Hoka Clifton 1 Review

From Fellrnr.com, Running tips
Jump to: navigation, search

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. (he Clifton is available as a trail version, called the "Challenger ATR". However, like many softly cushioned shoes it should work pretty well on most trails, though it lacks the lugs for slick, muddy tails. For my review of the latest version, see Hoka Clifton. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)

Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside

1 Characteristics

  • Cushioning . 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 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.)
  • Drop. 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.
  • Structure. 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 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.
  • Flexibility. The Clifton is reasonably flexible for shoe of this thickness, and is rather more flexible than the Bondi or Olympus.
  • Outsole. 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.
  • Shape. 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 cut open the toe box of any Hokas. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.)
  • Upper. The upper is a thin, breathable, and inflexible, with good padding around the ankle opening.
  • Tongue. 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.
  • Lacing. 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.)
  • Heel Counter. 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.
helping-hand.jpg
Please support this site

This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.


2 Cushioning and Shoes

It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.

3 Visualizing the Attributes of the Hoka Clifton 1

How Hoka Clifton 1 compares showing rearfoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Hoka Clifton 1 compares showing forefoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Hoka Clifton 1 compares showing the price against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.
How Hoka Clifton 1 compares showing the loaded drop against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.

4 Comparisons

Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.

4.1 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.

Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside
Altra Olympus top
Altra Olympus bottom
Altra Olympus inside
Altra Olympus outside

4.2 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.

Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside
Clifton and Hoka Bondi.
Hoka Bondi B top
Hoka Bondi B bottom
Hoka Bondi B inside
Hoka Bondi B outside

4.3 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.

Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside
Hoka Conquest top
Hoka Conquest bottom
Hoka Conquest inside
Hoka Conquest outside

4.4 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.

Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside
Altra One2 top
Altra One2 bottom
Altra One2 inside
Altra One2 outside

4.5 Asics GT 2000 and Hoka Clifton

I like to compare shoes against the Asics GT 2000 as it represents the traditional running shoe. The GT 2000 is over engineered and includes many things I dislike in traditional running shoes. These excessive features go against The Science of Running Shoes and are more likely to cause problems than solve them. The GT 2000 is nearly 50% heavier than the Clifton, but provides far less cushioning. The GT 2000 has a little more padding in the rear of the upper, and a much nicer tongue, but that's about its only advantages.

Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside
Asics GT2000 top
Asics GT2000 bottom
Asics GT2000 inside
Asics GT2000 outside

5 Gallery

A top view of the Clifton above the Bondi.
A side view of the Clifton, Bondi, Olympus, and Huaka. (left to right, then top to bottom.)
A top view of the Clifton above the Huaka.
A top view of the Clifton above the Hoka Mafate.
A top view of the Clifton above the Altra Olympus.
The sole of the Clifton. The white areas are exposed midsole, and the black areas are the harder rubber.
A side view of the Clifton over the Hoka Conquest. While the shoes look remarkably similar, they are actually very different.
I did run with the Bondi on 1 foot and the Clifton on the other. Not something I'd recommend unless you want to get injured, as the different thicknesses will mess up your biomechanics.
This picture shows the wear from 230 miles of running. As you can see, there is remarkably little abrasion to the exposed midsole, indicating that Hoka have placed the harder rubber outsole in the right places.
The Clifton dissected.
Clifton and Hoka Bondi.
Clifton and Hoka Mafate.
Clifton and Altra Olympus.
Clifton and Hoka Stinson.
Hoka, like most shoe makers, does not seem to have ever seen a human foot.

6 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

trophy-winner.jpg

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.

