Hoka Clifton Review
The Clifton is a remarkable achievement for Hoka, giving the soft cushioning of the Hoka Bondi at a much lighter weight. In fact, the Clifton and Bondi feel remarkably similar, and I've even run with one on each foot (not something I'd recommend you trying.) The difference in thickness of the 2 shoes is dramatically different, but beyond that the cushioning, overlaid, and overall feel were almost identical. Like all of the Hoka range, the Clifton has a horribly small toe box, but once its cut open the shoe works quite well. The Clifton will be available as a trail version, called the "Challenger ATR" in the summer of 2014. However, like many softly cushioned shoes it should work pretty well on most trails, though it lacks the lugs for slick, muddy tails.
- Hoka Stinson or Hoka Mafate, but it's on a par with the Bondi and Olympus. (The Clifton midsole is made of a lightweight EVA foam. There are a number of reports that the Clifton would use the much firmer RMAT foam used in the Hoka Conquest and Huaka, but this does not appear to be the case. There is no mention of RMAT on the Hoka website page, nor is the RMAT logo on the shoe.) . The Clifton has a high level of cushioning, with the soft ride that Hoka of famous for. It's not thick or soft as the
- . Like other Hoka shoes, the Clifton is not a zero drop shoe, and the rear is about 6 mm thicker than the front. That's about half the drop of a traditional running shoe and I typically don't have any issues moving between the Hokas and a zero drop shoe like the Altra.
- Shape. The Clifton has a less abrupt taper at the very front of the shoe than the Bondi, but not as gentle as the Altra Olympus. While I prefer the Olympus taper, the Clifton is better than the Bondi. The very rear of the shoe is cut away slightly, creating a little bit of a rocker shape that's almost identical to the Bondi. The midsole wraps around the lower part of the foot to create additional stability. This helps overcome some of the problems you get with a thick sole creating a stilt like instability.
- . This shoe is made of a single type of foam, though it is colored to appear like there are two different foams in use.
- . The Clifton is reasonably flexible for shoe of this thickness, and is rather more flexible than the Bondi or Olympus.
- . The Clifton has some exposed midsole, with some durable rubber in high friction areas. The durable rubber is placed much better than it is in the Bondi, improving the life of the shoe. In fact, the midsole that is in contact with the ground seems to be remarkably durable, probably because it is in not in the high impact areas.
- cut open the toe box of any Hokas. . The Clifton has the typical Hoka shape, which includes a horribly constricted toe box. I've noticed at Ultras the Hoka toe box causes a distinctive pattern of blisters, so it's critical to
- . The upper is a thin, breathable, and inflexible, with good padding around the ankle opening.
- . The Clifton has a classic tongue rather than a tongue-less sock style of upper. The tongue has no padding, but I didn't find this a problem.
- . The Clifton uses thin round laces which I found tended to come undone. It's amazing that in the 21st century shoe manufacturers can't use laces that work. Unlike many shoes in the Hoka range, there are no elastic straps that pull the sides together even if the laces are loose. (I always cut the elastic straps off.)
- . The Clifton has a slightly firmer heel counter than the Bondi that extends around the foot to the level of the top of the laces.
Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.
2.1 Compared with Altra Olympus
The Altra Olympus is a competitor for the Clifton, and I believe it represents a better shoe. The Olympus has a 7-13mm thicker sole, a toe box shaped for the human foot, and zero drop. However the Olympus is not quite as softly cushioned as the Clifton and it's heavier.
2.2 Compared with the Hoka Bondi
The Clifton seems like it's an evolution of the Bondi. It feels remarkably similar, even when wearing one shoe on each foot. The Clifton is lighter, and has better wear characteristics, so it works out cheaper per mile. The Clifton shares the poor toe box design of all the Hokas. It's not clear why anyone would buy the Bondi now that the Clifton is available.
2.3 Compared with the Hoka Conquest
The Clifton looks virtually identical to the Hoka Conquest (see below for an image.) However, the shoes are radically different, as the Conquest is a surprisingly firm. The diagonal slices through the midsole are actually cutaways in the Conquest, but simple coloring on the Clifton.
