The Hoka Clifton 9 is everything you expect a Clifton to be. It’s a versatile, cushioned shoe that is lighter than it looks, and works well as a daily trainer. The problem lies in the competition: there are better options available to do the same job, from Hoka and other brands.
- Midsole a little dull
- Better options available
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No shoe line better exemplifies what Hoka does than the Clifton. It’s a well-cushioned but surprisingly light shoe that works well for easy runs.
The Hoka Clifton 9 is my favourite version of the shoe yet, but still has faults common to Hoka’s road shoes, such as the dull midsole foam. It’s a solid daily trainer, but doesn’t match up to the best running shoes for me.
Hoka Clifton 9 Review: Price And Availability
The Hoka Clifton 9 launched on 15th February 2023 and costs $145 in the US and £130 in the UK.
Design And Fit
The Clifton is a popular neutral daily trainer, and the updates Hoka has made to the ninth version are fairly small, though they do improve the shoe considerably. The EVA foam in the midsole is now lighter and more responsive, allowing Hoka to add 2-3mm to the stack height (2mm in the women’s shoe, 3mm in the men’s) while making the shoe lighter.
The stack height is now 32mm at the heel and 27mm in the forefoot in the men’s shoe, and 29mm at the heel and 24mm in the forefoot for the women’s, with the same 5mm drop as the Clifton 8.
That’s not a towering stack compared with max-cushioned shoes like the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 or Hoka Bondi 8, but it’s a lot of cushioning, which makes it a pleasant surprise that the Clifton 9 weighs just 9.2oz/262g in my UK 9 – slightly lighter than the Clifton 8 (9.4oz/266g in my UK 9) despite the increased stack.
Hoka has also reduced the weight by changing the upper to a lighter engineered knit, though there is still plenty of padding around the heel for added comfort on easy runs. The Clifton 9 is wider than most Hoka shoes, and fitted well in my normal size.
The outsole has good rubber coverage on the forefoot and heel, and the shoe has gripped well for me on wet pavements and one brief run on light trails.
How I Tested This Shoe
I’ve run 41km in the Clifton 9 ahead of its launch, doing a mix of easy and tempo-training runs. I have also tested several past versions of the Clifton including the Clifton 8.
While it is only a little lighter than the Clifton 8, the changes Hoka has made with the Clifton 9 make the shoe feel more sprightly than its predecessor. The foam gives a little more back when running fast, and the rocker design is smooth and helps you tick through easy runs comfortably.
I enjoyed the Clifton 9 most on easy runs, which is when it’s a shoe you can pull on and forget about. It protects the legs without being bulky or feeling overbearing, and it’s stable and grips well.
The shoe loses some of its charm when you push the pace, and when doing progression runs in it from easy to tempo paces, the dullness of the midsole was noticeable compared with daily trainers that use bouncier foams, like the New Balance Rebel v3 or Puma Velocity Nitro 2.
It’s also less responsive than the Hoka Mach 5, which Hoka bills more as a fast training shoe, though it actually works well as a daily trainer because of the mix of comfort and speed it offers. The Clifton 9 will be more durable than the Mach 5, which doesn’t have any rubber on its outsole, but the ride of the Mach 5 is more enjoyable for pretty much any kind of run.
Is The Hoka Clifton 9 Worth It?
The Hoka Clifton 9 will please existing fans of the line, offering increased cushioning and a more responsive ride while being lighter. It does the same job as the Clifton 8, just a little better, and it’s a reliable daily trainer for those who like a rockered ride.
However, I don’t think it will win many new fans. The midsole lacks the bounce and versatility you get from more impressive shoes, including Hoka’s own Mach 5. The Clifton feels like a more robust and cushioned shoe than the Mach 5, but the ride is less enjoyable, no matter what kind of run you’re doing in it. However, I do prefer the Clifton to the Bondi 8, which has added even more cushioning but become cumbersome and heavy as a result.
While I didn’t dislike the Clifton 9 and would be happy pulling it on for a range of daily training, there are too many other shoes I’d prefer to reach for, including the cheaper Puma Velocity Nitro 2 or New Balance Rebel v3, to make it one to recommend.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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