A First Look at the Hoka Clifton 8!
Runners have been anticipating the release of the Hoka Clifton 8 for a while now. What new features and upgrades will be included? How will the new version improve upon the old ones? What colors will be added? The anticipation is palpable.
Hyperbole aside, new shoe release day is always kind of exciting, and that’s especially the case when it’s a new version of an already popular shoe like the Hoka Clifton. Since they were first released a few years ago, this road runner model has become a favorite shoe for tempo runs, intervals, and just daily jogs. On June 1, 2021, Hoka One One will release the Clifton 8, and they’re poised to be just as popular right out of the gate.
What’s New on the Clifton 8?
Hoka didn’t do a complete teardown or redesign of this shoe, so the general silhouette and performance of the Clifton 8 are not all that different from that of previous Clifton iterations.
The 8s have mostly the same bones and basic structure of all earlier Cliftons: they’re still cushy, still light, and still super easy on your feet, legs, and lower body joints. In fact, the Clifton 8s, along with many other Hoka One One models, have earned the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for the benefits they provide to overall foot health.
There are some minor adjustments and tweaks to the Clifton that fans of the model will surely appreciate. For starters, the 8s are around 15% lighter than the 7s. They weigh in at 8.8 oz or 250 g per shoe for men and 7.6 oz or 215 g for women. These weights are based on a size 9 for men and a size 8 for women, so you can expect a small increase or decrease if your foot is larger or smaller, respectively, but the key thing to note is that this is about as light as a premium running shoe gets.
Regarding foot positioning in the Clifton 8, there’s a heel to toe drop of around 5mm. The heel is 29mm off the ground, and the toe sits up at 24mm. This configuration encourages runners to strike with the heel and really make the most of the rocker sole that’s on this and all Hoka One One shoes. It all makes for an easier stride, and on the 8s, it’s a bit more flexible and bouncy. The midsole is made of compression-molded EVA, a polymer that’s soft, rubbery, and incredibly durable. It makes for a soft and responsive cushion, and you should be able to get 400 miles out of a pair.
The engineered mesh upper has been improved over earlier versions. On the 8s, it’s a bit thinner yet feels a little stronger. It also has lots of give and feels a bit more breathable in action. There’s also an ever-so-slightly larger toe box, which can help prevent blisters, and a touch more snugness in the midfoot. There’s one more pair of eyelets on the 8s, and they all seem to be a little more reinforced.
The tongue construction is probably one of the more significant upgrades on the Clifton 8. For starters, there’s more padding on it, which creates a more comfortable feel on the top of your foot, like a gentle hug around your talus. The tongue on the 8s is also gusseted, or attached along its sides to the upper rather than only at the base. This may seem like a minor thing, but it actually prevents the tongue from slipping, making for a more comfortable fit all around and limiting the likelihood of small rocks flipping up into your shoe.
In terms of actual running experience in the Hoka Clifton 8, it’s a lot like it was in the Clifton 7: solid, comfortable, and maybe even a bit softer. As far as the outsole is concerned, there’s a new shallow groove toward the heel for a bit more bounce and some energy return. The heel counter is really solid to help keep your foot firmly position in the shoe. There’s also just a little more rubber on the outsole, especially toward the toe, which provides better traction and more stability.
Finally, the looks: while the overall shape of the Clifton 8 hasn’t changed much from earlier versions, there are new colorways to contemplate. Hoka seems to have gone with a more cool palette for this model, offering more blues in the upper and outsoles and fewer orange and pink choices. Or, if flashy running shoes aren’t your thing, there is a black on black option in men’s sizes.
Are The Hoka Clifton 8 True To Size? How Do They Compare To Other Models?
All in all, the Clifton 8s aren’t a drastic redesign over earlier versions or compared to other Hoka models, but all of the adjustments are for the better. Like all Hokas, they fit true to size.
However, trying them on and at least walking around in them a bit is always a wise idea, especially if this is your first foray into the Hoka-verse.
Compared to other Hoka shoes, the Clifton model strikes a keen balance of cushioning and weight. They’re not too thick on the soles, but they’re thick enough to provide all the padding and support you want while you’re literally pounding the pavement. If there’s a common complaint about the Cliftons, though, it’s that there’s not a lot of energy return, especially compared to other Hoka road running shoes.
The Mach 4, for example, is a fan favorite for its bouncy ride and for how secure it feels on the foot. The same goes for the Carbon X 2, which is advertised as the Hoka model that is really designed to propel runners forward. Both of these models have a longer outsole, and though they both have the same 5mm heel to toe drop as the Clifton 8, that sole silhouette makes a significant difference for a lot of runners.
Ultimately, all of Hoka’s offerings are good options. As for the best option for you and your running habits and routines, it really comes down to personal preference. This is why it’s so important to get these shoes on your feet and move around in them to the extent that you can before you buy.
Are Hoka Clifton 8 Worth It?
New runners may experience some sticker shock at the Clifton 8’s $130 price tag, but anyone who’s purchased running shoes knows that good footwear is expensive. In fact, Hoka’s shoes are priced on the lower end of the premium running shoe spectrum, especially compared to some of the more high-end daily trainers from brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance. For me, the Clifton 8 is definitely at a competitive price point.
Should I Upgrade to Clifton 8?
There’s really nothing like that new-shoe feel, especially on the first run with them, and the minor upgrades on the Clifton 8 will certainly be noticeable to fans of this particular model. So, if you’re already a Clifton fan and need a new pair, then yes: the 8s are worth the upgrade.
Similarly, if you’re new to Hoka One One as a brand and want a good shoe to start out with for regular runs, the Clifton 8 is a solid pick. However, if you’re still running in Clifton 7s and they’re not at the end of their life (meaning you’re still under 300 or 400 miles on them), then you can certainly wear them a bit longer before upgrading.
Finally, if money is a concern, and you’re looking to get a great pair of running shoes at a lower price, you can find the Clifton 7 discounted at most retailers as they try to clear them out to make room for the 8s. Both are good choices for runners, and the $30 or $40 savings on the previous model will likely make up for any minor new-feature envy on the 8s.
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