“The Clifton 4 offers many refinements to an already amazing shoe!”
Design Aesthetic — 5/5
Design Tech — 4.5/5
Fit and Comfort — 4.5/5
The Price — 4.5/5
Should You Buy? — Yes!
My History with Clifton
I have been a Clifton fan since their second release, the Clifton 2. They are sexy and feel amazing on my feet, regardless of distance! Similar to Bondi, the Clifton is considered a max cushion shoe, with a decent amount of stability.
During marathon training season, you get partial to one or two pairs of shoes, even though you own dozens. As a long distance runner, I swap out both of these shoes depending the required distance and given mood each day. There are pros and cons to each, and today I want to highlight my experience with what Clifton has to offer, and drawbacks.
Clifton 4 Aesthetic
All 2017 shoes from Hoka One One have been given a boost in the range of colours available for each model. The Clifton 4 comes in seven colour variations: True Blue Jasmine Green, Black Cyan Citrus, Black and White, Castlerock Atomic Blue, Griffin Micro Chip, Saffron Red Orange, and White Micro Chip.
I got my hands on the True Blue Jasmine Green. They stand out, exactly what I look for in a pro level shoe. But seriously guys, who would buy black? I wanted the Saffron Orange, but In Canada, available Hoka One One stock is seriously limited. It is surprising that the shoe does not yet ship outside the United States. That will be a welcomed day indeed!
The Clifton improves on design where they struggled in the past, making this a must-have update in their lineage. Aside from exaggerated marketing pitfalls, there is very little that disappoints in 2017.
Hoka rates their soon as a, “neutral stability, balanced cushion” shoe. Hoka goes on to state that, “…the 4 is light, cushy, and very, very fast.” Personally, I dislike it when shoe companies equate their shoes to speed. The runner is fast, not the shoes!
The tech refinements listed this year are as follows:
- Improved midsole geometry
- Forgiving and adaptive forefoot
- Improved look
- Improved fit and breathable mesh upper
Hoka continues with the obvious classic meta-rocker design, a feature you will not see in any other brand. The most noticeable update, other than the fabulous colours, is the wider toe box. This gives your toes room to splay during each push off phase of your stride.
The heel cushioning in the Clifton 4 has changed. Although I do not see this noted in any design updates by Hoka One One, I notice that my heel crushes easier than the midsole. It feels awkward! I am unsure if this is problematic or not – Time will tell. However, it is noticeable.
Fit and Comfort
As noted above, the wider toe box is remarkable. The Clifton 2 and the Clifton 3 both had very narrow toe boxes, resulting in horrible blisters. Pre-run band-aids around vulnerable toes was required. This year, there is no blister risk at all.
Also, it is important to size-up on all shoes made by Hoka. I resisted doing this until this year. I suggest going up a half-inch and to be sure to try the shoes on in the store. Walk around a bit to make sure your toes do not bang up against the front. Suffering only results in lost toenails.
The 2017 Clifton 4 by Hoka One One, is ideal for both short distance and long road running. They are great for racing short distances (5k and 10k races). For ultra long distances, 25k and above, take the Bondi 5s. They offer a bit more stability and a lot more cushion to take you the extra mile.
The entire Hoka line is also adequate on non-technical trails. I suggest the Speedgoat series that also saw an update this year. The Speedboat is designed specifically for technical trail running. Give them a try if you are an avid back country runner.
These shoes do not come cheap! I coughed up a pleasant $180.00 Loonies after tax. I am Canadian and use to it, but no doubt, these puppies will set you back. On the other hand, you get a serious bang for your Loonie and will not regret the purchase. If you live in the Vancouver area, check out The Right Shoe. They are the best location to order what is not in store and they know the product better than anyone else.
Should I Buy?
The verdict is clear. The refinements for the 2017 upgrade come at a cost, but is absolutely worth every penny. This is the shoe to buy if you are a runner looking for comfort and moderate stability. Furthermore, supinators will love the maximum cushion and meta-rocker design.