They’ve only gone and done it – Hoka has created another winning running shoe with the Hoka Clifton 8.
In this new model, Hoka has managed to create a nifty daily trainer that combines Hoka’s traditional rocker technology with lightweight comfort, feeling super soft and responsive under the foot.
In 2014, Hoka released their first shoe in what has now become the Clifton series – the Hoka Clifton 1. The design and performance of this first model were so successful that the Clifton 1 pretty much put Hoka on the map for running gear.
And 7 editions later, the Clifton shoes are only getting better.
What’s different about the Hoka One One Clifton 8?
Whilst retaining Hoka’s unique early-stage meta rocker profile, the Clifton 8 has changed drastically from the original model. This new design features an extended heel crash pad for a softer landing, built using an EVA foam midsole with 15% less weight than previous models.
In addition, Hoka added a lighter engineered mesh upper and redesigned the heel and tongue of the shoe to create a comfortable plush feel.
Despite these improvements, some key features might make the Hoka Clifton 8 unsuitable for some runners.
Intrigued? Our in-house shoe expert Amanda has roadtested the Hoka One One Clifton 8 and is here to tell you her thoughts.
|Low Energy Return
|Great for Easy Miles
|Not Made for Speed
|Wider toe box
|Could Give Blisters
|Feels like a slipper
Hoka Clifton 8: The Specs
Hoka’s famed trademark is their innovative curved meta-rocker platform that ‘rolls’ the runner or walker from one stride to the next.
The Clifton 8 uses this meta-rocker design to a less extreme degree than some other models but it’s still very noticeable compared to other, flat running shoes.
This unique meta-rocker design is said to be “the wheels that move you forward” in the Hoka shoes because it geometrically matches the natural gait cycle.
The Hoka One One Clifton 8 also features an extra-cushioned EVA midsole with “marshmallow softness.” This EVA foam is much more responsive than other Hoka Clifton models and runs the full length of the shoe, so there is still great cushioning under the forefoot, too.
Hoka also uses a ‘bucket seat’ active foot frame that encourages the foot to sit snug in the shoe like a driver in a race car. This design keeps the heel locked in place, giving great support around the arch while offering a lot more freedom to move in the toe box.
Using these design features, the Hoka Clifton 8 is created for a cushioned, responsive ride perfect for easy miles.
The Hoka One One Clifton 8 is considered a neutral running shoe, designed for those with a neutral or ‘correct’ running pattern – meaning that the Hoka Clifton 8 allows the feet to move how they would naturally. (For similar corrective, stability models, check out Arahi or Gaviota.)
This shoe sits at a 5mm offset with the heel sitting at 29mm and the forefoot at 24mm stack heights.
The weight is also super light for a training shoe. It weighs 7.2oz (215g) for a women’s size 8 and 8.8oz (249g) for Men’s size 9.
Despite the lightweight materials used in this shoe, the Hoka Clifton 8 still has a pretty solid durability score and can handle anywhere from 300-500 miles on the roads.
Overall, the technology used in the Hoka Clifton 8 is classic yet innovative.
Hoka Clifton 8 “Time to Fly”: The Road Test
One of the best features of the Hoka Clifton 8 is its incredibly smooth ride.
Hoka’s motto ‘Time to Fly‘ is brilliantly represented in the Clifton 8 design. It is remarkably light giving each stride an effortless feel.
With its meta-rocker sole and soft cushioning the transition on this shoe is simply so comfortable.
The Hoka Clifton 8 is not made for speed or tempo runs but is a solid choice for a daily trainer, and it is great for easy, recovery miles.
Related article: Hoka One One Bondi 7 Review
Despite being a neutral shoe it still feels very stable under the foot and feels like the stride is being guided with every step.
To me, the ride feels great for my recovery days. I usually use this shoe in between fast days or for my mid-week long run during my marathon training.
I feel like the Hoka Clifton 8 takes the load off my body with its soft landing pad and semi-bouncy return.
While it does not have a high energy return like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2, it does have some nice padding and spring to it. This is perfect for time-on-feet miles.
