Our verdict

Hoka is not a cheap brand. But testing footwear like the Clifton LS proves to us again and again that the company stands behind its products. This lifestyle version of the popular Clifton running shoe inherited the latter's bottomless cushioning and mind-blowing comfort. We thoroughly enjoyed spending as much as 12 hours on our feet in the Clifton LS. This is what all-day support really feels like!

Pros

  • Very generously cushioned
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • Wider-than-average and stable platform
  • Exceptionally durable
  • Secure foothold with no heel slips
  • Excellent grip in various conditions
  • Amazing in-shoe comfort

Cons

  • Could be more breathable
  • Heavier than average

Audience verdict

88
Good!

Who should buy

The Hoka Clifton LS is essentially the brand's best-selling Clifton running shoe transformed into a super cosy lifestyle shoe for daily wear. Impressed with what the LS has to offer, we can heartily recommend it to:

  • people in search of extra comfortable and heavily cushioned daily beaters
  • folks with foot conditions that call for wide, stable, and supportive footwear
  • buyers who expect a highly durable pair for such a high price

Hoka Clifton LS review

Who should NOT buy

Even though the Clifton LS's jacquard mesh upper is more breathable than the typical suede and leather uppers of Hoka walking/lifestyle shoes, it is NOT the right option for really warm days. If you walk in temperatures above 70°F (20°C), we can recommend the Skechers Max Cushioning Arch Fit.

If on the other hand, you are after a dedicated work shoe, you may agree to sacrifice breathability to a more protective leather upper and slip-resistant outsole of the Hoka Bondi SR.

Hoka Clifton LS lab test

Breathability

Hoka tends to release lifestyle versions of its running shoes in either all-leather or all-suede setups (i.e. Bondi SR). But this time around, we are happy to see a more breathable adaptation of the Clifton.

Although the Clifton LS breathes better than Hoka's previous walking shoes, it is still not that well-ventilated. In our lab test, we pumped the shoe's upper with smoke and observed how came out slower than desired.

As you can see, the LS is struggling compared to shoes with a more open mesh material. Assessing it on a 1-5 scale, we rated it with a 3. Not super airy but better than before!

You can see where the shoe's airflow is concentrated the most in our transparency check below. The jacquard mesh plays its part!

But looking at this fabric through our microscope, we could see that it is also comprised of thick and densely woven threads.

Hoka Clifton LS microscope

In addition, there are more layers beneath the mesh. They do amplify in-shoe comfort but detract from the Clifton's ventilation capacity.

Hoka Clifton LS microscope upper

Test results
Clifton LS 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Leather/Suede quality

Hoka placed suede and leather patches throughout the shoe but primarily around the heel. We've got textured suede on the inner side and pebbled leather on the outside. For the price of £180, both better be real!

Equipped with a butane torch, we set both materials on fire for a few seconds. Then we scraped the burnt areas with an awl to assess the damage.

We are happy to report that both suede and leather on the Clifton LS are real!

Test results
Clifton LS Real leather

Toebox durability

Sure, a mesh shoe is better at keeping the foot fresh but is it just as wear-resistant as a leather one?

We are here to test that using our in-house Dremel test. For consistency, we always apply the tool to the same spot on every shoe, at the same speed (5K RPM) and pressure (3.2N). Hoka was smart enough to protect this sensitive area with a layer of textured suede (as if they knew about our Dremel test!).

After 12 seconds of drilling, we had to look very carefully to see the damage! It was so minor that we couldn't even call it cosmetic! The shoe on the right makes it very clear how brutal the tear from this test can be.

Hoka Clifton LS Toebox durability

It is no surprise that we evaluated the Hoka Clifton LS toebox durability with a maximum score of 5/5!

Considering that the same suede is placed on the other high-wear areas of the shoe, along with some pebbled leather patches, we are not worried about its long-term durability at all.

Hoka Clifton LS collar

Test results
Clifton LS 5
Average 3
Compared to 19 walking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Inside the shoe, Hoka also treated us to a pretty resistant lining material. Because we often develop tears in the area where our ankle rubs against the collar, we chose it as our next Dremel target.

After 4 seconds of relentless drilling at the 5K RPM speed, we were happy to see just a minor scratch on the padding! Yet again, the Clifton LS earned itself a high durability score - 4 out of 5!

Hoka Clifton LS Heel padding durability

Test results
Clifton LS 4
Average 2
Compared to 18 walking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Barely ever do we get disappointed in Hoka's rubber outsoles. And by the look of the rubber on the Clifton LS, we are about to be impressed again!

We started by measuring how firm this Durabrasion Rubber is with the help of a durometer. That's because hardness is often an indicator of the rubber's wear-resistance. The tool showed a fairly high reading of 80.5 HC which is harder than the average walking shoe. Good start!

