There are certain running shoes that seemingly make a brand.
The Brooks Adrenaline, Asics Kayano, Adidas Ultraboost–you name it.
The immense popularity of these products ostensibly puts the company into the mainstream running spotlight, never to look back.
For Hoka, that shoe is undoubtedly the Clifton.
This flagship everyday trainer encapsulates everything Hoka stands for, with its maximalist design and smooth rocker midsoles helping runners log easy miles on a daily basis.
Given the immense popularity of the Clifton line, runners eagerly wait for each new iteration of this staple trainer. To the delight of runners everywhere, Hoka unveiled the Clifton 9 recently.
While most runners agree that there are only “micro-changes” between the Clifton 9 and its predecessor, even the smallest differences can make a big difference in the running world.
With this in mind, keep reading as we take an in-depth look at the Clifton 8 vs Clifton 9!
Hoka Running Shoes At A Glance
Hoka One One is a relatively new running shoe company, but they’ve quickly made a name for themselves with their innovative designs and ultra-cushioned shoes. Hoka shoes are known for being lightweight, comfortable, and responsive. They’re a favorite among runners of all levels.
The Clifton is one of Hoka’s most popular models, and it’s easy to see why. The Clifton is a versatile shoe that can be used for everything from everyday training runs to long-distance races. It’s also incredibly comfortable, thanks to its plush cushioning and supportive fit.
Hoka Clifton 8: What Are You Getting?
The Clifton 8 is a well-cushioned, lightweight running shoe that’s perfect for runners of all levels. It features a breathable mesh upper, a plush EVA midsole, and a strategically designed outsole that perfectly blends exposed EVA foam and expertly grooved rubber in high-impact areas. The Clifton 8 is also available in a wide variety of colors, so you’re sure to find one that you will love to rock with confidence.
Here are some of the key features of the Clifton 8:
- Breathable mesh upper with a secure lockdown
- Plush CMEVA midsole that features an early stage Meta-Rocker to reduce energy consumption between strides and helps the runner through transitions
- Improved rubber placement on the outsole makes this shoe more durable than previous Clifton versions
The Clifton 8 is a great choice for runners who are looking for a comfortable, lightweight, and versatile running shoe. It’s perfect for everyday training runs, long-distance races, and everything in between.
Hoka Clifton 9: What Are You Getting?
The Clifton 9 is the latest iteration of Hoka’s popular Clifton running shoe. As such, runners who have loved the Clifton line throughout the years will be equally big fans of this newest version, as there are more similarities than differences between the Clifton 9 and its predecessor. With that said, there are some minor tweaks worth mentioning, including:
- An increased midsole stack height of about 3mm
- A slightly lighter shoe, with the women’s checking in at .3 ounces lighter and the men’s checking in at .1 ounces lighter than the Clifton 8
- Updated durabrasion outsole rubber to improve durability and traction
- Additional padding in the upper, specifically around the heel collar
All in all, while the updates to the Clifton 9 may appear to be negligible upon first glance, they are definitely worth consideration for fans of the line who want the very best that the Clifton has to offer.
Clifton 8 vs Clifton 9 Design Comparison
Now that you know a little bit about Hoka’s philosophy and the history of the Clifton line, let’s dig deeper into the specific engineering of the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9.
Both the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9 are noted for having lightweight breathable uppers. They also have an extended heel tab in the back of the shoe that makes it easy to pull on.
Another commonality is that they both have extra long laces. This is a trait of Hoka shoes that some runners love, while others find it distracting. On one hand, you can guarantee a more snug, lockdown fit. On the other, long laces can flop around during runs and be a bit of a distraction. The good news is that both shoes have an extra eyelet to promote a more customized fit.
Now to where the two uppers diverge slightly.
The Clifton 8 has a perforated mesh upper that helps promote breathability and comfort around the foot. The shoe also has an accommodating toe box that is comfortable for feet of all widths, with a padded tongue for increased comfort.
The Clifton 9 introduces a redesigned upper constructed from engineered mesh, enhancing breathability and reducing weight compared to its predecessor. Many runners note that the Clifton 9 has the “classic” Hoka feel, with the partially gusseted tongue conforming to the foot’s natural shape and providing a comfortable and secure fit. Runners also love the plush heel collar for added comfort around the ankle.
Both the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9 employ Hoka’s proprietary CMEVA (Compression Molded EVA) foam in their midsoles, offering a plush and responsive ride. However, the Clifton 9 introduces a new midsole design with an increased stack height, which runners actually find to be a bit more responsive than the midsole of the Clifton 8.
Additionally, the Clifton 9 incorporates Hoka’s Meta-Rocker technology, which promotes a smooth and efficient stride. This feature, combined with the increased stack height, enhances the Clifton 9’s responsiveness and propels runners forward effortlessly. This makes the Clifton 9 a great option for runners seeking maximum comfort during long runs or recovery workouts.
The Clifton 8 also has Hoka’s Meta-Rocker in the midsole, which is described as an “early stage” rocker. This means that the rocking motion of the foot is smoother from heel to forefoot, as opposed to a “late stage” rocker, which puts the rocking motion closer to the toes for increased stability.
At the end of the day, it is hard to go wrong with either of these midsoles, with the increased stack height really the only major point of distinction. Runners should be more than pleased with the comfort and easy rolling motion that both the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9 provide.
Typical of Hoka products, the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9 both feature outsoles that balance a high degree of exposed EVA foam for comfort mixed with strategically placed blown rubber for traction. This ensures that both models provide good grip on various road surfaces, guaranteeing a confident and secure ride.
