Written by

Brandon Law

Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
The Invincible Run is Nike’s softest, premium running shoe which is also very versatile; the Clifton is Hoka’s mid-range daily trainer which also offers a soft ride. Here we will be comparing these two trainers.
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The Invincible Run 3 is a brand new running shoe which is unlike anything Nike has ever launched. It offers a high level of energy and a high level of cushioning by using Nike’s super foam, ZoomX. It costs $180 and is a max-cushioned trainer.

The Clifton is a staple daily trainer and one of the most popular running shoes in the Hoka lineup. It features a thick-stack midsole and a signature Meta-Rocker to roll you through transitions. It costs $1450 and also offers a high level of cushioning.

Which one of these larger-than-life trainers is the right one for you?

Similarity and differences: ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3 vs Clifton 9

ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3

Expert score
Expert score
7/10
Expert score
8/10
Weight
11.2 oz
8.7 oz
Heel Drop
9 mm
5 mm
Verdict
The Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3 is a super soft, max-cushioned trainer with more bounce and energy return than any other max-cushioned trainer on the market. Version 3 has a new strobel lining underneath its insole which gives it a firmer, more stable ride with less energy return. It also has a longer heel clip to improve stability but it may cause issues for runners with wide or flat feet. It’s also much heavier than previous versions.
The Hoka Clifton 9 is a narrow-fitting maximalist daily trainer with a Meta-Rocker midsole for energy-saving transitions. It has a highly cushioned ride which is on the soft side and it’s best suited to slow, easy paced runs. The 9th version of the Clifton has a 3 mm more midsole foam so it feels more cushioned. It also has a reformulated CMEVA midsole which provides a softer ride than previous versions.
Recommended for
Daily training
Daily training, long distance racing
Cushioning type
Plush
Balanced/plush
Cushioning amount
Highly cushioned
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
flexible
flexible
Stability
some stability
very stable
Sizing
true to size
true to size
Retail price
US$180
US$144.95

Sole unit: ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3 vs Clifton 9

The midsole of the Invincible Run 3 uses the Pebax based midsole foam, ZoomX. It offers an incredible amount of energy return in a lightweight package. ZoomX is Nike’s most advanced midsole foam and one of the most responsive of all the midsole foams.

The midsole of the Clifton 9 is made from traditional CMEVA (compression molded EVA) which offers a very high level of cushioning because the stack height of the midsole is so high. CMEVA isn’t as soft or bouncy as modern super foams like ZoomX.

The Invincible Run 3 excels as easy runs and recovery runs at relaxed paces. There is a lot of “sink” down into the midsole foam with each footstrike which makes the ride of the Invincible Run 3 a lot softer than the ride of the Clifton 9.

The Clifton 9 is a more versatile trainer than the Invincible Run 3 because its ride is not as soft as the Invincible Run 3. It can handle a variety of different runs including slower paced ones like easy/recovery as well as faster runs like steady runs.

Stability in the Clifton 9 is better than in the Invincible Run 3. There is less lean bias because the Clifton 9 has the firmer midsole foam. The Invincible can feel wobbly at times, especially for those runners who over pronate or supinate.

The midsole of the Clifton 9 is more durable than the midsole of the Invincible Run 3. It is more resistant to daily wear-and-tear like scratches and dents because of how much firmer CMEVA is than ZoomX. The cushioning of the Clifton 9 should also hold up longer over time than the cushioning of the Invincible Run 3 because it compresses less with each footstrike.

The Invincible Run 3 uses soft, flexible rubber on its outsole which is full coverage and has lots of tiny protrusions that grip onto surfaces so traction is very good.

The Clifton 9 uses hard rubber on its outsole but only on the high wear areas. The areas on the midfoot which are not covered with rubber, get chewed up by rough surfaces and start to show wear so the Invincible Run 3 has the more durable outsole.

Upper unit: ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3 vs Clifton 9

The upper of the Invincible Run 3 is made of Flyknit but it feels more like mesh than a knitted material. It has a lot of padding in the collar and tongue. The tongue is not attached to a sleeve but there is no tongue slide. The overall fit is true to size and very comfortable however it only comes in a standard width.

The upper of the Clifton 9 is made of traditional engineered mesh and has less padding than the Invincible Run 3. It has a heel tab that flares away from the achilles and foot lockdown is good. The tongue is also padded and semi gusseted so no lateral slide happens. It also fits true to size and is available in a variety of widths.

Which one to buy: ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3 vs Clifton 9

If you’re a runner looking for a super soft shoe with plenty of energy return for mostly relaxed runs, the Invincible Run 3 is the perfect shoe for you. It has a bouncy ride, a comfortable upper and smooth ride transitions.

If you’re looking for a versatile daily trainer for a variety of runs, the Clifton 9 is your shoe. It can handle most types of runs and its rocker midsole saves you energy on long runs. It is more stable than the Invincible Run 3 and it costs $35 less.

This expert review is written by

Brandon Law

Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Brandon is a South African who lives and trains in Malaysia. He is a marathon runner who eats, sleeps and dreams running shoes. While most people wear shoes to run, he runs to wear shoes.