2.4 Compared with the Altra One2
The Clifton is only an ounce heavier than the Altra One2, but this is not reflected in the way the shoes feel. I found that the Clifton felt much closer in weight to the Bondi than the One2 despite the much greater weight difference. The Clifton is much more cushioned than the Altra, which might be the reason behind the perceived weight dissimilarity.
4 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.
For a more detailed on running shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Saucony Type A Review||Saucony||A/A7||Recommended||$100||6.4||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.3||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||8.2||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||5.0||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.5||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.7||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.7||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||4.0||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||6.1||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||7.1||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||9.1||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.5||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.7||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||7.2||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.4||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.7||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.7||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.7||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.5||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.8||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.6||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.9||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.5||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.8||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||8.2||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.8||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||6.0||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||5.0||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.7||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.2||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||8.0||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||4.1||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||7.2||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||7.2||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||9.1||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.9||6|
|Altra Escalante 1.5 Review||Altra||Escalante 1.5||Best of the Best||$130||8.2||9.0||14.0||26||27||-1||7.4||7|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.5||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.8||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.7||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||6.1||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.7||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.4||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.4||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.8||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||6.1||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.5||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.5||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.5||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.8||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.4||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.6||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||5.2||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||6.1||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.4||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.9||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.8||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||6.0||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.9||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||10.0||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Altra King MT 1.5 Review||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||7.5||10.7||16.7||19||21||3||8.0||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||9.3||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||8.0||5|
|Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.2||11.4||17.7||24||25||4||4.8||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||9.8||5.4||8.4||16||21||5||5.3||7|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||8.5||5.5||8.5||15||21||3||4.6||6|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.9||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.6||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Best of the Best||$170||7.6||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||9.0||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.9||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||5.2||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.3||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.5||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.5||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||8.0||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||4.6||11.8||18.4||35||34||0||5.4||6|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||6.1||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.4||6|
|Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review||Altra||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$150||5.3||11.0||17.1||28||30||5||5.8||8|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||10.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||3||4.2||9|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||6.0||9.7||15.1||26||29||5||5.8||8|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||6.9||6.5||10.1||16||19||4||4.5||6|
|Altra Escalante Racer Review||Altra||Racer||Highly Recommended||$140||6.6||7.6||11.8||24||26||6||5.0||8|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.8||5.6||8.7||15||21||5||4.9||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||14.2||4.0||6.2||13||21||6||5.7||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||5.9||8.5||13.2||18||28||6||5.0||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||8.0||9.2||14.3||25||28||4||7.4||7|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||5.2||8.0||18.2||14||17||3||4.2||8|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||8.5||10.0||15.6||26||29||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||8.1||12.5||23||25||0||5.7||5|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||8.2||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||6.0||7|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||7.3||11.6||18.1||35||40||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||5.6||9.9||15.5||21||25||-1||5.5||4|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.7||6.6||10.2||17||21||4||5.1||5|
|Topo Terraventure||Topo||Terraventure||Review Pending||$110||2.6||10.8||27.5||24||24||0||2.8||10|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||3.7||11.6||18.1||30||31||-1||4.3||6|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||3.4||9.6||20.7||30||25||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Torin 3.5 Review||Altra||Torin 3.5||Worth considering||$125||5.8||9.3||14.5||27||28||0||5.4||8|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||7.2||7.4||11.5||21||24||2||5.3||5|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||3.4||8.4||23.8||13||13||0||2.8||10|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||5.9||7.3||11.4||20||18||-1||4.3||6|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||10.7||3.1||10.6||9||12||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||16.1||5.3||8.2||19||21||4||8.5||6|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||2.1||6.1||27.6||6||5||0||1.3||10|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||10.4||7.2||11.2||25||37||8||7.5||2|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||6.0||8.6||13.4||18||24||6||5.2||5|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.9||6.3||9.8||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||8.9||9.5||14.8||29||32||4||8.5||6|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||8.3||8.7||13.5||29||36||8||7.2||3|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.