Hoka Clifton v1 #1 – 200 Mile Review

As usual I am a day late and a dollar short, this is a 200 mile review of the Clifton V1, yeah the V1. I know, the V2 is out and available on June 1st and Sam W. has his initial thoughts on the Clifton V2 and the improvements that have been made. It sounds like they listened, with the exception of the insert. Sam has some really great information and observations on the Clifton V2 in that post. Back to Version 1.

Hoka Clifton V1

Hoka Clifton V1 With over 200 miles of actually running in the Hoka OneOne Clifton’s since April 7th, I have a really good idea of the things I like and things I don’t like about them. Your experiences with this brand/model may have been different and that is cool, we are all experiments of one and what I am writing about is how the Hoka Clifton’s have worked for me. If you decide to try the Clifton’s, they might not work the same for you as they have for me, though I hope that they do. I got these shoes in a trade with a fellow runner, who had already put 125 (or so miles on them), so these Hoka Clifton’s have over 325 total miles on them – something to remember when reading this post. Usually, for me…once a pair of shoes get over 300 miles on them, they are pretty much done and my legs are telling me it is time to move on. These Clifton’s are still a part of my current running shoe rotation, I ran in them this morning and plan to run in them tomorrow. So they have passed my usual 300 mile mark…I wonder how many more miles they will last for me?

How do I like them?

They work for me and how I run. I mostly like how they fit and feel when I run in them. The best part is that I stop worrying about what is on my feet and just run. No thinking about whether my right foot is going to start hurting, if I am going to get a blister or if my feet are getting sore. I put them on, run in them and don’t think about them when I am running.

Hoka Clifton V1

Hoka Clifton V1 What more can I say. Well with me – a lot. 🙂 You can read my 50 mile review of these shoes here. Let’s see, I have done a 5K Race, long runs up to 13.1 miles, groomed trails, some dry single track, runs on dirt roads, runs in the rain, treadmill and slush/snow (it was still April when I got them). Which means I have done just about every kind of run that I do in any shoe. I will be honest, since April 7th, my shoe rotation has been basically Clifton’s Blue and then I bought another pair of Clifton’s Lime on April 24th – yeah me and a two shoe rotation. If you look at my monthly and weekly mileage charts, my mileage has become much more consistent since I started running in the Clifton’s, than I was before I got them.

Monthly and Weekly Mileage Charts as of 5-27-15

Monthly and Weekly Mileage Charts as of 5-27-15 Also I don’t feel beat-up like I have in most shoes. I am 57 and I have a lot of miles on my legs, that along with a long history of injuries – a litany of every injury that a runner can have. The cushioning that the Clifton’s have, has helped my legs stay fresher and more able to withstand the pounding that running on the roads does to a body. I don’t give a damn about feeling the road, I just want to run comfortably and so far… I have just been able to run in them – hell I am averaging in the mid-40’s for weekly miles since April and recently knocked off a 50+ mile week and have not had any of the problems with my hips, legs, knees, ankles and feet that I usually do at that kind of mileage.

Hoka Clifton V1

Hoka Clifton V1 I know that some of this improved consistency is associated with the weather getting better (after a horrible winter), but at the same time I was struggling with some frustrating hamstring issues which impacted/limited my running more than I let on. Since I started running in the Clifton’s, those issues have gone from being painful and uncomfortable on many runs, to “oh yeah” there is some discomfort there when I am doing speedwork. Which is a huge difference and something that rapidly improved after I started running in my Clifton’s. I have nothing but anecdoctal evidence that wearing the Hoka’s are the reason my hamstrings have improved so much over the last 2 months. I will leave it at that and let you draw your own conclusions. I know what I believe.

Feel (different from fit)

Cushioned and comfortable are what I said in my 50 mile review and are still the two words that come to mind when I think about the Clifton’s, only I would add in fast too. But I think it is more because I am running consistently that is allowing me to run faster than something as simple as a pair of running shoes. The other thing is that I run very quietly in the Clifton’s, which is one of my indicators that I am running efficiently in them. They do let me know when I am tired and not maintaining good form, because they get noticeably noisier when I land. Going from the whisper tap, tap, tap, to a thunk, thunk, thunk. For as big and bulky looking a shoe as the Clifton’s appear initially, they are freaking light and nimble to run in.


I ran a 22:19 5K in them, running at about 80-85% effort last weekend, which isn’t a bad time for me and during the race, I didn’t think about how the shoes were doing. Sometimes we over-emphasize lightness, lack of cushioning and extra “pop” that is inherent in racing flats and forget how uncomfortable flats can be while racing and how much more of a pounding our legs take when running in them (at least mine do). There have been times when I ran races in flats, I was so focused on how uncomfortable my feet were, that I know that my times suffered. or worse…when I run in flats, it seems that I have this tendency to tweak or injure something along the way – not what I really want to worry about during a race.

