Hoka Clifton 9 Review
by Khaidzir khalil on March 14, 2023
Weight: 257g / 9.07 oz (Men’s US 9.5)
Price: $229 SGD
Stack Height: 32/27mm (5mm drop)
Pros & Cons
Fantastic Cushion-to-Weight Ratio
Bouncy & Fun Midsole
Midsole still lacks liveliness
The Clifton series used to be a fan favourite, but fell out of favour over the years. Even through the beginning of the era of super foams, HOKA has chosen to stick to their tried and true EVA foam in the Clifton series, which I’m not so sure if it was a great decision on their part. This decision has led many to believe that HOKA was falling behind in its innovation.
Enter the Clifton 9. Featuring a new (is it really new?) EVA midsole compound with 3 extra millimeters, one would be curious if HOKA is able to revive what was once the best shoe of the year and make it a fan favourite once more.
Upper & Fit
The upper is made from an engineered knit that is both supportive and breathable.
I went true to size, which fit perfectly length wise but was a little snug in the toe box. I opted for the standard width, though upon second thought I should have gone for the wide variation. The standard width fits on the narrow side, and becomes noticeable during longer runs.
The heel collar’s padding is thicker in this version for added comfort. Personally, I didn’t think that this was a necessary addition, and I was relieved that this change did not affect the overall fit and lockdown of the upper.
I’m actually impressed with the upper. I wouldn’t say it’s as comfortable as the Nimbus 25 from Asics, but it’s definitely more breathable.
Midsole & Ride
There are two main changes in the midsole: a 3mm increase in midsole stack and a softer midsole compression moulded EVA compound.
I was definitely disappointed when I heard that the Clifton 9 was not using any of HOKA’s new PEBA or PROFLY+ foam. I enjoyed the PROFLY+ foam in the Mach 5, and was hoping to see some of it here, or at least some PEBA foam as seen on their upcoming carbon plated racer, the Rocket X2.
That said, the added stack coupled with the softer foam compound has definitely improved on the ride. Somehow, I feel that the foam is ever so slightly bouncier, while haivng a deeper cushion that is also softer. The changes resuilted in a smoother, livelier ride.
Don’t expect the foam to feel like any of the superfoams on the market though, because it comes nowhere near the likes of PWRRUN+ in the Saucony Triumph 20 or ZoomX in the Nike Invincible Run 3. I would say its closer to the Asics Nimbus 25, though I prefer the FF Blast+ ECO and PureGel combination in the Nimbus 25.
Where then does the Clifotn 9 belong? Is the Clifton 9 worth getting? If you enjoy a soft pneumotic yet laterally stable ride, then yes. The Clifotn 9 is also lighter than all the shoes that I’ve mentioned above, which makes it more versaitle.
I’ve tried it at paces ranging from recovery runs to tempo runs and even some strides. The Clifton feels most at home at easy paces, and can handle progression runs at uptempo paces should you decide to push the pace. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for any paces faster than your tempo runs.
Outsole & Durability
The outsole is made of strategically placed blown rubber, which has been slightly retweaked for a smoother ride. I would say that I wasn’t able to feel much of a difference here. With the outsole material being the same as the past few generations, you can expect the same levels of durability here.
Outsole grip is pretty decent, being able to handle most surfaces, less wet drain covers. Rainy day grip has also been great, though I definitely don’t recommend running on wet grass with these.
Areas for Improvement
Further improve on midsole material (preferably move away from cmEVA)
Increase room in toe box
The Hoka Clifton 9 is a much-welcome update to the Clifton series. While I’m disappointed that HOKA stubbornly clings on to compression moulded EVA foam for their everyday trainers, the foam here coupled with the 3mm increase in stack height noticeably improves the ride in this 9th iteration. Those looking for a laterally stable yet decently soft daily trainer can definitely consider the Clifton 9 for their daily runs.
Review by Xtriderunning
Check out Hoka Clifton 9 Collection here