The Hoka One One Clifton line of low-offset running shoes has attracted a dedicated fanbase by increasing the cushioning without adding too much weight. Starry-eyed advocates of the Clifton describe its ride as “pillowy soft” or “like running on clouds”. This is a shoe that people really love to run in, and it only took me one outing in the Clifton 4 to see why.
Before I start eulogising about the Clifton 4, however, a quick word on how Hoka has updated the shoe with the Clifton 5. We asked product developer Vincent Bouillard to go into more detail about the key difference – the more breathable upper.
“The Clifton 5 embeds a new pattern for its upper engineered mesh,” says Bouillard. “This adds more open areas for enhanced breathability in key zones such as the medial/lateral midfoot and throat.”
Bouillard says that the Clifton 5, like the previous version of the shoe, will serve as a great all-rounder for training and racing if you’re a casual runner. If you’re a more serious runner with multiple pairs or running shoes who uses lighter models on race day, it’s a shoe to reach for when doing easy runs.
Hoka Clifton 5, €130 (around £115), buy on hokaoneone.eu
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Hoka Clifton 4 Review
With the changes to the upper in the Clifton 5, it’s fair to expect it to at least match the superbly comfortable ride of the Clifton 4’s sole. The lightweight frame and creamy smooth heel-to-toe transition means its extra cushioning certainly doesn’t slow you down on everyday runs – it is hard to overstate how comfortable this shoe is to run in. I was regularly surprised by how quickly the mile notifications came around on easy runs in the Clifton; you simply don’t feel the road passing by under your feet in the same way as with other shoes.
While that’s a positive in terms of comfort, it’s a negative for those who like a more responsive shoe, especially during interval sessions or longer tempo runs. While the Clifton 4 is light enough for speedier sessions, the extra cushioning does result in a somewhat squishy feel, which affects the pace a little compared with tackling tempo efforts in a stiffer, less cushioned shoe.
If pace is not a great concern for you, the Clifton 4 is a superb all-round shoe that will carry you through all your training and races – you’ll love every step you take in them. And even if you keep a more responsive shoe in your arsenal for race day, the Clifton 4 is a great option for most training runs, especially when you’re racking up big mileage ahead of a marathon or even an ultra.
Hoka Clifton 4, £75, buy on runnersneed.com