Kit & Gear

REVIEW: HOKA Clifton 9

The HOKA Clifton 9 are the perfect pavement pounder for any runner who prioritises both cushioning and comfort in a running shoe.

Lightweight in design, they are equipped with a super-soft midsole that absorbs impacts and provides ultimate cushioning, making them the ideal choice for daily use and high-mileage. This, along with the early stage Meta-Rocker technology supports an ergonomic running style.


The Clifton 9 features a new engineered, ultra-light mesh upper that is airy and smooth. The upper is seamless on the outside for a sleek look and clean silhouette and only has a few seams on the inside. The mesh wraps each foot in breathable comfort, allowing air to fully permeate the entire upper. Although lightweight, this mesh upper remains resilient enough for you to be able to put it through any workout.


Weight:Men's: 248g / Women's: 205g
Stack height:Men's: (Heel) 32mm / (Forefoot) 27mm Women's (Heel) 29mm / (Forefoot) 24mm
Key Tech:New EVA Midsole, Ultra-Plush Heel, Early Stage Meta-Rocker, Flat-Waisted Geometry
RATING:(out of 5)


REVIEW by Tom Fairbrother

I'm going to be totally honest and say the HOKA Clifton is the best daily training shoe I have ever run in. For a few years it was the New Balance 1080, and before that the beloved Nike Pegasus back in the early 2010s, but the Clifton reigns supreme.

In recent years I've had 5-6 pairs of the Clifton 7 and the same number of Clifton 8 in pretty much every colour possible. I wear them for running, I wear them to work, I even wear them to walk my dog. You could say I've got a Clifton problem!

You might think that means this review of the new HOKA Clifton 9 is going to be biased - of course I'm going to love them. I would say the total opposite! Because I'm such a huge Clifton fan, I'm desperate for them never to change. Many a shoe has lost its way as a result of seemingly unnecessary tweaks trying to be something it's not or covering too many bases.


When I first saw HOKA shoes I remember thinking they looked ridiculous with such a chunky outsole - almost like platform shoes. How could people run in them? But everyone I knew who wore them, which was an ever increasing number of people of all abilities, from sub 2:20 marathon runners to 5:00 marathon runners, swore by them, especially those who had previously been injury prone.

At that point in time I had experienced numerous calf and achilles niggles and was relatively fresh from ankle surgery, so I was very intrigued. And straight away, it was a perfect match in every sense!

The new Clifton 9 is the latest edition of the massively popular everyday training shoe. The Clifton is a neutral, cushioned shoe ideal for easy miles and long runs.

As well as being iconic for their maximalist style, HOKA are also synonymous with bold colour combinations and for this review I wore the orange and blue colourway. I have always found they come up a fraction small and narrow so I go up half a size. I'm usually a UK 10.5 but in HOKA I wear an 11.

My first impression out of the box was that the upper looked noticeably different. Stripped back, with more holes in the top, the mesh feels softer to touch. On your feet, the upper comfortably hugs and wraps the top of your foot and feels very secure.

The main new features of the Clifton 9 are a slightly increased stack height, and a new CMEVA foam midsole. The softer, compressed foam is lighter, meaning the stack height can increase even though the overall weight of the shoe is reduced.


The stack height is 2mm more than the Clifton 8. The combination of higher stack and softer foam results in a slightly bouncier feel with greater energy return for improved efficiency, without sacrificing any of the Clifton’s stability and if anything there is a little bit more underfoot protection.

The Clifton is always much lighter than it looks, and the Clifton 9 continues that trend. By stripping back the upper and the foam improvements, the Clifton 9 is actually 4 grams lighter than the Clifton 8, weighing in at 8.7 oz / 248g.

Despite its appearance, the Clifton only has a 5mm heel drop, finding a nice sweet spot where you feel as though you are being rocked onto your forefoot without being constrained.

The insoles are removable so you have the option to use orthotics, as I do ever since my ankle operation. The gusseted tongue is also stripped back and is a comfy fit, with no slippage at all even on longer runs.


A common criticism of all the Clifton models is that it's a shoe that lacks pop for those faster runs. Whilst true, personally I think it's unfair to expect a shoe to work for easy runs, long runs, tempo runs and races. Those are all very different biomechanical movements with different and conflicting demands.

To judge daily training shoes based on how they respond to faster efforts is missing the point. The Clifton is not a dynamic shoe, but it doesn't need to be and it’s not trying to be. It's an everyday trainer which for me means slower, easy-paced recovery runs either on road or firm trails.

For those slower runs invariably you are running on your heels or at best midfoot, not forefoot, so the shoe just needs to be cushioned, stable and supportive. This is a shoe designed for taking it easy, not flat out racing.

Any shoe that claims to tick all of those boxes is invariably a jack of all trades, master of none. You ideally need two pairs - a daily trainer and a faster/racing shoe. HOKA has a whole range of brilliant carbon shoes for racing and fast efforts, although for me the Nike Vaporfly is still the undisputed market leader.


The Clifton does not claim to be anything but an ever-reliable cushioned, neutral, everyday shoe and that's why it has such a devoted army of loyal fans. And the Clifton 9 is without doubt an upgrade on the Clifton 8, which was an upgrade on the Clifton 7!

Price is always a factor, especially in the current financial environment. The HOKA One One Clifton 9 is not the cheapest in the competitive everyday training shoe market, but what you are getting is a hugely reliable and durable shoe.

Durability is always a huge asset of the Clifton. Over the dozen or so pairs I've had, never have any split, ripped or fell apart despite running at least 300+ miles in each as well as miles of daily dog walks. They hold up overtime, maintaining structure and grip, so this is a shoe that gives you value for money and is a sound investment.

As a Clifton superfan, I'm delighted to say this is not a sexy rebrand or overhaul. I really wanted to be critical and pick holes in it, because deep down none of us like change, but it's a solid improvement with minor subtle tweaks. Because if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

The best just got better. The Clifton is the GOAT.



Key Features:

  • Engineered Mesh Upper - Optimises breathability and comfort.

  • Reinforced Eyelets - Increase durability.

  • Refined Achilles Pull Tab - Mitigates any rubbing or chafing.

  • Ultra-Plush Heel - For added comfort.

  • Early Stage Meta-Rocker - For a smooth ride.

  • Full New and Improved EVA Midsole - Provides lightweight, responsive cushioning.

  • Moderate Heel Bevel - Provides a smooth heel-to-toe transition.

  • Flat-Waisted Geometry - Supplies inherent stability.

  • Full Ground Contact Design - For increased traction and stability.

  • Strategic Hi-Abrasion Rubber Zones - To reduce weight and increase durability.

  • Wide Base - Provides a degree of inherent stability.


Tom Fairbrother is a 2:29 marathon runner who has completed more than 30 marathons around the world. You can follow his adventures here.

Interested in the latest shoes, apparel and technology? Then head over to our Kit & Gear category for more reviews, tips, advice and product releases.


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