The shoe that was inspired by Cape Town’s beautiful Clifton beach and the one that put Hoka on the road running map is available now in its eighth version and it has faithfully stuck to it’s roots. The early versions were light, soft and responsive, but subsequent versions unfortunately became a bit clunky and nothing like these early versions. Thankfully the release of the sixth version signalled a return to a light, soft and responsive shoe with Hoka’s wonderfully comfortable, smooth riding early stage meta-rocker shape.
I’m both a triathlete and a runner and have used Hoka’s Clayton and Carbon X shoes in Ironman races. I’ve also run several Two Oceans ultra marathons and a couple of Comrades ultra marathons. And I’ve often included the Clifton in my rotation of training shoes – I usually have a least six different shoes in rotation at any time.
Loyalists will be happy to know that the Clifton 8 has retained the original shoe’s DNA, with changes and upgrades, from previous versions, mainly occurring in the upper. The gusseted tongue has more padding and the inner lining is smooth enough to allow for comfortable sockless running. An engineered mesh has been used for a more breathable upper and the lace eyelets have also been reinforced. The toe box is also slightly roomier and an extended Achilles pull-tab has been added to make foot entry easier.
While the changes to the upper have improved the shoe from the previous versions, I found the padding on the tongue excessive and the breathability of the upper poor, when compared with other more advanced shoes.
However, if you liked the early versions and the previous two versions of this shoe, you will also like this version. The shoe is light and soft with a wide stable base. It would probably best suit a midfoot striker owing to the very flat outsole, but the shoe’s soft heel would also accommodate heel strikers.
The shoes that I tested were size UK 8.5 and weighed 250 grams, with a medium to high stack, 29mm at the rear and 24mm in front, which produces a 5mm drop.
Hoka have retained EVA foam for the midsole, despite the development and availability of much lighter and more responsive foams, which can be found in some of Hoka’s other shoes, such as the Mach. So, while this does date the shoe and make it less responsive than it could be, it does provide familiarity and continuity with previous versions and will keep loyalists happy.
The EVA foam will make your foot work a bit harder, but it’s an easy natured shoe that does not constantly demand perfect running form. The Clifton 8 has a good balance between responsiveness and comfort and would be a great daily trainer that is ideally suited for long easy or recovery runs.
Check it out for yourself at https://www.hoka.com/en/us/ and let us know what you think in the comments below.