The HOKA Bondi 8 and HOKA Clifton 9 are two of the brand's most well known running shoes. Even though the Bondi is one of the original HOKA models, the Clifton has arguably become more popular over previous years. With the Clifton being lighter and less expensive than the Bondi, that maybe explains the reason. This HOKA Bondi 8 vs HOKA Clifton 9 review article breaks down the key differences between the latest models. Hopefully this helps you pick the right HOKA running shoes for you. For example, lighter isn’t always better.
Key features comparison
HOKA Bondi cushioning vs Clifton cushioning
Let’s start with the midsole foam. The HOKA Bondi 8 and HOKA Clifton 9 midsole material is pretty similar. Each features HOKA’s CMEVA foam. This is a lightweight foam that is soft and responsive. However, there are some noticeable differences in the two midsoles, which is evident in the picture below.
The Bondi midsole (pictured above on the top) is billowed, these are the lines you can see. This improves how the midsole compresses and how much energy is returned. Additionally, the Bondi midsole is thicker than the Clifton midsole. The Bondi is a 33-29mm and 31-27mm stack for men’s and women’s respectively. Whereas, the Clifton is 32-27mm and 29-24mm stack for men’s and women’s respectively.
How does this translate on a run? The Bondi feels significantly more cushioned and protective than the Clifton. While the Bondi is slightly heavier (we’ll come back to this), the extra weight isn’t noticeable during a run. That’s mainly because the cushioning takes so much stress off your legs and makes those easier to steady paces feel even more comfortable.
I would say the Clifton cushioning does respond slightly better to changes in pace, but it’s marginal. The major plus point of the Clifton cushioning is how light it is, but you don’t get as much protection as you do in the Bondi.
There’s very little difference, if any, between the midsole rockers. Both models roll your feet forward and help lower the stress on your calf muscles. I would say the transition from landing to toe-off feels smoother and more fluid in the Bondi. Although, some runners may find it the other way round depending on how they land.
HOKA Bondi support vs Clifton support
The HOKA Bondi 8 and HOKA Clifton 9 are neutral running shoes. However, the sides of the cushioning wrap up around the sides of your feet, in both models. The midsole essentially acts like a bucket seat. As your feet sit into the cushioning, there’s an element of holistic support that keeps your feet in check.
I personally find the Bondi slightly more stable. This is probably because the midsole base is wider and the cushioning wraps up around your feet slightly more. This is marginal though, and I doubt many runners will notice much of a difference.
HOKA Bondi fit vs Clifton fit
From a fit perspective, the HOKA Bondi 8 is wider than the HOKA Clifton 9. As it’s built with a more accommodating last, there’s more space in the toe box. If the main factor that affects your decision is the fit, this is definitely something to consider. Runners with a narrow foot will probably prefer the Clifton fit and runners with a broader foot will likely prefer the Bondi fit. However, the Clifton 9 is available in a wide-fit (men/women) at Run4It.
The main difference between the uppers is the cushioning in them. The Bondi (pictured above on the left) has more padding around the tongue and ankle collar. Which you should be able to make out from the image above. The mesh in the Bondi also feels more premium than the Clifton (pictured above on the right). The downside is this extra padding adds some weight. If you enjoy a lighter feel, you’ll probably prefer the Clifton upper. Having said that, I didn’t find the Bondi upper felt heavy in any way.
You’ll probably notice the difference at the heel counter too. The Clifton features HOKA’s signature tapered heel collar. I’m a big fan of this design because it makes it so easy to slip the shoes on and off and feels really secure.
HOKA Bondi durability vs Clifton durability
We’re best to start this section by talking about the weight of the HOKA Bondi 8 vs HOKA Clifton 9. Weighing around 307 grams, the men’s Bondi is roughly 60 grams heavier than the Clifton. Weighing around 252 grams, the women’s Bondi is roughly 47 grams heavier than the Clifton. Where does this extra weight come from? Well, part of the additional weight comes from the extra padding in the upper and thicker midsole. However, the biggest reason for the difference is the outsole rubber. If you look at the image below, you can see how much more rubber there is on the bottom of the Bondi outsole (pictured top) than there is on the Clifton (pictured bottom).
Outsole rubber is one of the heaviest parts of a running shoe. The downside is that it makes a running shoe weigh more, but the upside is that it makes them last longer. The image above shows the wear on my Clifton running shoes after 166 kilometres. There’s clear evidence of some wearing where the EVA midsole is exposed and there’s no outsole rubber. Yes, the areas prone to the highest levels of wear are covered, but the Clifton midsole will wear down faster than the Bondi midsole. If you’re looking for the most durable HOKA neutral running shoes, the Bondi is very likely to be the winner.
How to pick?
In summary, the main difference between the HOKA Bondi 8 and HOKA Clifton 9 running shoes is the cushioning. There’s no doubt that the Bondi feels more cushioned, more protective and plusher under your feet. As a result, the Bondi takes more stress off your legs and makes long runs feel more comfortable. If your goal is to make long runs feel as easy as possible, or you want to run on consecutive days, you’ll probably prefer the Bondi.
On the other hand, if you’re not running longer distances and prefer a lighter feel, the Clifton may be the better choice. As mentioned earlier, the Clifton midsole also responds better to changes of pace than the Bondi. While we would normally recommend a more responsive running shoe for faster paced running, some runners prefer to do their training in one pair. If so, the Clifton should work better for you than the Bondi.
We discussed the fit and shapes of these running shoes as a factor too. Although, lots of runners will be able to run in both the Bondi and Clifton. I certainly don’t find either too narrow or too wide, they’re just slightly different.
You probably want to place more emphasis on how long you would like them to last. Yes the Bondi is more expensive, but they should last quite a bit longer than the Clifton. At Run4It, we know a lot of runners place durability at the top of their priorities list.
Which of the two is better for walking?
A lot of people visit us at Run4It looking for HOKA running shoes for walking. This is often off the back of a recommendation from a podiatrist. If you’re wondering why, the curved midsole geometry rolls your feet forward when walking. This helps lower the amount of work done by the foot and ankle. In a lot of cases, this can alleviate plantar fascia discomfort and Achilles tendon problems. Some people even find the rocker reduces pain in their big toe joint because it’s not flexing as much.
While both the HOKA Bondi 8 and HOKA Clifton 9 are great options for walking, the lighter weight Clifton is likely to feel more comfortable. It’s slightly sleeker design also pairs better with everyday clothing too. If you’re looking for extra width for a Morton’s neuroma, the Clifton 9 wide-fit would be the best option to go for.