Devotees of the Hoka Clifton have a new model to try out – the Clifton 4 is very similar in cushion, support, and ride, but with a few upgrades. The most noticeable is that the toebox is wider in the regular width. And: the Clifton 4 (both men’s and women’s) will be available in wide sizing.
I tend to wear my shoes very loose through the midfoot – to the point where I usually don’t have enough lace left to tie a bow. It’s something that can be hard to judge when trying on brand-new shoes, because my feet swell after a few miles, especially when it’s hot out, and that’s when I can tell whether they’re wide enough. Wearing the wider Clifton 4 for their maiden voyage, I actually developed a hot spot and a little blood blister under my usual callous because I didn’t account for this extra space. That was completely on me; a few more runs with BodyGlide over the hot spot until the blister dissipated, and now they feel great.
The Clifton 4 is 0.1 ounce heavier than the Clifton 3 (for a women’s size 7), but I didn’t notice the extra weight. Compared to the Clifton 3, I felt that the footstrike was a little smoother through the stride. The trademark Hoka One One cushion is still there; but the materials have changed. Shoe geeks will want to compare the material specs (compare to the Clifton 3 here), but the takeaway is that the foam has been re-engineered to last longer. I have put about 100 miles on the pair I’m currently wearing and I have not noticed any reduction in the cushion or responsiveness. I’ve worn them primarily for road/sidewalk/paved path miles, but have also run a few hard-pack trails in them when a run included multiple surfaces. I’ve also worn them for races – I’m not the type of person to wear racing flats, however.
Another Clifton 4 feature that stood out to me was how comfortable the shoes felt when walking in them after a long run or particularly tough tempo session. When my feet are tired, I usually prefer to wear my Spenco flip-flops or slip-ons because they have a hard footbed with support in the right places. These shoes, although quite cushioned, offer excellent support that felt great when running errands after a Sunday-morning long run.
The styling – the look of the shoe – is quite different between the Clifton 3 and the Clifton 4. The Clifton 4’s wider toebox is balanced with the width of the lacing channel. The Clifton 3 had a plain mesh toe and a web pattern on the outside; the Clifton 4’s design reminds me of a circuit board with less contrast in the colors (on most color combinations), and the pattern continues around the toes. The midsole on the 4 is also divided by color; there is still a white base, but now there’s a colored strip that transitions from the main color to the accent color towards the toe. The men’s Clifton 4 comes in six colors, from a muted grey and white to a bright orange (“saffron”) and red. The women’s Clifton 4 color options include a cool icy blue, an orchid-pink color, and four others, including the dark teal with lighter teal and salmon-colored accents that I tried out.
If you’ve never worn Hoka, but are looking for a cushiony ride that doesn’t feel too heavy, the Clifton is a good model to try out. As always, I highly recommend you try them out at a local running store when these are available locally. The Clifton 4 is only available for pre-order right now, at $130.
If you’ve had success with the Clifton 3, but a slightly wider toebox and smoother transition would work well for you, you can pre-order your first pair of Clifton 4s here.
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