Hoka Clifton Review

I’ve been asked to write a review on running in the Hoka Clifton. Although I received these shoes at the Fitblog NYC, I was going to buy them the following week at work. It was really almost too good (and lucky) to be true…I still can’t get over it.   I’m never that lucky (I was also not payed or requested to do this review).

Awkwardly trying on the clifton at Fitblog
Awkwardly trying on the clifton at Fitblog

The relevant facts to me wanting a pair of Hokas:
1. I’m getting over a second metatarsal stress fracture.
2. I like maximum support shoes. With the exception of races you will never see me in a minimalist shoe. Give me the maximum support shoes like the (Brooks) glycerin and (Asics) Nimbus.  #maxsupport4life (let’s start that hashtag)
3. I work at a running store and had a while to think about my shoe choices coming back. I personally chose the Asics Nimbus as well as the Hoka Clifton.  I didn’t make a rash and quick decision of a shoe in a short trip to a running store.  One perk of working in a running store is I have a while to think about my shoe choices.  I decided a while ago I wanted to run in a pair of Hokas but was not sure which model (As said, it was an amazing coincidence I hadn’t bought the Clifton yet).  I consulted with almost every single person that I worked with as well as did a lot of research.  I knew I wasn’t ready for the support level of the Hoka Conquest.  I thought it might be too much of a drastic change with everything going on with my feet.  The Hoka Clifton seemed like a great alternative.

It made sense that injured or not that I would eventually try a pair of a Hokas.   Since I’ve pretty much gotten out of the Newtons now, I’ve kept to my heavier models and more cushion shoes.

Getting into shoe aspects, a lot of people expect them to be heavy. The cushion of the shoe and sole lead you to believe it’s going to feel “clunky” or awkward. Honestly the Clifton (as well as any model) Is extremely light.  They are actually lighter then a lot of “traditional” running shoes. I encourage you to pick up a pair of Hokas next time you are at a running store.  At work, I’ve had several people pick them up, expect them to be heavy and nearly fling them halfway across the store (or once at their spouse…that was for the LOLZ).

I wear a normal size 9.5 in running shoes and they run a little big.  9.5 was good for me because I prefer shoes to be a bit looser but a lot of people normally go down a half size.

I tried them on several times before actually running in them.  The first time I  ran in my Hoka Clifton, I felt…taller and injury free.  I was just coming back from fitblog and decided to run after a long day. It was my fourth run post stress fracture. I ran a solid 1.25 miles. They reminded me a lot of a more cushioned pair and last years model of a Brooks Glycerins. I actually like them a lot better then I thought for running.  I like them a lot (which is why I’ve kept running in them).

I’ve since run about 40 miles (half of my “comeback running”) in them.  Honestly I really like them.  They are a very soft, light weight cushioned shoe.  I’ve pretty much run on each type of terrain on them. 

On grass: They don’t feel awkward. Despite being on uneven terrain I don’t feel the extra height and I don’t feel like I’m going to roll my ankles (that was my main worry).

On road: I don’t feel any difference because of the height of the shoe and road. They are a lot softer of a shoe and I don’t  feel the pavement (which I like and need).  I can feel my feet moving quicker because they are lighter and the my pace reflects that.  The pace is all relative because I’m not pace oriented at all right now.  I can normal feel differences in running shoe weight and how it affects my cadence.

On the Treadmill: My only treadmill running has been the Alter G where I’m not running at full body weight. They feel normal to me.  I haven’t run on a normal treadmill because I don’t have a need too and I’m not going to go out of my way to run on a treadmill to review them there.

Final thoughts: I really like the Hoka Clifton model.  For the first few weeks, I thought I wouldn’t run in them post stress fracture but I’m going to keep them in my rotation.  They are a great shoe and I have no complaints.  They far exceeded my already high expectations for them and I will probably continue to run in them.  So for me they are definite staple in my new running rotation.  I would recommend them for any neutral runners out there (or anyone who likes to be comfortable).

Questions for you: 

Have you ever run in any model of Hokas?

Maximum cushion or minimum cushion? 

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  1. So many people are loving the Cliftons. I just switched from Brooks Ravennas to Newton Kismets because I was getting arch pains in the Brooks (my orthotics didn’t sit right), and in love love love with the Newtons. But I am also a very different runner than I was in the past when I needed more support. Regardless. Back to Hokas. I just have a feeling I would trip over myself!

    1. Yeah that makes sense (orthotics in a stability shoe!). You honestly don’t feel too off balance or anything 🙂

  2. When I worked at fleet feet I did try them on but never ran in them. Glad to see you liked these and now I am thinking of getting a pair for my long runs to help my legs not feel so beat up after.

  3. A lot of my friends who’ve dealt with injuries really like Hokas. Running Warehouse had a crazy good sale on them recently and my friend Steve bought 2 pairs (he’s had stress fractures as well). Honestly, everyone I know who has tried them really likes them, but I haven’t tried them yet. I’m not really a minimalist runner but I wear traditional trainers and then I wear more minimal shoes for intervals/races (Mizuno Hitogami). I did try on my friend’s Hokas and you are right, they feel really light, much lighter than you expect when you look at them! I’m glad you’ve found a good shoe that’s helping you come back from the injury and rebuild your running :).

