The Clifton line from Hoka has always been one step away from a great shoe for me.
The first iteration was a revolutionary shoe, combining heavy cushion with lightness. Unfortunately, the thin tongue killed it as a wearable shoe although most other reviewers loved that feature and the model overall.
The second version mucked up nearly everything good in an attempt to remedy the tongue issue. Unfortunately, the changes to the rest of the upper and the midsole were counterproductive in my experience; I found it to be a hot and overly firm ride.
The third version got the closest in my book to a big winner, but the upper really couldn't stand up to the beating I delivered during DC summers. http://www.midpackgear.com/2016/08/170-mile-revisit-of-clifton-3-not-so_18.html
So is the fourth time a charm? Through the first 40+ miles, I'd say yes.
Things I like about this version:
- The upper is a sturdy yet breathable nylon mesh that does a good job of holding down the foot without having to tighten the laces too much. It seems like its going to be a lot better in keeping its shape and tension over the course of hundreds of miles than the Clifton 3. For me, this is a major improvement.
- The midsole seems significantly firmer yet still cushioned as compared to the 3s. I found the 3s to verge on marshmallow-ish, especially as the miles layered on. The midsole changes has led to some weight gain in this iteration (In mens size 9, it weighs in at 9.3 ounces vs 8.6 in the Clifton 3). This is ok by me - the shoe doesn't feel like a heavy clunker compared to the 3, though compared to the 7.6 ounces of the original Clifton it is a tank.
- The toebox may be a little more relaxed than the 3s, but its not very noticeable. My toes are able to splay decently in the shoe, and feel comfortable to an Altra-lover.
- The lacing is most comfortable slightly loose, which is the way I like to wear shoes. I tightened it too much in the first couple of runs which led to toe bruising on my middle toe (no photos, you can thank me for that) from not giving my foot enough room to expand under the laces. Loosening it up on subsequent runs has taken care of the problem, and don't feel any hotspots and haven't experienced any blistering.
As always, I'll update at 100 miles.
Looking good in the Griffin/Micro Chip colorway:
|They look more tapered in the toebox than they feel.
|Nice padded tongue that stays in place and doesn't get in the way
|The same outsole which we know and love in the last iterations of the Clifton
|Getting a little wear on the left outer shoe rubber pad, but the foam is holding up ok
The shoe is wearing beautifully at 117 miles compared to any other Hoka I've ever owned. The upper is holding up perfectly, and I don't see much additional wear on the outer rubber pad that was visible when I first started running in these. The midsole doesn't feel compressed and I haven't detected a loss in energy return, either. Hopeful these will hit 250 miles in good shape with more miles left in them!
|Haven't worn much more through the outer foam, and most of the rubber shows minimal wear pattern.
|The edge of foam around the rubber is holding up nicely. No shredding or ripping!
The shoe didn't wear much more through the outer foam and the upper remained totally pristine through 300 miles. Even though those outer rubber pods get shot, the shoe can go on productively for quite some time.