Hoka has built its brand around the idea of getting people moving. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fast or slow, whether you go long or short, as long as you’re moving and have fun while doing it. Hoka’s aim is to provide a cushioned shoe that gently protects your feet, whatever you’re doing, without holding you back or weighing you down. In this article we are having a deep dive into the Hoka Clifton 7 review.
The Clifton has been one of their most popular shoes over the years and with good reason. It gives you the Hoka experience of lightweight, cushioned running like no other shoe. Over the years, Hoka has really dialed the Clifton in to be that balanced, everyday trainer with a medium level of responsive cushioning. It also carries The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, which means it was tested and certified as enhancing foot health.
I’ve heard some criticism on the Clifton 7 being too soft, too firm or not responsive enough, which is a little silly. This shoe is and does exactly what it promises. It’s not meant to be a racing shoe, and it’s not meant to be a maximum cushion shoe either. Ultimately, that’s the genuine test. Does it deliver on its promises? The Clifton 7 sure does.
Hoka Clifton 7 – Features
Open-engineered sandwich mesh for superior breathability and comfort
Reinforced eye-stays for improved durability
Early stage Meta-Rocker
Full-compression EVA midsole
Vertical heel pull tab
|Lots of cushioning||Runs slightly narrow|
|Very light for a cushioned shoe|
|Very durable upper|
|Shaped heel tab|
The Clifton 7 sports an open engineered sandwich mesh upper that offers superior breathability. It is lightweight with fewer overlays than in previous models.
Hoka has added a lightweight gusset that holds the tongue in place and prevents the sliding which was a problem in the Clifton 6.
In the heel, Hoka added a shaped pull tab or Achilles collar, which helps to get the shoe on and off. It also creates a bit of space between the Achilles tendon and the heel collar, which runners that struggle with Achilles’ problems will welcome. It fits well around the heel with no slippage.
Hoka has kept the midsole and outsole basically unchanged. The midsole comprises the same full-compression EVA from the Clifton 6 and even the stack height remained exactly the same.
Meta-Rocker technology provides a smooth transition and the 5mm drop works for heel strikers as well as mid-foot and forefoot strikers.
The Clifton 7 excels on long easy runs but is very willing when you decide to pick up the pace a little.
Durable lightweight rubber protects the high abrasion areas in the heel and forefoot while keeping the weight down.
Men 8.7oz (246g) / Women 7.1oz (201g)
Heel height: Men 29mm / Women 27mm
Forefoot height: Men 24mm / Women 22mm
The Clifton is a neutral shoe without additional prescriptive technologies. The wider flat base gives it a more stable feel, though some runners complain that the softness in the heel makes them feel a little unstable.
It fits true to size in the length but runs slightly narrow. They do come in a wide model, however.
Who Is This Shoe For?
Hoka’s Clifton is for anyone who is looking for a versatile everyday trainer with lots of cushion. It can handle pretty much any distance up to a full marathon and is equally comfortable at slow and faster paces.
It’s perfect for someone who is looking for a shoe that is light enough to do anything from a 5-21k race, but they’re not looking to break records or spend a fortune.
Great for someone who is looking for a shoe to log those long, slow miles or recovery runs.
Who Is This Shoe NOT For?
This shoe is not for runners who prefer really firm cushioning that is ultra-responsive.
If you’re looking for a shoe to break records with, there are faster shoes out there. Consider the Hoka Carbon X 2, the Saucony Endorphin Pro or the Nike Alphafly Next% instead.
The Clifton is not the ideal shoe for someone who does the majority of their training on the track. While it has a good amount of grip on the road and even easy trails, the grip is insufficient for doing speed work on the track and the stack height is a recipe for twisted ankles. Instead, consider the Hoka Cielo X MD (middle distance) or LD (long distance).
Which Shoes Do The Clifton 7 Compare to?
Saucony Endorphin Shift
Saucony’s Endorphin Shift is their maximum cushioned, everyday trainer in the Endorphin series. As far as comfort goes, it measures up well to the Clifton 7. The upper is extremely comfortable, but the midsole rocker takes some getting used to. It’s meant for logging lots of easy miles and it does that well and it can even pick up the pace a bit.
The reason I’m comparing the Endorphin Shift here even though it’s a max cushioned trainer is simply that it performs very similar to the Clifton 7. The cushioning is responsive and firm enough that it doesn’t really compare to other max cushioned shoes like the Bondi or the Brooks Glycerine.
There are two things that set the Shift apart from the Clifton. The one is the size. There is a relatively minor difference of about 20g between the men’s and women’s models of the shoe, which I found surprising. Compare that to the 45g difference on the Clifton men’s and women’s models and it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But, and this is a big but, when you realize that means a 68g difference between the women’s shoes of the same size, it kind of becomes a big deal. I don’t understand why the women’s shoe is that much heavier comparatively.
You also have this massive stack height on the Shift of 38mm in the heel and 34mm in the forefoot for a 4mm drop. This shoe feels big on your foot. Despite its size, it feels like the Shift does faster tempos better than the Clifton.
