Today we’re going to be comparing two giant shoes from an already successful running shoe company, the Hoka Bondi vs Clifton.
We’re going through the Hoka Bondi 6, the Bondi 7, the Clifton 6, and the Clifton 7.
Let’s kick off with the similarities …
Hoka Bondi vs Clifton
Where The Bondi Shines
The Bondi is not something you’re going to bring to the track for your fast workout, but on a long run, a recovery run, or an easy run, this is definitely a shoe that you could be reaching for.
This is a shoe that I’m going to be relying on for my recovery days or just my easy low and slow days.
Again, this is not the fastest shoe that’s out there and you definitely are going to be paying a little bit of a speed penalty for all that cushion.
Related: Great Running Shoes for Speed
Who’s Max Cushion Really For
A max cushioned running shoe a type of running shoe that’s for a couple of types of purposes. The two that mainly come to mind for me are for…
- people that are looking for a shoe that’s going to help them push distance rather than necessarily pace.
- people that are looking for something that is going to help them soak up all the road miles.
- people that need a shoe that’s easier on their knees and joints that’s going to be able to soak the pounding from all those road miles.
The Bondi loves the pavement and just soaks up pavement miles really well.
Even on dirt roads, the shoe’s smoothness soaks up all the impact from the rocks that you might have underfoot.
Where The Clifton Shines
Related: Hoka Clifton vs New Balance 1080v10
I’ve always kind of thought the Clifton was blurring the line between daily trainer and max cushioned shoe.
I think the Clifton really wants to be your daily trainer type of shoe. It has a little bit more versatility and leans towards running your easy and moderate paces versus easy/recovery paces.
I don’t think it’s your high-mileage shoe or your long slow distance shoe that you only wear on those certain really tough days that are going to be just long slogs out there.
So, I guess working with that meta rocker and trying to go a little bit faster, that’s when the shoe starts to really feel good.
On some of the downhills that I’m running, I definitely got a chance to pick up the pace a little bit and the Clifton is still a very capable shoe.
So, I think that while I wouldn’t reach for the Clifton on a tempo day if it’s something where you’re running a fartlek and something that has to kind of have a little bit of speed plate in it, I think that the Clifton is still going to be a really great choice.
Related: Make sure you check these great tempo running shoes.
In terms of whether I want to run a marathon in the Clifton, I’m not so sure that I’d want to do that although I have heard a lot of guys out there that love this shoe and have run their marathons in it.
Although I do think that Hoka made great strides in making an upper that fits just like a regular foot, the midsole is certainly where the story is at.
We’ve got all Hoka’s compression EVA which is a very lightweight foam.
Compared to what the Bondi and the Clifton look like and what you might expect, they feel lighter than they look with that ton of EVA.
Active Foot Frame
Although there’s a ton of EVA and stack height, you’re not essentially sitting on the foam but rather in the foam.
Hoka make it so that your foot almost sits inside the EVA so you’re getting that little bit of guide rail action along the medial and lateral sides.
You also have just a lot of cushion to land in and then push off from as you’re running.
With all that midsole EVA foam and that higher stack height, you would think that the Bondi and the Clifton might be a little bit cumbersome shoes.
It’s not the case and here’s why …
In order to make the Bondi and Clifton runnable and help them get through the gait cycle without being too muddled with all this much stack heigh and that Ortholite insole, Hoka has done two things:
Early Stage Meta Rocker
The Bondi and Clifton have got the early-stage meta rocker geometry. This pretty much means the front is curved upward.
This is kind of the sensation that you get if you’re standing at the edge of a step and you kind of fall off of it.
It’s an unusual feeling at first. When you’re walking around, it feels weird, but as you’re running, it really works pretty well with your stride.
So, with this rocker technology:
- You have a rocking sensation as your foot hits the ground.
- All the foot strikes are really smooth.
- It doesn’t feel like you’re getting too muddled down or stuck as you’re planting.
- The shoe picks that back heel up so you can get to your next stride quickly.
What they’ve also done is bevel the back heel a little bit.
With this beveled heel technology:
- You’re not dragging your feet on some extra material.
- It gives your foot more of a chance to land in the midfoot if you are leaning a little bit towards heel striking.
Overall, even though the Clifton and the Bondi have a lot of stack height:
- They don’t feel like they’re too tall.
- They feel pretty nimble and comfortable to run in.
- Their geometry keeps things moving nicely and creates a gentle smooth rocking sensation as you’re running.
- They make it so you could get your foot on the ground and absorb all that impact.
Ortholite is kind of like a memory foam type of material. So, when you’re stepping in these Hoka’s, it feels super soft.
