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Finlay McAndrew  •  Running Gear •  16.05.2023 •  4 min read

HOKA Clifton 9 Shoe Review

An ideal shoe for banking daily miles

One of the most well known HOKA running shoes is the Clifton. If you’re wondering why, it’s normally because runners love how light and cushioned it feels. This results in lots of runners using the HOKA Clifton as their go-to daily running shoes. At Run4It, we’ve seen how the HOKA Clifton has evolved and what they’re best suited to. Now on its ninth iteration, the HOKA Clifton 9 is lighter and more cushioned than ever before. HOKA supplied Run4It with a pair to test out and review. 

Shop the HOKA Clifton

HOKA Clifton 9 running shoes in black propped up against a brick wall

What’s new

  • An updated foam offers more responsiveness. In simple terms, it returns more energy so it feels better if you pick up the pace.
  • The midsole is 3mm thicker. Meaning there’s more cushioning under your feet. 
  • An altered outsole design is more durable than the previous version. 
  • The upper is lighter, as some of the overlays have been removed. However, more padding has been added around the ankle to improve comfort. 
  • A single-side medial gusset tongue delivers a more streamlined fit. This also stops the tongue moving. 
Lateral view of HOKA running shoe in black

The HOKA Clifton 9 weighs 248 grams and 205 grams for men’s and women’s respectively. As mentioned, the stack height has increased by 3mm. The HOKA Clifton 9 stack is 33mm to 27mm and 29mm to 24mm for men’s and women’s respectively. Making both the men’s and women’s Clifton 9 a 5mm drop.

How does the Clifton 9 cushioning feel

The midsole is made from HOKA’s CMEVA foam. While HOKA doesn't release much information about this, the main thing to know is that it’s a light air based foam. HOKA running shoes are renowned for being very cushioned. I’m going to throw a bit of a curve ball here and say that the HOKA Clifton 9 doesn’t feel that soft. However, that’s because I’m comparing it to super foams, which feel incredibly soft and bouncy. 

Outsole of HOKA running shoe in black

Out on a run, the Clifton 9 cushioning feels padded and nicely cushioned. What I mean by this is that you don’t really feel the ground and there’s plenty of protection. The foam definitely feels responsive, but not in a way that would assist with faster paced running. Instead, the slight firmness to the foam compliments the rocker-shaped midsole to create more forward momentum. While running at a slower to steady pace, your feet feel like they’re being helped along and a lot of stress gets taken off the lower leg muscles. Particularly the calf and Achilles area. 

The Clifton 9 midsole feels very stable. This is possibly down to how balanced the cushioning feels, but is likely down to how wide the midsole base is. The midsole walls also wrap up around the sides of your feet, a bit like a bucket seat. While you may think this width and extra support adds weight, the midsole feels extremely lightweight. 

How does the Clifton 9 fit

The upper doesn’t fit overly narrow or wide. However, I did have to go up half a UK size from my normal running shoe size. In the men’s, HOKA only converts the US to UK size by 0.5, which is normally a full size in other brands. Our recommendation is to pick the same US size as your normal running shoes. 

Some runners do find that HOKA running shoes fit neatly along the side. This is partly down to the fact that the midsole walls wrap up around the feet. I’ve got a relatively broad forefoot and find the toe box very accommodating. The HOKA Clifton 9 is available in a wide fit if you prefer more space at the toe box. 

Heel collar of HOKA Clifton 9 running shoe in black

HOKA’s signature heel collar design feels great. Yes some of this design is for aesthetics, but it does make it very easy to slip your foot in and it reduces Achilles rubbing. The ankle lock was great while out on a run. 

Overall, the Clifton 9 upper feels very light, supportive and breathable. You’ll probably forget about how it feels really quickly, which is exactly what you want. 

How can the Clifton 9 improve your run

At Run4It, we position the HOKA Clifton 9 in our Float Experience category. That’s because it’s designed to feel best at slower paced runs. It feels perfect for those everyday miles, when you just want to hold a consistent pace and forget about your feet. It’s more than cushioned enough for the longer miles too. 

In our experience, running shoes with a rocker midsole (curved midsole) are great for reducing the stress on calf muscles. If you get tight calf muscles when you run, you should definitely consider the HOKA Clifton 9 running shoes. This is also relevant if you’re using them for walking too. 

HOKA Clifton 9 running shoes in black on wooden bench

A lot of people visit us at Run4It for HOKA running shoes as a result of a recommendation from a podiatrist. It’s well accepted that the rocker midsole is great for lowering the stress on both the lower leg and feet during walking and running. Many people find this type of cushioning alleviates plantar fascia discomfort, Achilles tendon pain and tension on calf muscles. 

How do other HOKA models compare to the Clifton 9

Even though the Clifton 9 is well cushioned, it’s not the most cushioned HOKA neutral running shoe. If you’re looking for the most padding, the HOKA Bondi 8 is the best option. The Bondi 8 is one of our top recommendations for recovery runs, long distances and for runners who would like the softest underfoot experience. 

Shop the HOKA Bondi

The Hoka Arahi 6 is a stability running shoe. Its signature J-Frame support reduces pronation and lowers internal knee rotation. It also features a rocker shaped midsole and is great for lowering the stress on the lower leg area.

Shop the HOKA running shoe range

It feels perfect for those everyday miles, when you just want to hold a consistent pace and forget about your feet.

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