- 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
- Narrow fit
- Upper needs some time to break in
- Average breathability
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 (£170).
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.
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.
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.
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.
But after a series of test runs, it wasn't as bad as we had expected!
|Clifton 9||76.0 HC|
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.
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.
|Clifton 9||3.7 mm|
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!
|Clifton 9||8.78 oz (249g)|
|Average||9.42 oz (267g)|
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.
That way, this Hoka shoe sits at the average of road shoes in terms of cushioning thickness.
|Clifton 9||32.7 mm|
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.
|Clifton 9||26.6 mm|
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!
|Clifton 9||6.1 mm|
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.
|Clifton 9||4.2 mm|
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!
Our lab measurements confirmed our feelings: with a durometer reading of 20.4 HA, this shoe is 18% softer than the average.
|Clifton 9||20.4 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Clifton 9||115.3 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.
|Clifton 9||96.0 mm|
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
|Clifton 9||95.8 mm|
Tongue: gusset type
The shoe's padded and semi-gusseted tongue provides a really snug yet comfortable fit.
|Clifton 9||Both sides (semi)|
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.
|Clifton 9||6.6 mm|
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.
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.
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.