Hoka Clifton 9 review: the latest incarnation of the French brand’s popular neutral daily trainer is the most fluid-feeling yet…
Hoka Clifton 9
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$145 / £130, hoka.com
- Stable-feeling neutral shoe
- Better structure than Clifton 8
- Fluid-feeling transitions
- Midsole a little soft
Hoka has opted for evolution over revolution with this, the ninth iteration of the popular Clifton daily trainer. There are subtle tweaks to the outgoing Clifton 8 that go beyond the obligatory design details. That said, on first glance, there’s no mistaking it’s a Clifton – that pronounced arch and elongated heel grip are still there.
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Fans of previous Clifton models won’t be disappointed with the subtle improvements. While there’s no upgrade to the Clifton line’s compression moulded EVA midsole, Hoka has increased stack height by 3mm and the Clifton 9 has better structure in the engineered mesh upper than its predecessor. It’s lighter and more breathable now, too.
It’s a touch narrower than the Clifton 8, but if anything that’s another improvement. (Though there’s a wide option if that’s more to your liking.)
Hoka Clifton 9 fit
Overall fit feels improved too, with a slightly wider toe box and a deep heel counter beneath that large heel grip. The latter allows your heel to sink further back into the shoe for a more confidence-inspiring locked-in feel. That, combined with the 5mm heel-toe drop, helps you feel planted within the shoe, giving a stable feel to what is a neutral shoe.
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Transitions feel natural and comfortable, with the subtle heel-to-toe roll of its Meta-Rocker platform coaxing you into a fluid gait. It’s definitely more responsive and faster feeling than previous Cliftons (especially when thinking about the ‘marshmallow’ feel of the original). It’s still a mid-cushion trainer and not overly plush, but there’s enough give with every stride to please most Clifton fans. It does well to balance that with a decent energy return, though road feedback can feel lacking at times.
Hoka Clifton 9 durability
The new Durabrasion rubber outsole is another improvement, implemented to increase the lifespan of the Clifton 9. Hoka has used more recycled materials in its uppers and laces, but on first impressions has sacrifices nothing in the way of quality or longevity.
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It’s not a shoe designed for racing, as there’s just a little too much cushion in that EVA midsole. And perhaps it lacks the direct feel or rigidity around the midfoot for fast, technical courses. However, despite that low 5mm drop it can encourage you to lean into your stride and nudge the pace up, even on recovery runs. Its efficiency is such that daily tempo runs begin to glide by a little quicker.
While some runners criticise Cliftons for not providing an exciting ride, it’s a shoe with all the ingredients to encourage natural, fluid forward motion – and that can only make you go faster.
Overall the Hoka Clifton 9 is an ideal neutral daily trainer for logging regular miles. If you want a dependable, neutral shoe that feels stable and springy but with that trademark Clifton cushion, the 9 is well worth considering.