The Clifton line is a long-time favorite among running shoe enthusiasts and the Hoka Clifton 9 is the best Clifton yet. What did Hoka do to improve this long-time favorite of runners worldwide? Let’s find out.
Hoka Clifton 9
Men’s Weight: 9.1 oz
Women’s Weight: 7.3 oz
Drop: 5mm (27mm forefoot, 32mm heel)
Sizing: True to Size
- Rundown: The Hoka Clifton 9 is the best Clifton to date. It’s the same great neutral cushioned shoe with added bounce and elasticity.
The Hoka Clifton was basically the shoe that kicked off the high-stack running shoe craze. Back in the day, the original Clifton was something runners hadn’t ever seen before. Nowadays, the Hoka Clifton 9 doesn’t even qualify as a high-stack shoe. It’s still got a solid stack of foam but midsole stacks can be much much larger (see the New Balance SC Trainer and the Asics Superblast).
But despite not packing a big stack, the Hoka Clifton 9 is still soft and great for easy or recovery days. But Hoka tweaked the typical foam compound and now it’s more elastic and bouncy – a welcomed change.
We didn’t love previous Cliftons for long runs because they’d flatten out or feel dead by the end of 15+ miles and their overall life expectancy seemed to max out around the 120-mile mark (give or take). But the new foam seems livelier and feels like you’re still getting bounce even as you near 20 miles. The Clifton 9 works extremely well as a long run shoe. I imagine we’ll even see some pairs out on marathon courses due to the forgiving fit and all-around comfort.
Another improvement is the outsole rubber. The durability in particular. A common complaint about previous Clifton models (and Hokas in general) was the tendency of the outsole to wear out early. But I think this new outsole will answer that critique. The rubber still grips well but didn’t take as much of a beating in our testing. It’s handling the miles better than previous iterations. The pattern is slightly different, not by much, but the real improvement seems to be the rubber compound itself. It’s going to stand up to plenty of wear.
The upper is still very comfortable but feels a little lighter and more breathable than the upper of the Clifton 8. This year the tongue is only gusseted on one side but that’s enough to prevent tongue slip and keep it in place for the long haul.
Is the Hoka Clifton 9 wide foot friendly?
Considering it comes in a wide version, yes! But the fit in this model is much better than last year and is not plagued by what many (us included) felt was an extreme narrowing in the toebox.
Is the Hoka Clifton 9 worth $145?
Absolutely. The Hoka Clifton 9 aligns quite nicely in terms of performance and attributes with other high performing shoes in the $140-$160 price range like the Asics Novablast 3, Brooks Glycerin 20, Asics Glideride 3, Nike Air Zoom Vomero 16, New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4, and Saucony Triumph 20.
There’s not much in the way of negative aspects of the Hoka Clifton 9. If you use the shoe as intended…for jogging, easy running, recovery runs, and long runs then you shouldn’t run into any issues. The arch support feels a bit more exaggerated vs. older models, but it actually complements the ride and rocker sensation, so while some may find it too aggressive, we feel like it works.
Hoka Clifton 9 Summary
The Hoka Clifton 9 is 100% the best Clifton ever. It’s not particularly close either. The signature Clifton squish and plush upper are both still included making it extremely comfortable for running or just walking around. But the slightly more elastic and bouncy midsole takes the Clifton 9 to a new level. Because of that tweak, the Hoka Clifton 9 is a more versatile and pleasant ride than its predecessors.
The Clifton has long been a staple for many runners and one of the better beginner-friendly running shoes. That’s still the case…and then some.