Lace up, fellow runners, because it’s time for the 2023 update of the epic Hoka Bondi vs. Clifton showdown!
In the fast-paced world of running shoes, we’ve got two heavyweights duking it out for the title of the ultimate running companion: the Hoka Bondi 8 and the Hoka Clifton 9.
In this article, we’re diving deep into the heart and sole of these shoes, dissecting their unique features and performance qualities to help you make an informed choice and find the perfect companion for your runs.
We’re breaking down the cushioning, the on-foot feel, the fit, and the durability, so you’ll have a crystal-clear picture of which of these Hokas is the perfect fit for your stride.
So, enough preamble – let’s dive right into it…
Hoka Bondi vs Clifton
If you’re in a hurry to hit the ground running, let’s jump straight into a quick comparison where we tell you what really sets the Bondi apart from the Clifton series. Right after that, we’ll explore where each of these shoes truly shines.
Now, both the Bondi and the Clifton boast some serious cushioning. But when it comes to cushion, the Bondi 8 takes the cake, packing the brand’s most foam underfoot. You’ll especially feel this plushness beneath the ball of your foot, which makes it a great shoe for runners with ball-of-foot pain (Metatarsalgia).
The Bondi also has an accentuated heel that is rounded on the ground contact point, which makes it particularly suitable for a heel striker.
But here’s the twist: the Clifton leans a bit softer compared to the Bondi. It’s also more adaptable to various paces and thrives when you’re ready to pick up the tempo, making it an enticing choice for a broader spectrum of runners. The Bondi, on the other hand, excels when it’s time for those easy, cruisin’ miles.
When it comes to the platform, the Bondi offers up a wider base, delivering extra stability underfoot. But it comes with a caveat – it’s a bit heftier, tipping the scales at 10.8 oz for men’s size 9 (306 grams) more than the Clifton.
Now, let’s talk fit. The Clifton caters to the narrow-footed crowd, snugly embracing your feet, while the Bondi sports a slightly roomier toe box, offering a more generous fit for those who appreciate a little extra space. However, even the Bondis are not considered to be wide compared to other shoes like Brooks.
Finally, durability-wise, the Bondi holds the upper hand. It packs more rubber on the outsole and boasts a thicker midsole, meaning it can withstand more wear and tear over the miles.
Hoka Bondi vs. Clifton – Specs
For those hungry for more running insights, let’s dive deeper into where the Bondi and the Clifton truly shine…
Where the Bondi and Clifton shine
In my opinion, the Bondi 8 is an absolute gem for those recovery runs and those long-distance sessions when you’re out there clocking in those serious miles.
Now, it might not be the softest shoe out there, but it’s like having a fortress of protection and cushioning beneath your feet.
When you hit that hour and a half mark, edging towards the two-hour milestone on a lengthy run in the Clifton, you can’t help but crave that extra padding, especially in the forefoot of the shoe. That’s where the Bondi really comes into its own.
Honestly, I’d be very surprised if anyone found the Clifton to be significantly more comfortable than the Bondi when you’re really trying to bank those longer miles.
So, picture this: you’ve pushed your limits with some intense tempo or interval runs, and your legs are feeling the aftermath. Naturally, the next day calls for a recovery run, and that’s precisely when the Bondi’s extra cushioning steps in to ease the stress on your tired legs, boosting your recovery rate.
Now, let’s switch gears to the Clifton 9. When you’re tackling those aerobic sessions following an easier day, that’s when you want something lighter, more responsive, and livelier to run in.
That’s where the Clifton takes the lead, delivering a more enjoyable and responsive experience. If you decide to throw in some pickups or strides at the end of your run, it responds like a champ to that injection of pace.
The Clifton is your go-to daily trainer. It brings versatility to the table and leans towards handling your easy and moderate paces, rather than just those easy/recovery paces.
But let’s be clear – the Clifton isn’t your high-mileage shoe or your slow-and-steady long-distance companion for those really tough days that are going to be just long efforts out there.
So, which shoe is right for you, the Bondi or the Clifton?
Diversity in your running shoe lineup can bring some real perks. To break it down, the Bondi undoubtedly shines on those recovery days and those really easy miles. It’s just going to be taking the stress off of your legs on the long slow runs.
Conversely, the Clifton steps into the spotlight as a fantastic everyday training companion because of its remarkable versatility. It’s the shoe that adapts gracefully to a wide range of paces.
So, if you decide to pick up the pace a notch, maintain a steady stride, or throw in some speedy strides during your run, the Clifton’s midsole proves to be more adaptable and responsive to those changes in pace.
It doesn’t stop here…
Consider how long you want your shoes to stick around and if durability is your top priority.
