Hoka Clifton 8 review and lab test

Hoka continues to nail the daily trainer!


The Clifton 8 is yet another iteration of a fantastic shoe by Hoka. If you saw our video review of the Clifton 7 you’ll know I loved last year’s Clifton. They were like a mini spa date for your legs every time you laced them up.

They were my top pick for a daily trainer in 2020, and not much has changed here on the new version, the Clifton 8. That makes me happy. It’s always disappointing when a brand nails a shoe, only to update and change things the following year. 

Hoka-Clifton-8- Parts.jpg

The subtle changes in this new version make this another solid choice for daily trainer of the year. 

Read on to see what we discovered in this review. 

Who should buy the Hoka Clifton 8

Buy the Hoka Clifton 8 if you are looking for a plush daily trainer that’s soft underfoot with a smooth rockered transition.

If you need a recovery day shoe or a long-distance slow run trainer, this is a great option. 

Ultimately if you are looking for comfort, stability, plushness and to not break the bank, at $130 the Clifton 8 is a fantastic choice. 

Who should not buy it 

Don’t buy the Clifton 8 if you are looking for:

The Clifton is a luxury cruiser, it’s like your grandparent’s Cadillac, so if you are looking for a sports car this isn’t it.  

Clifton 8 has lots of volume 

The Clifton fits true to size but is a voluminous shoe, so those with low volume or narrow feet be sure to test it out before you purchase.

I had the Clifton 7s in 2E wide and went to the standard D width for the Clifton 8 and the fit great on my fat feet. 

Comfort, comfort, comfort

Comfort is why you buy the Hoka Clifton. These things are just so damn sweet to your legs and feet. 

They have 33.7mm of sweet Hoka foam under the heels, and a thick 5mm insole adding to their plush feeling (average shoes have 32.8mm of stack in the heel and a 4.2mm thick insole).

Hoka-Clifton-8-Insole-Thickness.jpg

This new version is slightly softer in the midsole than the 7, giving it a bit more plush feeling without losing its bouncy personality and smooth-rolling transition. 

The upper is super padded as well. Overly padded in my opinion, as it runs a bit warm, but most people prefer super padded shoes and it feels great on your foot.

Hoka-Clifton-8-Upper (2).jpg

Clifton 8 has super smooth ride

The ride is great on the Hokas. It’s got a rockered design that rolls effortlessly through your gait and stride and is nice and wide underfoot (115.5mm in the forefoot and 96.1mm in the heel, compared to the average shoe at 112.7/89.3mm) to be super stable with every step. 

The midsole is bouncy and fun to run in but not overly springy. I noticed the midsole felt a bit softer than the Clifton 7 and it’s a bear to get to quicker speeds. In the end, this is not a speed shoe though, it’s a daily trainer meant for enjoying endless miles of soft amazingness underfoot

Although many other brands are branching out from EVA to lighter, bouncier midsoles, Hoka keeps this shoe running comfortably with plenty of energy return and plushness on old EVA tech. I like it and it’s impressive since it comes with a lower price point than some hydrogen-infused foams. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Heel.jpg

Ultimately it’s a slow-day shoe. It’s built for daily training, long runs, and recovery days. This shoe doesn’t really want to go fast. 

Some break-in needed

This shoe does take a bit of break-in. The midsole is stiff under the midfoot (scored 4 out of 5 on our stiffness test, 5 being the stiffest) and needs a few runs to really bring it to its sweet, soft, padded wonder. 

Hoka Clifton 8 surprisingly light

At 9 ounces (256g) the Cliftons fall into a very acceptable range for a plush daily trainer. Sure it’s not super light like the Asics MetaSpeed Sky at just 6.7 ounces, but the Clifton is also not a super shoe designed for race day. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Weight.jpg

Many other daily trainers fall above 10 or 11 ounces, so at 9, the Clifton is actually doing pretty well. 

Made tough and durable

This shoe is built like a tank and should last 500 miles for most runners. There’s a ton of foam underfoot that’s stiff enough to resist premature packing out.

Hoka-Clifton-8-Outsole.jpg

There are plenty of 3mm thick, 81HC hard rubber outsole patches ensuring long wear. Typical outsoles are a bit softer at 79HC, the softer the rubber the quicker it wears down. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Outsole-Thickness.jpg

Clifton 8’s grip is adequate

I didn’t have any issue with the grip. Hoka moved the outsole patches around a bit on the 8, maybe making some slight updates for grip or durability, but in our tests, it performed well in the grip department. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Outsole (2).jpg

Could be more breathable

One gripe, the Clifton 8 seems to have gotten less breathable. The upper seems very similar to the last version but the tongue feels a bit thicker and it ran a bit hotter. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Upper.jpg

It only scores a 2 (out of 5) on our breathability tests and as you can see most of the fog is escaping from the bottom of the tongue/lacing pattern and not actually venting out through the upper. 

Great lockdown on the Clifton 8

Lockdown on the Clifton 8 is great. It’s got Hoka’s standard, stretchy semi-gusseted tongue which provides great support over the top of your foot and throughout the midfoot. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Logo.jpg

The insanely thick tongue (10.8mm compared to the average tongue at 5.5mm) did give me some challenges in getting the shoe super tight though. It’s just hard to crank the laces real tight with that much foam in the way. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Tongue-Thickness.jpg

However, this is a slow day shoe and doesn’t really need to be laced for top performance so even without it being easy to get really thigh the shoe performed well and I didn’t have any slipping or hot spots. 

Elf tabs aren’t so bad

The elf tab stayed. I joked a lot about the elf tab on the heel in version 7 but in the last year, I’ve seen this on plenty of shoes and actually see its benefits and have come to appreciate its distinct flare. 

Night runners rejoice

The Clifton 8 features a few reflective elements on either side of the toe and a bunch down the back of the heel for low-light or night running. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Reflective.jpg

Ideal for cold weather 

Most shoes stiffen up significantly in cold weather, but the Clifton actually did pretty well in our tests and should work well for cold-weather running. 

The midsole foam only stiffened 27.5% from 20HA at room temp to 25.5 after our deep freeze, which is lower than the average stiffening of 37.7% meaning it’s going to keep more of that sweet plush softness compared to other running shoes. 

Hoka-Clifton-8-Freezer.jpg

As for flex, it performed about average compared to other shoes after being frozen, stiffening 41.2% from 45.1N to 63.7N in our tests (average increase is 40.7%). However, the shoe itself is fairly stiff, even at room temperature, with a measure of 45.1N it’s considerably stiffer than the average shoe at 36.1N. 

Complete lab-specs overview 

  Clifton 8 Average
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 256 266
Drop (mm) 9.0 9.4
Flexibility of the shoe (N) 45.1
36.1
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 63.7 47.7
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 41.2 40.7
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 24.2 22.5
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 4 3.0
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 4 3.1
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 10.8 5.5
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 94.8 98.4
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 79.4 75.6
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy) 2 2.8
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 5 3.0
Tongue: gusset type Both Sides (Semi) -
Heel: pull tab Pull Tab -
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 115.5 112.7
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 96.1 89.3
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 25.1 24.3
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 33.7 32.8
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 20.0 22.0
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 3.0 3.7
Lugs Depth (mm) N/A 3.2
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 81 79.0
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 5.0 4.2
Insole: removable Yes  

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Rankings

How Hoka One One Clifton 8 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 11% road running shoes
All road running shoes
Top 20% Hoka One One running shoes
All Hoka One One running shoes
Top 10% neutral running shoes
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Popularity

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Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.