Having to stand up with the many awards its predecessor, the original Clifton, the Hoka One One Clifton 2 faces an extremely tough challenge to not only repeat but improve with a new model. The people at Hoka One One really know what they are doing because they faced this challenge and surpassed even my expectations. With vital and huge changes to the upper, the Hoka One One Clifton 2 is not only more comfortable and improved on really their only weakness last year, the running shoe’s durability.
For Runners new to the Hoka One One Brand(If not new, you can skip this section)- Hoka One One is becoming a household name in the premium running shoe industry. If you are a serious runner, chances are you are already well aware of this very promising running shoe name(and hopefully you have been able to experience some of their models by now.)
Hoka One One- Born in 2010, Hoka One One has been changing the running shoe world ever since. With a very unique design, all of their shoes offer specialty midsoles that are much thicker((up to 2.5x more thick) This features allows the shoe to offer far more cushion than the average shoe. Combined with the meta-rocker in most of their shoe designs, the Hoka One One has mastered a very comfortable, cushion running shoe lineup with great transitional movement.
Hoka One One Clifton 2 Improvements over Original
Upper Improvements in Clifton 2
If you call the original Clifton, one of my critiques of the shoe was the upper was too thin. While it was nice, it posed for durability problems. They gave up too much in the upper to try and create a light-weight shoe. However in the new and improved Hoka One One Clifton 2, these issues were fixed in a big and bold way. The upper is constructed of not only thicker overlays, but more overlays. Like the original, the Clifton 2 is constructed of no-sew overlays, the difference is the level of thickness. While it added some weight to the shoe (the shoe went from 7.9 ounces to 8.3 ounces) I believe the added durability is worth what is still an extremely light running shoe especially given the amount of cushion. The overlays are not the only added bonus though. There is also added supportive material around the upper to hold the legendary shoe to even better durability standards. I have had my upper remain intact perfectly thus far.
Tongue Improvements in Clifton 2
The original Clifton offered a pretty thin tongue. It was basically a thin piece of material. On the other hand, the Hoka One One Clifton 2 offers a more plush and comfortable tongue. While it may still not be the plushest of tongues still it is still a vast improvement that is often overlooked by many. A plush tongue is an important role in being able to tie the shoes nice and tight without putting any stress on the foot. A lacking of a cushioned tongue causes irritation on the foot, especially the longer worn. Smart move by the Hoka One One team.
Another improvement with the Hoka One One Clifton 2 that seems minute, but can make a huge difference to the right runner. Rounded laces can add more pressure when a shoe is tight. In case you were unaware, the original Clifton had this type of laces. Instead in the new and improved Clifton 2, the laces and made flat. This puts a lot less pressure points on the foot. I also think it looks nicer but you can be the judge of that.
Not performance related, but still worth mentioning, the design of the Hoka One One Clifton 2 is not only more appealing but better color options are definitely available. I simply believe there is a better and bolder upper contrast with the no-sew overlays as well as smarter color combinations. Not sure who thought of the combo of lime-green and lighter blue but I do not think it works well. Overall, the color combinations are much more appealing. Again, this is just cosmetics. It is up to you whether or not this may be a factor in buying a running shoe.
Hoka One One Clifton 2 Construction
We have already discussed most of what you need to know regarding the Hoka One One Clifton 2’s upper up above in the improvements suggestions so lets start with their signature midsole.
Midsole– So we already know the midsole in the Clifton 2 is 2.5x larger than the average running shoe but what exactly does this offer a runner? Well the midsole is basically packed with CMEVA foam. CMEVA stands for Compression Molded Ethyl Vinyl Acetate. In English terms, it is basically very light compacted foam. This helps absorb the impact with the ground and keeps the shoe extremely cushioned for the feet. Lets keep in mind with so much cushion the shoe does lack some stability features. Because of the cushion this running shoe may work for neutral runners and those who over-pronate slightly. I am not sure how extreme over-pronators would fare however.
Active Foot Frame– Within the midsole of the Hoka One One Clifton 2 lays a very soft active foot frame constructed of the same CMEVA foam. This feature does a few things. Its purpose is to allow the foot to sink deep into the midsole (hence, why you feel so much cushion). This not only creates a sensational feeling but does add some stability as well, which is why I say some slight-overpronators would be fine with this great running shoe.
