Many times when a company releases an update to a popular product line, very little changes between the latest iteration and its predecessor. The release is more or less a chance to capture more revenue from loyal customers who will buy the latest product in the series no matter what.
So when Hoka released the Clifton 8 in June 2021, less than a year after the Clifton 7 became the latest shoe in its flagship series, you can’t blame me for being a bit skeptical.
What could have really changed in just 11 months? And what was even wrong with the Clifton 7 in the first place?
When I did my research, I found that the Clifton 8 added a little extra blown rubber to the lateral midfoot of the outsole, increasing durability over the Clifton 7 that was conspicuously soft in this area.
The Clifton 8 also has a softer tongue and diagonally textured rubber in the forefoot of the outsole to provide a little better responsiveness.
But honestly, none of these upgrades would have me running (no pun intended) to replace my Clifton 7s, which many customers feel is the best version of the Clifton since the original model.
However, if you are one of those runners who gets the itch to get the latest shoe from their favorite company, then keep reading the following breakdown that compares the Clifton 7 vs Clifton 8 on all of the most detailed points!
Hoka Clifton Line at a Glance
The Hoka Clifton rivals the Bondi as the most recognizable shoe line offered by the company.
Despite having several different styles, the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 are the two most recent iterations of this popular line.
With the Clifton series, you can expect to get a quality road trainer. It falls between a performance shoe and a high-cushion shoe. It is best for neutral runners who do not require high levels of overpronation support.
Both shoes employ Hoka’s proprietary Meta Rocker sole technology, helping runners roll through each stride with minimal impact and exertion.
Despite its high levels of comfort and versatility, the Clifton is not a best-for-all-occasions Hoka shoe. If you want a high-cushion shoe for powering through many “easy” miles in a single session, the Bondi series is probably better. If you are more concerned about race performance, then look into the Rocket series.
But if you are looking for a shoe to use as your daily trainer for logging significant miles over time, then the Clifton line is the way to go.
So how do you decide if the Clifton 7 or Clifton 8 is the best version for you?
Keep reading to find out the specifics regarding each version.
Clifton 7: What Are You Getting?
Released on July 23, 2020, the Clifton 7 is the second newest iteration of the Hoka Clifton series.
Despite being a bit more lightweight than the company’s highly-cushioned Bondi line, the Clifton 7 offers an impressive amount of padding for those in the market for a daily road trainer.
Some of the key features Hoka markets for its Clifton 7 include:
- Breathable open engineered mesh upper with synthetic overlays
- Full-length EVA foam midsole promotes comfort and shock absorption
- Durable rubber outsole with ample grip
- Breathable textile lining reduces wear and abrasion on feet
Neutral runners particularly love this shoe when training for long-distance races. They feel like it keeps them going during the everyday grind on the trail.
Some runners who are less satisfied with the product feel like there are much more affordable products that perform comparably to the Clifton 7. In addition, some runners have noted that while comfortable, the Clifton 7 is a bit too bulky for their taste as an everyday trainer.
Clifton 8: What Are You Getting?
The Clifton 8 is the most recent iteration of Hoka’s popular Clifton line. It was released in June of 2021.
It has many of the same features and benefits for a daily road trainer as the Clifton 7, but offers some improvements and enhancements in a couple of areas.
A few of the key features Hoka markets for its Clifton 8 include:
- A comfortable upper with a secure lockdown
- Meta Rocker midsole reduces energy consumption between strides and helps the runner through transitions
- A snappy forefoot with diagonal rubber grooves that enhance responsiveness
- Improved rubber placement on the outsole make this shoe more versatile than previous Clifton versions
Runners with joint pain love the way this shoe helps them get out on the trail day after day with minimal discomfort. Larger runners also feel like the Clifton 8 is the best shoe on the market for limiting impact, facilitating transitions, and holding up over time in the face of heavier weight demands.
As far as things that could be improved, some users feel like the “upgrades” in the Clifton 8 aren’t worth the higher price point when compared to the previous Clifton 7. In addition, some runners have complained about an annoying squeak that develops after using the Clifton 8 for several months.
Clifton 7 vs Clifton 8: Design Comparison
Although both the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 look like solid options as daily trainers when analyzed individually, let’s take a look at how their design stacks up side by side to see what has stayed the same, what has gone away, and what has been tweaked between the two versions.
Both the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 have engineered mesh uppers that create a lightweight, breathable running experience for the foot. Some runners feel like the upper in the Clifton 8 is slightly softer and more comfortable to the touch (it has some extra padding in the tongue), but there are many more similarities than differences. Both have very comfortable uppers that many users liken to the experience of wearing a slipper.
The one area where the Clifton 8 does have an advantage over its predecessor is in terms of snugness of fit. The Clifton 7 features a stitch pattern with large openings in the toe box that continue as the upper wraps around the top of the foot. While this makes for awesome breathability, it leaves some runners feeling like their foot isn’t secure within the shoe.
With the Clifton 8, Hoka took steps to remedy this concern. While the upper still has ample openings throughout the toe box, they are more understated than in the previous shoe. In addition, the upper becomes more heavily quilted as the upper wraps around the foot, giving the runner a better feeling of snugness and security.
Although Hoka claims that they use a softer, lighter, more responsive material for the midsole in the Clifton 8, some customers have complained that little has changed in midsole design between the products. In fact, some runners even note that the EVA foam midsole feels a bit dated in the Clifton 8.