Ortholite is also something that’s meant to be run on as well. So, even deep into your run, you’re still going to feel a lot of the softness from that Ortholite insole, which just enhances that cushion effect that you’re getting from these shoes.
On the outsole, there’s only a limited amount of rubber, which saves on some of the weight.
Also, the rubber isn’t quite as soft as the rest of the exposed EVA foam, which helps enhance that cushion effect.
The outsole on the Hoka Clifton 6 is almost identical to the 7’s and there was no problem in terms of all these exposed parts.
I’ve run on everything from pavement, asphalt to a little bit of off-road running in the trails, and so I’ve been very happy with the way that this shoe has been holding up.
Because there are deeper lugs and grooves, when I’m taking the Clifton off-road, the compression-molded EVA is thick enough to protect me from some of the rocks.
The grip and traction have been good for all the surfaces and kind of levels of wetness and slipperiness that I’ve run on.
The outsoles are holding up really well and the exposed foam is hardly seeing any sort of wear.
The rubber on the forefoot is actually holding up much better than I was expecting. Nothing is unduly worn and it certainly doesn’t look like a 100-mile shoe in the forefoot.
The rubber on the forefoot is actually holding up much better than I was expecting. Nothing is unduly worn and it certainly doesn’t look like a 100-mile shoe in the forefoot.
I feel like Hoka are doing a great job balancing performance and also durability with the way that they very judiciously applied the rubber.
Related: Most durable running shoes
Now, let’s talk about the Bondi and the Clifton separately…
Hoka Clifton 6 & Clifton 7
The Hoka Clifton is a cushioned daily trainer. It’s one of the flagship shoes from the Hoka One One brand.
I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds where I’m being protected from the surfaces I’m running on while also being able to keep moving relatively quickly.
It’s not that heavy so it’s definitely something that you could bring out with you multiple times a week and put in to heavy use in your rotation right away.
I think the Clifton 6 and 7 are two of the better-looking Clifton’s that I’ve ever seen. They’re subtle but still very Hoka at the same time.
The Clifton 6 is 8.9oz for men and 7.4oz for women.
The men’s version is 33mm stack height in the heel and 28mm in the forefoot for a heel-to-toe drop of 5mm.
The women’s is 30mm in the heel and 25mm in the forefoot for a similar 5mm heel-to-toe drop.
The Clifton 7 is 8.7oz for men and 7oz for women.
The men’s version is 29mm stack height in the heel and 24mm in the forefoot for a 5mm heel-to-toe drop.
The women’s is 27mm in the heel and 22mm in the forefoot for a similar 5mm heel-to-toe drop.
As you can see from the stats, the men’s Clifton 7 lost about 3mm of stack height, and the women’s lost about 2mm, which justifies the fact that the shoe got a little bit lighter.
The upper is much improved in the Clifton. Everything seems much more streamlined and it makes much more sense.
I’ve really enjoyed this upper because it’s nice and flexible. It’s a little bit on the warmer side, which has been very welcome for me in the wintertime for a lot of my wetter runs.
But I think it also translates pretty well to warmer temperatures.
The forefoot has kind of a dual-layer engineered mesh that you can almost see through.
The midfoot has a very snug feeling, which is very comforting, while also still having plenty of room in the toe box.
I’ve been wearing the Clifton with some thicker winter socks or even waterproof socks and it’s been really nice to have enough room in the toe box for those waterproof socks.
Also, when I don’t have winter socks on, I still get a really good fit.
The padding up on top is in kind of the medium category, but I was expecting something a lot more plush.
Heel Collar & Tongue
The Clifton also got memory foam type material all around the heel collar and all-around any part that’s going to be touching your foot or ankle.
There’s also a little bit of extra padding on the part that touches your Achilles.
There are slight changes from the Clifton 6. With the Clifton 7, we’ve got a little bit of a flared Achilles which is kind of stiff. So, the Clifton 7 is more structure through the heel.
The tongue of the Clifton 7 is not the most padded tongue that I’ve ever felt, but I feel like there’s enough padding for me to feel comfortable with it.
With this tongue, I’m getting more of a luxurious type of feeling without being unnecessarily puffy and getting in the way.
So, when you’re a little bit more tired and you’re looking to go on that recovery run or that easy run, the upper material is nice and comfortable as well.
Overall, I enjoyed the amount of padding around the ankle and the light amount of padding that’s on the tongue as well.
Hoka Clifton 6 vs Clifton 7
I remember the Clifton 6 feeling a lot lower and more planted to the ground.
It felt like a faster shoe, but I don’t feel like I felt so much of that marshmallowy comfort that the Clifton series is generally known for.
