Our verdict

While you’d be forgiven to think that Clifton’s popularity is just the result of TikTok hype, we argue that there’s a deep-rooted heritage behind this reliable daily workhorse. This updated ninth edition is a masterclass in how not to mess with success, and we think it's the right approach. It’s now snappy, better fitting, and more fun—it's just a better shoe overall. Underneath, however, is still that unmistakably Clifton feel that we know and love.

Pros

  • Thicker and more energetic midsole cushioning
  • Lighter than the v8
  • Easy on the knees
  • Durable upper
  • Available in wide
  • Good traction on roads and mild trails
  • Mild, unobtrusive stability elements
  • Can handle faster paces better than previous editions
  • Best for easy days and long runs

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Upper needs some time to break in
  • Average breathability

Audience verdict

86
Great!
  • Top 1% most popular running shoes

Who should buy

Get this all-around Hoka workhorse if you:

  • Are looking for a cushioned road runner that can comfortably gobble miles.
  • Want a Clifton that can easily handle easy days, recovery runs, and some speedwork.
  • Need excellent value for money. As a premium daily trainer, the Clifton 9 is more affordable than its competition, i.e. Saucony Triumph 20 ($160).

hoka-clifton-9-side-shot.JPG

Who should NOT buy

While the Clifton 9 comes up wider than any of its predecessors, it still has that narrow-leaning Hoka fit. If you have wide feet and are worried even the wide sizes aren’t enough, check out the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 3.

For another daily trainer that’s comfy, cushy, and good to go from day one, look at the Saucony Triumph 20. It is also much more breathable.

hoka-clifton-9-parts.JPG

Breathability

Even though the Clifton 9's upper felt really soft and cozy against the foot, we found that breathability was not that good.

Sadly, we had to rate the shoe a 3 out of 5 on our breathability test, which is below the average for road running shoes. In addition, you can see from our transparency test below, how the shoe's ventilation holes are built into a really thick upper material.

This score aligns with our microscopic examination, where we observed a dense mesh layer combined with small openings and thinner sections to promote airflow.

hoka-clifton-9-microscope-upper.JPG

Sporting moderate breathability, it might not be the top choice for sweltering summer long runs. However, these little holes ensure sufficient airflow for nearly every day of the year.

hoka-clifton-9-microscope-upper-hole.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 3
Average 3.8
Compared to 222 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Outsole hardness

From our experience, softer rubbers tend to fall behind harder compounds in terms of wear resistance. Unfortunately, our durometer measurement showed that this Hoka shoe's outsole is a little softer than average at 76.0 HC.

Hoka Clifton 9 outsole hardness durometer

But after a series of test runs, it wasn't as bad as we had expected!

Test results
Clifton 9 76.0 HC
Average 80.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 273 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole thickness

The Clifton's durability is saved by its thicker-than-usual outsole layer! With a caliper measurement of 3.7 mm, the rubber on this shoe is slightly thicker than average.

hoka-clifton-9-rubber-thickness.JPG

This approach is great, as it would have been easier to use less, harder rubber, saving weight while maintaining durability. In return, the shoe's softer rubber helps to keep landings less harsh.

Test results
Clifton 9 3.7 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Despite having a thicker stack than the v8, the Hoka Clifton 9 still comes in at a surprisingly lighter weight overall.

At just 8.8 oz (249g), the Clifton 9 weighs 0.7 oz (20g) lighter than your average road running shoe!

Test results
Clifton 9 8.78 oz (249g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Back to the Clifton 7 stack height.

Seeing 32.7 mm on our caliper, we were really happy about Hoka's choice to add an extra 3 millimeters to the stack height. Those same 3 mm were there in the Clifton 7 but disappeared in the Clifton 8.

hoka-clifton-9-stack-heel.JPG

That way, this Hoka shoe sits at the average of road shoes in terms of cushioning thickness.

Test results
Clifton 9 32.7 mm
Average 33.7 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

Upfront in the forefoot, our caliper returned 26.6 mm. This is a couple of millimeters taller than the average offering a little bonus for midfoot and forefoot strikers out there.

hoka-clifton-9-stack-forefoot.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 26.6 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

The company states that the shoe's stack height is 32/27 mm, featuring a 5 mm heel-to-toe drop. Our measurements came in at 32.7 mm and 26.6 mm resulting in a 6.1 mm drop, which is fairly close to their claim. Bravo!

hoka-clifton-9-half.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 6.1 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

Hoka opted for a fairly standard, padded insole for the Clifton 9. Measuring its thickness in the heel, we got 4.2 mm. Same as the average, actually.

Hoka Clifton 9 insole thickness

Test results
Clifton 9 4.2 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 288 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The biggest headline in the Clifton 9 is its “new” ProFly+ midsole foam—it's a similar foam to the Clifton 8 but with a slightly different formulation. We were blown away by its remarkable softness!

hoka-clifton-9-durometer-midsole.JPG

Our lab measurements confirmed our feelings: with a durometer reading of 20.4 HA, this shoe is 18% softer than the average.

Test results
Clifton 9 20.4 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 220 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We understand that many of you also train during harsh winters and are curious about the effects of cold in running shoes. Let's see what happens!

hoka-clifton-9-freezer.JPG

Well... we've got great news for anyone planning to rock the Clifton 9 in cold weather! The ProFly foam barely gets firm at all!

After letting this Hoka shoe chill in the freezer for 20 minutes, we repeated the measurement and got 24.0 HA instead of the initial 20.4 HA. That's a really small difference! And the shoe still remains much softer than the rest of the "frozen" shoes.

