Hoka Clifton v1 #1 – 50 Mile Review

Update: There have been a bunch of blog posts around the net from runners who have been selected as HokaOneOne Blog Ambassadors – no I am not one and I have no relationship with Hoka, other than I like the Clifton’s. I just wanted make sure that was up front and made very clear to everyone. I like the Hoka Clifton’s enough that I purchased another pair from Runner’s Warehouse on 4/20/15. Yeah Hoka One One, that brand the runners tend to first think of, when someone starts talking about maximalist running shoes. So what is the big deal, a lot of runners have tried and really liked their Hoka’s.

Hoka Clifton v1

Hoka Clifton v1 Well to be honest there does not seem to be any in between with Hoka One One Running shoes. It seems that either you like them or you don’t. I can remember a time, not that long ago, oh probably about a month ago, when I said that I would NEVER-EVER run in those clown shoes called Hoka’s. The thing is I had never tried on, much less even run in a pair of Hoka’s. I was going by what other runners (that I respect a lot) were saying and my vague/fleeting impressions of the few Hoka’s that I got a chance to look at in person. Looking back it was not really the most informed way to form an opinion about a brand or their running shoes. This was even though I had read glowing comments in blogs and my various online running groups (for a while) about how great the Hoka’s, especially the Clifton’s and Huaka’s were. Which sort of piqued my interest, but not enough to go find a pair. After all they were fugly and Hoka’s, plus no one around here that I knew had much good to say about them. Until recently at least. Now that I have actually run in them for over 60 miles – well read on.

Why Hoka’s

I haven’t had a lot of luck with running shoes this year. During my first double-digit run a couple of weeks ago in a pair that had been working well for me before that run, let’s just say it wasn’t the experience I had expected or want from my primary running shoes. So I started looking around to see what running shoes might work better for my long runs. I like a shoes with a cushioned feel, between 20/25mm stack heights, 4-8mm ramp/drop, rockered midsole, wider toe box and minimal overlays. Now I know that stats do not tell the how a shoe is to actually run in, but those stats are typically a good starting place for me. As I kept researching, I kept coming back to the Hoka Clifton’s, it seemed exactly “my kind of running shoe”. Unfortunately, the nearest place I could try on a pair of Hoka’s was Brunswick or Portland and I wasn’t going to make a special trip down there to simply try on a pair of running shoes. Well not unless I got desperate.

Hoka Clifton v1

Hoka Clifton v1 Then I got a bad case of me being me and decided to talk to one of my running buddies, who I knew, had run very successfully in Hoka’s and after “chatting” for a while, we worked a deal, where he would send me a pair of his used Clifton’s with about 125 mile on them.

How have they worked out for me?

After more than 50 miles in the Clifton’s, I am very impressed. Compared to other Hoka One One models, the Clifton’s have more of a traditional heel stack height at 29mm, which is the same or less than many models from other brands. So while they are a cushioned shoe, they are not a super maximal running shoe. The other thing is that I have run my best, in shoes with a rockered design and a big part of the design in the Hoka line-up is their early stage meta-rocker technology. During actual runs –  I had no problems on an 11.0 mile long run, doing a race pace time trial on the treadmill, treadmill interval speedwork, a couple of recovery runs and a fast outside tempo run.

Hoka Clifton v1

Hoka Clifton v1 In other words I have used the Clifton’s in everything but an actual race, that I use my road shoes for and they have performed beyond my expectations, especially for a pair of shoes that are closer to 200 miles than they are to being new.


For consistent measurement purposes, I am a size 7.0 on the Brannock Foot measuring device and when you add-on a thumb’s width, it usually puts me in an 8.5 in most running shoes. Below is a photo of the Clifton’s and my thumb showing where my right big toe is inside the toe box to show how it actually fits my foot?

Hoka Clifton v1

Hoka Clifton v1 The Clifton’s 8.5 length is just over a thumb’s width from the end and while it is very close to how I want my shoes to fit length-wise, I think that length-wise I could almost drop down to an 8.0. However, I am not sure that the size 8.0 would be as wide in the toe-box and while I plan to try on a pair of 8.0’s at some point, the 8.5’s have worked well so far.

Feel (different from fit)

Cushioned and comfortable the two words that come to mind when I think about the Clifton’s. I run very quietly in the Clifton’s, which is one of my indicators that I am running efficiently in them.

Hoka Clifton v1

Hoka Clifton v1 For as big and bulky looking a shoe as the Clifton’s appear initially, they are freaking light and nimble to run in. So much so that the wife was asking me “what are those heavy shoes?” When I told her to go pick one up, she said “Wow, those are a LOT lighter than they look!” I agree with her, they are freaking light. All this bulk does mean that they are cushioned, but they are not marshmallow cushioned, they feel more like my Skechers Ultra’s. However, I feel good maintaining a faster pace, without feeling like the shoes are sucking energy out of me.