With this in mind, the midsole specifications are nearly identical between the two shoes:
- 34mm heel stack
- 29mm forefoot stack
- 5mm heel-to-toe drop
- EVA foam
These specs make either the Clifton 7 or Clifton 8 a solid option as a moderately cushioned everyday trainer. The impressive 5mm drop makes either of these shoes a great option for runners needing to log miles while coming back from an achilles tendon injury.
One aspect that really makes the Clifton series better suited for everyday training than high comfort is the outsole–there is a strong amount of blown rubber on each version’s outsole.
Typically, shoes with more rubber in the outsole score higher for traction, durability, and responsiveness–all features desirable for runners who like to hit the trail and get after it–while shoes with less rubber on the outsoles will be softer and more flexible–traits desirable for runners recovering from injury and/or looking for “easier” runs.
The Clifton 7 has large amounts of rubber in the high-abrasion areas of the heel, as well as in the forefoot and toe. There is some exposed EVA foam on the outsole of the midfoot. This usually is not overly concerning in terms of durability, as this is the area of the outsole least likely to receive heavy impact when running. However, if you are a bit flat-footed in your gait, you may quickly destroy this section in the Clifton 7, especially if you run on rocky or jagged terrains.
The Clifton 8 also has high quantities of blown rubber in the outsole but places it a bit more strategically than in the Clifton 7 to make the midfoot area of the outsole less delicate. The blown rubber from the forefoot extends all the way around to the lateral sides of the midfoot, reinforcing this area of the outsole.
In addition, the grooves and lugs in the forefoot of the Clifton 8 are diagonal, instead of horizontal like in the Clifton 7. This makes the forefoot feel a bit stiffer and provides more responsiveness during transitions because there is more resistance during flexion.
Clifton 7 vs Clifton 8: Feature Comparison
Now that you understand the nuts and bolts of their design, let’s take a look to see how the Clifton 7 vs Clifton 8 compare in action.
Both shoes are highly durable products. Runners should be able to get up to 500 miles in both the Clifton 7 or Clifton 8 if treated with the proper care.
Due to a higher exposure of EVA foam on the outsole, the Clifton 7 may wear out faster for runners with flat foot strikes or for runners who do a lot of work on rocky or uneven terrains, but both are very solid options in terms of durability.
Both shoes have ample room in the toe box for runners to be able to splay their toes. As noted earlier, the Clifton 8 has more quilting on the lateral forefoot, so it does feel a bit more snug than the Clifton 7.
This is where it is hard to find consensus among runners who have tried both the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8.
Many feel like the cushioning is adequate in each shoe, with both providing a comfortable ride for daily training.
The specifications seem to back this up. After all, the 29mm forefoot and 34mm heel are the same stack heights in each shoe.
However, Hoka states that even though both shoes have EVA foam midsoles, they reformulated the foam for the Clifton 8. Some runners claim to be able to feel this difference. They note that the Clifton 8 has more give in its cushioning than its predecessor, while the Clifton 7 maintains a continually plush experience that limits ground contact.
Stability and Support
Both the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 are high-arch support shoes. As such, people with flat feet note some discomfort, and even bruising, when trying to walk in the Clifton series. It is worth mentioning that the discomfort from the arch support is less pronounced when running than walking.
Neither the Clifton 7 or Clifton 8 are stability shoes. They are best for neutral runners who do not require overpronation support.
Most runners feel like both the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 run true to size. They are both considered to be good options for people who have wide feet.
As you could expect, the updated Clifton 8 will generally be a bit more expensive than the previous model when purchased new.
When the Clifton 8 was introduced, the price of the Clifton 7 dropped by about $30 on most outlets, with the Clifton 8 taking over as the most expensive version of Hoka’s flagship Clifton line.
FAQs – Clifton 7 vs Clifton 8
A sample of the most commonly asked questions about the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8.
Are the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 the Same Weight?
The Clifton 7 is slightly heavier than the Clifton 8. The Clifton 7 checks in at 9.1 oz, while the Clifton 8 weighs 8.9 oz.
Is the Tongue on the Clifton 8 More Comfortable?
Both the Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 feature gusseted tongues, so it is hard to find fault with the tongue’s comfort in either product.
However, the Clifton 8 did add some additional padding to the tongue. This gives it a softer, more pillowy feel than the tongue of the Clifton 7, but it is not quite as sleek and airy.
Do Both Shoes Have the Same Rocker Design?
Yes, both shoes use what Hoka calls its Meta-Rocker design in the outsoles. This is supposed to reduce the impact of foot strikes and keep the miles rolling along.
In Summary: Clifton 7 vs Clifton 8
The Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 are the two most recent iterations of Hoka’s flagship Clifton series.
Although the two shoes are mostly similar as an everyday trainer, the Clifton 8 does make some tweaks–such as strategically placed rubber on the lateral midfoot of the outsole, a more tightly quilted toe box, and additional padding in the tongue–that fans of the brand view as beneficial enough to warrant a purchase.
However, the advent of the Clifton 8 saw a price drop in the Clifton 7, so if you want similar features at a more affordable price, then you really can’t go wrong with the Clifton 7.
Whatever the case, be sure to pick up one of these top-notch road warriors to help you log your miles!