HOKA Clifton 9 review: They make you run more

Running shoes that make you run more; Clifton 9 by Hoka

My running background

I’ve been running for a couple years.

Running along my local trail which overlooks the lake quickly became a favorite destination of mine since COVID. I’m not the guy you know from the office who runs 10Ks or half marathon races on the weekends. In fact, I’ve only ran one official race in my life (clocked in a 26:44 “Turkey Trot” 5k last fall). Running has allowed me to enjoy trying something new, stay active, and release stress.

As a college student, I just wrapped up another spring semester. The past couple weeks have had their stressful moments. Marked by papers and coursework as classes race to the finish line. Social events galore as my state of Minnesota thaws and warms. Finalizing and figuring out summer plans. Life’s full but running and fresh air has always been a good stress release.

What I noticed right away

Going for runs in the HOKA Clifton 9s has been a game-changer. Running with the Clifton 9s make my feet feel lighter and more cushioned. My heels feel stable and secure. Even the laces are somehow my new favorite with their tight knots yet easy to untie when desired (I didn’t know I could have a favorite pair of shoelaces). For my first pair of HOKAs, I was impressed.

The midsole produces a great energy return and gives you momentum with each step. HOKA is known for their signature plush and cushioned midsole and it’s no wonder why (although they’re not the only brand known for their midsole design).

What they call their “Meta-rocker” design is their foot and outsole design made to propel runners. The Clifton 9s feature a “Early stage Meta-Rocker”. The early stage rocker is “made to go fast, creates a smooth motion and faster transitions from heel to forefoot” according to HOKAs website.

If you’re looking for HOKAs for everyday use, try out their “Late stage Meta-Rocker” which balances the midsole cushion more evenly across the footbed.

Hoka Clifton 9 featuring Early stage Meta-Rocker

What I noticed after many workouts

I tested the Clifton 9s in different applications and environments.

The first time I wore them for an outdoor run, a wet outdoor run. However, even with my real life product testing by jumping into puddles, they remained comfortable and kept me going on my way. For a light 8.70 oz shoe with a breathable knit upper, they remained surprisingly dry.

I also ran indoors on the treadmill. I don’t know anybody who enjoys treadmill running, but these shoes at least make it better.

It takes a couple of extended runs to break in these shoes. Thanks to my Apple Watch, I keep close eye on my mile times. Maybe it’s actually slowing me down, but the competitor spirit in me loves challenging myself. By my third or fourth run in the Clifton 9s, I had shaved over a minute of my mile on the first part of my usual route. Still a long ways behind from my seventh grade PE class mile time (you did that too right?) but I felt the best I’ve felt in a while running in the Clifton 9s. A few runs later, I even shaved another minute off that time.


Of course the more you run, the better you’ll be. But for a while before the HOKAs, I was running consistently and wasn’t improving. The Clifton 9s paired with steady effort made me want to run more. Coming in male and female sizing and many color combos such as the pair I tested these Maize yellow and Passion Fruit orange, there’s offerings for everyone. Coming in at $145 USD, these are worth the investment. When it comes to shoes, I’m willing to spend on quality and comfort because that translates to my whole body’s health. If you want to run more this summer, I would confidently recommend HOKA Clifton 9s.

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