Nowadays it is very difficult to combine cushioning, lightweight and speed in one shoe. Hoka One One are trying to make this attractive combination with Clayton. Hoka has a reputation for high-stack, protective shoes, but Clayton is trying to change that a little bit with it’s weight of 7.3 ounces for a men’s size 9 and a stack height of 20 mm in the forefoot and 24 mm in the heel giving the shoe a 4 mm heel to toe drop.
But how it this possible? Thanks to Hoka’s RMAT and PRO2LITE technologies. Usually the rubber in the outsole of the shoe is guilty for the weight, so.. the Clayton doesn’t have any rubber. The outsole is made of RMAT foam which is a combination of rubber and foam, RMAT has better grip than traditional EVA foam and has better wet grip than hard rubber outsoles. The Clayton’s outsole is composed of only RMAT material, there is no actual rubber outsole material which is part of what allows the shoe to stay so light. The midsole of the Clayton features standard EVA foam as well as RMAT. There is more EVA in the heel which results in a springy, very light sole that is remarkably quiet on pavement. This cushioned heel and firmer more responsive forefoot has been branded as PRO2LITE technology and is one of the qualities that make this shoe feel fast and springy.
The entire upper is a single layer of mesh with a no-sew lattice of thin, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) overlay across the midfoot and forefoot. There is an extra layer around the front of the toe that adds some protection but it’s not designed for harsh trail runs. The toe box is wide and allows for a more natural foot splay, it’s wider than Clifton but not so much like Altras. Clayton doesn’t have a Heel Counter but thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) overlay material surrounds the entire heel of the shoe and adds some extra stiffness and rigidity. The midsole foam also wraps up around the heel and it’s just enough to keep the heel locked down.
The arch in the Clayton is higher than other HOKAs which can cause rubbing issues and blisters on the inside of foot. Just behind the forefoot, on the medial side, at the wielded overlay section of the upper.
Lets talk a little bit more about the ride and durability of the Claytons after 250 miles. The shoe feels a bit softer after first 100 miles, the upper mesh nicely wraps the foot, I didn’t experience the inside arch rubbing blister issue unlike many others, probably because I used different insoles. The upper mesh is almost intact but it’s not very breathable, keep in mind feet can get sweaty during summer. I ran mainly on asphalt with some light trails but non-racing conditions. The outsole has little signs of wear but pebbles can get stuck between the lugs of the outsole. Also climbing is done on midfoot, not forefoot, because the outsole is not very flexible.
Overall the ride of the Hoka Clayton is solid with good fit and stability control, the laces have nice lock down. The midsole and outsole are wide, the foot is surrounded like a cradle, keeping it safe. The ride is firmer in the front and softer in the rear plus typical Meta-Rocker design from Hoka is present. The Clayton is speedy and responsive shoe.
While I was preparing this review Hoka put on sale the updated Clayton 2 where the midsole and outsole are unchanged but new Ortholite insole is present to eliminate the blister issues and the upper is updated. The price of the Clayton at the moment is around $100 while the new Clayton 2 retails for around $150.