With its ultra cushioned yet lightweight ride, the original Clifton was HOKA ONE ONE’s breakthrough running shoe. The HOKA Clifton 6 doesn’t stray from the winning combination.
HOKA streamlined the Clifton 6 to make it lighter and more durable than ever. To do that, designers used an embroidered midfoot design instead of bulky overlays to achieve a lockdown fit, and they changed the high-abrasion rubber pattern on the outsole to protect against excessive wear without adding extra weight. (It's still one of the lightest HOKA shoes on the market)
Fleet Feet runners laced up the HOKA Clifton 6 for long runs, recovery runs and some harder workouts to see if it stacks up to the previous versions. Spoiler alert: It does.
Here’s what we thought of the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6.
Weight: 7.4 ounces, women’s size 7; 9.0 ounces, men’s size 9
Drop: 5 mm
Use: Everyday trainer
Surface: Road, track
Simpler designs and lighter materials led the evolution of Clifton, and the Clifton 6 is the best yet.
HOKA stripped the printed overlays from the engineered mesh upper to give it a cleaner look and reduce weight. Instead of midfoot overlays, HOKA stitched reinforcements around the midfoot. The embroidery runs from the top four laces holes down and back toward the heel, and our runners say it provided solid midfoot lockdown despite its minimal feel.
An internal heel counter lends good structure to the shoe and helps keep your backside locked into place, and the padded collar is comfortable around your ankle. The shoe’s lightly padded tongue is comfy even when you pull the laces tight, and the mesh upper is stretchy enough to mold around different foot shapes while still providing a snug fit.
The HOKA Clifton 6 fit a range of foot shapes well. One tester with wider feet says the Clifton was wide enough in the forefoot and midfoot that his feet didn’t go numb halfway through a run, but two testers with average-width feet say the roomy fit wasn’t a problem for them.
“I’ve had to really cinch down the laces in some other HOKA shoes, but I didn’t have to do that to get a snug fit with the Clifton,” one tester says. “And I still have plenty of length and height in the toebox.”
If you weren’t already convinced about max cushion, Clifton 6 makes a strong argument.
HOKA overstuffed the Clifton with noticeably soft EVA foam: The men’s Clifton 6 has a 29mm stack height under the heel and a 24 mm height under the forefoot; the women’s model measures 27mm in the heel and 22mm in the forefoot.
That big stack of foam compresses under your feet, soaking up the repeated impacts of running, but it doesn’t stay squished. HOKA made the foam firm enough to allow you to run harder efforts without feeling like it’s mushy or sluggish.
One tester who’s in the middle of marathon training says the cushion is ideal for those longer runs and when she’s really feeling yesterday’s run.
“The cushion is bouncy and solid without too much give, which I really like for a recovery day,” she says. “I love how these feel when I'm a little tired and beat up from hard workouts.”
Another set of HOKA features that made their way into the Clifton is the early stage Meta-Rocker midsole shape and beveled heel. HOKA says the heel bevel gives the shoe a quick transition from heel to forefoot, and then the Meta-Rocker—positioned under the forefoot—helps rock you onto and off of your toes. Together, the heel and rocker give the Clifton a buttery ride.
“The Clifton 6 is soft and smooth, but it doesn’t feel like a boat, like some other big-cushion shoes,” one tester says. “This is more like a beach cruiser bike.”
Even with all that cushion, though, the HOKA Clifton 6 feels impossibly light. A women’s size 7 only weight 7.4 ounces, and a men’s size 9 only packs 9.0 ounces. That’s more than a full ounce lighter than the similarly cushioned women’s Bondi 6, and nearly two ounces off the men’s Bondi 6.
There are a few key differences between the HOKA Clifton 5 and the new Clifton 6, but the changes don’t affect the shoe’s signature performance.
In both models, HOKA uses strategically placed rubber instead of a full-length outsole to protect the midsole foam from excessive wear. But HOKA redesigned the rubber pattern in the Clifton 6; the new pattern is more symmetrical in the forefoot and uses less rubber in the heel.
The embroidered midfoot lockdown takes the place of the Clifton 5’s printed overlays, and the perforations in the engineered mesh are concentrated over the Clifton 6’s toebox instead of the midfoot, like the Clifton 5.
Overall, the changes trimmed .1 ounces off the women’s shoe and about .4 ounces from the men’s model, but we don’t think any of the updates had a noticeable effect on how the shoe fits or rides.
The HOKA Clifton 6 is the lightweight performance shoe you want mixed with the cushy everyday trainer you need.
Our testers love how the shoe cruises through easy miles on recovery days and takes the bite out of hard pavement without feeling mushy like a memory foam mattress. It isn’t the first shoe we’d reach for when the schedule calls for track workouts, but it’s firm and responsive enough to push the pace on everyday runs.
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 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.