If you have reasonably good running form, you’ll enjoy this shoe but there’s a definite learning curve because of the very pronounced rocker and beginner runners might find it hard to adjust. The Clifton on the other hand, you put on and you go, and the wide, flatter base and lower stack height just give you a secure footed feeling from the get go.
Overall, I think the Clifton 7 is a better pick because it’s just an easy no fuss shoe that does its job well.
The Novablast is a fun shoe. It’s very bouncy and some even think it has a ‘Hoka feel’ to it. It works best for long easy runs and tempo runs. The upper is high quality and breathable. It’s about 20g per shoe heavier than the Cliftons, but because it’s so responsive you don’t notice it.
The heel height is fairly similar to the Clifton’s but it has a 10mm drop that is very noticeable. Most runners really enjoy running in this Asics because of that responsive midsole. The problem with very bouncy shoes is, that they can cause leg soreness and fatigue if you’re doing a lot of miles in them. That doesn’t bode well for a shoe that’s supposed to shine on long easy miles.
The Asics Novablast, unfortunately, lacks stability. While it does great on straight routes, it doesn’t do well in cornering and you really have to slow down to be safe. This lack of stability, combined with the stack height, means it’s simply no good for sprinting of any kind.
In my opinion, the Novablast is better suited for shorter runs like 5-10Ks at varying paces and it will work better if you have another shoe to rotate it with.
For this reason, the Clifton 7 remains the better choice for a versatile daily trainer.
The Pegasus is a medium cushioned, neutral everyday trainer. The cushion is definitely a little firmer than that of the Clifton, and the full-length React midsole is also more responsive than the midsole in the Clifton.
The upper is noticeably warmer than the Clifton and, like most Nike running shoes, they run narrow. People with wide feet often experience numbness on the outside edge of the foot midway into a run, as well as blisters on the inside edge of the foot. With the normal width Clifton also being slightly narrow, the feel is very similar. Hoka, however, has a wide model available in the Clifton, while Nike only has a standard width available in the Pegasus.
The Pegasus is extremely versatile. It can handle anything from shorter 5-10k runs up to half-marathons. To me, it feels a bit too firm for longer distances, but there are runners that feel they handle full marathons adequately. On shorter runs, it’s easy to pick up the pace, and they do really well on fartlek and tempo runs.
Like the Asics Novablast, they lack stability, which once again means that they are not ideal for sprinting and you need to take care going into tight corners at speed.
The stack height is lower than the Clifton, which combined with the 10mm heel drop leaves you with only 14mm of forefoot cushioning between you and the road. Nike has balanced that out by adding the Zoom Air pocket in the shoe’s forefoot and it helps for a softer landing but also gives the shoe a nice responsive pop during toe-off.
If I had to choose between the two for doing shorter, fartlek, or tempo runs, I’m leaning heavily towards the Pegasus, with its responsive midsole and quick toe-off. The Pegasus doesn’t do it for me when I’m logging long, easy miles in zone 2, then I want the Clifton and its softer cushioning.
Once again I pick the Clifton 7 as the better everyday trainer for doing more miles, but the Pegasus wins for shorter, faster workouts.
FAQ on the Hoka Clifton 7 Review
Is the Clifton 7 a maximum cushion shoe?
The Clifton 7 isn’t a true maximum cushioned shoe. It has lots of cushioning for sure but is a lightweight, medium cushion shoe that Hoka describes as neutral and balanced.
The Hoka Bondi is their neutral maximum cushion shoe, while the Gaviota is Hoka’s stability maximum cushion shoe.
Can I run trails with the Clifton 7?
If you’re doing moderate grass or gravel trails, you can definitely use the Clifton 7. For more technical trails, with lots of rocks, water, or climbs, and descents, the grip is insufficient, and it’s also not waterproof or even water-resistant.
For shorter technical distances, consider the ultra-lightweight Hoka Zinal, and for longer distances consider the Hoka Speedgoat.
Is the Clifton 7 the same as the Clifton 6?
The midsole and outsole on the Clifton 7 are the same as on the Clifton 6. Some runners have found it harder than their Clifton 6 but I think it might be that old shoe versus new shoe feel. The midsole seems to relax a little after the first few runs.
I found the upper on the Clifton 6 quite hot on long runs and Hoka has made the upper on the Clifton 7 considerably lighter and more breathable.
They’ve also added a gusset on the tongue which prevents it from sliding around in the shoe like it did on the Clifton 6.
The Achilles tab is a pleasant addition, for easy on and off. I also like the way the heel of the Clifton 7 fits better than that of the Clifton 6.
It’s the same, but better.
Final Thoughts on the Hoka Clifton 7 Review
The Clifton 7 is a solid choice for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile daily trainer. It’s real value for money and if you love Hokas the Clifton 7, won’t disappoint.
If you want to know how the Clifton 7 compares to its successor, check our article Clifton 7 vs Clifton 8.