The Fit: Wider Upper & Sizing
The fit of the Clifton 8 is quite different from the Clifton 7 because the upper opened up considerably in this newer model.
The Clifton 7 featured a much more structured, rigid upper with denser interwoven lacing compared to the Hoka Clifton 8, which is much softer and almost slipper-like.
In the forefoot the engineered mesh, while not a knit material, is especially flexible. This means that the foot can move around a lot if the fit is not exactly right.
While my heel and arch felt locked in and supported, I had a little too much wiggle room in the front of the shoe allowing my toes to rub together. Reviews suggest that this is a fairly rare experience with the Hoka Clifton 8, although in my case, it led to some significant blisters.
However, the comfort of the fit is still fantastic – you can barely notice you’re wearing them. Additionally, it is wider than previous models and has a lot more volume to allow for higher arch types.
If you typically need or wear a wide-width shoe, you may try the standard width in this model – a caveat with a higher volume is that lower volume feet, or flatter feet, may feel like there is too much room in the shoe.
The sizing on this shoe runs long, so you may need to go down about half a size. For example, if you normally wear a 7.5 in a Saucony or Brooks, you can easily be in a 7 or potentially a 6.5 in the Hoka Clifton 8.
Related article: Hoka Rincon 3 Review
Overall these flaws are pretty minor, and the fit of this shoe is great with the majority of people loving the Clifton 8’s shape and foot adaptability.
The Midsole and outsole
The midsole of this shoe starts out a little rigid but as it ‘breaks in’ the softness of the midsole really shines.
It is made up of traditional compression-molded EVA foam formed into a single meta-rocker platform. This is what helps with its lightweight, cushioned feel.
The outsole has improved since the first models and even from the Clifton 7, especially in terms of durability.
Hoka added more rubber to the bottom of the shoe which made less of the EVA foam exposed to the ground. Because the EVA foam is so soft without the rubber to protect it, on previous models the foam used to wear out from the miles easily.
Additionally, the added thicker rubber pods definitely improve durability, helping to keep the shoe in top shape after many miles.
The Upper and Heel Cup
The upper is a nice, traditional engineered mesh with a plush gusseted tongue, meaning the tongue is firmly attached to the sides of the shoe.
The tongue is super plush and feels incredibly comfortable against the top of the foot. It is definitely a bonus of comfort to this model.
This shoe is also very breathable which is great during the summer months and it wicks away moisture fairly well too. The holes on the mesh do make it a little chilly in the winter months so make sure to use some proper socks to help keep warm.
While the heel cup is also nicely padded and feels very secure, it is also rigid helping to lock the heel in place. The combination of the heel cup and upper make what is known in Hoka’s terms as a ‘bucket seat’ and this acts to secure the back of the foot and arch.
In this model, the heel does come up higher against the Achilles but it does not seem to rub like other brands. There is also molding around the heel that acts as rails to keep the heel in place.
I really loved these heel cup features of the Hoka Clifton 8 because my foot felt flexible yet secured in the right places, with no fears that my heel was going to slip out at any point.
It gave me control where I needed it and freedom through the forefoot – a winning and equally comfortable design feature.
Conclusion: One of Hoka’s Best
The Clifton 8 is one of Hoka’s best Clifton models yet.
While the original Clifton is still a renowned and coveted model, the Clifton 8 is their next best, making the list of the top running shoes for marathoners time and time again.
Despite some of its downfalls on fit for certain people, the overall design is fantastic. By opening up the upper but keeping the rigid heel cup and secure feel around the arch, Hoka made this shoe more versatile to many foot shapes.
The cushioning of Hoka shoes is still the highlight and is what sets them apart from all others. In this model, they took a traditional EVA foam from good to excellent and crafted an even better lightweight, smooth, and comfortable trainer.
The shoe simply feels soft and light yet solid for many miles which makes it great for a recovery run or long run.
Overall, the Hoka Clifton 8 is a solid choice shoe for any beginner runner to veteran and will provide comfort for miles.
Need to consider a few more running shoes before making your purchase?
Why not check out our other running shoe reviews here?