The Hoka One One Clifton 5 is the newest version of the popular Clifton line. I have had the opportunity to run in and review every version of the Clifton.
The shoe has had many changes over the past few years since its inception. Each June/July I find myself excited for the shoe to arrive so I can begin testing the new version.
The Clifton 5 is a minor update to last years version. The midsole has been modified slightly to provide a softer ride and the upper has been redesigned for durability and breathability.
I have seen reports that the shoe has gained 0.1oz and that it has lost 0.1oz in either case, there hasn’t been a significant weight gain or loss this year.
The first thing I noticed about the Clifton 5 is that it closely resembles the previous version, especially the midsole. I noticed some minor changes to the upper but when comparing the two side by side you can see some obvious differences.
There are a lot less overlays on the Clifton 5. The engineered mesh looks similar but if you look closely you can see little holes integrated into the mesh.
Hoka One One Clifton 5 Sole Unit
The midsole uses full length EVA foam and rockered geometry. The foam is designed to be soft and responsive, and the rockered shape helps to promote forward momentum no matter the foot strike.
The outsole is composed of mostly exposed EVA foam with some strategically placed sections of hi-abrasion lightweight rubber where needed.
According to the Hoka website, the EVA foam has been slightly modified this year to be softer and the rubber on the outsole received an updated design to optimize grip and energy return.
The overall ride of the Clifton 5 is soft, smooth and responsive. It is a nicely cushioned shoe and has a good amount of bounce. The rockered shape helps smooth out the ride and make it an enjoyable shoe to run in.
Last year there were many complaints that the shoe was not soft. While I agree that it maybe lost some of its softness in a trade for responsiveness, I still felt it to be a very soft and cushioned ride.
An attempt was made by Hoka to soften the EVA foam this year. It took me a long time to make a decision on whether this new midsole feels softer than the Clifton 4.
On my first few runs in the shoe I would have said that it wasn’t without hesitation. The shoe without a doubt got softer as I continued to break it in.
The only way that I felt like I could make a definitive statement on the softness compared to the previous model was by putting the Clifton 4 on one foot and the Clifton 5 on the other and going out for a short run.
In doing that I was able to feel a small difference, with the Clifton 5 being the softer of the two. When I really think about it, I had to do a direct comparison to even feel the difference, so I would say that it’s probably not all that different.
The outsole of the shoe is holding up better than usual. There is a lot of exposed EVA that makes direct contact with the ground. These exposed areas of foam usually get chewed up pretty quick.
This has started to happen a little bit, but not to the extent I typically see at this mileage.
Even with the breakdown of parts of the EVA foam, I haven’t had trouble reaching 350+ miles in the Clifton, and I suspect that this new model will hold up just as well, if not better.
Hoka One One Clifton 5 Upper Info
The upper has undergone a slight redesign that includes reinforced eyelets, less overlays, and a new engineered mesh designed to enhance breathability.
The reinforced eyelets come in the form of some harder more dense material that line both sides along the laces. This section of the upper definitely feels like it’s made of durable material and has proven to be durable thus far.
The engineered mesh is soft and comfortable. There are small holes integrated into the mesh that are designed to allow better airflow. They are small enough that they do not allow any debris or small gravel to enter the shoe.
On top of the mesh are 3D puff print overlays strategically placed to give the shoe structure. These overlays are in thin strips along the base the upper where it meets with the midsole. They are minimal and only extend to where they are necessary.
In terms of fit, the Clifton 5 fits pretty much identical to the previous version. You get a fit that’s locked down in the heel and opens up slightly in the toe area with enough room for a foot of average width.
If you require a ton of room for your toes, you will want to look elsewhere.
There were only 2 real changes I noticed with the upper. The first is that they’ve extended the tongue of the shoe (last year’s was a little on the short side). The second is that the shoe for some reason fits my heel noticeably better.
I thought the Clifton 4 held my heel nicely in place and didn’t expect to notice any difference in that area with the Clifton 5 but I did.
It appeared from Hoka’s website that most of the changes to this upper were made to enhance breathability. I notice no difference in that regard. I do like the overall feel of the new mesh better.
If you’ve run in the previous 2 versions of the Clifton you will want to go with the same size.
If you are used to running in a Nike, Brooks or Asics shoe you may want to consider going up a half size and will want to purchase from a store with a good return/exchange policy.
Hoka One One Clifton 5 Conclusions
This years version of the Clifton is a more refined version of what we saw last year. It provides a smooth and soft ride, and brings some nice changes to the upper.
It is said to be softer than its predecessor but there isn’t a huge difference. I keep bringing this up because i don’t want people to be mislead.
If you didn’t like the ride of the Clifton 4, you will most likely not think the Clifton 5 is any better. If you did like the Clifton 4, then I can say with almost 100% certainty that you are going to love this shoe.
The mesh looks and feels like it is of a higher quality, and the outsole seems to be holding up slightly better in terms of durability.
I feel I have an obligation to compare this shoe to another shoe I tested this year, the Skechers Go Run Ride 7. They are very close in weight, and are in the same category of lightweight cushion.
The Go Run Ride 7 has the edge when it comes to responsiveness and bounce, and the Clifton 5 has the edge when it comes to softness.
The Go Run Ride 7 has the edge when it comes to comfort in the upper, but that’s not to say the Clifton 5’s upper isn’t comfortable. It’s just that the Go Run has a knit upper that feels like wearing a sock.
Making a choice between the two would be extremely difficult but I think for the very first time if I had to choose between the two, I would choose the Skechers.
I should also bring up that I did read somewhere that the Clifton 5 will eventually be offered with a knit upper which in my opinion, if done well, will set it apart from the competition.
We purchased a pair of Hoka One One Clifton 5 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.