Hoka One One Clifton Review: A 27 Year Old’s Perspective:
For two years now it’s been consistently difficult to keep Hoka One One shoes in stock. Often times they sell themselves, the customer was directed by a friend, doctor, or even a stranger out on the trail to go the Elephant’s Perch and purchase a pair of Hoka’s. Other times, I find myself introducing Hoka to someone looking for a new running or walking shoe and I thoroughly enjoy that process. Way more often than not, fitting someone into a Hoka shoe for the first time results in smiles and a realization that running/walking could now be “fun” and less painful. During this sales pitch I am almost always asked if I run in them and everytime I reply that I haven’t, somewhat embarrassingly, given my enthusiasm for the product.
I consider myself a runner, however I do not run year round. The past few years I have found myself running only in the spring and the fall, namely when I’m training for the Sun Valley Half Marathon or when the mountain bike conditions are far from ideal. Last Thursday, Alex, a Hoka One One Tech Rep set up shop in the Perch alongside three massive duffel bags of “demo” Hoka shoes for all to try. I’ve always said that I would love to try a Hoka if given them, yet I wasn’t going to blindly purchase a pair because they are very different than my shoe of choice. I was excited for the opportunity to take them to the street.
For the past three years I have run exclusively in Saucony and Brooks. The qualities I look for are lightweight yet still durable for training, approximately 4mm of drop (offset) from the heel to the toe, and a seamless upper (feels like a slipper). Specific models of choice have included the Saucony Kinvara series, Saucony Triumph, Brooks Puregrit and Pureflow, and most recently the Saucony Zealot ISO. All of these shoes provide good feel of the ground with a comfortable amount of cush. I feared that a Hoka would numb that feel of the terrain. I was mistaken.
Only running 4.5 miles once in a shoe can hardly justify the term “review”, but I still wanted to share my thoughts. The Clifton weighs in at 7.7 ounces and features 5mm of drop/offset, two attributes that meet my running shoe requirements and are both instantly noticeable upon tying the laces. I stormed out of the shop and hit the road. I started at a faster pace than I had been accustomed to because I only had an hour to return the shoes before Alex needed to pack up and leave. Running down Sun Valley Road towards the bike path I already noticed a few very pleasant qualities.
First, I was surprised with how normal the Clifton felt. Normal in the sense that I could feel the cushion and I loved how light they were, but without looking down I wasn’t able to tell how much foam I was running on. Secondly, I loved the increased stability and traction supplied by the larger footprint and straight last. If I had run out of a puddle on the bike path, I would have left an outline of the entire shoe. I’d say the most common concern with purchasing these shoes is the fear of being higher up from the ground and feeling unstable or rolling an ankle. I’d now argue the opposite, that they provide increased stability. The most obvious, yet still eye opening attribute was the cushion itself. The cush dampens the unforgiving road beautifully and I also provides a welcoming amount of feedback. I’m hesitant to use the word bounce, because I don’t feel that fits. It’s more of a rebound of energy, if you will. Sort of like those ab rollers that assist you come back towards your body, the Clifton assisted your next stride.
As I returned the shop I was surprised that I couldn’t identify one component of the shoe I didn’t enjoy. I purchased a pair last night and I look forward to providing a longer term review.
Happy running, walking, hiking and skipping,