In this overdue review I share my thoughts on the Clifton 3 neutral running shoe by Hoka One One, my first ever shoe from the brand, that is noted for their light weight and maximal cushioning running shoes.
I got the shoes in the end of september or half a year ago. Yeah, time flies so fast and if you don’t know, the Hoka shoes are named after the Maori language phrase meaning “flying over the earth”. Ok, lets get back to the review. Since september I ran modest 220 miles with the Clifton, finished 3 marathons, few shorter races and put some training miles of course. Before the Hoka I was using a Nike Streak 6, totally different shoe compared to the Clifton – it is firm and responsive. But I have issues with the sizing and sold them. I really liked the shoe and instead buying a bigger size, I decided to jump on the maximal cushioning bandwagon to check is the hype justified.
The beginning was not easy, It took me some time to get used to the shoe. The forefoot stands at 24 mm while the heel is at 29 mm, which translates to 5mm heel-to-toe drop. Weight is 8.8 oz or 250 grams and it is more than the Clifton 1 and Clifton 2 which is a little bit strange for me. Clifton 2 was heavier than Clifton 1 and now Clifton 3 is heavier than previous generation. This summer Hoka will release the new Clifton 4 and as far as I know it will be heavier again.
The Clifton has a high level of cushioning with soft ride. The cushioning that the Clifton provides for its weight is very good and difficult for other shoe companies to achieve. The midsole material features a thick layer of full length CMEVA foam which provides a soft cushioned ride sufficient for high mileage training, yet light enough for uptempo runs. This shoe is made of a single type of foam, despite it is colored to appear like there are two different foams in use. Along with an Early Stage Meta-Rocker design, the Clifton 3 maintains a smooth and efficient ride from foot strike to toe off. The Meta-Rocker midsole geometry, specifically designed with a low heel-toe differential and a sculpted outsole in the heel and toe, creates a unique fulcrum effect, like a rocking chair for your foot, encouraging a guided gait cycle. The outsole features strategically placed high abrasion and durable rubber material in black color while everything else is exposed foam. After 220 miles the outsole looks good, it is durable, I have no worries about the next few hundred miles.
The Clifton 3 has a seamless no sew upper with necessary structure around the midfoot and use of all new mesh material. The upper of the Clifton 3 is thin, lightweight and allows for good airflow and breathability. It caused no hot spots or areas of irritation on my foot. After 220 miles everything looks very durable. In the Clifton 2 the biggest complaint about the upper was that it was too narrow but Hoka has addressed the issue and given the Clifton 3 a slightly wider toe box.
Let’s dive into the most interesting part of this review – my experience. In the beginning I was a little meh about the shoe but decided to give it more time, still it is my first Hoka. Gradually my legs got used to the shoe and I made a very fast marathon with a personal record. Thanks to the cushioning I have the feeling that I am running on clouds, I don’t feel small bumps on the road, especially on descents, but I feel the shoe a little bit bulky on ascents, it is not so flexible. The cushioning is soft and overall running in Clifton 3 is comfortable. The wide toe box and the soft upper definitely help for good comfort.
But I have issues with the inner sole. They are very thick and heavy. While I run with them I feel warming and later discomfort on my big toe mound, on the inner side of my feet, you can see the spots on the inner soles, probably is because of my type of running, I have overpronation. But with different inner soles I don’t have such problem. In the past Hoka shoes were with two pair of inner soles in the box but nowadays they ship only with one. After the swap I didn’t have any problems with blisters.
I used the shoe on training runs, trail runs, 5k, half marathon and marathon races. I have no complaints about the durability, so far everything looks fine. Although Clifton 3 is a road shoe I am planning to use it primary on long trail runs, something from a half marathon up to non technical dry ultramarathons. The shoe is stable enough to handle. On the road I am going to use my Nike Streak 6. Yes, Clifton 3 is a good shoe but I prefer harsher cushioning and more ground feeling.
Overall the shoe is good, it is stable, secure and lightweight. Not accidentally it is the best-selling shoe from Hoka. One reason is because it is very universal, you can use it on different occasions. It is not the best looking shoe but still it is running shoe.