When a new pair of HOKA shoes come on the scene, we here at Run Oregon are always super excited. Yes, we are running geeks, but we know what’s good and HOKA is worth getting excited for. The Clifton 9 is here and we are absolutely here for it.
Nikki: We never know what we are going to see when we open that HOKA shoebox for the first time, and in the case of the Clifton 9 women’s shoes, I was surprised to find a gorgeous palette of pastel pink, blue, and yellow peaking out from behind the tissue paper. My first thought it that Spring is nearly here and these shoes celebrate everything I associate with Easter and blooming flowers. These shoes are happy and that’s what we all need after the gray days of winter. The color combo I got is called “Cyclamen/Sweet Lilac” but if those colors aren’t your jam there are plenty of other combos to choose from.
Matt: The Clifton 9 is a simple and straightforward looking shoe. Nikki received a fun color way and I think I drew the short end of the stick with a black and white sample pair. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the looks – and black and white goes with everything – but note that there are a diverse combos across the board if you want a little more (or a little less!) flair.
Fit & Construction:
Matt: The upper is also pretty simple, all things considered. In a world where minimalism seems to be the name of the game, I appreciated the straightforward and ample construction of the Clifton 9 – even if it’s not one made for racing or fast speeds. It is padded well in all the right areas (no blisters yet), the gusseted tongue holds in place nicely, and it was pretty plug-and-play right out of the box. The recycled mesh upper, while simple, is breathable and provided a nice security.
Nikki: The overlays and hotmelts on the 9th iteration of the Clifton have been removed, and the result is a stripped back upper. Some runners find that HOKAs feel heavy, but I feel they are getting lighter with every release. More importantly, the “hug” you’ll get from a HOKA around your foot is super deluxe. If you’re going to be in a pair of shoes for a long time (ie: slow distance runners like me,) you want to feel like your feet can breathe. These shoes have a knit upper, so they feel as good on my feet after several hours as they do when I first put them on. I also love the pulled back heel.
Matt: The midsole is the 9’s biggest upgrade area. The EVA foam construction is new – adding a little height to the shoe and creating a bit more bounce and a softer ride. It’s a smooth run and the meta rocker moves things forward as well.
Nikki: What’s inside is what counts, and the midsole of a HOKA is the heart of what makes them unique. The comfort of this shoe is unlike any other, in my opinion. The Clifton is a neutral shoe with plush cushion and they are like running on pillows. I mean that in the best possible way, but if you’re looking for a minimalist shoe, this is the exact opposite.
Matt: The outsole created no issues during our late winter/early spring runs. The pattern is updated a little with more circular lugs and seems to be a nice improvement.
Nikki: Like the midsole, the outsole is cushy. Durabrasion rubber make these feel stable and responsive. The Clifton adds spring to my step and I feel like I could run all day in these. They don’t break down as quickly as other shoes in my opinion either, so they are well constructed.
The Clifton 9’s are not made with that super elite and supercharged midsole constructions that you see in a lot of high performance shoes – but that’s really not what the Clifton line is. It’s a line that is reliable, makes running feel good and provides a smoother ride for non-elite miles. And since that’s what we generally are we are really enjoying it. It’s great having a shoe that we don’t have to think too much about – just lace up and go.