The original fan favorite of HOKA is back in the new Clifton 8 and as always, from the moment our testing starts, the questions have been pouring in. No, it hasn’t changed all that much from the 7 which is going to be good for some of you and bad for others. Yes, it does run differently from The Mach 4 and it will be a very personal choice depending on which one you select, much of it based on upper feel, performance, and foot shape. Finally, it is solid and HOKA will sell a ton of them because it looks great and still runs really well.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Subtle tweaks to the 7, but stays true to form. Let the battle with the Mach 4 begin!!
- Weighs in at 8.8oz or 249g for a US Men’s 9, 7.6oz or 215g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 29mm of cushion (26mm for women) and has a 5mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $130.00 USD and comes in 7 colors for Men and Women.
- Also, HOKA will sell a ton of these.
Having run in every Clifton that ever existed, it is always exciting to get a new version. With the release of the 8, HOKA hasn’t changed the recipe all that much. For the most part, the Clifton 8 is nearly identical to the 7 in terms of the midsole and its runability. There are a few changes that we don’t necessarily love that will become the real deciding factor whether you stick with Clifton or head over to the Mach 4.
The very first thing we noticed putting these on is the change to the tongue. One complaint we always hear from Clifton wearers is that the shoe feels a tad narrow. This isn’t actually the case if you were to measure the shoe, but a lot of it has to do with the material design and how it played out over the midsole. With the Clifton 8, this additional padding in the tongue DOES actually make the shoe feel narrow and snug. Now, it is comfortable and plush and cradles you like a little baby, but it’s almost too warm a hug for a lot of folks and puts some strain on the top of the foot. Other than that, the shoe feels pretty much the same.
Running in the Clifton 8 again feels much like the Clifton 7, the only factors that are coming into play are the increased rigidity in the heel which allows the shoe to hold you better (a plus), a definite improvement, but also that tongue padding (a negative). That increased pressure simply isn’t something a lot of folks are going to like and it doesn’t dissipate in the run or over time which is kind of a bummer.
if you’ve come this far, the question is probably still Mach 4 or Clifton 8 because you’ve been debating or holding off. If you like a little bit roomier feeling upper or need something that feels wider, then you’ll want to go with the Mach 4. If you run narrower and want to feel like your foot is a bit more cradled by the upper, then go with the Clifton 8. If you are a heavy heel striker then we’d recommend the Mach 4 simply because of the elongated heel. As to the question of which is softer, the answer is challenging. The Clifton 8 is supposed to be softer, but the PROFLY layer in the Mach 4 is very soft compared to the molded EVA it sits on top of. The underfoot experience for a runner can actually be very similar. You can run them both at the same speed and generate the same results.
The upper has been fully redesigned but is still using engineered mesh, just in a different layout. It is still incredibly breathable and open in the forefoot. The heel section feels more rigid than prior iterations and the heel cup locks you down a lot tighter and holds you in place better than before it seems. The elf ear heel also remains to provide protection that Achilles and helps keep that entire heel section stable. The other big change we continue to belabor that people probably won’t love is the increased padding in the tongue. The tongue feels like it’s almost twice as thick as prior versions and while it is comfortable to the touch, it can lead to the shoe feeling tight and narrow. The tongue is gusseted and stays in place so once you get used to it it’s not a huge deal, but those initial runs are going to feel a little snug and a little warm.
The midsole hasn’t changed at all truly on the Clifton 8. It still uses HOKA’s compression-molded EVA in what feels like the same formulation. It still features their early-stage MetaRocker which helps with an overall smoother transition and ride. At 29mm in the heel, the shoe is starting to feel less big and more average when it comes to stack height. It’s just enough for most.
The outsole has actually changed on here with the addition of a tad more rubber, but a new diagonal orientation for the rubber that allows for greater flexibility in the forefoot. In the heel, you still have a j-turn of rubber just targeting those key landing points and then the remainder of the outsole is all exposed EVA.
Style & Aesthetics
The Clifton 8 will be available in seven different colors for men and women, every one of them offering a solid color palette with these great hombre accents throughout the upper. The look has just been refined over time to something that really hits mass-market audience as well and visually they have done a good job diminishing the high midsole which is always one of the more contentious areas for any HOKA.
Overall, the HOKA Clifton 8 stays true to the recipe, but we do worry a bit that the subtle tweak to the tongue padding might see a few folks gravitate to other models. It is still a great shoe as always though, incredibly dependable for almost every distance and for any type of run. The Clifton is a great throw-on-and-go shoe and it is always a pretty easy recommendation. If you do want a little less padding up top or a wider more stable overall feel, then have a look at the Mach 4 instead, as it is phenomenal.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.