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Hoka Clifton 9 - Women's Review

With a thick underfoot stack and an ability to conform to your foot shape, this is a comfortable shoe for moderately-paced daily
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Hoka Clifton 9 - Women's Review
Credit: Ally Arcuri
Price:  $145 List
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Manufacturer:   Hoka
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 9, 2023
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 19
  • Cushioning and Landing Comfort - 25% 8.5
  • Responsiveness - 25% 7.0
  • Stability - 20% 8.0
  • Upper Comfort - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 15% 7.2

Our Verdict

The Hoka Clifton 9 has undergone a transformation in recent years, with its updates culminating in a shoe that provides fantastic underfoot comfort and cushion. Don't let its boat-like countenance fool you; the Clifton is an exceptionally comfortable daily running or walking shoe that will make you feel like you're walking on clouds. With a chunky stack of EVA foam, this shoe is cushy and protective. It lacks responsiveness, so if that is your priority, the Clifton probably won't be your best match. But if daily underfoot cushion with a fair amount of tech is what you're after, this might be a great road shoe for you.
REASONS TO BUY
Great underfoot cushion
Secure heel cup
Relatively lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Less responsive than some
Collar won't be comfortable on all runners
Basic upper through forefoot

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Bottom Line The big underfoot stack of this shoe provides great comfort and more responsiveness than expected, though the overall fit will not appeal to allThis running shoe offers the performance technology and comfort needed to be your go-to shoe, no matter your running goalsWith strong responsive bounce and enough comfort for long runs, this shoe will suit marathon hopefuls and speed demons alikeThe structure and comfort of this shoe make it a highly recommended option for long distance runners who want a reliable road running steedWhile not a race-focused shoe, this affordable and bouncy option will keep your legs turning over quickly and easily
Rating Categories Hoka Clifton 9 - Wo... Asics Novablast 4 -... Puma Deviate Nitro... Brooks Adrenaline G... Saucony Kinvara 14...
Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)
8.5
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.5
Responsiveness (25%)
7.0
7.5
9.5
6.5
7.5
Stability (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Upper Comfort (15%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
7.2
6.9
7.4
5.8
9.3
Specs Hoka Clifton 9 - Wo... Asics Novablast 4 -... Puma Deviate Nitro... Brooks Adrenaline G... Saucony Kinvara 14...
Weight (per shoe, size 6.5) 7.16 oz 7.36 oz 7.02 oz 8.21 oz 5.55 oz
Style Neutral/maximum Neutral Neutral/race Supportive Neutral
Sizes Available 5 - 12 US 5 - 12 US 5.5 - 11 US 5 - 13 US 5 - 12 US
Measured Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 9 mm 8 mm 12 mm 5 mm
Measured Heel Stack Height 34 mm 40 mm 34 mm 34 mm 30 mm
Measured Forefoot Stack Height 28 mm 31 mm 26 mm 22 mm 25 mm
Claimed Heel-to-Toe Drop 5 mm 8 mm 6 mm 12 mm 4 mm
Claimed Heel Stack Height Not stated 40.5 mm Not stated Not stated 31 mm
Claimed Forefoot Stack Height Not stated 32.5 mm Not stated Not stated 27 mm
Measured Outsole Length 10.44 in 10.65 in 10.31 in 10.50 in 10.13 in
Measured Outsole Width 4.15 in 4.32 in 4.00 in 4.25 in 3.96 in
Upper Engineered mesh Engineered knit mesh Mesh Engineered air mesh Mesh
Midsole EVA foam FF Blast Plus Eco Nitro/Nitro-Elite DNA Loft v2 PWRRUN, PWRRUN+
Outsole Durabrasion rubber AHAR outsole PumaGrip ATR Rubber Rubber XT-900 rubber
Measured Outsole Hardness 36 HA at arch, 73 HA rest of shoe 59 HA 65 HA 47 HA 63 HA at inner toe/outer heel, 35 HA rest of shoe
Heel Tab Type Extended heel pull Finger loop None None Finger loop
Width Options Regular, wide Regular Regular Narrow, medium, wide, extra wide Regular, wide
Heel Compression Stiffness 41 lbf 44 lbf 35 lbf 52 lbf 40 lbf
Toe Compression Stiffness 42 lbf 38 lbf 40 lbf 56 lbf 42 lbf
Toe Box Volume 6.5 in^3 6.2 in^3 6.7 in^3 6.5 in^3 6.7 in^3
Rocker Angle 18.5 deg 22.0 deg 12.5 deg 26.5 deg 26.0 deg

Our Analysis and Test Results

With a 34mm stack underfoot in the heel and 28mm stack beneath the forefoot, the updated Hoka Clifton is known for its underfoot comfort. If your running takes you on lengthy paved routes most days of the week, the plush protective cushion of this shoe is where it's at.

Performance Comparison


hoka clifton 9 for women - with strong stability, a bit of responsive pep, and prime underfoot...
With strong stability, a bit of responsive pep, and prime underfoot cushioning, the Clifton 9 is a high scorer all around.
Credit: Prudence Amsden

Cushioning and Landing Comfort


This is the metric where the Clifton 9 shines brightest. It is a great daily running shoe all around, but it earns the highest marks for its bouncy landing comfort. Slipping your feet into the higher-than-ever Clifton feels a bit disorienting at first, as this shoe is noticeably higher than your standard road shoe. But after a few quick spins around the block, our testers grew accustomed to the height, which set the stage for long, pavement-laden testing runs.