    1. Mizunos are so light weight though! They almost feel like a racing flat to me…each person to their own though 🙂

      1. The Hitogami’s are like a racing flat, but I agree the Mizuno trainers have gotten lighter in general in the past few years. I have been wearing the Mizuno trainers ever since I started running (2010), minus one pair of Brooks. I’m open to trying new things, but I haven’t had any issues with these shoes so I’ve stuck with them.

  4. I’m all about minimal shoes. I sometimes run on the treadmill in socks. Hokas look so odd but they seem to work for people. I’d definitely like to take them for a test run.

  5. I tried a few Hokas and I’m really not a fan. Way too much cushion for me.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the Cliftons though! They’re definitely lightweight but still high cushion and I’ve seen a lot of people who injuries really benefit from them. The one big problem I’ve seen with that shoe is people confusing cushion for support thought – they’re not really a supportive shoe and people who pronate a lot will crush the medial side of the shoe.

  6. My Cliftons show up at the running store for me to try out on Wednesday. #winning #bootbuddies2shoebuddies

  7. #maxsupport4life! I’m all over that.

    About a year ago, I was diagnosed with a plantar plate tear, which is a pulled ligament in my second metatarsal. After 5 months of no running, when I got back to it, my doctor said to “find a shoe where I don’t feel the road.” I went straight to the Stinsons, and stuck with them until this fall. Now that my foot is healed, I’ve dialed back on the cushioning and went to the Cliftons. I even ran the NYC marathon in them. One thing I’ve noticed is that I tend to roll outward more in them, which I think is irritating my IT band. I wonder if it’s due to less structure in the shoe? I have a pair of Conquests ready to try, so those are next. One thing to mention is that I got over 350 miles in my Stinsons before I felt even a slight loss of structure. I’ve never had shoes with that kind of mileage on them!

  8. I also got the HOKAs at the meet and tweet but have yet to try them on a run. I also love a good support shoe (I run in Brooks Revennas) but I had a race yesterday so I was waited until my training was over. I’ll be testing them this week and hope I like them as much as you do!

  9. I run in minimalist shoes, but when I was shopping for a winter pair last week, since I’ve been curious if I’d fall flat on my face, I got on the treadmill with a pair of HOKAs (not sure which one, I told them to bring me whichever they had in my size).
    I was very surprised by how light they were! I didn’t fall flat on my face or roll my ankle, but I still don’t think I’d feel comfortable running in them; maybe I’d adjust eventually, but I’d be concentrating too hard on not getting hurt to actually enjoy the run.
    It sounds like they are a great option for someone recovering from (or avoiding) the type of injury you have, though, so that’s awesome that you managed to score a free pair at the event!!

  10. I totally agree with #maxsupport4life!

    I’m interested in Hokas, but I’ve never tried them out. They definitely look like they would be a good match for me, since I’m all about cushioning. I currently run in Asics GEL-Kinseis. I’m always scared to try new shoes, but it sounds like these might be worth a try. Thanks for the review!

  11. Once folks make the switch to Hokas, they don’t look back. A lot of my, er, shall we say older teammates really like them–more cushion, more support. And long-course triathletes are all about them too.

  12. Given what you know about Hokas from your experience + the running store, are there any you’d specifically recommend for a runner who uses orthotics? My doctor really wants me in orthotics + stability shoes (which I’ve heard is a bad combo, but hey, it’s not like ignoring that helped me out…) and recommended the Asics 3000, but I got injured in the old 3030 so I’m biased against them.

    1. Hokas are hard to fit orthotics in. I would take them to your own running store and see what they say.

      You are right that stability and an orthotic is a lot (one can argue the absolute most). That is a situation I hate to give any advice on because it is a pretty rare situation. I would honestly go to your local running store (I wish it was me!)

      1. As soon as I’m cleared to jog up and down the block, I’m hitting up my local running store! I wish it was you too!

  13. I’m really tempted to try out the Hokas… especially the Bondi 3 (which is what I’m told would be best for me). I’ve got a wide foot 2E width and wear custom orthotics for my high arches. I’m amazed at how light the Hokas are.

  14. I love that hashtag! I will totally use that because I am in need of max support for my feet. SorryNotSorry I do not go barefoot like our ancestors did. They also died at the age of fifteen and communicated in grunts. No thanks. I am a 9.5 and need a wide toe box. Did you feel these shoes were wide enough? I have the Brooks Ghost and they are wonderful! I have always been curious of Hokas because like you state, I thought I would role my ankle. I might have to give them a try when I next buy shoes! Thanks for the review at just the right time.

  15. I wore the Bondi Bs for a marathon cycle after a stress fx in my foot, and they were too narrow for my wide, man feet. I got so many blisters! You’re right though, they’re awesome for when you’re coming back from a stress fracture.

    Glad to see that you are well on your way back, after your injury.

    1. Have you thought about wearing mens shoes? That is something I do (because of my wide feet) if a womens feels too narrow. Often times I do it for racing flats!

  16. “Those Kokas are so hot right now.” Cue lamo Zoolander reference, I’m not funny, I know 🙂
    I love reading an actual legit review on the Hokas! They are seriously like the darling of the running world right now!

    As someone who strongly prefers a more minimalist feel (I wear Saucony Kinvaras) I and inruiged that Hokas offer an option that is so light weight but offers more cushioning because I do run descent mileage. Thanks for sharing!

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