Shoe Review: HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8

The HOKA Clifton 5

By the Fleet Feet Review Team. With over 80 years of combined experience, our review team is dedicated to providing in-depth gear and shoe reviews to help you find the best shoes and gear for your next run.

The HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8 is a lightweight update to a signature HOKA shoe.

A long-time favorite of Fleet Feet reviewers, the HOKA Clifton offers an ideal blend of plush cushioning and feather light responsiveness that makes it great for long runs, uptempo workouts and almost everything in between.

The update uses a new midsole formulation for an even smoother ride than before (we didn’t think it was possible either, but it is), while still featuring some of HOKA’s most popular technologies.

Fleet Feet testers laced up and put some miles on the HOKA Clifton 8. It’s safe to say we loved it.

“I think each new version is perfect, and that there is no way to make it better. Then HOKA goes and does it,” says one reviewer. “Every year it has me wondering where exactly the Clifton ceiling is?”

We hope HOKA never finds the ceiling on the Clifton, because we can’t get enough. Here’s everything you need to know about the Clifton 8.

Tech Specs

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8

Weight

7.6 oz (W) 8.8 oz (M)

Drop

5 mm

Category

Neutral

Use

Daily training, walking

Surfaces

Roads

Updated Midsole Foam is Cushy as EVA

While not much has changed about the classic Clifton design, the Clifton 8 features an updated EVA foam midsole that provides super-soft cushioning and a gently responsive kick.

The compression-molded midsole foam is designed to absorb shock while gently supporting your foot throughout your gait to create the softest ride ever.

The HOKA Clifton 5

One of the first things our reviewers noticed was the light, cushioned feel of the Clifton 8.

“It’s soft, but it still feels firm enough in the midfoot and forefoot to push off instead of feeling like I’m running in sand,” says one reviewer.

Reviewers wore the Clifton 8 for runs on roads, tracks and non-technical trails and found that the shoe performs exceptionally across all these surfaces. Even through long runs and speed work, we loved the cushioned, energized feel of the Clifton 8.

“I can wear this shoe for just about anything—from easy runs on pavement to gravel, even mellow, non-technical trail, all the way to tempo runs and medium-paced intervals,” says one reviewer.

HOKA designers extended the heel crash pad to dissipate impact forces away from your joints. While the heel counter is not nearly as exaggerated as models like the Mach 4, there is enough foam to work with the early stage meta-rocker shape of the shoe to promote smooth transitions.

The HOKA Clifton 8

“The ride is smooth from heel to toe, but perhaps best suited for a midfoot striker since it has a very flat outsole with a lot of stack,” one reviewer says. “This is also the reason it’s an excellent gravel running shoe—I never feel anything hitting my feet.”

In addition to the overall cushioned ride of the updated Clifton 8, reviewers appreciated the protected feel of the shoe from outsole to upper.

“They’re light, soft and protective, yet firm. I like that the cushion in the Clifton 8 protects my joints from pounding with a firm, light underfoot feel rather than a squishy compressive one,” says a reviewer who also noted that the outsole traction was impressive for such a lightweight shoe.

Redesigned Upper Is Plush and Secure

The HOKA Clifton 8 running shoes

In addition to the updated midsole foam composition, HOKA designers turned their attention to the engineered mesh upper in the Clifton 8 update.

“This is one of the standout updates. The upper has a softer, premium feel, reducing the chances of getting any irritation. It’s lightweight and breathable,” says a Fleet Feet reviewer.

The perforated mesh enhances ventilation without deviating from the overall cushiony feel. This works with the plush, padded tongue to create a snug fit that still offers the flexibility your foot needs to move naturally as you run.

Our reviewers loved the accommodating toe box, which feels wider in this model of the Clifton.

“My feet are slightly wider than average, but the Clifton 8 is roomy enough to be comfortable for me,” says one reviewer. “I feel like it has slightly more room in the forefoot than the previous version—that one felt a little too tapered toward the toe.”

While the Clifton will be available in wide sizing, it could be helpful to try them on first to see how well the normal width fits your foot. Having enough toe room is key for a comfortable fit, but too much space can lead to uncomfortable rubbing on the run.

The HOKA Clifton 8 running shoes

Reviewers were also happy with the updated, cushioned heel collar and bucket-seat feel.

The Clifton 8 is designed with an anatomically modeled, extended heel tab. This helps make it easy to put your shoes on and get them off after a run, and it also works with the natural shape of your heel to create the most comfortable feel possible.

“The heel collar feels more plush, with a softer material and padding that molds to your foot,” says one reviewer.

Extra padding along the heel collar helps to lock your foot into place over the midsole and prevents chafing on the run.

One hiccup reviewers ran into was the extra long laces. This is a consistent feature of HOKA shoes, and while it does provide the extra leeway some runners need to really cinch down the fit of their shoes, it can also be distracting.

The Clifton does feature an extra set of eyelets that work with the padded tongue to create a very personalized fit. One reviewer found herself using the eyelets to keep the laces from getting in her way.

Clifton 8 vs. Clifton 7

If the Clifton 8 update proves anything, it’s that little tweaks can go a long way.

Whether you’ve been running in the Cliftons since HOKA’s early days or are just hearing about them now, the Clifton 8 keeps all the best features of the 7.

“I think HOKA and Clifton fans will be really happy with this update. They aren’t rocking the boat in a big way with this shoe, but the tweaks they made really improve the comfort and dial in the fit,” says a reviewer who has been running in the HOKA Clifton for years.

The HOKA Clifton 8 running shoes

Aesthetically, not much has changed between the Clifton 7 and the 8. Slight changes to the engineered mesh upper (which was introduced with the 7) and enhanced padding add to the overall performance of the Clifton 8 without changing the style too much.

This shoe is built for everything from road runs, to long walks to a day spent on your feet at work. The Clifton 7 made this clear with it’s relatively flat and wide outsole.

The Clifton 8 still provides the same versatility and stability, but with a more curved midsole geometry and exaggerated early-stage rocker. This plays out in the widened toe box and smooth transitions while running.

One of our reviewers put long mileage on their Clifton 7’s and used to have to apply anti-chafe solutions to his big toe before runs:

“Overall, the Clifton 8 has a better foot shape with a snug heel, accommodative midfoot, and rounded toe box. Compared to the Clifton 7 this fits my foot much better!” he says. “The Clifton 7 felt like a straight lasted shoe where the Clifton 8 delivers on a semi-curved lasted fit and feel.”

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to find a shoe that works well for so many people. It’s probably even harder to design one. However, HOKA continues to meet and surpass our expectations with each iteration of the Clifton.

The Clifton 8 is a neutral runner that accommodates a wide range of foot shapes and arch heights, even in normal sizing. The padded tongue and long laces lead to a cinched, dialed in fit whether you’re running or walking in them.

Though the Clifton 8 isn’t a huge jump from the 7, the updated midsole foam creates a much more responsive feel underfoot and keeps runners engaged even over long distances. Designers were able to shave a few ounces off the Clifton 8 by creating a super-lightweight foam blend that absorbs impact like a champ.

As one reviewer put it, “I think the Clifton loyalists will love the 8. It keeps everything that's great about previous iterations and addresses the previous shortcomings with improved fit and materials.”

We can’t help but agree. The HOKA Clifton 8 pushes the ceiling of our expectations and keeps us coming back for more.

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