We spent 6.9 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

5 reasons to buy

  • Many people liked the soft cushioning unit of the Hoka One One Clifton 5.
  • The color schemes of this model were lauded for being eye-catching.
  • The durability of the materials and the quality of the construction were appreciated by most testers.
  • Several heavyset consumers stated that the underfoot platform offered sufficient support throughout the day.
  • The breathable fabrics of the upper were praised because they keep maintained a cool and dry environment for the foot.

3 reasons not to buy

  • A few testers claimed that the softness of the midsole prevented it from giving a snappy forefoot lift.
  • The upper unit was deemed stiff by many consumers; they noted some skin irritation because of its unresponsiveness.
  • Some runners reported that the silhouette was uncomfortably narrow.

Bottom line

There was a bevy of positive remarks regarding the arrival of the Hoka One One Clifton 5. Most neutral runners were happy with its design, its durable build, and its well-ventilated upper. But the cushioning unit became a topic of contention; while some people were delighted with the soft and supportive structure of the midsole, others weren’t as welcoming because it apparently restricted the running output. Overall, the response for the Clifton 5 was middling as it’s one of Hoka’s most discussed products.

Tip: read our review of Hoka One One Clifton 5, or see the best running shoes.



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Video reviews and unboxing

  • The Hoka One One Clifton 5 is a running shoe that’s designed for those who have neutral pronation. It features a sizeable cushioning design that’s prominent in all of the iterations in this series. The 5th version is actually advertised as a marshmallow-like running shoe.
  • Ethylene vinyl acetate or EVA is still the cushioning unit of this product. It has been updated to be softer than the one used in the previous model, the Clifton 4. A rocker shape allows the foot to transition smoothly through the gait cycle.
  • The upper unit is still employing the engineered mesh cover system. The cloth-like material offers a soft and flexible wrap. The change is in the printed overlays; they’re fewer and less obtrusive of airflow.

The Hoka One One Clifton 5 was crafted using the regular measurements. So, when it comes to length, it’s able to follow the usual preferences of runners. Widthwise, the options are D – Medium and 2E – Wide for men, and B – Medium and D – Wide for women. The semi-curved shape of this shoe mimics the natural curve of the human foot.

A High-Abrasion Lightweight Rubber is placed in critical areas of the outsole. The job of this material is to stave off the abrasive nature of the ground. Moreover, it is the one responsible for doling out surface traction.

Flex grooves allow the platform to be more adherent to the natural movement capacity of the wearer’s foot. Such additions are beneficial to the toe-off phase of the gait cycle.

The midsole unit of the Hoka One One Clifton 5 features the compound, ethylene vinyl acetate. This EVA foam is the one carrying the foot and keeping it cushioned. It mitigates the impact forces generated by the foot-strike. Also, it’s configured to be softer than the one used in the previous version of the Clifton.

An Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry aims to smoothen the heel-to-toe transitions. It is fundamentally a rocker shape that enables the vigor of each step.

The Molded Ortholite® sockliner adds some more cushioning. It has a curved middle for arch support. Its antimicrobial and anti-sweat properties maintain a clean and healthy environment for the foot.

The engineered mesh upper offers a soft and flexible coverage. It has a cloth-like quality to it, making it more of a second skin than a cover system. Breathing pores allow air to seamlessly enter the foot-chamber, thus maintaining ventilation.

A 3D Puff Print Frame reinforces the façade and makes it more visually engaging. This system of overlays is not as prominent or persistent as the set that’s used in the previous Clifton shoe, yet it still helps in locking the foot in place. The 3D Puff Print Frame is also used in another Hoka running shoe, which is the Arahi 2.

A traditional lacing system with flat laces and discrete eyelets allows a customizable fit.

The padded tongue and collar further secure the foot, preventing it from wobbling in the foot-chamber or exiting the shoe unintentionally.

A pull tab is stitched on the heel part of the collar. Its purpose is to help the runner when it comes to wearing and removing the Hoka One One Clifton 5.

