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Hoka Clifton 9 Review: Updated Workhorse
By Senior Contributor David Salas

The Hoka Clifton series has always been the neutral workhorse for the brand. One of the best-selling shoes in the marketplace, it's become a legacy series not only for runners, but also everyday people who are on their feet for much of the day due to its consistent comfort. The shoe itself is iconic for helping usher in the maximalist movement that's reshaped running as we know it. The new Clifton 9 continues its lineage with a few updates, including a change to the midsole foam, 2mm of stack height, and a new upper that is more accommodating. The shoe continues to be the lightweight, rockered daily trainer that people have come to love and expect when putting on a Clifton. 

Hoka Clifton 9
Price: $144.95 at Running Warehouse
Shop Men | Shop Women

Weight: 8.7 oz,  248 g (men's size 9), 7.3 oz, 205 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: Not Provided (though 2mm more stack)
Drop: 5mm
Classification: Neutral Daily Trainer



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Hoka Clifton is a neutral daily training shoe with a rockered ride. The shoe still provides the max cushion and lightweight feel of its predecessors with some positive updates. The upper is more accommodating and less narrow through the midfoot and the midsole is updated to give it some more resilience. The overall feel is similar to the previous Cliftons, but with a skosh more responsiveness and comfort with instep.

SIMILAR SHOES
: Saucony Ride 15, Asics Nimbus 24
PAST MODEL: Hoka Clifton 8

FIT


The Hoka Clifton 9 fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. One thing I noticed right off of the bat is that the upper is not as snug through the midfoot as previous Hoka Clifton's I have worn. The midfoot was more forgiving and I felt the upper wrapped my foot better. The mesh material itself also feels a little more resilient and does not have quite as much stretch as previous models. I felt foot security was better throughout. Width in the heel, midfoot, and forefoot I would classify as normal throughout. There is a relatively stiff heel counter present, though it is padded and provided no irritation for me. The tongue is padded well and had no slippage. This is the best fitting Clifton I have had so far. The only thing I really noticed was that the heel counter extended further laterally and got pulled a little bit when lacing the shoe down tight. This created a little bit of pressure on my lateral midfoot, though I did not develop any irritation because of it. Just something to note on lessening.



PERFORMANCE

The Hoka Clifton 9 still feels like a Clifton, though it does have some noticeable updates. The shoe does have 2 more millimeters of foam underfoot with an updated midsole. The foam is still EVA-based but has been dialed in for a little more resilience. I will say that though it is slight, there a noticeable change in feeling. The shoe does seem to have a little more bounce than previous Clifton's I have tried. The shoe still uses a balanced rocker profile throughout. The shoe uses sidewalls throughout most of the length of the shoe and I feel it does a pretty good job of making you feel centered. The outsole seems to be a touch thicker than I remember on the Clifton 8. This seems to firm up the ride a tad and make the cushioning feel nearly identical with the 8. That's not a bad thing though since you get a tad more bounce. The traction underfoot is decent and I can take this in runnable trail and grass as well. The shoe feels like a well-cushioned neutral shoe without any major bells or whistles. Those that like a neutral shoe with decent cushioning and a rocker profile will find this fits the bill.

STABILITY

The overall stability of the Clifton 9 is done pretty well. The shoe gives you a sense of being centered throughout the full gait cycle. The heel has the classic bucket feel you get from HOKA's and the sidewalls extend through most of the midfoot both medially and laterally. The shoe does have a crash pad in the heel that extends to the beginning of the midfoot. The outsole feels a little firmer and grips pretty well on most surfaces, and there is a decent amount of width throughout. The upper security is good and I felt good when turning. Stability is pretty good for a neutral shoe, and one I'd put in the stable neutral category.



Thoughts as a DPT: Updates without an Overhaul
By David Salas, PT, DPT, CSCS

The Hoka Clifton 9 looks a lot like the Clifton 8 from the outside though there are some noticeable changes. One thing that sticks out is the slight increase in bounce you get underfoot. They updated the midsole (though still EVA based) to increase its resiliency. The foam was a little bit lighter and so they were able to add 2 more millimeters of foam underfoot as well. The upper was also changed to be more accommodating for different foot types. The rubber seems to be thicker as well and provide good traction with less wear. Everything about the Clifton 9 has been made for durability of the shoe without sacrificing what makes it a Clifton. 

The Clifton has always done a good job of providing a centered and stable feel throughout the gait cycle without the usage of posting. The shoe is still very much neutral but incorporates good sidewalls, upper lockdown, and traction. Hoka in some ways has always been the poster child of a "rockered" shoe and they continue to demonstrate that with this model. Though there have been some pretty big changes inside of the shoe for a shoe cycle, the DNA is very much similar. The Clifton 9 is a good example of bringing a lot of updates to a shoe without overhauling the feel or design of it. 




RECOMMENDATIONS

The Clifton 9 is the best Clifton so far for me. The only thing I would really look into refining is the fit through the heel and midfoot. The midfoot is much more accommodating than previous Cliftons, but I did notice that the heel gets a little more pressure when the shoe is laced down. It feels like the heel counter portion that extends through that region gets pulled slightly with lacing the shoe down, providing some pressure to the lateral midfoot. Other than that this is a solid shoe to log daily miles in. 

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

The Hoka Clifton 9 is a neutral daily training shoe for the runner that wants a rockered shoe with a moderately cushioned feel. There is plenty of foam underfoot to give consideration for maximum cushioning, though the outsole seems to firm the feel up a tad. The shoe is not crazy responsive and so this shoe leans itself towards that daily workhorse. This is a training shoe for forgetting pace and rolling with the miles.



GRADING

David
Fit: A-  (Best fitting Clifton so far. Midfoot much more accommodating, though some pressure to the lateral heel and midfoot with lockdown)
Performance: 
A-  (Great for logging daily mileage, a little more bounce noted, though still not quite enough to reach for if there is any speed requirements)
Stability:  (Stable throughout for a neutral shoe. Wide platform, good traction, reliable upper, good sidewalls)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (They made some nice updates, but nothing revolutionary here. Balanced rocker with some good sidewalls.)
Personal: A- (Boring in a good way. Nice balanced transitions that you can just focus on getting your miles in.)
Overall: A- (A good move forward for the Clifton while maintaining the Clifton DNA)

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Price: $144.95 at Running Warehouse

Shop Men
| Shop Women

*Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Check out Gear We Love
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist. (Also recommend the Naked belt)
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
goodr Sunglases: Run in style with goodr's super fun sunglasses.
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Water Bottle: Perfect for long runs when you need hydration in the summer
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!

FURTHER READING: More Hoka

Hoka Arahi 6
Hoka Bondi 8
Hoka Kawana Review
Hoka Mach 5
Hoka Mach Supersonic

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Hoka for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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Guide to On Running Shoes

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