite possibly the smoothest-riding shoe on the market, the CLIFTON offers incredible cushioning at an almost impossibly light weight. Earlystage Meta-Rocker sculpting geometry provides a fluid, efficient ride and the stripped down SpeedFrame upper leaves no extra weight for you to lug around. If you want to take the feeling of running on grass with you to the concrete jungle, look no further than the Clifton.”

Neutral Lite Cushion
Offset: 5mm
Heel: 29mm
Forefoot: 24mm
7.7 oz.
Men: 7.5– 14
Ultra-Lightweight No Sew SpeedFrame Construction
Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry
Full Length HIP CMEVA Midsole
4mm Heel to Toe Offset
Full Ground Contact Design
Strategic Hi-Abrasion Rubber Zones


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Tor Rønnow says:

    What IS the most “efficient” shoe you know about, specifically for a PB marathon ?

    BR. Tor 😉

    1. That is a tough question. It depends on your specific biomechanics as well as the shoe design.

  2. Glenn says:

    Would the Cliftons be okay for a heavier runner…? I weigh 240 currently, and run about 25 miles a week. I’ve got the Hoka OneOne Tarmac’s currently, which are a bit narrow and have a firmer ride than I’d like. The Cliftons sound like what I’m looking for, softer, smoother ride, a bit more room in the toebox, and a faster metarocker in the midsole. One review I read that compared the Bondi 3 to the Clifton’s said their ride and cushioning was nearly identical, and recommended the Cliftons due to the lighter weight, so I’m included to go with the Clifton’s. I’m just concerned as to whether they’ll support my heavier weight. Any idea…?

    1. Glenn, I would recommend these shoes for all weight runners. The Hoka Clifton are a fun shoe to run in.

  3. Robbe Reddinger says:

    Love the Clifton 1.

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