Hoka One One was the first company to release an oversized foam midsole running shoe in 2010 and the trend has been gaining popularity ever since. Now most companies have some variation of a highly cushioned shoe. The founders of Hoka One One wanted to create a larger sweet spot, much like on oversized tennis racquets or skies. There have been statements both for and against these highly cushioned shoes.
While they might not be for everyone, there some benefits that the shoe companies are claiming. They claim that the extra cushion provides a softer ride, which you cannot disagree with. They also claim that the extra cushion lessens the impact on your joints and can reduce the amount of recovery time needed after long or higher intensity runs. Another claim is that the extra cushion provides an increase on energy return, meaning that the shoes will provide more of a spring than lesser cushioned shoes.
I have reviewed the Hoka One One Huaka in 2014 (no longer in production), which is still one of my favorite cushioned shoes (Click here for my review of the Huaka). Since then, I tested the Clayton (Click here for my review of the Clayton), The Vanquish 2 (Click here for my review of the Vanquish 2) and Clifton 2 (Click here for my review of the Clifton 2), which are all incredibly light and nimble. The original Clifton won multiple awards and the Clifton 2 won the Summer 2015 “Editor’s Choice for Best Ride” from Competitor.com. The Clayton won the September 2016 “Editor’s Choice” award from Runner’s World. They are awesome shoes and when I found out that the Clifton 3 was coming out, I started to get really excited to see how they would improve upon one of my favorite long distance training/racing shoes. It has already won the 2016 “Best Update” award from Competitor.com. Hoka One One has proven that they know how to make some killer shoes and from what I read, the reviews of the Clifton 3 have followed along that same path.
Let’s first look at what made the original Clifton and Clifton 2 so popular. They provide tons of cushioning, both having a 5mm heel drop, which puts your foot and body in a better alignment than many of the shoes with larger heel drops. The Clifton weighed in at 7.7 ounces and the Clifton 2 weighed in at 8.3 ounces, which are both extremely light. They also had no sew ultra-light weight uppers. They all have an Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry, which means that the tow and heel are curved, kind of like a pair of skis. It supports your natural gait cycle and gives a smooth roll from impact to toe-off.
The one complaint that I had about the Clifton 2 was that they were a little narrow in the toebox and I had to get a ½ size larger shoe to avoid my big toe rubbing the inside of the shoe, which would probably lead to hot spots and blisters. Sizing up is a very simple solution and the shoes were still amazing. I ran my first marathon in them last year. Hoka One One took the feedback from their customers on the narrow toe box and made the toebox in the Clifton 3 wider (not by a huge margin, but it is wider). I was able to wear my true shoe size and not have to size up.
|Clifton 2 (Left)/Clifton 3 (Right)|
The Clifton 3 features the same 5mm heel drop that the Clifton 2 had and comes with a 24mm forefoot stack height and 29mm heel stack height (the distance from the ground to your foot). The shoes weighs in at 8.6 ounces, which still boggles my mind how they can have so much cushion and still keep the weight so low.
Hoka changed their upper material to an Ultra-Lightweight No Sew SpeedFrame Construction. The new upper material looks a little different as the Clifton 2 had a smoother mesh. The Clifton 3’s mesh is more textured. The new mesh feels more durable. It is actually softer than the previous version and it’s more breathable as well.
I really like the Clifton 2, but I love the Clifton 3. Hoka fixed the one thing on the Clifton 2’s that I had a concern with and made a beast. Many people describe running in Hoka shoes like running on clouds. I ran a few of my longer runs on really tired legs and the Clifton 3’s just made the run go by quickly.
Winner of the Competitor.com “Best Update” award for 2016
5mm heel drop (still somewhat low)
Very light 8.6 ounces
Plenty of cushion for all types of runs
Great price ($130 Hoka One One website)
Hoka One One Social Media Links:
I will be using the Clifton 2, Clayton, and Clifton 3 during my marathon and 50k trainings over the next 6 months. The amount of cushion, light weight, and overall comfort makes these the ideal shoes no matter if you are going out for a quick tempo run or for a long distance run. I am really impressed with the Clifton shoe lineup and see why they are all award winning shoes. I would definitely recommend the Clifton 3, but as with all shoes, they will not work for everyone. Check them out at your local running store and let me know what you think. You can pick up a pair at your local running store (click here for locations), at the Hoka One One website, or at your favorite online retailer. They are worth checking out, I promise. Let me know what you think.
Note: I received this product in exchange for a review. The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it. I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.