Hoka One One is one of the fastest growing running shoe brands in the premium shoe industry.   Hailing from France and launched by two life-long runners, Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard in 2009, Hoka was initially embraced by marathon runners for its enhanced cushioning and inherent stability.  As the shoe brand evolved with time, it now offers a wide range of shoes for all types of athletes who appreciate the unique ride that the Hoka running shoe provides and here are the technologies that make a Hoka One One running shoe unique.

Cushioned Midsole - This is what the Hoka brand is known for.  The running shoe’s wide midsole is made to be super thick and lightweight to deliver maximum cushioning, optimized stability, and unique comfort.  The shoe’s cushioned midsole is generally lightweight yet packed with excellent shock absorbing properties.

Meta-Rocker Geometry - With a unique low heel to toe differential and sculpted outsole, the Meta-Rocker propels the runner forward while encouraging a natural running gait.

Active Foot Frame - Another unique thing with about a Hoka shoe is that it sits the runner’s foot deep in the midsole rather than on the top of it.  This guarantees inherent stability for all types of runners without the limitations or weight of extra support material.

The Hoka One One Clifton was first introduced in 2014 and has quickly become a favorite cushioned running shoe for different types of athletes.  But what makes the Clifton series remarkable? Same as with other Hoka One One running shoes, the Clifton is reliably soft and smooth. This running shoe is made different in a way that it is surprisingly lightweight. The Clifton family has remained to be light and very responsive from the 1st release all the way to the 5th addition.

Hoka One One Clifton 1

For a limited time, the much loved Clifton 1 is back exactly as it was when it first released.  This neutral running shoe is built to be rather fast for race day yet also cushioned enough for long distance runs.  The Clifton 1 features a lightweight and breathable upper which is complemented by the EVA midsole for a springy, comfortable ride.

Hoka One One Clifton 2

The award-winning Clifton gets an update focused on making the upper more lightweight and comfortable in the Clifton 2. The softer and lightly padded tongue provides increased protection across the foot while the structural overlays improve support in the midfoot area. The shoe’s outsole goes through some slight updates to the rubber placement to enhance durability.

Hoka One One Clifton 3

The Clifton 3 is an even more improved version of the 2nd Clifton. It combines ultra-soft cushioning and comfort into a lightweight package that delivers a smooth ride.  This shoe feels like the perfect combination of its two predecessors as it has brought back some features from the Clifton 1 which is the wider toe-box and the increased durability from Clifton 2.  The combined features embedded in this shoe makes it truly lightweight with the right amount of cushioning support.

Hoka One One Clifton 4

As expected from Clifton 4’s award-winning lineage, this running shoe is light, comfortable, and very fast. It uses the famous Hoka One One’s midsole geometry which has been given an upgraded foam package to guarantee consistent cushioning support through the life of the shoe. The Clifton 4 has an improved fit and an even more adaptive forefoot which allows for a smoother ride. Not to mention the shoe’s surprising new look, this running shoe will surely be a head turner.

The 5th Clifton model from Hoka One One is more interesting than its former counterparts because it does not only come in the typical Mesh version, but Hoka has taken a leaf out of Nike's or Altra’s book by also introducing a Knit version of its flagship model.  Here’s a side by side comparison to note the difference between the two upper construction.

Hoka One One Clifton 5’s Upper

The Clifton 5 uses an open engineered mesh construction with fewer printed overlays.  Compared to its previous versions, the upper on this shoe appears to be more breathable and comfortable on an overall scale.  When compared to the Clifton 4, they will look similar except with the overlays removed. The Clifton 5 now also features reinforced eyestays for added durability and the heelcup locks down well while the padding around the ankle is made to be more comfortable.

Hoka One One Clifton 5 Knit’s Upper

The Clifton 5 Knit is made to be different.  It sports a full knit upper with varying densities throughout the shoe which allows for a decent level of control, guidance, and stability. It delivers comfort and breathability just as well as its mesh counterpart. The real difference of the Clifton 5 Knit is found in the ankle and heel area. The shoe still uses the heelcup just like in the mesh version, but the ankle features absolutely no padding which makes zero degrees spacing from the material and the wearer’s ankle making it comfortable.  Despite the said comfort, the material being this close to the ankle might require some getting used to depending on the comfort level of each and every user.

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.