Hoka Clifton 9 Shoe Review

Hoka Clifton 9 Shoe Review

I was excited to try the Hoka Clifton 9 because I heard so much has changed. I’m so old I remember when the original Clifton came out. Since then, the Clifton has never been my favorite from the Hoka lineup. Truthfully I preferred something firm, and occasionally the bucket seat arch would irritate my arch.

The Hoka Clifton 9 is one of Hoka’s more narrow-fitting trainers. This year features 3 mm more foam, making it more cushioned. How is that even possible? It also has a reformulated CMEVA midsole.

Hoka Clifton 9 Shoe Review

Hoka Clifton 9 Quick Facts:

Weight: 8.7 oz

Heel to Toe Drop: 5 mm

Price: $145

Hoka Clifton 9 Intro:

The Hoka Clifton used to be a very soft mushy shoe. It was like running on marshmallows. Slowly, Hoka has firmed it up. Last year, the Clifton 8 underwent upper, midsole, and outsole updates. The stiffer forefoot allowed it to pick up the pace without feeling like you’re running with a clunky shoe.

This year, the Clifton 9 also has 3 mm more foam, and Hoka updated the CMEVA midsole and outsole. Finally, yes, the Hoka Clifton 9 went up to $145. It’s now one of the more expensive daily trainers out there.

If you’re curious about the Hoka Clifton, it always looks like more running shoes than it is. People look and think: wow, that is a lot of shoe. But really, your feet sit relatively low in the bucket seat. You aren’t that far up. And no, you probably won’t trip and fall. Believe me, I’ve used the Hoka Clifton since it came out, and I’ve never fallen because of the shoe.

Hoka Clifton 9 Shoe Review

Hoka Clifton 9 Fit:

The upper of the Hoka Clifton 9 remains fairly similar. The tongue has been attached to a semi-guessed tongue. It’s attached on both sides, that way, you don’t worry about it sliding around.

The Hoka Clifton 9 upper uses an engineered knit mesh. I was surprised when I read it was knit because it’s not stretchy and feels like regular engineered mesh. It does breathe much better than previous versions of the Hoka Clifton.

The best uppers disappear off your feet, and the Hoka Clifton 9 does just that. You don’t have to worry about anything bothering or hitting your foot.

I wear running shoes between a women’s size 10-11 wide. In the Hoka Clifton 9, I wear a size 11. This is a half size bigger than I wear in most other Hoka shoes, but I’ve found the Hoka Clifton 9 runs slightly narrower than other Hoka models.

Hoka Clifton 9 Shoe Review

Hoka Clifton 9 Ride:

Hoka uses the compression-molded EVA because it’s light and allows them to add as much cushion as possible without being super heavy.  The new formulation of CMEVA in the midsole of the Clifton 9 will enable it to be even softer and lighter, but you won’t find a lot of responsiveness or energy return.

If you’ve run in Hoka shoes before, you know they use “Meta-Rocker Geometry.” The rounded heel is curved to make the shoe rock forward and smoothly transition from heel to toe. Like the Clifton 8, the Clifton 9 has diagonal flex grooves, causing the forefoot to be more responsive and the rocker to move well from heel to toe.

Stability: The Hoka Clifton 9 does not have a stability point, but you’ll find some inherent stability because the base is wide. You won’t find the traditional “stability piece” that many pure stable shoes have.

Hoka Clifton 9 Shoe Review

Traction and Durability: Depending on the year has depended on how durable the Hoka Clifton is. It depends on how much-blown rubber they add to the outsole.

The Clifton 8 had a redesigned outsole with diagonal flex grooves in the forefoot instead of lateral flex grooves, so the Clifton 8’s forefoot was stiffer than the previous Clifton. The Clifton 9 has more blown rubber than earlier versions (the downside of the rubber is it’s heavier!). I’ve used the Clifton 9 for over 100 miles and expect it to get around 400 miles. The first few versions of the Clifton were not durable but as the Clifton has aged, it’s gotten more durable (and heavier). Some people wish we could go back to the lightweight Clifton, but I want a shoe that lasts.

As far as running in inclement weather, you should not have a problem. The blown rubber keeps you from sliding around. My first run was in inclement weather and with super-deep desert sand, and I didn’t have to worry about falling or sliding around.

Immediately when I put on the Hoka Clifton 9, I felt the lack of a bucket seat arch. The arch that has bothered many people is now gone (truly, this was a big reason the Clifton didn’t work for so many…they felt like there was an annoying thing in the arch). It was a big reason I gravitated toward almost every other Hoka shoe in the lineup before the Hoka Clifton 9. You’ll feel it’s a bit firmer than previous versions.

Hoka Clifton 9 Shoe Review

I was sure it would be an easy run/daily run trainer, which is precisely what it was. It’s great for the days after a workout or hard run. Earlier versions of the Clifton were easier to pick up the pace in. While you can run moderately fast in the Clifton, it’s best designed as a daily/recovery run shoe. If you have always waned to try the Clifton but the bucket seat arch never worked for you, this is the year for you! I personally have found the Clifton 9 to be the most comfortable Clifton to date.

Hoka Clifton 9 Conclusion:

If you are looking for a highly cushioned and daily trainer, the Hoka Clifton 9 is a great option. There is a reason it usually wins “best running shoe of the year.” If you’re looking for a high-cushioned but lightweight trainer, the Hoka Clifton 9 is a great option. If you’ve disliked previous versions because they are too soft or the arch hits your foot weirdly, you might appreciate the Clifton 9.

Who should buy the Hoka Clifton 9?

If you’re a runner looking for a high-cushioned daily trainer, the Hoka Clifton 9 is a great option.

Who should not buy the Hoka Clifton 9?

If you prefer something that you can feel the ground more or a firm ride, then Clifton 9 is not for you. It can be a racing or faster shoe, but it’s not designed to be that. Consider the Hoka Mach 5 if you’re looking for something more profile.

My Current Shoe Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Clifton 9, Antepes Muscle Runners, Tracksmith Eliot Runner, New Balance 1080v12,  Saucony Triumph 19, Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra, 361 Centauri

Speed Work: Hoka Solimar, Altra Vanish Carbon, 361 Flame, Nike Tempo Next%, Reebok Float Ride Run fast Pro, Nike ZoomX Streakfly

Long Runs: ASICS Superblast

Trail Running/Hiking: Brooks Caldera 6, Saucony Peregrine 12Hoka Torrent 2, Hoka Zinal Shoe, Speedland SL: PDX

Races: Nike ZoomX Streakfly, Asics Metaspeed Sky, Hoka One One Rocket X, adidas Adizero Pro, New Balance Fuelcell 5280Nike Next%,  Saucony Endorphin Pro 2Reebok Run fast Pro 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Are you looking to learn more about running shoes? In my ebook, I talk about why you need a good running shoe, a shoe’s anatomy, neutral vs. stable, and even myths about running shoes.

Questions for you:

Have you tried the Hoka Clifton 9?

What is your favorite running shoe?


1 Comment

  1. as a guy that sells them, the Clifton has been a shoe that works for some people…the weird thing I’ve always felt an bit of a hump/arch support under the arch, even though we call it a natural shoe…I’m a Arahi guy….older, I need that little but of support, and that cushioning

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