The outsole had some minor wear points, with a little shoe goo in spots that the other runner wore down. However, in my usual wear spots (which are different areas), the Clifton’s do not seem to be wearing unusually.

Hoka Clifton v1 when I first got them

Hoka Clifton v1 when I first got them

Hoka Clifton v1 as of 4-17-15

Hoka Clifton v1 as of 4-17-15 The top outside forefoot pod has more wear than they did 60 miles ago, but otherwise the wear is fairly minimal for shoes with almost 200 total miles on them. The actual wear for me is something that I really won’t be able to figure out, until I get a new pair of Clifton’s and wear them to see, how they really do for me. However, from what I can see, I don’t think that many runners will get much beyond the 300-400 mile point, before the out-sole is fairly worn through. As one runner commented shoe-goo is your friend. However, I did learn the hard way that the Clifton’s are definitely road shoes. While just walking in some wet snow, they were seriously slipping and sliding around, so I wouldn’t use them as my primary winter running shoes outside or for muddy/gnarly trails. Although, they have done great on the roads, wet/rainy stuff and on the dirt shoulders that I get to run in. They have also excelled on the two fast-paced runs I have done on the treadmill. One thing that I have noticed is that the insert, has a couple of crinkles in the heel cup.

Hoka Clifton crinkle in the insole

Hoka Clifton crinkle in the insole While this hasn’t caused any issues, it could become a problem on a long run if they begin to rub wrong or if the insole shifts at all. It is something that I will keep my eye on and will swap out the insole if it becomes an issue.


The Clifton’s upper does not bother my Tailor’s Bunionette, there are not a bunch of sewn-on overlays to aggravate my foot, the fabric doesn’t bunch up on top of the toes when flexing and the toe box is wide enough to be very comfortable/not sloppy. The heel cup is a little looser than I like, but has not been a problem while running.

Hoka Clifton v1

Hoka Clifton v1 So far the Clifton’s uppers have worked for me, which means I really do not care too much about how the shoe looks. I care more about whether the damn things work for me or not. Even so, the looks of the Clifton’s are growing on me and the function really does outweigh any concerns I have about their looks. One of the things about the Clifton’s that I don’t like (I don’t like this on a lot of shoes being produced today) is the non-padded tongue. While the minimal tongue has not bothered me during a run, I do have to be very aware of how it is positioned when I first lace up/tie the shoes and make sure it is positioned just right.

Hoka Clifton v1

Hoka Clifton v1 With so many good things going on with the Clifton’s I can deal with what I consider to be a crappy tongue.


Other than the insole, I have not even thought about changing anything, which is very unusual for me.

If Bennie Chewed Up These Shoes Today, What Would I Do?

To be honest, I like the Hoka Clifton’s a lot and will buy another pair to see how they feel new. So if Bennie had an early lunch, I would go out and order another pair and listen to complaints about how much they cost. Unfortunately, replacing $130.00 shoes every 6-8 weeks gets the wife’s attention pretty quickly.

The Reality is that

When I first saw Hoka’s and even right up until recently, I told everyone that I wouldn’t be caught dead in those “clown” shoes. I was saying that even though I had never even tried a pair of Hoka’s on. Which was both close-minded and ignorant of me. Even after I worked a deal with the other runner and got the Clifton’s in last week, I still looked for and really wanted to find reasons why I wouldn’t like them. Ummm Houston – we have a big frigging problem. I do like the Hoka One One Clifton’s — A LOT!!! I admit it, I was wrong. Now that I have run in the Clifton’s for over 60 miles, I have a different perspective about the Hoka One One running shoe brand, especially – the Clifton’s. What can I say, these are shoes that have pretty close to 200 miles on them total and I can run comfortably and well, in the Clifton’s on the treadmill, outside, long runs, doing speedwork, faster paced runs, recovery runs and not feel as though the shoes are getting in the way or that my feet/legs are trashed. Not something that any shoe I have run in this year has been able to duplicate – there has always been some kind of run that my previous shoes do not do well. Sometimes I admit that I let others influence me too much about my choices in running shoes. Even though I know what styles of running shoes work best for me. I have to remember that the style of shoe is much more important than the name on the side of the shoe or on the box. Now to find another pair of Clifton’s and see how they do for me – new. Here are links to other reviews of the Clifton’s from runners I respect: Comparison Review: Hoka One One Clifton and Huaka – Sam Winebaum — Sam’s Running, People, Places, and ThingsHoka Clifton Running Shoe Review – Peter Larson Hoka One One Clifton Review – Running Shoe Guru
Disclosure of Material Connection: These are used running shoes with approximately 125 miles on them when I received them and were a trade with another runner. The opinions I have expressed are my own and your experiences with this product might be different from mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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