Hoka One One Clifton 3

9.3
9.3 score
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Hoka One One Clifton 3 Review Facts

Hoka One One, the antithesis brand of the minimalist running experience, introduces the Clifton 3 into its line of plushly cushioned shoes. With its thick midsole, the Clifton is an upgrade to the two earlier versions, the Clifton 1 and 2. This shoe is known for offering an exuberant amount of cushioning while still staying lightweight and offering plenty of protection.

Upon taking them out of the box, the fit and feel of the shoes is remarkable. There is no need to to have to endure any break-in period. Upon slipping into a pair of these, the fit feels natural and the level of comfort is more than anyone could ask for. As with any pair of shoes, the first time trying them on is usually filled with a lot of excitement and you are ready to hit the road, track, trail, or what ever you typically prefer. I must say that the excitement with the Clifton 3 was more than with my other running shoes — maybe because I’ve been so used to running in lower profile minimalist shoes and this was my first time venturing into the maximalist arena. Needless to say, the excitement over these shoes has remained strong and outlasted the testing period. The Clifton 3 has the potential to garner many fans. Let’s take a closer look at its features.

Pros
  • Cushioning provides maximum confort
  • Responsiveness makes for a very good toe off.
  • The durability will have these shoes lasting a while.
  • They fit very well.
  • Good breathability that can be appreciated
  • The wide toe box is a definite plus.
Cons
  • May be a bit bulky for casual runners
  • Are lightweight for its type, but not the lightest for running shoes
  • Not the most flexible shoe
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The Outsole is made from light weight rubber compounds. The tread pattern is evenly distributed among the bottom of the shoe in order to retain grip and traction. The outsole is specifically designed for road use, but it’s capable to handle light trail conditions. There are no lugs and the surface is generally smooth. Some users had some issues with its durability. However, I found it to be adequate enough after many miles. But the look and feel of the outsole rubber does seem like it can be a liability in the long run and has the potential to break down after prolonged use.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole is the focal point of the Clifton 3. Visually, this is obvious. It’s made from Compression Molded Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, or CMEVA for short. It’s a lightweight midsole platform that grants runners with an impressive amount of cushion. It’s bouncy, foamy, and delivers plenty of responsiveness. At the same time it’s firm and durable. It incorporates rocker technology, which is a similar concept to that of a snowboard. The entire surface is smooth and evenly distributed allowing for safe and neutral landings.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The Clifton 3’s upper includes air mesh material that is evenly distributed throughout the top portion. Visible perforations in the mesh allow a steady flow of air entry to circulate and keep your feet well ventilated and dry. The overlays are welded and not stitched. This helps with reducing the overall weight of the shoe. The welded overlays also improve with the shoe’s flexibility. A wider toe box, which any runner will immediately notice upon first trying them on, is an added improvement on this installment of the Clifton.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The men’s version of the Clifton 3 weighs about 8.6 ounces, based on a Men’s size 9 and the women’s version weighs about 7.4 ounces, based on a size 7. The weight measurements do not signify a heavy shoe by any means, despite the fact that this is a large volume shoe. Nevertheless, after a few days of running in them, the weight of the shoes did cause some noticeable drag. It’s unclear whether it’s the actual weight or simply the volume but it doesn’t matter as it was enough for me to notice. If you are a runner who is used to running in lightweight shoes, switching over a to a maximalist brand like Hoka One One will require an adjustment period.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The air mesh upper provides ample air flow that you will definitely feel immediately. Catch any gush of wind and the result is obvious. On one occasion I decided to go sock-less with these shoes and the shoe’s breathable qualities were more apparent then. Regardless, socks or no socks, your feet stay cool, dry, and exceptionally comfortable throughout your entire run — so much so, you don’t really have any inclination to take them off after you’re done.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

If we could just narrow it down to one section then it would probably be comfort. As mentioned earlier, there was no need for any break in period. The Clifton 3’s have the same comfortable fit after several uses as they do when you first put them on. Many reviewers of the shoe, myself included, laud the roomy toe box. You’ll certainly enjoy the benefits and freedom of having plenty of wiggle room for your toes.
Style
Style

Style

The shoe is big and bulky and many reviewers are not a fan of Hoka One One’s unique style. I, on the other hand, find the style to be particularly appealing. The colors combinations take the edge off the shoe’s unusually large look. The Clifton 3 still resembles the Clifton 2 in many ways. Certainly, the shoe’s thick midsole can look like something out of NASA’s space program; however, it’s just one of those things that’s a matter of personal preference. Either way, these shoes were designed for impressive comfort and cushioning, not for the catwalk. I can't imagine anyone purchasing a pair of Hoka's for the sole purpose of making a fashion statement.
Durability
Durability