Hoka Clifton LS Outsole hardness
Test results
Clifton LS 80.5 HC
Average 75.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
50.1 HC
Outsole hardness
92.0 HC

Outsole durability

The next part of our durability challenge is of course applying the dreaded Dremel at a high speed of 10K RPM to the shoe's outsole.

We applied the tool at the same pressure of 3.2N for a long 22 seconds and the result caught us off guard. Yet again, the Hoka Clifton LS showed tremendous resistance to abrasion! Measuring the depth of the dent with a tread gauge, we got as little as 0.6 mm. That hardly counts as "damage" at all!

Hoka Clifton LS Outsole durability
Test results
Clifton LS 0.6 mm
Average 1.4 mm
Compared to 18 walking shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Hoka also made sure to pack a sufficient amount of rubber at the bottom of the shoe to prolong its life span.

Being heavy on the wallet, the Clifton LS justified its high price point with above-average durability.

Hoka Clifton LS Outsole thickness
Test results
Clifton LS 3.6 mm
Average 2.5 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
5.9 mm

Weight

Although it's built on the basis of a lightweight Hoka running shoe, the Clifton LS turns out to be 2 oz heavier than the Clifton 9 (8.8oz/250g).

Hoka Clifton LS style

We weighed the LS version in at 10.8 oz (305g) in a men's US size 9. But it is expected to be more substantial than the original shoe given the added suede and leather overlays as well as a harder and thicker rubber.

hoka-clifton-9-side-shot.JPG

Hoka Clifton 9 (running shoe)

Hoka Clifton LS Weight
Test results
Clifton LS 10.76 oz (305g)
Average 9.45 oz (268g)
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
6.17 oz (175g)
Weight
14.25 oz (404g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

When it comes to cushioning, the Clifton LS falls into the category of walking shoe giants. Our caliper showed as much as 35.2 mm of stack height in the heel!

Hoka Clifton LS Heel stack

While it's not as high as the Hoka Bondi SR (39.4 mm), it is still notably taller than average. We experienced a very generous helping of foam underfoot no matter how long our walks were.

Test results
Clifton LS 35.2 mm
Average 32.1 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
11.2 mm
Heel stack
40.0 mm

Forefoot stack

In most walking shoes, the forefoot stack tends to be lower than the heel. And even though the front portion of the shoe's midsole is indeed lower, it is still a whopping 27.0 mm thick, which is much thicker than average.

Sure thing, we weren't able to bend our feet as freely when wearing the Clifton LS. But more on flexibility later. The cushioning aspect of it is phenomenal!

Hoka Clifton LS Forefoot stack
Test results
Clifton LS 27.0 mm
Average 21.6 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
5.5 mm
Forefoot stack
31.2 mm

Drop

According to Hoka, the heel-to-toe drop of the Clifton LS is supposed to be 5.0 mm. But this is notably lower compared to the 8.2 mm we measured.

Technically, the difference is only 3.2 mm but we think that it would be felt by the Clifton 9 wearers who are used to the flatter positioning of the foot inside the shoe.

But don't worry, the higher drop has its benefits for walking. It provides better impact protection in the heel and helps to relieve the pressure off the Achilles.

Hoka Clifton LS Drop
Test results
Clifton LS 8.2 mm
Average 10.5 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
5.7 mm
Drop
16.8 mm

Midsole softness

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

How about the foam? Is it plush in the Hoka Clifton LS?

The best way to describe it is balanced. This is according to both Hoka's description and our own measurements.

Measuring the shoe's compression molded EVA midsole with our durometer, we got 21.3 HA. Even though it is 20% softer than average, it is not among the plushest walking shoes (think Nike Motiva at 15.0 HA).

But it has an amazingly comfortable ride that is soft enough to absorb the impact but also slightly firm to provide lasting all-day support.

Hoka Clifton LS Midsole softness
Test results
Clifton LS 21.3 HA
Average 25.1 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
7.8 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
32.9 HA

Insole thickness

The Clifton LS primary cushioning wouldn't be complete without a well-padded insole. We measured the stock insole of this Hoka shoe at 4.5 mm which is within the typical range for a walking shoe.

Hoka Clifton LS Insole thickness
Test results
Clifton LS 4.5 mm
Average 5.8 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
3.5 mm
Insole thickness
10.3 mm

Rocker

The shoe's slightly curved edges created a moderately rockered platform. We could feel a slight push forward every time our heels touched the ground and transitioned into toe-offs.

The rocker is not as aggressive as in the Nike Motiva for sure, but we could still experience the benefits.

