So I’ve done lots of mileage in preparation for my Ironman, but in the lead-up, I decided I wanted something a little more forgiving on my feet. A good friend of mine at work only runs in HOKA’s and swears by them so I thought I’d give them a go.
The Clifton 5 was the logical choice. I know they have just re-released the original Clifton’s, but you have to assume there are 5 generations of improvements in the new shoe.
I’m not sure what I think – my feet do feel fresh at half marathon distance, but no matter what I’ve done, blisters on my little toe are the end result. They are hugely cushioned, and there is a good spring in every step.
You really feel the difference over a lesser cushioned shoe. This, in turn, does feel a little more draining. You’re working harder with each step, but overall, the lightweight nature of this shoe is forgiving.
I found these online at Runners Need for £69, which is quite cheap for a HOKA running shoe. But following the marathon, I’m not sure I’ll be using them for longer distance runs.
As most of you can see from the photos, the most striking part of all HOKA shoes is the size of the sole. It’s massive. Certain colours can make this better or worse but the heel stack is 30mm, and heel drop is 5mm.
I, for the first time, noticed an ache in the metatarsal arch, which I think is down to being used to trainers with a higher drop. This only really occurred on longer runs, but it’s not something I’ve never experienced on other shoes.
My understanding is that the sole is the same rubber throughout which, as mentioned previously, provides a really cushioned ride but at the expense of blisters. If this isn’t the case then apologies, but the rubber feels as cushioned throughout the whole sole.
Unlike ON shoes there is no 3D mould or cushioning to secure the heel in place during running preventing and heel slip. The outer part of the shoe is quite stiff around the base of the heel, but as you go higher the support is lost and is quite soft.
I have had no issues with heel slip or and heel issues in this shoe, so whilst it’s not the most expensive solution it works. There is also a strap on the top of the heel to make putting the shoe on easier – a nice touch.
Upper & midsole
Around the toe box, there is a slight stiffening of the material to give you some extra support, but it doesn’t have much of an effect. The rest of the sole is lightweight and breathable. I never suffered any overheating or wet feet, so I feel like these shoes have a perfect balance.
As mentioned, I suffered rubbing on both feet just on my little toe (not sure what the reason was). You may suffer the same, but you may not. I did try different socks, anti-blister plasters and anti-chafing cream – no luck.
Tongue & laces
The tongue, compared to other shoes, is just a simple tongue. It isn’t elasticated to the rest of the shoe, which means I did suffer from the tongue slipping on long runs.
One of the laces does cross through the tongue, but it isn’t enough to stop the tongue riding down. It’s nicely padded without being too padded.
There is a reinforcement around the fabric to support the laces with the Hoka logo at the bottom of the laces. The laces are a good length, and I didn’t suffer any loosening off during running.
Again, for me, as with Nike’s, this is a very simple insole. The Ortholite logo is printed on the arch but it is quite a cheap feeling part. It’s quite rough around the inside arch edge which caused another blister on my longer runs.
I may try modifying this part just to reduce the sharpness, but for some reason, I only noticed this on one foot. It may be that I just got a bad insole on the left shoe.
Overall, I’ve been quite impressed with the grip levels. There are different patterns and different materials on the bottom of the shoe to aid grip.
The extended sole sections are not very grippy at all, but the black and grey over mouldings are high friction and look built to last.
Other notable features
I had the Evening Primrose/Nine Iron colour, which is quite appealing to the eyes. It also impressive how much reflective material there is on this shoe.
It would be perfect for running late at night. There’s no doubt that you’ll be seen. It’s still really impressive as well that for a shoe with so much rubber to be so lightweight.
At a size 10.5, the shoe comes in at 308g per shoe. It’s not the lightest, but other long-distance shoes are at least 50-60g’s heavier.
I really wanted to like this shoe, I did. I used it to run Brighton Marathon, and I did accomplish my mission (although the time wasn’t all that I’d hoped).
However, this can’t be the shoe I use at the Ironman. I’m not sure my feet will ever forgive me. I do understand why so many people rave about Hoka, but they are just not for me.
The ride is cushioned, and they are comfy to a point. Very lightweight for the size and, for the price I paid, a reasonable shoe. However, I will continue my search for the perfect shoe as these are not quite the shoe I need.
