The fifth-generation Hoka One One Clifton 5 arrived in retail stores a few months ago, and the fourth-generation Clifton 4 (my review) is being phased out (REI clearance here). It is available in two versions:
I was sent the standard Clifton 5 for review. Both styles are available in wide sizing.
Review: Hoka One One Clifton 5
The standard Clifton 5 fits and performs nearly identically to its predecessor. It will best fit average-width and average-volume feet, with a comfort range that extends both bigger and smaller. It fits true to size. Its rockered outsole and ample midsole foam results in a smooth and cushioned ride, for both heel and mid-foot strikers.
Personally, the Clifton 5 (and the Clifton 4 before it) has been my go-to for easy runs and recovery days on paved surfaces and gravel roads. I’d recommend it as a reliable everyday trainer. When I want to run fast or run on trails, I reach for other shoes.
Key product specs
- Height: 29mm (heel) to 24 mm (forefoot)
- Drop: 5 mm
- Weight: 9.4 oz (M’s size 9); 7.6 oz (W’s size 7)
- Midsole: EVA foam
- Outsole: Low-profile rubber, only in high-abrasion areas
- Upper: Breathable mesh with minimal exoskleton
- MSRP: $130
- More product specs
Clifton 5 vs. Clifton 4
If this were a review of two successive Altra shoes, I’d be writing about the Clifton 4.0 and the Clifton 4.5. The “Clifton 5” implies a generational change, but in reality only iterative changes were made. The Clifton 4 and Clifton 5 share the exact same:
- Last shape,
- Midsole thickness and density,
- Outsole layout and rubber compound,
- Weight (9.4 oz, an increase of just 0.1 oz over the 4), and
- MSRP, at $130.
The most significant difference (and, overall, it’s pretty minor) is that the upper of the Clifton 5 has fewer overlays than the Clifton 4, to improve breathability and flexibility. I notice the difference, but it’s slight. Frankly, I thought the Clifton 4 upper was already pretty good in both respects.
Nearly everything that that I included in my Clifton 4 review will apply to the Clifton 5, too.
A reliable everyday trainer
In its marketing literature, Hoka describes the Clifton 5 as being “light, cushy and very, very fast.” Historically, the Clifton was both light and cushy (e.g. my Clifton 2 review). (I’m not sure it was ever fast — the marshmellow-y midsole slowed turnover speed and absorbed toe-off power.) But the Clifton 5 is really none of these things:
- 9.4 oz is middle-of-the-pack.
- It’s nicely cushioned, but not “cushy” (it’s less plush than that) and certainly not marshmellow-y.
- And, sorry, a 9.4-oz shoe with a semi-soft 28-mm heel stack is just not going to be fast.
For a truly “light, cushy, and very, very fast,” shoe, consider the Hoka One One Cavu (my review) or its smoother and better fitting sibling, the Hoka One One Mach ($140, 8.2 oz). I have worn through a pair of each, and found them both well suited for road workouts and long runs, when I wanted a light and fast shoe but didn’t want to hammer my legs with minimalist racing flats.
I have found that the Clifton 5 is best suited for easy outings and recovery runs, i.e. it’s just a modest everyday trainer. I put 430 miles on the Clifton 4 (which have life left still), and so far 250 miles on the Clifton 5. Some of these distances were in the form of 20-mile long runs or inconsequential faster reps (e.g. a handful of striders at the end of a run or while warming up for a track session), but most of the miles were very average. That may not sound inspiring, but these types of miles constitute the bulk of most training systems, and the Clifton 5 is perfect for them.
Have questions about the Clifton 5? Leave a comment.
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