Hoka One One Clifton 3 Review

August 22, 2016
Hoka One One Clifton 3
Ride Quality

The Good

  • Updated upper offers much better fit
  • Lightweight for so much cushioning
  • Durable midsole and outsole

The Bad

  • Large size feels bulky
  • Lacked responsiveness
  • Mushy feeling EVA foam

When you’re still aching from yesterday’s hard run your legs will thank you when you reach for the Hoka One Clifton 3’s. No other shoe tested boasted more cushioning than the Clifton 3 while offering a class-leading lowest overall weight.  While the excess cushioning is excellent in reducing impact, it contributes to the Clifton’s being one the least responsive shoes tested.


The Hoka One Clifton 3 combines class-leading lightweight construction with maximum cushioning. Classified as a neutral trainer, Hoka One uses a full-length compression molded EVA midsole to achieve its notoriously high level of cushioning. Early stage meta-rocker geometry assures full ground contact for enhanced ride quality and a smooth transition from heel to toe. New for this year’s model, Hoka One redesigned the upper with an ultra-lightweight no-sew speedFrame construction, which provides a better fit and feel over the Clifton 2. 

Often compared to running on a cloud, the Clifton 3 offers a level of cushioning like no other shoe tested. The full-length compression molded EVA midsole is soft and absorbs the hardest impact with ease. The new upper is a big improvement over the Clifton 2, but still feels rather stiff compared to similar shoes tested, such as the Brook’s Glycerin 14. 

For those unfamiliar with Hoka One shoes, the Clifton 3 looks and feels big. Most of the size is from the massive amount of EVA foam underfoot which makes the shoe feel large. Runners that need a spacious fitting upper will enjoy the new ultra-lightweight no-sew speedFrame construction, which offers a roomier toe box and better-fit over last years Clifton 2’s. There is a slight heel lift.

The Clifton 3’s feel about as responsive as an SUV compared to a sports car.  While they are overly comfortable and offer exceptional cushioning, getting them to respond quickly is a chore.  Their large size takes effort to move through each stride cycle and the abundant cushioning seems to sap energy needed for a snappy rebound.

If specs were the only factor in determining how fast a shoe was, the Clifton 3 would win, hands down.

The Clifton 3 carries specs closer to that of a lightweight shoe with a class leading weight of 8.6oz men and 7.4oz women and a 5mm drop, however the specs don’t tell the full story.  The ultra-plush ride that the Clifton 3’s so proudly boasts affects the ability to get a firm rebound with each foot strike. Getting up on the toes for a quick turnover proved to be challenge as well, which typically isn’t a problem for a shoe with a 5mm drop. 

Ride Quality
If you look closely at the Clifton 3, you’ll notice a rocker effect where the heel and toe have a slight upward curve. This rocker helps enhance ride quality by smoothly transitioning force from heel evenly through toe off.  As one tester put it, “There are not drastic material changes, just a gentle and soft cushion carrying the foot from landing to take off.”


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