Durability

After logging over 70 miles in these shoes, they have held up remarkably well. The longest run was over 7 miles. Overall, the shoe’s durability has been impressive. In fact, I was not expecting them to be this durable. The first time I took them out of the box and I couldn’t say I was 100% confident about the shoe’s construction materials. However, I was proven wrong. The midsole unit and the upper have shown very little signs of wear and tear and they seem as if they could keep holding up strong for many more miles.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The midsole’s height serves as a protective function. You’re high enough off the ground to able to stay afloat above any ground hazards. In the rear, the raised heel collar maintains this portion of the foot locked in place. At the same time, it does not cause any friction against your toe. The interior room ensures no issues with skin irritation, abrasion, or blistering. Because of the shoe’s elevated profile, there’s also a thick toe bumper to protect against any flying debris.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Other than comfort and cushioning, the next thing that wowed me was the shoe’s impressive response. I can’t say that I have ever ran in a shoe as responsive as the Clifton 3. Immediately after springing into the first few steps of my run, I sensed the shoe’s springy bounce which caught me off guard by lunging me into a faster pace than I had expected, especially considering the size and weight of the shoe.

The responsiveness allowed for much faster times than expected. I never imagined this shoe being a speed shoe in any way, and this is by no means a speed shoe. However, it has enough responsiveness that it overcompensates for any drag that comes by way of the shoe’s bulk and weight.
Support
Support

Support

The shoe’s thick midsole serves as the main support unit. Your foot remains stable and flat on top of the platform. You certainly get a sense of this even while running through uneven surfaces. During most of my road runs, I intentionally ran over uneven sidewalks and even shifted onto patches of grass from time to time. It certainly felt as if I never lost my footing throughout the process and I felt safe and protected.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

These shoes perform best over the dry road conditions. However, they are suitable for light trail conditions, but keep in mind though that we are talking very light, flat, and even trail conditions. Terrain that's more rugged and contains jagged surfaces will definitely not be suitable for this shoe. That type of scenario calls for a trail shoe with a more aggressive outsole.
Price
Price

Price

The Clifton 3 is priced in the mid $100 range, making this a fairly expensive running shoe. But one has to consider the exceptional cushioning and comfort that this shoe delivers, as well as its protective features. For anyone with achy joints and tired legs after running, consider the price tag a wise investment and not an expense. Having ran in these shoes daily for 2 weeks straight, it’s uncertain whether I would’ve been able to log this many miles in another pair or shoes. In addition, the shoe’s better than average durability make it a great selling point.
Traction
Traction

Traction

If there were such a thing as the perfect shoe, then there would be no need to fabricate any other shoe. Naturally, some running shoes are designed with certain features in mind and not with others. Grip and traction is one of the weaker points on the Clifton 3. I had the chance to test these out over wet roads as weather conditions have been rainy over the last 2 weeks.

Though no injuries were sustained during the testing period, there were a few occasions where the outsole felt slippery. I did not feel completely convince about the shoe's traction control. This is certainly an area where the brand could improve and implement rubber materials that deliver better grip.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

In its entirety, the Clifton 3 is flexible in all areas, including the midsole. You definitely do not get a sense of restriction in your form and motion, thus allowing a natural progression in your foot’s movement. Couple this with the Clifton’s remarkable responsiveness and what you get is a well cushioned shoe that allows natural foot movement. And that’s certainly worth noting.
Stability
Stability

Stability

In addition to the Clifton’s thick midsole, the shoe’s rocking chair technology maintains a high degree of stability. It’s very noticeable as your feet remain securely situated and there aren’t any awkward foot strikes after your landings. In conjunction with the shoe’s low offset measurement, the Clifton 3 helps runners with achieving and maintaining proper running form.
Drop
Drop

Drop

Heel height on the Clifton 3 measures 29 mm for the men’s version and 28 mm for the women’s. Forefoot height measures 24 mm for the men and 23 mm for the women’s shoe. The result is a drop offset of 5 mm for both genders. Despite it’s high profile, the shoe maintains a relatively low drop. In fact, it’s lower than most standard running shoes.

This means that a runner will be much less likely to heel strike and protect his or her joints. In sum, you end up attaining the best of both worlds — a shoe that gives you plush cushioning with the benefit of a low drop that makes you have softer landings, and not just because of the shoe’s cushion but because of improved running form.
Key Features of the Clifton 3
Key Features of the Clifton 3

Key Features of the Clifton 3

• Signature Hoka One One EVA Midsole for optimal cushioning

• Early Stage Meta Rocker Technology

• Breathable Air Mesh

• Lycra ComfortFrame Upper

• Low Offset Measurement
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

A lot of running shoe brands implement a multitude of technological features into a single shoe in an attempt to reign supreme among its competitors. The Clifton 3 is proof that you can get away with focusing on the main components of a shoe and still produce something that people, like me, will happily devour.

You can pretty much count the technological features of the Clifton 3 with one hand, whereas most shoes include a much longer list. This shoe sums up your running experience in one area of the shoe, and that would be its signature midsole unit. This is the component in the shoe that keeps you comfortable, cushioned, protected, and smiling as you speed through each mile.