The difference in firmness turns out to be only 17.6% for the Clifton 9 whereas the average of road shoes hovers around 28%.

That combined with the shoe's less breathable upper is the green light for using this Hoka shoe on a chilly day!

Test results
Clifton 9 17.6%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 219 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Rocker

While the Clifton 9 isn't as heavily rockered as the New Balance SC Trainer featured in the video below, its curved design will aid you in every heel-to-toe transition. This is particularly noteworthy for heel strikers, considering the relatively low drop.

Compared to version 8, this ninth edition felt more alive to us. The new midsole gave the shoe a more energetic ride, and the meta-rocker was balanced and easy to get in sync with.

Ride

While its updates allowed the shoe to pick up some workout paces, we still think that this Hoka shoe simply doesn't have enough bounce to sustain fast paces efficiently.

The Clifton 9 is better suited for clocking up the miles and forgetting all about speed. It might not be the best choice for faster-tempo runs and more intense activities.

Stability

Lateral stability test

Despite having no motion control features or special support in the upper, we think that the Clifton 9 could work for runners with mild overpronation. It is also a lifesaver for neutral pronators who love a touch of support as they get towards the end of the run.

Torsional rigidity

First of all, the shoe is stiff enough to provide a stable platform to land on and push off from.

In our hands-on evaluation, we rated the shoe on a 1-5 stiffness scale, with 5 being the stiffest. It scored 4 out of 5 for torsional stiffness.

This level of rigidity prevents the shoe's platform from rolling sideways easily.

Test results
Clifton 9 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 271 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Hoka is famously recognized for its robust and rigid heel counters, and this shoe is just another example.

The Clifton 9's heel counter is among the stiffest we've ever rated! We awarded it with the highest score 5 out of 5!

But where this shoe truly excels is in providing support for the Achilles region. If you're prone to tendinopathies or have a sensitive Achilles area, the curved heel cup design is perfect for you.

hoka-clifton-9-logo.JPG

Unlike many other shoes that press against your tendon, this one moves away from it, avoiding any unnecessary tension. This could be a game-changer for many runners.

Test results
Clifton 9 5
Average 2.8
Compared to 255 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Hoka shoes are known for having broad platforms that enhance stability, and the Clifton 9 certainly follows suit.

With the help of a caliper, we found an impressive 115.3 mm in the widest part of the forefoot. This is a couple of millimeters wider than the average.

hoka-clifton-9-width-outsole.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 115.3 mm
Average 113.6 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

In the widest part of the heel, our caliper showed a striking 96.0 mm! That's a good 6 mm wider than average and is certainly among the widest we've seen in our lab.

hoka-clifton-9-width-heel.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 96.0 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We turned to our force gauge to measure how much force it would take to bend the Hoka Clifton 9 to a 90-degree angle. As it turns out, a little than than it takes on average!

As the gauge showed 26.9N, we found that the Clifton 9 is 13% more flexible than road shoes on average.

It seems clear that it's on par with most of the relatively high-stack daily trainers out there. To add some context, the 9th edition of the popular Clifton is:

Test results
Clifton 9 26.9N
Average 29.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 275 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

Unfortunately, the Hoka Clifton 9 becomes disappointingly stiffer when exposed to cold temperatures!

After sitting for 20 minutes in the freezer, this Hoka shoe asked for as much as 48.9N of force to bend it! That's way above the average!

Getting 81.8% stiffer in freezing temperatures compared to the average 43.6% is too much!

Test results
Clifton 9 81.8%
Average 36.3%
Compared to 275 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Grip / Traction

Based on our wear tests, the shoe's traction underfoot is pretty good for a road shoe. We've had no problems on light trails and even grass.

hoka-clifton-9-outsole.JPG

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Following our caliper measurements, the toebox fit of the Clifton 9 can be categorized as a solid medium. We measured both the widest part and the big toe area of the toebox to make sure that it didn't taper.

hoka-clifton-9-measurements.jpg

For our medium-width feet, the Clifton 9 fits exactly right. But we think that wide-footers may end up wishing for more space, especially on longer distances. Luckily, this Hoka shoe offers wide options.

hoka-clifton-9-components-overview.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 95.8 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The shoe's padded and semi-gusseted tongue provides a really snug yet comfortable fit.

hoka-clifton-9-tongue.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

We found the tongue to be 6.6 mm thick, which is 38% less padding compared to the previous model, yet 17% more than the average running shoe.

hoka-clifton-9-tongue-thickness.JPG

Test results
Clifton 9 6.6 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 290 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

In-shoe comfort

From afar, this upper looks quite similar to the 8. But upon closer inspection, we saw the shoe's knitted textured upper to be more durable, and accommodating.

This thicker material also provided a secure lockdown that felt especially good when turning.

What's more, Hoka is a highly-regarded brand in the world of triathlon which translates to the Clifton 9's incredibly soft and buttery interior. We found that its upper allows for a super comfortable sockless experience during your daily runs. Just remember to limit those ones to under an hour to avoid any blisters or hotspots.

hoka-clifton-9-laces.JPG

The flat laces might be a bit long for some runners, but this extra length is actually beneficial if you plan on using a runner’s knot.

Misc

Where’d those numbers go?

Another interesting tidbit about the 9th-generation Clifton: the midsole no longer has its ‘specs’ printed on the side; no need to ask Reddit for help in deciphering what they mean.

hoka-clifton-9-heel-part.JPG