The Best From Our Tests: A Review of the Hoka Clifton 9

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Hoka's best-selling road running shoe is lighter and more comfortable than ever

<p>TripSavvy / Nathan Allen</p>

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

The Clifton is one of the most popular and best-selling Hoka One One shoes. And for good reason. It basically epitomizes what Hoka is all about—maximum cushion for a comfortable, neutral ride for everyday miles and training. The Hoka Clifton 9 ups the cushioning ante, adding 3 millimeters of stack height, new foam, and a plusher heel.

The result? One of the most comfortable shoes available got even more comfortable. We received a pair of the Hoka Clifton 9s before they launched and began testing them immediately. Over the span of about three weeks, we've logged nearly 100 miles running, walking, and hiking on multiple surfaces. Runs ranged from five-mile easy runs to uptempo runs to a 13-mile run.

Below are our initial thoughts on the Clifton 9, how it compares to previous models, and how it fits within Hoka's line of running shoes.

Hoka Clifton 9

One of the most comfortable running shoes available got more comfortable

The highlight of the newest Clifton model is an already super comfortable running shoe got even more comfortable. How? First, three additional millimeters of stack height add some boosted cushion underfoot. The men's version now sits at 32 millimeters under the heel and 27 millimeters under the forefoot for a 5-millimeter drop. That's getting so close to Hoka's most plush shoe, the Bondi 8, which has a heel stack height of 33 millimeters.

That plusher heel and forefoot combine with a compression-molded EVA midsole and an engineered knit upper to amp comfort even more. Quite honestly, the plushness and comfort of this shoe might ruin you from wearing other shoes. I often rotate five to ten shoes at once while testing and the Clifton 9s made many other shoes feel like I was running barefoot. In other words, it ruined the experience for me because of just how comfortable they are.

So if you're looking for a shoe based on comfort alone, I'm not sure you can find a better one.

<p>TripSavvy / Nathan Allen</p>

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

The (lack of) weight and rocker profile make running an actual joy

Amazingly, Hoka reduced the weight slightly, shaving off 0.2 ounces in the men's version and 0.1 ounces in the women's compared to the Clifton 8. The men's version is now more than 2 ounces lighter than the Bondi 8s. That lightness with the early-stage meta-rocker profile creates a responsive shoe and is genuinely a joy to run in. I often find myself reaching for these shoes over others because of the feel while running.

The Clifton again comes in regular and wide sizes

Like previous models—and many Hoka models of shoes—the Clifton 9s come in both regular and wide sizes. Why all shoe brands don't include a wide version of their shoes is lost on me. But as someone with wide feet and fallen arches, I'm definitely biased toward the wide versions of shoes. The toe boxes are somewhat narrow, but I felt they opened up and expanded with use. Hoka says the shoes will give "foot-hugging comfort," and I'd have to agree, as the shoes fit just tight enough without feeling overly tight or uncomfortable. The size you typically wear will work for these, but those with wider feet, like me, should opt for the wide version.

<p>TripSavvy / Nathan Allen</p>

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

I fell down once while running in these shoes—but I deserved it

When I test shoes, I like to push them. That often means taking road running shoes on trails and taking trail running shoes on roads. Hoka said it improved the outsole design of the Clifton 9s compared to the 8s, so I wanted to give them a go at multiple surfaces. While these shoes are road running shoes and certainly excel on pavement, they can handle dirt trails and gravel roads if the surfaces are flat. As I learned the hard way—by falling down—these shoes are not built for off-road or slick terrain, especially on steeper surfaces. That said, the Durabrasion Rubber Outsole, which Hoka says should extend rubber longevity, does seem to hold up through our initial testing.

An overall solid shoe for runners, walkers, and travelers

At $145, the Clifton 9s are standard for a premium pair of running shoes. Although $5 more than the Clifton 8s, they hit middle-of-the-road for Hoka shoes (the Bondi 8s are $165, and the Rincon 3s are $125). I've tested dozens of Hoka shoes over the past ten years, and my general experience is they're worth it. First, they last a good amount of time if you get your proper size (having wide feet means getting the wide versions of the shoes). And I genuinely believe running in plusher and more cushioned shoes has helped stave off injuries, which to me, is worth spending a bit more on a premium shoe.

The Hoka Clifton 9 will work for most runners. It's a neutral shoe with extra cushioning, which suits newbies to expert runners looking for a new daily trainer. But it's also an excellent shoe for anyone looking for a walking shoe or a shoe to wear at work, especially if you spend extended time standing or moving. We also love the Clifton 9 as a general travel shoe. It's a shoe that will be comfortable on long flights or road trips. It'll be excellent for site-seeing and walking around cities. And it can serve as a one-quiver shoe for travel, running, and walking.

<p>TripSavvy / Nathan Allen</p>

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor. He's also a daily runner and competed in cross country and track in high school and college. He's still known to throw down at local fun runs on the roads and trails. Nathan has owned and tested dozens of Hoka shoes, including multiple versions of the Cliftons. His current Hoka rotation includes the Clifton 9, Mafate Speed 4, Bondi 8, and Challenger 7.