Hoka One One Clifton General Info:
The Clifton is one of Hoka One One’s newest offerings in its 2014 line. It is the lightest pair of Hokas ever made, and still provides that signature Hoka cushioning that has made waves in the running industry since their debut in 2010.
In addition to being lightweight and cushioned. The shoe features a 4mm heel to toe drop, early stage meta-rocker geometry and a seamless upper that is stripped down to save weight.
This shoe feels strange (in a good way) when you first put it on. It is hard to comprehend how a shoe can provide such great cushioning and weigh so little. As I walked around in the shoe my feet felt so light it was like I was barefoot, yet when I stepped down I felt very soft cushioning.
They have also done a great job with the look of this shoe. It still has many characteristics that are signature to the Hoka One One brand, but this shoe looks much more like any big name running shoe than anything else Hoka offers. Unlike some other Hokas, you would not feel weird or get strange looks walking around in public with these on.
Hoka One One Clifton Sole Unit:
The shoe features a full length CMEVA foam midsole, a 4 mm heel to toe offset, and early stage meta rocker geometry. According to Hoka the rocker geometry includes a sculpted outsole radius in the heel and toe.
This basically allows the shoe to roll from heel to toe more efficiently and promotes a faster transition to the forefoot. There are also channels cut out of the foam of the midsole, that save weight and fit in nicely aesthetically with the shoe.
The outsole features hi-abrasion rubber zones in the heel and forefoot only. Another strategic design to cut down on the weight of the shoe. This leaves the outsole with only exposed CMEVA through the midfoot.
This could be a slight cause for concern on durability, but I have seen no signs of this in the 70 or so miles I have run in them so far. The sole of the shoe is also wide which keeps this shoe solidly stable.
There was also a very thin insole included with this shoe. Upon running in them the first time, the insole kept moving around inside the shoe and eventually started to irritate my foot.
I stopped to see what was going on and the insole had crept up my heel and almost started coming out of the shoe. I removed both insoles as they were so thin, they didn’t seem to be doing much anyway.
This left my foot resting on only CMEVA foam, which has not been an issue at all and has caused no irritation. The foot bed within the CMEVA foam actually feels like its built to hold your foot without an insole
The only word to describe the ride of this shoe is smooth. Perfectly smooth. The cushion provided is more than you will find in other daily trainers, but it is not excessive. Some highly cushioned shoes can feel like they absorb impact but do nothing to propel you forward.
This shoe is not that way. The clifton absorbs the impact and propels you forward with ease. Running in this shoe feels incredible. From the first time I ran in these shoes I knew they were something special based on the smoothness of the ride alone.
Hoka One One Clifton Upper:
The upper feature what Hoka describes as ultra-lightweight no sew speedframe construction. This means it has a 3-layer welded support frame with no seams. The upper continues with the theme of weight reduction.
It is constructed with very thin materials throughout the mid foot and forefoot, and features a semi wide toe box. The heel has a slightly more plush material, and a few vents for breathability.
I would consider this shoe fairly wide. I had to synch the laces down pretty tight to get a snug, secure fit. I wear a mens size 10, and although the shoe caused no irritation or blistering for me, I would be interested to size down a half size to see how a 9.5 would fit.
This upper is comfortable in a unique way. It does not hug your foot, or feel like a sock as I would traditionally describe a comfortable seamless upper. It just sort of disappears when your run in the shoe.
It is so light and well designed that you don’t really notice it is there. It is also very breathable due to its ultra thin nature. There are no areas of irritation. I did notice some of the welded overlays starting to separate from the base mesh. This caused no problems with functionality and was very minimal.
Hoka One One Clifton Conclusions:
I tested this shoe on a variety of runs and terrain, and through each run it performed flawlessly. From the very first run it is clear that this shoe sets itself apart from others.
The fact that I had trouble wrapping my head around how light my feet felt and the amount of cushioning I was feeling is a testament to that. I am seriously not sure how this shoe is even possible. It is that good.
One of the criticisms some people have of maximum cushion shoes is they think that the shoes interfere with running form. These shoes do not. They will not change your form in any way, and the rockered design ensures that regardless of the way your foot strikes the ground, you are propelled forward, and allows for any foot strike pattern.
My favorite part about the shoe is its versatility. Cushioned enough for recovery runs, springy enough for daily training and light enough for racing. This shoe really can serve many purposes. I use no exaggeration when I say that this is quite possibly the best shoe I have ever run in.
We thank the nice people at Hoka One One for sending us a pair of Clifton to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.