The Hoka One One Clifton line of low-offset running shoes has attracted a dedicated fanbase on the basis of offering maximum cushioning without adding too much weight. Starry-eyed advocates of the Clifton describe its ride as “pillowy soft” or “like running on clouds”. This is a shoe that people really love to run in, and it only took me one outing in them to see why.
Before I start eulogising about the Clifton 4, however, a quick word on how it has been updated since the 3. And it has added some weight compared with earlier iterations of the shoe – at 265g (men’s size 8), it’s about 30g heavier than the Clifton 3. However, it still feels almost disconcertingly light on the foot considering the amount of cushioning packed on the sole.
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That extra weight is there for a reason, with the denser midsole expected to be more durable than on previous Cliftons, and the new upper more breathable and better-looking, especially in the blue/jasmine colourway.
Importantly, the updates haven’t result in the Clifton losing the marshmallow ride it is famed for. It is hard to overstate how comfortable it is to run in this shoe, and due to the lightweight frame and creamy smooth heel-to-toe transition, the expansive cushioning doesn’t slow you down on everyday runs. I was regularly surprised by how quickly the mile notifications came around on easy runs in the Clifton – you simply don’t feel the road passing by under your feet in the same way as with other shoes.
While that’s a positive in terms of comfort, it’s a negative for those who like a more responsive shoe, especially during interval sessions or longer tempo runs. While the Clifton 4 is light enough for speedier sessions, the extra cushioning does result in a somewhat squishy feel, which hits the pace a little compared with tackling tempo efforts in a stiffer, less cushioned shoe.
If pace is not a great concern for you, the Clifton 4 is a superb all-round shoe that will carry you through all your training and races. You’ll love every step you take in them. And even if you keep a more responsive shoe in your arsenal for race day, the Clifton 4 is a great option for most training runs. It will certainly be the shoe I reach for on easy runs this winter. £105, buy on runnersneed.com