If longevity is the name of the game, then it’s a straightforward decision – go for the Bondi 8. These babies will go the extra mile with their added cushioning, plush heel collar padding, and, most crucially, that bonus outsole rubber.
And, if you’re all about that plush, padded sensation underfoot where you barely even feel the ground beneath you, the Bondi’s got your back.
But if your training involves a consistent pace, take a gander at the lighter Clifton. It offers a bit more flexibility if you decide to switch up your speed.
Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of cushioning because that’s the aspect that’s on everyone’s mind when it comes to comparing the Clifton and the Bondi…
Both the Bondi 8 and the Clifton 9 are equipped with Hoka’s signature EVA midsoles. But there’s a noticeable difference right off the bat – the Bondi’s midsole is significantly thicker, evident in its stack height.
If you scrutinize further, you’ll spot those distinct lines running through the Bondi’s midsole – Hoka calls this the ‘billowed’ effect. This isn’t just for show; it’s crafted to enhance how the midsole compresses and, more importantly, how much energy you can harness from that midsole.
But here’s the real deal – how do these midsoles actually feel when you’re out there on the run?
Absolutely no two ways about it – when you slip into those Cliftons, there’s an unmistakable sense of comfort and protection. The padding is top-notch, delivering that plush cushioning we all crave. But let’s face it, the Bondi takes it up a notch in the cushioning and protection department.
Those extra 2mm of foam in the forefoot and 3mm in the heel provide a noticeably more padded and comfortable sensation underfoot. For me, personally, the Bondi is the undisputed king of cushioning, surpassing how the Clifton feels.
However, where the Clifton gains ground is in the weight department. The Clifton’s midsole is notably lighter, and the beauty of that is it feels more responsive. It adapts with grace to changes in your pace.
Now, here’s one of the things I absolutely adore about Hoka running shoes – their rocker technology…
Early Stage Meta Rocker
Both the Bondi and the Clifton boast an early-stage meta rocker geometry. What does this mean in runner’s lingo? Well, it’s all about that forward curve at the front of the shoe, and let me tell you, it’s a game-changer.
Here’s why it’s such a winner: As your foot makes contact with the ground, that rocker technology kicks into action, smoothly rolling your feet forward and relieving a ton of stress from your lower leg muscles and your big toe joint. Picture this:
So, with this rocker technology:
- You get that rocking sensation as your foot lands.
- Each foot strike feels buttery smooth.
- There’s no sensation of getting too muddled down or stuck as you’re hitting the ground.
- The shoe effortlessly lifts your back heel, ready for that next stride.
The beauty of it all? Both the Bondi and the Clifton ace this front. They both have that magic touch, rolling your feet forward seamlessly and making your runs incredibly smooth.
Now, the only tiny distinction I noticed is that the Bondi felt just a tad smoother to me. The transition from heel to toe-off felt like a well-oiled machine.
However, I can totally imagine someone with a different gait might find the Clifton’s rocker works even better for them. So, it’s really hard to say that one’s better than the other on that front.
Oh, and here’s a little side note for all you fellow runners out there: the early-stage meta rocker design in both the Bondi and Clifton makes them fantastic shoes for runners with Hallux Rigidus. They’ve got your back (well, your feet) covered!
From a support perspective, both the Bondi and the Clifton fall into the category of neutral running shoes. But there’s a noteworthy twist – they’re not your average neutrals; they bring some solid support to the table.
This extra support comes from the cushioning’s sidewalls, which snugly envelop your feet, cradling them within the cushioning rather than merely resting on top of it. This creates a sort of all-around support that keeps your feet in check.
Now, here’s where they differ slightly: the Bondi’s base is wider than the Clifton’s, and that translates to a tad more stability. Personally, I felt that extra stability underfoot when I ran in the Bondi.
The midsole walls also extend a bit higher on the Bondi, providing additional support around your feet. I found this particularly helpful, especially towards the end of a run when fatigue starts to creep in and your form starts to deform a little bit.
It’s that little extra boost of stability and comfort exactly when you need it the most.
Now, let’s delve into the upper of these running beasts…
There are indeed some notable distinctions worth mentioning. But before we dive into the details, here’s a key takeaway: transitioning from one to the other is a breeze.
For those of us who like to rotate between our running shoes and seek that consistent fit, you’re in luck with the Bondi 8 and the Clifton 9. You can confidently stick to the same size for both shoes.
Now, let’s talk width – which one’s roomier, the Bondi or the Clifton?
Well, right out of the gate, the Bondi offers a more generous fit, especially in the toebox. The Bondi is crafted on one of Hoka’s broader lasts, making it feel more spacious at the front of the shoe. If you happen to have slightly wider feet, you might lean towards the Bondi’s fit.