At the Finish Miles for Mills 5K - bright yellow shirt

At the Finish Miles for Mills 5K – the old guy  in the bright yellow shirt is me I kind of think of it like the difference between driving a Cadillac Sedan or a Porche Carrera at 80 mph on some of the old back roads up heah. Both are going at the same speed without any issues, however, I know that the Cadillac is going to be more a lot more comfortable than a sports car while riding on those roads and that you will get there at the same time. Even if the Porche might look or seem like it is going faster – it ain’t. The differences between 6-7 ounce racing flats or 7.8 ounces that the Clifton’s weigh is not really enough of a difference, to make that big a difference. Do you have to work harder to get to your “race pace” in a softer shoe – maybe, but at the same time is the pounding your body is taking during while running in flats going to slow you down more than you think??? For most of us I wonder? Most of us will get a bigger bang for our buck, by working on losing a few pounds of body weight (I have to loose about 15 pounds), that will help us run faster, much more than an ounce or so on a pair of running shoes. I don’t really see me running all that much faster in flats than I do in the Clifton’s, so I would just as soon do my racing in comfort.


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 did not wear unusually.

Hoka Clifton v1 when I first got them

Hoka Clifton v1 when I first got them The top outside forefoot pod and the heel pod above the green has more wear than they did, but otherwise the wear is fairly minimal for shoes with almost 325 total miles on them.


Not too bad for 325 plus miles on them The Clifton’s are definitely road shoes or for groomed/dry trails. 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 on muddy/gnarly trails, or even wet grass. Although, they have done great on the roads, wet/rainy stuff and on the dirt shoulders that I get to run in. 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 This has still not caused any issues, but I get concerned when an insert is not smooth. These little crinkles could become a big problem on a long run if they begin to rub wrong or if the insole shifts at all. I am not all that impressed with the insoles, but I like the way that I run in this pair of Clifton’s, so I have left them alone.


The other thing is that I often have issues with wearing holes in the heel cushioning on many brands of running shoes, which eventually cause blisters on my heels – not good. With the Clifton’s as you can see that is not an issue. I did change out the insert in my Lime pair and it seems to give me a better fit, but at the same time they do not feel as fast a shoe as my Blue stock ones. So there are trade-offs.


The Clifton’s upper does not bother my Tailor’s Bunionette, there are not a bunch of sewn-on overlays to aggravate my feet, the fabric doesn’t bunch up on top of the toes when flexing and the toe box is wide enough to be comfortable (although I wouldn’t mind a bit more room). The heel cup is a little looser than I like, but has not been a problem while running. After 325 miles, some of the overlays are beginning to delaminate a little, nothing serious and nothing that I am worried about.


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. Due to the volume of the upper and the minimal tongue, when I cinch down the laces, the lace holes almost touch, not really a good thing, which also meant that for me to get a enough of the shoe to have a snug fit that I had to unhook the tongue from the laces. This leaves it free floating, which is a pain when putting the shoes on and I have to be very careful about where it is when I finally tie the shoes. The good thing is that during a run, the tongue hasn’t moved around or caused any issues for me.

Things I would change for V2

  • Change the tongue
  • Replace the insoles with a single insole that doesn’t crinkle, instead of the two-stage system they have now.
  • Add some of the more durable rubber on the inside pod on the heel for us that wear down that section.
  • Make the heel cup a little narrower.
  • Open up the toe box a little more
  • A little less volume in the mid foot.

However, even if Hoka OneOne didn’t make any changes to the Clifton’s I would still buy more pairs of this shoe – I like them that much.

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

If Bennie had an early lunch, I would go out and order another pair and listen to complaints about how much they cost.

The Reality is that

This is what I said in my 50 mile review and I can’t say it any better than I did then. 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 200 miles, I have a different perspective about the Hoka One One running shoe brand, especially – the Clifton’s. I will order a pair of the V2’s and see how much of a difference that the changes that they made make for me, but I also know that I will buy a couple pair of the Clifton V1’s that I find on clearance and use them as my race day/speedwork shoes. I just hope that Hoka doesn’t forget that not everyone needs/wants a true racing flat, but that some of us want a lightweight running shoe that we can use on race day, but that can do more than just be a racing flat or speedwork shoe. For me the Clifton V1 hit that sweet spot. Without a doubt, if I had to choose a shoe of the year out of the 12 different models I have put miles on this year so far, the Hoka Clifton’s would be it. I can’t give it any higher recommendation than after running over 200 miles in my Clifton-Blue and over 120 miles in my Clifton-Lime – I will be buying more pairs of the Hoka OneOne Clifton’s going forward.

Hoka Clifton V1

Hoka Clifton V1 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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