For me, costs have been cut on the insole and the tongue which, in my opinion, make a running shoe a shoe. Overall, they may be perfect for others, but they don’t really work for me, sorry HOKA!
If you didn’t like the Clifton 4, this shoe isn’t for you. But if you did, you will love the 5. I picked up a pair of Hoka Clifton 5 last October 2018 after being confirmed into the double-super-elite-secret society of marshmallow cushioned semi-orthotics known as “Those Weird HOKA People.”
We tend to get little smirks because of the Rocket boot, clown shoe nature of our chosen footwear. I say let them smirk.
I started with the Bondi 6 and have become a missionary delivering numerous pairs of Hoka’s to friends and family members this past Christmas. I also grabbed a pair of Clifton 4, but that is another review for another day.
I had high standards for these Clifton’s backing down from the Bondi 6 knowing they were a step down on the cushion. Also knowing the Bondi is more for the LR and Recovery, while the Clifton reached a little further into the Tempo/Threshold runs.
Of course, I wouldn’t use these for speed work since they are just so massive. But who would? These kind of Hoka’s are for comfort, not setting land speed records.
Having already owned the “Black Iris” color scheme in the Bondi, I opted to buy the same Black Iris scheme for the Clifton 5. Right away the colors popped out of the box.
The subtle difference in the two shoes was most prevalent in the vertical lines from toe to heel making the shoe look streamlined and less bulky than its more round and wide counterpart.
I always adorn my shoes with lock laces and a nice pair of orange laces complemented the already Brunswick green and orange shoes. The lace holes were a bit difficult to have round eye laces through flat eye holes.
The mesh upper is very soft, feeling more like cotton than nylon, and the little holes integrated throughout the mesh are not only fashionable but functional too in their breathability.
The midsole is rocking that patented Hoka cushion from heel to toe, on top of its standard meta-rocker giving the shoe not only a streamlined appearance, but a curvy one at that.
The outsole leaves a little to be desired in terms of durability. Instead of a fully covering rubber outsole to protect against the elements, there are only strategically placed rubber patches through the hot spots of a runner’s foot strike, the heel, the ball/midfoot and the toe.
The rest of the outsole is the soft foam which unfortunately gets scuffed up pretty fast and compromises the integrity of the rubberized hot spots.
The Insole is what I’ve come to expect as a standard insole from Hoka - not excessively thick, but pretty springy.
The lycra inner and heel were delightful to slip into wearing spandex socks. The heel hugs your Achilles and roots you in place in the shoe giving a feeling of security.
The fit was a bit narrow. I felt a bit compressed in the midfoot up to the ball of my foot.
The toe box is snug, but it doesn't rub my toes. I also have frog flippers for feet so it might not be an issue with the shoe, and more so an issue with my genetics.
I tried these out on a 10 miler and wasn’t exactly as thrilled with them out of the box. I had been with the Bondi’s, but I chalk it up to the shoes needing to break in a bit, as usual.
The insole tended to slip away from the ball of my foot, and I felt a small pinch where the gap between the insole and midsole had happened. I found myself giving a good sideways stomp every 5-6 miles to slide the insole over back into place.
After about 40 miles, I stopped noticing this and assume that I got it in place with use. You may want to consider custom insoles with these if you have wide feet since the midfoot can be a bit narrow.
The cushion isn’t the same in the Clifton as the Bondi, but the rest of the runs left my legs feeling rested and refreshed. That was only about 100 miles with these shoes. I found that when running at my threshold pace, the shoes had better energy return than the Bondi’s.
Moral of that story? I use the Bondi for the LR and recovery and the Clifton for the tempo/threshold. I wouldn’t use these for speed work based on the "disconnected feeling" from the ground with extra cushion, as well as the slippage of the insole.
- Great looks
- Very comfortable
- The insole slips
I love the color scheme and streamline appearance. It is comfortable and well cushioned. The upper is in great condition after a 100-mile run. Also, the 8.5 heel is great, and the lock laces work well with the shoe.
On the other hand, I find these shoes to be a little narrow, and during a run, the insole often slips. The outsole foam after a 100 mile is breaking down faster than I wanted.
Overall, this is still a great shoe for me. It has its vulnerabilities, but I'm looking forward to Clifton 6.
Good to know
- 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.
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.
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.