Hoka Rincon vs Clifton

As always, we’ve tried, tested, and read tons of reviews so you don’t have to in order to help you make an informed choice on which shoe is better for you. Today we are comparing Hoka Rincon vs Clifton.

Hoka classifies the Hoka Clifton 8 as the ultimate daily trainer while the Rincon gets credited as a versatile trainer in an extreme lightweight package that will defy expectations and PRs.

When doing a visual comparison of the two shoes, it’s easy enough to feel that it’s basically the same shoe in different color combinations. Even the outer soles on these shoes are almost identical. So are they the same or not? Why would Hoka make two shoes that are this similar under two different banners?

Rincon vs Clifton

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Rincon 3Clifton 8
Features100% vegan materials
Mesh upper is ultralight, and supremely breathable
Molded EVA sock liner
Asymmetrical tongue
Compression molded EVA midsole
Early stage Meta-Rocker for rapid acceleration
Zonal rubber placement in high abrasion areas only for weight savings
Minimalistic heel tab
100% vegan materials
Engineered mesh upper for lightweight breathability
Molded EVA sock liner
Plush padded & gusseted tongue
Compression molded EVA midsole
Early stage Meta-Rocker for a smoother ride
Flat-waisted geometry for increased stability
Extended pull tab for easy entry
ProsVery comfortable
Extreme breathability
Very Lightweight for daily trainer
Better traction than predecessor
Stable and secure
More durable than previous versions
Value for money
Extremely comfortable
Smooth ride and transition
Gusseted tongue
Very durable
Good traction
Lightweight for a daily trainer
Secure lockdown
Keeps feet warm in cooler weather
Good value for money
ConsRuns small & narrow
Tongue not gusseted
Tongue not padded enough for some
Some heel slippage
Not ideal for cooler weather
Padded tongue traps sweat on warm days
Tongue too padded for some
Too much arch support for some
Weight7.7 oz. (218 g.) for a men’s standard size
6.5 oz. (184 g.) for a women’s standard size
8.9 oz. (252 g) for a men’s standard size
7.2 oz. (204 g) for a women’s standard size
Spring measurement
(This is a measurement of the height of the rocker in the heel and toe and not the actual stack height)
Heel:     38mm
Toe:       24mm
Heel:     35mm
Toe:       22mm
Heel:     34mm
Toe:       22mm
Heel:     30mm
Toe:       19mm
Stack height
(This is a measurement of the amount of midsole cushioning)
Heel height:
Men 29mm / Women 26mm Forefoot height:
Men 24mm / Women 21mm
Heel height:
Forefoot height:
(for both men and women)

Disclaimer: I’ve seen varying stats on these shoes all over the internet that come from people comparing different sizes. The stats above are the official numbers from Hoka for standard size shoes in these models. Standard being a men’s US 10.5 and a women’s US 8.5.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Hoka Rincon 3 vs the Hoka Clifton 8

Previous iterations of the Rincon gave everyone serious concerns with durability of the entire shoe. The upper and the outsole showed very early signs of wear, and the midsole felt like it broke down quickly, becoming less responsive.

From everything we can see, Hoka has done a great job on the third version of the Rincon to improve overall durability. On the Rincon 2, after only 50 miles, the outsole showed serious wear and on the Rincon 3, the outsole is still looking good after 100 miles, which is significant.

The differences from the Clifton 7 to the Clifton 8 are also significant. The fabric used in the upper is more dense, providing a better lockdown. The inner lining is a smoother, more comfortable fabric. The tongue is considerably more padded. They have reconfigured the outsole rubber for more durability. Overall, it gained an ounce of weight from its predecessor.

hoka rincon vs clifton

Upper – Rincon 3 vs Clifton 8

The Rincon 3 upper has been fine-tuned even more for performance. Everything from the improved 100% vegan sandwich mesh, the thin, asymmetrical tongue and the minimalistic heel tab reduces weight and increases breathability.

The fabric feels a little less premium to the touch compared to the Clifton 8, though it is softer than previous versions of the Rincon.

We have mixed feelings on the heel tab and while some runners like it, I feel that the thin cord doesn’t seem like something I want to pull on at the risk of it coming out on me. I think they could have left it out altogether.

The lack of padding in the racing inspired tongue also provokes mixed feelings with some runners loving it, because of how cool the shoe feels. A few runners, however, found that the lack of padding in the tongue caused the laces to press into the top of their foot. This might be a problem more specific to runners with a high bridge. The wide wings on the tongue keep it in place even though it isn’t gusseted.

The Rincon definitely runs narrow with even the wide version being too tight in the mid-foot for runners with very wide feet.

It’s fitted with an internal heel counter that provides heel support with light padding in the collar and heel tab. Foot lockdown is good.

The upper of the Clifton 8 is similar to the Clifton 7, but where there were some lockdown issues with the Clifton 7, Hoka has corrected that in the Clifton 8. It might result from the change in the ventilation pattern on the upper, which have smaller holes with a firmer fabric in between. This unfortunately makes the shoe warmer.

Another big difference is a considerable amount of extra padding in the tongue and the lining inside the shoe is now a smoother, shiny material.

It’s an extremely comfortable upper. The tongue is a little thicker than I feel necessary and it collects a lot of moisture once your feet starts sweating.

The tongue is gusseted, but somehow still slides a little and it might be because it’s rather short.