  • Best All Round Shoe. The Altra Escalante is my current all-round favorite. It has plenty of cushioning for its weight, it has a very springy midsole, it lasts well, and it has a shape that's closer to the shape of a human foot than most shoes. It's a great shoe for any runner, including those Starting to run. It's also a fairly easy shoe to find due to its popularity.
  • Best Maximalist Shoe: If you want something massively cushioned, then I'd recommend the Saucony Kinvara 8. It's remarkably light and remarkably cushioned, beating Hoka at their own game.
  • Best Optimal Shoe: For those looking to trade cushioning for speed, the Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 was my top pick, but the latest version (LT 4) falls short of it's predecessor. There are lots of great optimal running shoes, which provide just enough cushioning with light weight and minimal frills, but all have their weak spots. Probably the best option at the moment is the Altra Vanish-R, which offers great cushioning for just over 5oz/150g.
  • Fastest Shoe: If you really want speed, then check out the Nike Vaporfly 4%. It's light, massively cushioned, and has a carbon fiber plate. Nothing comes close, not even the now defunct New Balance RC5000‏‎ or New Balance RC5000v2‏‎. There are a number of caveats; it's really expensive, it's really hard to find, and there's a significant injury risk.
  • Best Minimalist Shoe: Merrell Trail Glove. I recommend the trail glove for road running in spite of the 'trail' moniker. It's not a fast shoe by any means, but it's comfortable and will last well.
  • All Terrain Shoe. For trail running, I've become a fan of Altra, and I think their best shoe is the the Altra Timp, though the Altra Lone Peak is really close.
  • Honorable Mention: It's not really a running shoe, but the Vivobarefoot Ra is comfortable, minimalist and can more or less pass as a dress shoe. I've worn mine to weddings with a suit and they've not looked out of place. You can run in the Ra, but the leather means it doesn't breathe well.

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.