I’m remembering the Clifton 6 towards the end of its life versus the Clifton 7 at the beginning of its life and I did feel that this shoe does change a bit in character in terms of the stiffness of the EVA over time.
I just feel like the Clifton 7 is a pretty different shoe from the Clifton 6.
I feel like the Clifton 6 was a standard daily trainer and the 7 is closer to the max cushion category.
The Clifton 6 sits almost exactly between the Bondi and the Rincon for me, but I think with the Clifton 7, that balance has shifted a little bit.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing and maybe they’ve done their research and they’re finding that people are buying either the Clifton or the Bondi and what most people wanted was something in the middle.
Clifton 6 & 7 – Conclusion
That’s kind of what the Clifton has in its package and that’s what it’s intending to do and I really think it delivers on that promise.
I’ve been just really having a great time running in the Clifton and I always look forward to putting it on.
I haven’t experienced any of the foot issues that I’ve been experiencing at some of the higher mileage weeks in some other shoes.
For shorter distances and for even so in my very long distances, the Clifton has been a very capable, very fun-to-run-in daily trainer.
It just feels like there’s …
- a lot of midsole,
- a lot of outsole,
- a lot of upper,
- a lot of kind of everything.
However, everything is working fine and it’s all very comfortable.
The Clifton starts out as a pretty good shoe and it ends up as a great shoe.
Hoka Bondi 6 & Bondi 7
2019 was a year that Hoka took a little bit of refinement in terms of its direction.
The Bondi series is still holding on to its identity but having a bit more of a polished look to it.
This is Hoka’s most cushioned road running shoe and the Bondi 7 backs up that claim with 33mm of compression-molded EVA in the heel.
There’s stack height upon stack height and the most EVA foam that Hoka put in any of their road shoes.
So, you’re getting smoothness in terms of the foot striking gait.
Plus, you’re getting a lot of very plush and comfortable materials hoping for the smoothest and most comfortable of experiences.
It’s a great shoe whether you’re looking for something more cushioned for your everyday runs or if you’re looking for something to soak up all that road impact for your longest runs.
The Bondi 6 weighs in at 10.8oz for men and 8.6oz for women.
The men’s and women’s versions are 36mm stack height in the heel and 32mm in the forefoot for a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm.
The Bondi 7 is 10.6oz for men and 8.8oz for women.
The men’s version is 33mm stack height in the heel and 29mm in the forefoot for a 4mm heel-to-toe drop.
The women’s is 31mm in the heel and 27mm in the forefoot for a similar 4mm heel-to-toe drop.
As you can see, there’s no big difference in terms of weight, but Hoka has lowered the stack height a little bit in the Hoka Bondi 7 while keeping the same 4mm heel drop.
So, with all that EVA does come a little bit of a penalty. The Bondi is a little bit of a heavy shoe.
We have a very flexible mesh material up in the toe box which I thought was really nice.
There’s lots of cushioning towards the heel cup and around the back of the foot, but it’s not the plushest upper I’ve ever seen.
The tongue just seems like a regular somewhat padded tongue but not like a plush tongue.
So, I do think that as far as max cushioned shoes go in warmer temps, this would be nice because typically, the more cushioned the shoe is, the more padding there is, the more padding there is, the more heat it has.
I felt like it was a little bit too snug up in the top of the foot, but I still felt really great sizing in the toe box.
When I reach for a max cushion shoe, I usually want it on a recovery day when my feet are feeling a little bit beat up and when my body’s feeling a little bit beat up.
So, what I want with a max cushion shoe is just a feeling “ahhh”.
Once I start running in the Bondi, I loosen up, the shoe loosens up, and everything feels good. It was very easy for me to get to 100 miles in the Bondi 6.
In terms of other aspects wrapping up the 100-mile review of this shoe, I will say that the upper is holding up fantastically well. It hardly looks like it’s been worn at all.
In a lot of ways, the road dynamics reminded me a bit of the Clifton, but I definitely felt the extra stack height in the Bondi.
Also, I don’t know if Hoka changed the formulation of the EVA or what, but I don’t feel like I had to break in the Bondi 7 like I did for the Bondi 6.
Yet, I felt like it took a good 10 or 20 miles for that comfort feeling to start appearing.
As I ran a little bit more into it, I definitely felt like I was kind of not sinking in but kind of sinking in to the EVA a little bit and I was starting to feel a little bit of cushioning or softness in the shoe.
Then, after that 30 or 40-mile mark, it felt like almost the top layer of the EVA foam had compressed enough that I felt I was getting a lot more of a softer landing with each stride in a very comfortable way.
