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Shoe Review: HOKA Clifton 7

The profile view of the HOKA Clifton 7 running shoes

The original HOKA Clifton burst onto the running scene with a combination of generous cushioning and a surprisingly low weight. In the years since, it’s become one of the best HOKA running shoes for many runners because of those same properties.

Fortunately, the HOKA Clifton 7 is every bit the Clifton you know and love, with a few updates to improve the fit and feel.

HOKA redesigned the upper but maintained the same soft foam and light weight to push the Clifton into its next generation.

Fleet Feet runners tested the new HOKA Clifton 7 to find out how it fits, how it rides and how it’s different from the previous model. Here’s what they thought.

Tech specs

HOKA Clifton 7

Weight

7.1 oz (W), 8.7 oz (M)

Drop

5 mm

Stack height (heel/toe)

27/22mm (W), 29/24mm (M)

Category

Neutral

Use

Everyday trainer

Surface

Road, track

New Upper, Similar Fit

The profile view of the women's HOKA Clifton 7 running shoe

The HOKA Clifton 7 doesn’t stray far from the look or feel of the previous models, but the latest version has a couple small updates for a more comfortable fit.

HOKA draped the Clifton 7 is a lightweight, open-engineered mesh upper. The mesh is airy and smooth, and the weave is open enough to be able to see light through.

The upper is seamless on the outside for a sleek look and clean silhouette, and it only has a few seams on the inside where it connects to the heel cup and where the tongue is sewn in. HOKA also sewed the tongue to a thin mesh strap inside the shoe to keep it from moving around during a run.

One tester loves the upper for its minimalist look and feel.

“There’s nothing on the upper—inside or out—that gets in the way of a comfortable fit,” he says. “It’s soft, smooth and flexible. It feels really light and breathable.”

HOKA this time around added a flared heel collar to the Clifton. The flared shape, which designers also used in the spinoff HOKA Clifton Edge, keeps the collar off of the Achilles tendon to mitigate any rubbing or chafing.

Not only does the flared collar help keep chafing at bay, but it also acts as a natural heel tab you can use to help pull the shoe on. It also adds a little more personality to the Clifton 7 that was missing from the previous models.

The heel cup employs an internal heel counter for a secure fit, and a bit of extra padding around the collar and in the tongue boosts the Clifton’s step-in comfort. Testers didn’t have any problems with their heels moving or slipping in the Clifton.

Every Fleet Feet tester felt like the Clifton 7 fit true to length and size. One tester, whose feet are slightly wider than average, initially felt like the Clifton would be too narrow when he first put it on, but he says it felt comfortably snug when he started running.

HOKA also makes the Clifton 7 in wide sizes—D for women and 2E for men—for runners who need it.

A Cushy Midsole and Familiar Ride

The heel and outsole of the HOKA Clifton 7 running shoes

While HOKA made slight tweaks to the shoe’s upper and overall look, they didn’t mess with the shoe’s biggest feature: the midsole.

The HOKA Clifton 7 recruits a compression-molded EVA midsole to cushion the ride (“compression-molded” identifies the way the foam is shaped). Designers kept the stack height big, but made the men’s and women’s models a little different to account for typical weight and stride differences between the genders:

  • Women’s: 27mm heel/22mm toe
  • Men’s: 29mm heel/24mm toe

Each shoe, though, had the same 5mm drop from heel to toe.

The EVA foam HOKA used in the Clifton 7 is soft. Testers say it feels cushy and bouncy underfoot, but it’s not the softest HOKA running shoe you’ll find—for that, look to the HOKA Bondi 7. The Clifton offers a more balanced ride, blending the soft feel many runners want with a more responsive takeoff.

“I love the midsole,” one tester says. “It’s definitely soft, but I really like the bounciness of it. It’s not the fastest shoe out there, but it’s comfortable and light, so I think it’s really versatile.”

HOKA used its early stage Meta-Rocker technology in the Clifton. The rocker shape of the midsole and outsole helps create a rolling sensation and smoother transition from landing to take off.

Between the cushy foam, slightly beveled heel, the full contact outsole and the Meta-Rocker shape, the Clifton rides very smoothly. Because it’s a neutral running shoe, it also delivers consistent cushioning from heel to toe.

Beneath the shoe, designers kept the outsole rubber placement to a minimum. Strips of more durable rubber add traction and durability to high-wear areas, like the forefoot and heel. But the exposed foam under the midfoot helps keep the shoe’s overall weight down.

HOKA Clifton 6 vs. Clifton 7

There aren’t any major differences when you compare the HOKA Clifton 6 and Clifton 7 side by side, but a few minor changes stand out.

The Clifton 6 used embroidered midfoot reinforcements to create structure and improve the fit, but the Clifton 7 dropped the reinforcements. Instead, the 7 uses a clean mesh upper with only a few printed overlays and HOKA logos.

The most noticeable change is to the heel collar. HOKA updated the incoming Clifton with the flared collar rather than the more standard collar on the outgoing model. Because the collar also acts as a natural pull tab, HOKA also dropped the sewn-on tab from the Clifton 6.

HOKA also used identical midsole and outsole designs on both editions, and the stack heights and heel-to-toe drops remained the same. Even with the same midsoles, though, designers trimmed a little bit of weight from the new version compared to the old.

Because the changes to the new Clifton were mostly aesthetic, it’s highly likely that fans of the Clifton 6 will also like the Clifton 7.

Tech comparison

HOKA Clifton 6

HOKA Clifton 7

Weight

7.4 oz (W), 9.0 oz (M)

7.1 oz (W), 8.7 oz (M)

Drop

5 mm

5 mm

Stack height (heel/toe)

27/22mm (W), 29/24mm (M)

27/22mm (W), 29/24mm (M)

Category

Neutral

Neutral

Meta-Rocker

Early stage

Early stage

Upper

Mesh

Mesh

Conclusion

The heel of the HOKA Clifton 7 running shoes

HOKA didn’t go crazy with changes to the venerable Clifton, but the Clifton 7 does offer a few small tweaks that improve the fit and feel.

A new flared heel collar keeps the shoe off your Achilles tendon and adds a bit of personality, and a bare mesh upper helps keep the shoe light and airy. Otherwise, the Clifton 7 maintains everything runners loved about the previous version.

The cushy midsole and feathery weight make the HOKA Clifton 7 a comfortable and versatile running shoe that takes on big mileage and recovery days with equal grace.

Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.

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