The Clifton 8 upgraded the outsole from previous versions, introducing new outsole tread patterns in key areas of the crash pad to enhance durability and traction.
With that said, it appears that Hoka listened to users who wanted even more innovation in these areas and upped the outsole game even further. The Clifton 9 features an updated outsole design with newer “durabrasion” rubber in high-wear areas, potentially increasing its traction and durability over the Clifton 8.
Clifton 8 vs Clifton 9 Feature Comparison
With the design specifications of the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9 in mind, let’s take a look and see how they actually stack up along specific performance criteria.
Although Hoka shoes, in general, are usually not among the most durable products on the market thanks to their high degree of exposed outsole foam, the Clifton series is one of the more suitable products for reaching a high mileage lifespan.
Some runners note that they have approached 500 miles in their Clifton 8’s before experiencing significant signs of wear. Although the jury is still out a bit on the Clifton 9 thanks to its relative newness, the expectation is that the reinforced outsole rubber will take this durability to the next level and make it the most durable Clifton yet.
Both shoes are generally noted to run true to size.
In addition, both are fabricated with breathable mesh uppers that keep the foot light and airy while still providing adequate lockdown.
One area that some runners feel like the Clifton 8 has a slight advantage over the newer Clifton 9 is in the toe box. While the Clifton 8 is noted for having a spacious toe box to accommodate wider feet, the toe box in the Clifton 9 is described by some as a bit snug, even for runners with a standard foot width. However, this is not a universal concern among all runners, as some feel like the toe box in the Clifton 9 is adequate enough for all foot widths.
As can be expected from a Hoka product, the cushioning in both the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9 is top-notch.
Both shoes feature ample amounts of CMEVA foam that makes for optimal comfort in these maximalist shoes.
With that said, the Clifton 9 does increase the stack height by 3mm over the Clifton 8. Despite this, some runners feel like the Clifton 9 is more responsive and less “gooey” than its predecessor, with the foot not falling quite as far into the midsole foam during strides than with the Clifton 8.
Stability & Support
Although neither the Clifton 8 or Clifton 9 is a stability shoe for overpronation support (look at the Hoka Gaviota line if stability is a concern), the Clifton series is noted for having outstanding arch support.
In fact, some runners feel like the arch support in the Clifton 9 is a bit overdone, creating discomfort for people with flat feet when walking. Nonetheless, other runners feel like the arch support in the Clifton line is not an issue, with many agreeing that it complements the Meta-Rocker midsole effectively.
Although it is intuitive to expect a price increase when a new shoe model is released, the higher price of the Clifton 9 is not eye-popping compared to the Clifton 8. The Clifton 8 retails around $175 on most outlets, with the Clifton 9 checking in at around $5-10 more.
FAQ – Clifton 8 vs Clifton 9
A selection of the most common questions pertaining to the Clifton 8 and Clifton 9 comparison.
Are These Shoes Good for Casual Wear?
The Clifton series is a fine casual wear product.
With their elite cushioning and improved durability over most Hoka products, they are a favorite shoe for daily walkers, teachers, and other types of professionals who are on their feet all day.
While the upper design and aesthetics of the Cliftons can be somewhat gaudy, there are more than enough color patterns to suit the fancy of a wide range of personal styles.
One point to remember is that the larger stack of the Clifton 9 may make the shoe less desirable for day-to-day wear than the Clifton 8 for those people who want a more understated appearance on their feet.
Should I Buy Both of These Shoes?
If this is your first foray into the Clifton line, then you would do well to choose one or the other. The shoes are similar enough that the benefits offered by one will not provide sufficient utility over the other to warrant purchasing both pairs.
However, if you are a Clifton veteran and have already enjoyed the Clifton 8, then the Clifton 9 is definitely worth a purchase. Hoka made its moderate updates in large part thanks to user feedback, so adding the Clifton 9 to your arsenal will likely result in an elevated running experience.
What Type of Runner Should Avoid These Shoes?
As an everyday trainer, the vast majority of runners will find a place for the Clifton 8 or Clifton 9 in their closet. They are great for running on tracks, sidewalks, roads, gyms, and pretty much any type of controlled surface.
With that said, the extreme cross country enthusiast will likely want to steer clear of this line (and most Hokas, in general). There is just too much exposed outsole foam in these shoes that will easily pick up pebbles, sticks, and be damaged by jagged landings.
What Is the Clifton 9 GTX?
This is Hoka’s response to the previous FAQ.
As it is not a brand generally known for its cross country utility, Hoka made an alternate version of its latest Clifton 9 to accommodate more extreme runners.
Hoka says the Clifton 9 GTX is made so that runners can log their miles no matter the conditions. Updated with GORE-TEX Invisible Fit and weather-ready traction pods, the Clifton 9 GTX is Hoka’s first ever waterproof road running shoe.
So while it may not be quite at the level of a full-scale trail shoe, it is definitely an option for Clifton fans who want a little extra durability.
Final Thoughts: Clifton 8 vs Clifton 9
There it is in a nutshell: the exciting and the mundane about the latest jump from the Clifton 8 to the Clifton 9.
While there are more similarities than differences between the latest iterations of the Hoka’s flagship everyday trainer, the Clifton 9 has enough tweaks to make them worth the investment.
A thicker, more responsive midsole, a softer heel collar, more durable outsole rubber, and a lighter overall shoe make the Clifton 9 an upgrade over its predecessor.
If any of these are advantages you seek to meet your running needs, check out the Hoka catalog today and update your collection!