Full Review

Brand Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Saucony Type A Review Saucony A/A7 Recommended $100 6.0 6.7 12.1 19 22 1 4.1 7
Saucony Type A6 Review Saucony A6 Highly Recommended $100 7.7 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 4.7 7
Saucony Type A8 Review Saucony A8 Highly Recommended $90 7.1 6.2 9.7 19 20 -1 4.4 7
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adidas Adios Worth considering $140 4.4 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 3.8 6
Hoka Bondi 5 Review Hoka Bondi Recommended $150 5.7 11.6 18.1 38 42 5 6.7 2
Hoka Clayton 2 Review Hoka Clayton2 Highly Recommended $150 8.6 8.3 12.9 23 28 1 7.1 5
Hoka Clifton 4 Review Hoka Clifton4 Worth considering $130 7.2 9.3 14.5 30 35 10 6.7 3
ON Cloudflash Review On Cloud Cloudflash Worth considering $180 4.2 8.3 14.6 19 26 7 3.5 6
On Cloudracer Review On Cloud Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.4 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.4 7
ON Cloud X Review On Cloud CloudX Not recommended $140 4.3 8.3 16.3 21 27 7 3.6 7
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Mizuno Cruise Worth considering $120 6.3 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.7 6
Newton Distance IV Review Newton Distance Worth considering $155 7.1 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.4 5
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review Asics DS Racer Worth considering $110 7.8 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.4 5
Altra Duo Review Altra Duo Recommended $130 5.6 8.4 13.1 29 29 1 4.7 5
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Mizuno Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.3 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.0 8
Saucony Endorphin 2 Review Saucony Endorphin 2 Worth considering $115 7.5 5.1 9.6 15 13 -1 3.8 8
Adidas Energy Boost Review Adidas Energy Worth considering $160 6.8 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 6.8 5
Altra Escalante Review Altra Escalante Best of the Best $130 8.6 8.7 13.5 28 25 -1 7.5 6
Saucony Fastwitch Review Saucony Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.0 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.4 7
Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review Topo Fli-Lyte2 Highly Recommended $100 6.4 9.1 14.2 24 26 3 5.8 5
Reebok Floatride Run Review Reebok Floatride Worth considering $150 7.2 9.6 14.9 28 34 10 7.0 5
Saucony Freedom Review Saucony Freedom Recommended $160 5.1 10.7 16.6 25 29 3 5.4 6
Skechers GORun 4 Review Skechers GORun Not recommended $100 5.7 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.3 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review Skechers GRU Worth considering $90 7.1 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.1 4
Asics GT 2000 Review Asics GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.5 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.1 2
New Balance Hanzo S Review New Balance Hanzo Worth considering $110 7.1 6.9 10.7 21 19 2 4.9 5
Hoka Hupana Review Hoka Hupana Recommended $115 5.7 8.9 13.9 31 36 7 5.1 4
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Asics Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.2 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.4 6
Altra Instinct 4.0 Review Altra Instinct 4.0 Worth considering $120 5.7 9.8 15.3 29 25 -1 5.6 5
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Asics Kainos Worth considering $130 9.4 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.4 6
Altra King MT 1.5 Review Altra King MT Recommended $140 4.1 10.7 20.8 19 21 -1 4.4 5
Saucony Kinvara 8 Review Saucony Kinvara 8 Best of the Best $110 8.8 8.6 13.4 26 31 3 7.5 5
Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review Altra Lone Peak Highly Recommended $120 4.9 11.4 17.7 23 25 -2 5.6 4
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Nike LT3 Best of the Best $80 8.3 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.5 5
Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review Nike LT4 Recommended $90 9.2 5.5 8.5 15 21 5 5.0 7
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review Nike LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.5 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.3 6
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Hoka Mafate Highly Recommended $170 7.1 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 8.5 1
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review Pearl N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.5 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 4.9 8
Saucony Nomad Review Saucony Nomad Worth considering $110 4.1 10.5 17.2 25 27 2 4.3 4
Hoka Odyssey Review Hoka Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.0 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 7.5 3
Altra Olympus 2.5 Review Altra Olympus Highly Recommended $150 6.9 11.8 18.4 34 34 2 8.2 3
Altra One 3.0 Review Altra One Recommended $100 5.8 8.8 13.7 23 23 0 5.1 6
Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review Altra Paradigm Highly Recommended $150 3.6 11.0 17.1 28 30 3 4.0 9
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Asics Piranha Recommended $100 13.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 5 5.5 8
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review Brooks PureFlow Worth considering $110 4.3 9.7 15.1 26 29 4 4.2 6
Salming Race Review Salming Race Worth considering $130 7.1 6.5 10.1 16 19 5 4.6 8
Altra Escalante Racer Review Altra Racer Highly Recommended $140 7.1 7.6 11.8 24 26 6 5.4 7
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review New Balance RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.4 5.6 8.7 15 21 6 4.7 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review New Balance RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 17.6 4.0 6.2 13 21 4 7.0 7
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Skechers Ride Worth considering $85 4.6 8.5 18.9 18 28 3 3.9 8
Nike RN Distance 2 Review Nike RNDist2 Worth considering $120 8.7 9.2 14.3 25 28 3 8.0 4
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review Inov-8 RXT-220 Worth considering $120 6.6 8.0 12.5 14 17 1 5.3 6
Salomon Sense Ride Review Salomon Sense Worth considering $120 5.7 10.0 15.6 24 29 0 5.7 7
Altra Solstice Review Altra Solstice Highly Recommended $90 9.9 8.1 12.5 23 25 6 8.0 0
Topo ST-2 Review Topo ST-2 Highly Recommended $90 7.3 7.3 11.4 20 18 0 5.4 5
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Hoka Stinson Highly Recommended $160 4.1 11.6 18.1 35 40 4 4.8 5
Altra Superior Altra Superior Highly Recommended $110 6.3 9.9 15.5 22 25 2 6.2 3
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.9 6.6 10.2 17 21 -1 5.2 4
Topo Terraventure Topo Terraventure Review Pending $110 4.6 10.8 16.8 24 24 2 5.0 5
Altra Timp Review Altra Timp Best of the Best $130 2.3 11.6 28.8 30 31 0 2.7 10
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Altra Torin Worth considering $125 4.2 9.6 14.9 31 25 -1 4.1 6
Hoka Tracer Review Hoka Tracer Recommended $130 4.2 7.4 17.3 22 24 1 3.1 9
Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review Merrell Trail Glove 4 Best of the Best $100 6.0 8.4 13.1 13 13 0 5.1 8
Topo Tribute Review Topo Tribute Recommended $100 1.7 7.3 29.5 20 18 0 1.2 10
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Mizuno Universe Highly Recommended $125 22.9 3.1 4.8 9 12 8 7.1 2
Altra Vanish-R Review Altra Vanish-R Recommended $100 9.2 5.3 8.2 19 21 6 4.9 5
Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Highly Recommended $85 10.6 6.1 9.5 6 5 9 6.4 6
Nike Vaporfly 4% Review Nike Vaporfly Best of the Best $250 11.1 7.2 11.2 25 37 4 8.0 6
New Balance Vazee Pace Review New Balance Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 7.9 8.6 0.0 18 24 8 6.8 3
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Asics Zeal Worth considering $140 10.3 6.3 0.0 17 27 1 6.4 5
Saucony Zealot 3 Review Saucony Zealot3 Recommended $130 6.0 9.5 0.0 29 32 0 5.7 7
Nike Zoom Fly Review Nike Zoom Fly Worth considering $150 6.6 8.7 0.0 29 36 -1 5.7 7

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.