Over the past few years, Hoka One One has built itself a loyal following by going in the opposite direction of most other running shoe companies. While the competition looked lighter and more minimalist, Hoka created shoes with massive soles designed to provide extra cushioning and support.
This “maximalist” approach was exactly what some runners were looking for, although in my previous reviews of Hoka shoes, I found them to be a bit off-putting. While I recognized that they were extremely comfortable, the massive amount of padding took away my connection to the road and made me feel like I was running much slower, even if that wasn’t reflected in my times. But with the new Clifton 6 road running shoe, criticism has been removed, although I now have a few questions regarding durability.
Thick Padded Outsole
As with most Hoka shoes, the Clifton offers the thick, overly padded outsole to help provide extra protection from the road’s impact. But unlike the Speedgoat 3 trail running shoes that I tested in the past, I didn’t find that padding to feel quite so strange on my feet.
While the Speedgoat shoes felt like I was running with two mattresses tied to my feet, the Clifton definitely felt more natural. As a result, I didn’t feel quite so disconnected from the road, nor did it seem like I was running at a much slower pace.
That’s because this shoe offers a nice balance in terms of padding and stability. One that will likely give fans of the Hoka brand what they’re looking for while still connecting nicely with runners like myself.
Fit & Feel
On your foot, the Clifton feels great. This is due in part to the shoe’s lightness, which tips the scales at 9 ounces while still offering the signature Hoka look and padding.
It also features a 5 mm heel drop, which isn’t quite as severe and noticeable as in some other running shoes but enhances overall comfort. Much of this comes from the fact that a lot of thought was put into the overall design, incorporating several important elements chosen to give a wide range of runners a shoe that they could simply put on and head out the door. To that end, Hoka has succeeded nicely, as I experienced zero break-in time, and the Clifton felt natural on my feet from day one.
As usual, when it comes to how well a shoe fits on your feet, the level of comfort is based a lot on personal preference. That’s why I always encourage readers to try a pair of shoes (or boots) on before they buy them.
Excellent Support & Stability
That said, Clifton’s design makes it a good match for just about any runner, but its smooth ride, excellent levels of support and stability, and solid road traction are likely to win over new fans to the Hoka brand. The shoe’s outsole is even level enough to provide more contact with the ground, overcoming the issues I had with not feeling well connected.
All in all, I found myself loving the Clifton 6 more than I expected. It was the first road shoe from Hoka that I had tested, and I found that it fits more with my needs better than the Speedgoat, which primarily a long-distance trail runner.
That said, I did seem to have one issue that stuck out during my testing phase, which was about long-term durability. Don’t get me wrong, if you looked at my pair of Clifton 6s right now, they practically look like they just came right out of the box. But the level of cushioning that I got from the shoe seems to have diminished at a very rapid pace, particularly since that cushioning is such a Hoka trademark.
Conventional wisdom says that a runner should replace their shoes every 300-500 miles (480-800 km). As a larger guy, I tend to be on the lower end of that spectrum, and it is not uncommon for me to switch to a new pair of shoes at the 300-350 mile mark.
I always know that it is time to buy a new pair when my legs start to feel a bit more tired after a run and don’t bounce back as quickly between workouts. Switching to a new shoe almost always immediately puts a bounce in my step and gets me right back on track.
However, with the Clifton 6, I found that feeling of exhausted legs started to come on closer to the 180-200 mile (290-320 km) mark. In fact, thanks to a busy travel schedule, I hadn’t been running my usual 160+ miles per month, and yet these shoes felt like they were beginning to run down a lot quicker than I had anticipated.
As anticipated, once I did switch to a new pair of runners, I immediately started to bounce back.
Obviously, your mileage will vary in this area, but I thought it was worth noting none the less. Perhaps my test shoes were not up to Hoka’s usual specs, or there was something else going on. But they most definitely didn’t last me as long as some of the other shoes I’ve tested over the past few years.
All of that said, I think the Clifton is still a fantastic shoe and a real bargain. I’ve paid a lot more than that for running shoes that weren’t quite as comfortable or supportive.
If they had just a bit more long-term durability, they would certainly be amongst my favorite road runners on the market right now. I would still highly recommend them; however, just keep in mind they may not last as long for you as other shoes you’ve run in.
Find out more on the Hoka One One website.
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