As the Rincon, the Clifton 8 also runs narrow with runners with wide feet complaining of pain and blistering on the inside of the foot. Runners with high arches don’t seem to experience this at all.

There are some reflective pieces on the back of the heel as well as on the sides of the toe box.

Overall the Clifton 8 has a more premium feel to the upper than the Rincon 3

hoka rincon vs clifton

Midsole – Rincon 3 vs Clifton 8

The midsole on the Rincon 3 is still compression molded EVA.

Hoka has runners speculating on what the numbers on the side of the midsole means (S38x24|V603|W215). S is not for stack height, as some have suggested, but the spring measurement, which really is more a measurement of the rocker or curvature of the shoe than the midsole cushioning itself. That means that the back of the rocker in the heel is 38mm off the ground with the front of the rocker at the toes being 24mm off the ground. This is clearly different from the stack height, which is only 29mm in the heel and 24mm in the forefoot on the men’s models.

V is for the total volume of foam in the midsole and W is for the weight in grams.

The EVA in the midsole is very responsive without being too hard and the blend is showing to be more resilient than in previous versions of the Rincon. The moderate swallowtail provides a crash pad for heel strikers providing a cushioned landing, but we definitely won’t describe it as plush.

There are additional side wall grooves and flex grooves that, in combination with a deeper heel cavity, provide a smooth transition. The cushioning in the forefoot also responds very well without being mushy or hard.

The midsole of the Clifton 8 is very similar to the Clifton 7 and also EVA foam, giving you the perfect balance of cushioning.

There is enough cushioning for a full marathon without being so plush that it feels lazy, like some cushioned shoes (older Brooks Glycerine and Saucony Triumph).

There are two vertical sidewall grooves in the heel which provides more flexibility during heel strikes

The Clifton 8 has a more versatile feel than previous versions and it is quite easy to pick up the pace. It does very well on runs of different lengths and paces but are not suited for intense speed work.

The Clifton is neutral but very stable because of the flat waisted geometry of the midsole and has a prominent arch.

The forefoot feels stiffer than on the Clifton 7 and, along with the rocker shaped midsole, makes the Clifton 8 more responsive and your running less effort.

Outsole – Rincon 3 vs Clifton 8

Hoka has addressed concerns over the rapid deterioration of the Rincon 1 & 2’s outsole by adding and repositioning strategically placed rubber pads in high abrasion areas. The added rubber improves durability and traction.

The outsole of the Clifton 8 also had a solid update with repositioning of the rubber pads, making an already durable outsole even more so.

On previous models, the rubber didn’t extend far enough into the mid-foot and the middle of the shoe took a beating on the exposed foam. This is no longer an issue.

rincon vs clifton

Weight – Rincon 3 vs Clifton 8

The Rincon is considerably lighter than the Clifton.

Rincon 3
7.7 oz. (218 g.) men’s US 10.5
6.5 oz. (184 g.) women’s US 8.5

Clifton 8
8.9 oz. (252 g) men’s US 10.5
7.2 oz. (204 g) women’s US 8.5

Ride – Rincon 3 vs Clifton 8

These shoes are both classified as neutral and versatile daily trainers. The drop on both shoes is the same at 5mm, making them very comfortable for mid and forefoot strikers. Most heel strikers are comfortable as well, but there are some runners that find transitioning from a high drop like the Brooks Ghost’s 12mm a bit much.

If you are currently running in a high drop shoe, you might need to build up the mileage slowly to avoid calf, foot and Achilles’ pain.

Both the Rincon and the Clifton offer a smooth ride, but the Rincon just has more energy return and a snappier toe-off.

hoka rincon vs clifton

Stack Height and Drop  – Rincon 3 vs Clifton 8

The stack height and drop on both shoes are the same for men’s shoes with the Rincon 3 women’s model coming in at a 3mm lower stack height and the drop 5mm all around.

Rincon 3
Heel height:
Men 29mm / Women 26mm
Forefoot height:
Men 24mm / Women 21mm

Clifton 8
Heel height:
Forefoot height:
(for both men and women)

FAQ on the Rincon vs Clifton

Do they fit true to size?

People seem to give very conflicting answers to this question. Runners with narrow feet feel that both the Rincon and the Clifton run true to size.

Runners with wider feet feel that both these shoes run narrow, with the Rincon being even more narrow than the Clifton.

The way both these shoes are designed has the midsole rise around the outer edge, giving a seated feeling to the shoe. Runners with wide feet and possibly lower arches find that this edge cause pain and blistering, especially on the inside edge of the foot.

Which shoe is better suited for easy, long runs?

Between the Rincon and the Clifton, we favor the Clifton for long distances because of the softer cushion. The Clifton is simply better at slower paces over long distances.

Which is the better every day trainer?

If you are more focused on shorter runs, with a variety of tempo work and fartlek mixed into your program, consider the Rincon 3.

If your training is more focused on volume, like MAF or 80/20 training, the Clifton is more suitable.

Final Thoughts – Rincon vs Clifton

Both these shoes are excellent daily trainers and with the updates made to these latest models, durability no longer seems a concern. We highly recommend the Rincon 3 if you are doing less than 25 miles a week and like to add in a reasonable amount of speed work into your training.

If you’re running for longevity like me and prefer to take it easier the majority of the time, I suggest you give the Clifton 8 a try.

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Marlene Baiton

Marlene Baiton is a freelance writer/editor and accounting controller. As a running and cycling enthusiast, she loves spending her free time out on the roads and trails with her family.

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