Meta-Rocker– Sitting at 29mm the heel is pretty high up compared to most running shoes. However, the off-set is actually quite small sitting at 24mm, leaving a difference of just 5mm. This was specifically designed to create a meta-rocker motion with the shoe. Think of it comparable to the way the bottom of a rocking chair moves back and forth. The results of this feature are absolutely amazing. The ride when running is absolutely perfect. It is so smooth, it helps the overall comfort and cushion of this great running shoe stand out even more.
Outsole Construction– The outsole of the Hoka One One Clifton 2 is primarily composed of the same CMEVA foam the midsole is made out of. This has their advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of course is extra cushion and comfort. The dis-advantage would be it can decompose easier than most materials as it hits the ground. Hoka One One has tried to strategically place hard rubber as outer-protection from this foam. While the rubber works well, it is not completely perfect and you can expect some of thoe CMEVA foam to rub off as time goes by. This is probably the only concern with the Hoka One One Clifton 2. There is still good news is. After having worn the Clifton 2’s for quite a while now, I can definitely say the degrading foam has hardly affected the meta-rocker motion which is what I am most concerned about. There is so much cushion that it really does not take away from the shoe’s comfort itself.
Hoka One One Clifton 2’s Performance and Fitting
Performance and fitting often have a lot to do with each other. It is hard to perform well in a running shoe that does not fit appropriately.
Fitting– The overall fill of the Hoka One One Clifton 2 is quite different than the original. I believe most of this is because of the drastic upper enhancements. While it felt a little weird at first, it felt great after I adjusted and broke it in a little. The shoe is still greatly breathable, but probably not quite as breathable as the original Clifton’s considering it had such a thin no-sew layer and that was basically it. Now the shoe itself fits extremely closely to the original Hoka One One Clifton. If you have tried the original, you should know what to expect with the new Clifton 2. Unlike some of the other Hoka One One fittings, I believe the Clifton 2 offers quite the fit. The shoe is not narrow by any means so unless you are always needing extra-wide shoes, the Clifton 2 should fit you extremely. You should not need to size up due to length either. I felt the shoe is exactly the right length in my Size 9 Men’s.
Sizing-For Men the current sizing ranges from 7D to 14, with no 2E or 4E options available. For Women, the sizes range from 5 to 11. Most foot sizes should be supported by the Clifton 2. The biggest concerns may be with those that have extremely large feet, requiring a shoe larger than offered. Also, there is going to be a concern obviously with those who constantly need a 4E shoe since the Hoka One One Clifton 2 does not offer these extra-wide sizes.
Performance– My personal experiences with both the original and newer Clifton 2 has been exceptional. With my foot motion, the ride is practically perfect. The cushion forms perfectly with the foot. After having run nearly 100 miles, I checked out the wear on the outsoles. My feet seem to hit somewhat close to the middle, where the unprotected foam placement is, though I still lean towards the heel. I have heard of some runner’s feeling as if they need to work harder in these shoes. There are going to be some runners that are going to experience a bad combination of foot-strike motion and an offering of too much cushion. Every running shoe is going to be a different experience for every runner, that is why it can be so hard to figure out which one is best for you. Best bet, give it a try, if it does not work out, return them. This is why choosing where you buy your shoes can be such a big deal. Always go with a trusted retailer with great return policy’s such as Amazon.
Summary to my Hoka One One Clifton 2 Review
The Hoka One One Clifton 2 exceeds my expectations and improve on an award-winning running shoe in the original Clifton. With huge updates to the upper and some minor updates to the lacing and tongue, the Clifton 2 really is a must try experience. With the midsole, being 2.5x the size of most running shoes, this running shoe is compacted with tons of CMEVA foam offering ample cushion for the foot. Combined with the meta-rocker geometric design, the ride of the Hoka One One Clifton 2 is outstanding. It truly is amazing how this shoe has been able to remain so lightweight at 8.3 Oz (According to a Size 9 Mens). I would recommend the Hoka One One Clifton 2 to beginners and advanced runners, especially those looking for ample cushion.