I started to feel like I was getting into the insole and the midsole a little bit better and I felt I was starting to feel a little bit more of that cushion.
Also, even when the Bondi softens a little, it still preserves a lot of that stack height. This gives you that kind of insulated-from-the-road feeling, which you should be aware of if you’re not a huge fan of that.
So, with the Bondi, I’m getting all that softer easier landing, but I’m still able to move relatively quickly without any extra effort.
So, when the Bondi breaks in, it’s an absolute pleasure to run your recovery miles in these. It just feels so smooth and I really love that sensation about this shoe.
Early Stage Meta Rocker
Like the Clifton, the Bondi has got an early stage metal rocker to get you through your foot strike with that beveled heel as well.
This makes sure the shoe gets a little bit out of your way as you’re running.
The way that Hoka designed the geometry of the shoe lends itself to being a high stack max-cushion shoe but still not letting you get bogged down in any one part of the gait cycle.
Like the Clifton, the Bondi has a lot of exposed EVA foam that you’re running directly on and even that is holding up really well.
Even though I’ve been doing a lot of midfoot striking where the exposed EVA is, it’s actually holding up really well, which I’m kind of surprised by that.
Not only do you have all that EVA that’s really nice and soft in the midsole, but you’ve also got an Ortholite sock liner adding to not only the comfort but also kind of taking away from a little bit of the responsive feeling to the shoe.
The Bondi 7 is holding up really well with no signs of undue wear or anything like that.
There’s pretty much just some discoloration from the dirt and dust that I am running through. Otherwise, it looks pristine as far as the upper is concerned.
Like the Clifton’s, the Bondi 6 was a pretty good shoe and the Bondi 7 is even better.
Bondi 6 vs Bondi 7
While I ultimately felt the Bondi 6 was a comfortable shoe eventually, there were two main issues I had with it.
The major improvement of the Bondi 7 over the Bondi 6, at least in my experience, is the fit.
For something that’s supposed to be a max cushion max comfort shoe, the Bondi 6 was a little bit too snug across the toe box. I felt like it was kind of pinching me.
It wasn’t wide enough. It wasn’t a problem, but it was definitely something where for a max cushion shoe, I shouldn’t feel like the toe box is a little bit uncomfortable.
Hoka fixed that on the Bondi 7 and there wasn’t any stretching or changing in terms of how that felt on my foot throughout the hundred miles either.
Instantly, the Bondi 7 is a much runnable shoe and it’s one I would gladly put on for those longest runs or for days when my body is a little bit beat up.
The other thing was the Bondi 6 took a little while for it to really feel super comfortable. It took a good 30 to 40 miles before it really started to kind of break-in.
By the time I got to the 100-mile mark in the Bondi 6, I felt like it was a really great super cushioned shoe.
It also meant that the characteristics of the shoe changed quite a bit from mile 1 to mile 100.
I eventually got to that point, but the first runs felt stiff and I felt I had to break in the rubber outsole a little bit.
With the Bondi 7, I feel like they’ve done something to resolve that issue because I enjoyed the Bondi 7 right out of the box from the first day.
The outsole on the Bondi 7 is pretty much the same pattern as the 6. There’s some exposed EVA and a very judicious amount of rubber usage enough for long-term durability but not so much it’s going to add to its already hefty weight.
The outsole on both shoes is still working out really well in terms of grip and I’m able to have sure footing on a variety of different types of terrain that I ran on.
With the Bondi 7, I feel I’m getting a very similar experience if not almost the exact same experience on mile 100 that I had on mile one.
So, I feel like the consistency has really improved on the Bondi 7.
With the Bondi 7, Hoka definitely lived up to that promise of what the Bondi is supposed to be.
If you’re looking for something that’s going to give you that max cushion feel, this is definitely one to look at.
I feel the fit is just much better than it was before and I’m very excited about that.
Definitely on some of the days where I was working harder and faster in other shoes, the next morning I would say “you know what? I really am looking forward to going for a run in the Bondi because it is going to be really comfortable and really relaxing overall on my feet.”
So, I think that if you’re looking in the max cushion genre, this is something that you should definitely put into your consideration.
You’re either going to know that you like the Bondi 7 or you’re going to know that you don’t.
The Bondi is not for everyone because it is a max cushion shoe and not everyone wants that kind of shoe.
So there you have it. Those are my thoughts on the Hoka Bondi vs Clifton. As you know, choosing one over the other greatly depends on the kind of runs you’re going to do.
What you should do is run in both shoes and see which Hoka resonates more with you. That’s how you get a winner.
See you on the next one.