While running in the Clifton, we perceived this level of underfoot cushion, but seeing it measured further confirms just how plush the under carriage of this shoe is.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The EVA foam midsole is thick and bouncy, while the Durabrasion rubber outsole provides an additional, grippy layer between your feet and the road. The build of the insole creates a cradle-like sensation for your feet, preventing feet from sliding around within the shoe's body. The forefoot of the Clifton is somewhat flexible, which allows your feet and toes to work with your gait.

hoka clifton 9 for women - the clifton is a lighter-weight option that still offers great...
The Clifton is a lighter-weight option that still offers great landing comfort and cushioning.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Responsiveness


As is often the case in the world of running shoes, comfort and responsiveness don't always coexist perfectly together. While there is nothing wrong with the responsiveness of the Clifton 9, it isn't a shoe we recommend for speed demons looking to push their boundaries. It is, however, an incredible option if comfort is king and smooth strides sovereign. The semi-flexible outsole encourages you to rely on your muscles and strength more than a shoe with a rigid plate in its outsole. Racers might prefer a more rigid outsole, but there is plenty of pep within the outsole of the Clifton so that you can achieve your next PR. The underfoot foam rides bouncy and has an early-stage meta rocker, which is Hoka-specific tech that allows one footfall to roll right into the next.

hoka clifton 9 for women - just look at that stack. if underfoot cushioning is your jam, you'll...
Just look at that stack. If underfoot cushioning is your jam, you'll love the updated Clifton.
Credit: Jessica Riconscente

Stability


The overbuilt aesthetic of the Clifton renders it incredibly stable for a neutral running shoe. The contoured heel cup and thick heel cushion lock your heel in place, creating stability from the back forward. The midfoot doesn't have extra structures for lateral support, but the engineered mesh upper is strong. The outsole extends upward ever so slightly, which helps feet stay comfortably locked into place. The 6mm drop (our measurement, Hoka claims 5mm) forces the heel to sit on a similar plane as the toes, unlike more traditional road shoes with a 10-12mm drop. This further encourages comfortable stability.

hoka clifton 9 for women - the secure heel cup and wide base of support provide great stability...
The secure heel cup and wide base of support provide great stability without feeling overbearing.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Upper Comfort


The upper mesh of the Clifton 9 is comfortable, but not necessarily more so than many other shoes. The mesh is breathable, which helps keep feet cool on warm days. The plush tongue is partially adhered, so besides providing comfort, it stays where you want it once the laces are locked down. The toe box is rather spacious but not dramatically so. A wide option of the Clifton is available, which allows for a bit more flexibility when choosing a size that serves your feet. Our testers found this shoe comfortable all around, but its highly shaped heel cup might not appeal to all runners. The heel tab extends up higher than most, and the thickness on the lateral edges of the cup might not suit all anatomies. The balance between softness and strength around the heel collar is good, so we never had any issues with discomfort, but it is easy to see how different ankle bones might find discomfort with this shape. As per usual, we recommend trying this shoe on before shelling out the cash because of these quirks.

hoka clifton 9 for women - the upper of the clifton isn't silky-smooth, but it remains...
The upper of the Clifton isn't silky-smooth, but it remains comfortable throughout long efforts.
Credit: Prudence Amsden

Weight


With each women's size 6.5 shoe weighing 7.16 ounces, the Clifton 9 is pretty lightweight considering the cushioning it offers. It is not super often that ultra-comfy shoes weigh in on the lower end of the spectrum, but the Clifton is an outlier. The majority of the weight lives in the outsole of the shoe, which can feel a bit clunky at first.

hoka clifton 9 for women - for a shoe with pillowy underfoot cushion, the clifton weighs in on...
For a shoe with pillowy underfoot cushion, the Clifton weighs in on the lighter end of the spectrum.
Credit: Prudence Amsden

Should You Buy the Hoka Clifton 9?


For long-distance road enthusiasts or people who spend many hours on their feet, we recommend the Clifton 9. It is a bouncy shoe constructed with underfoot comfort in mind, making it a standout choice for pavement pounding. The responsiveness via the meta rocker lends itself well enough to leg turnover, making some speed work and PRs possible in this comfy road kick. If you are in the market for a stable shoe with bouncy underfoot cushion, the Clifton is a worthy contender. We also crowned it one of our favorites in our best walking shoe review.

hoka clifton 9 for women - the clifton provides everything many runners desire in their running...
The Clifton provides everything many runners desire in their running shoes. We recommend it to those looking for a comfortable shoe with some stability and pep.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?


The Clifton 9 is beloved for its underfoot cushion. If the cushion is what is speaking to you, the Hoka Bondi 8 is another high-stack shoe that is worth checking out. If the comfort element appeals to you, but you are indifferent toward the stack height, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v13 is a super comfortable choice with a more traditional ride. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 is another reliable choice with great landing comfort, a traditional fit, and extra lateral support.

Ally Arcuri