Stability

Lateral stability test

Even though the Hoka Clifton LS is not specifically marketed as a stability shoe, it revealed a fairly stable nature in our lateral stability test.

Hoka Clifton LS support

Shifting our ankles side-to-side, we couldn't possibly imagine them rolling over the edge of this Hoka. And it is notably more stable than the Clifton 9!

Let's look deeper into what makes the Clifton LS so planted.

Torsional rigidity

First of all, we are dealing with an incredibly stiff platform!

The shoe refused to bend to our will so easily, putting up a real fight in our manual test. Evaluating its stiffness on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest, we gave it a high score of 4.

On foot, such torsional rigidity means that the sole will not suddenly squish and let your ankle twist sideways. This shoe remains steady at all times.

Test results
Clifton LS 4
Average 2.6
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

You can also expect a pretty secure heel hold from the Clifton LS.

On a 1-5 scale, it earned the average 3. It felt solid yet non-restricting in both our manual squeeze test and around our ankle.

Test results
Clifton LS 3
Average 2.2
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Last but not least, the Hoka Clifton LS manages to feel so stable courtesy of its wider-than-average platform.

According to our caliper, the distance between the widest points of its forefoot measures a whopping 122.8 mm! Out of all the walking shoes that we've lab-tested so far, only one exceeds the width of the Clifton LS. And it's a fellow Hoka shoe named Bondi SR (124.1 mm).

Hoka Clifton LS Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Clifton LS 122.8 mm
Average 111.3 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
98.8 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
124.1 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The Clifton also beats records in the widest part of the heel. Measuring this area, we got 95.5 mm which is significantly wider than the average. But also second to the Bondi SR at 102.2 mm. That one is a real monster.

As you can tell by now, the Hoka Clifton LS's exceptionally broad landing area made us feel immensely surefooted at all times.

Hoka Clifton LS Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Clifton LS 95.5 mm
Average 89.2 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
75.6 mm
Midsole width in the heel
102.2 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

You can feel that this Hoka shoe is stiff even before putting it on. Its substantial forefoot cushioning and rigidity did not allow our feet to bend as easily as they do in other walking shoes.

But we can't complain either. The slightly rockered shape of the Clifton LS worked well to create really smooth heel-to-toe transitions.

Hoka Clifton LS Difference in stiffness in cold

To put its stiffness in context, we measured how much force it would take to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle. According to our force gauge, the Clifton LS requires as much as 35.8N. That means it's 80% stiffer than the average walking shoe!

Test results
Clifton LS 35.8N
Average 19.9N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
1.1N
Stiffness
52.7N

Grip / Traction

We have nothing but praise for the grip that this Hoka shoe demonstrated on tile, marble, concrete, and other indoor and outdoor surfaces.

Hoka Clifton LS grip

But if you are considering the Clifton LS as your dedicated work shoe, you might as well check out the Hoka Bondi SR. This shoe has certified slip resistance (SR) and it is irreplaceable on wet and oily floors.

Hoka Clifton LS outsole

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Even though the shoe's platform is considerably wider than average, its toebox space stays within the medium range.

Checking the widest part of the forefoot with a caliper, we got 100.2 mm which is right about the same as most walking shoes.

Hoka Clifton LS Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Clifton LS 100.2 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
103.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

We also repeat the caliper measurement at the narrower part of the toebox (where the big toe usually ends) to see if it has a tapered shape. Getting 75.9 mm on the caliper also confirmed that the Clifton LS has a medium toebox fit.

Hoka Clifton LS Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Clifton LS 75.9 mm
Average 77.7 mm
Compared to 20 walking shoes
Number of shoes
73.7 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
82.0 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue of this Hoka shoe is partially attached to the sides with elastic gussets. This is great news for those tired of the tongue shifting sideways. Not to mention that this setup creates a much more secure foothold.

But we anticipate that people with wide feet and high arches may find it a bit restricting, especially when putting the shoe on.

Hoka Clifton LS Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Clifton LS Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The biggest portion of padding is concentrated in the shoe's tongue and collar. The rest of the upper remains relatively thin in favor of breathability.

Using a caliper, we measured the thickness of tongue padding at 6.8 mm which is a little bit more than average. But it brings with it nothing but pure comfort.

Hoka Clifton LS Tongue padding
Test results
Clifton LS 6.8 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 25 walking shoes
Number of shoes
0.3 mm
Tongue padding
11.5 mm

Heel tab

There is no pull tab on the Hoka Clifton LS but we made use of the shoe's "elf ear" heel collar shape.

Hoka Clifton LS Heel tab
Test results
Clifton LS None

Removable insole

If you want even more underfoot comfort, the shoe's insole can be easily replaced with an orthotic of your choice.

Hoka Clifton LS Removable insole
Test results
Clifton LS Yes