On the flip side, if your feet are on the narrower side, you might find the Clifton’s fit more snug and tailored around the toebox.
That said, I want to emphasize that even though there’s a difference, it’s pretty marginal, and I’ve personally been able to make a seamless transition between the two.
Now, onto padding – what’s the deal there?
The Clifton is undeniably lighter and sleeker compared to the Bondi. In the Bondi, you’ll notice more padding around the heel collar, a plusher tongue, and a higher-end mesh upper. Plus, there’s just a bit more padding throughout the midsole.
So, it really boils down to personal preference. If you’re all about that lightweight, stripped-back feel, the Clifton still provides ample padding but offers a more breathable sensation on your feet.
Now, let’s talk outsoles, a crucial aspect for us runners…
If you happen to have flat feet, the Clifton and Bondi models may not be your ideal choices. Instead, turn your attention to their stability counterparts, the Arahi and Gaviota. These shoes are tailored to offer precise arch support for flat-footed runners.
There’s a limited amount of rubber on the outsole, which does wonders for shedding some weight. Plus, the rubber here isn’t quite as soft as the exposed EVA foam, which plays a role in enhancing that cushioning effect.
Obviously, the Hoka Bondi 8 boasts more outsole rubber than the Clifton 9. But here’s the tradeoff – the Bondi will outlast the Clifton, and that’s where the difference in weight comes into play.
You see, it’s not always a walk in the park to make a shoe both lighter and more durable; there’s a bit of a balancing act involved.
I’ve put these shoes through the paces on everything from pavement and asphalt to a bit of off-road trail running. I must say, they’ve held up admirably, and that’s partly thanks to the deeper lugs and grooves.
When I take the Clifton and the Bondi off-road, that compression-molded EVA is thick enough to shield me from those pesky rocks.
So, it’s safe to say that while the Clifton might offer a touch less durability compared to the Bondi, it’s still no slouch in the performance department.
Talking about durability, these are some of the most durable running shoes.
With the Clifton 9, it’s like having the best of both worlds in one shoe. It provides solid protection on various surfaces while allowing you to keep moving relatively quickly.
Plus, it’s not a heavyweight, so you can confidently make it a regular player in your weekly rotation without worry.
From shorter sprints to long-distance runs, the Clifton is a very capable, very fun-to-run-in daily trainer.
Now, when it comes to the Bondi 8, Hoka really delivered on the promise of what the Bondi should be. So, if you’re in the market for max cushioned running shoes, the Bondi should unquestionably be on your radar.
Hoka Bondi vs. Clifton – FAQs
What is the difference between the Bondi and the Clifton?
The Bondi and the Clifton share the spotlight for their cushioned prowess, but there’s a distinct contrast. The Bondi is like the king of plush comfort with its extra cushioning, making it ideal for those long, easy miles. On the flip side, the Clifton is no lightweight either, but it offers a touch more versatility with its slightly lighter build and responsiveness, perfect for those days when you want to switch up your pace. So, if you’re craving maximum cushioning, go for the Hoka Bondi. And if you want a bit more flexibility, lean towards the Clifton.
Which is better for walking Clifton or Bondi?
The Hoka Bondi provides maximum cushioning, perfect for those who prioritize plush comfort during leisurely walks.
Is Bondi or Clifton better for Plantar Fasciitis?
For Plantar Fasciitis, the Bondi is often the preferred choice due to its superior cushioning and support. Its extra padding and cushioned midsole provide excellent shock absorption, reducing stress on the plantar fascia.
What is Hoka Bondi best for?
The Hoka Bondi is best suited for runners seeking maximum cushioning and comfort. With its thick, plush midsole, it excels in providing an ultra-cushioned experience, making it ideal for long-distance running, recovery runs, and activities that prioritize comfort over speed.
The Bondi is particularly well-suited for individuals looking to minimize the impact on their joints, making it a top choice for injury-prone runners or those with a history of discomfort during their runs.
What are Hoka Cliftons best for?
The Hoka Clifton excels as a versatile running shoe suitable for a range of distances and paces. It offers a comfortable blend of cushioning and responsiveness, making it ideal for daily training runs and even some speed work. Its lightweight design and supportive features make it a top choice for runners seeking a well-rounded shoe that can handle various training sessions.
Are Hoka Bondi bad for knees?
The Hoka Bondi is generally known for its exceptional cushioning, which can actually benefit runners and walkers with knee pain or knee-related issues by reducing impact on the joints. However, shoe comfort and suitability vary from person to person, and it’s crucial to choose shoes that match your specific foot mechanics and running style.
Do podiatrists recommend Hoka shoes?
Many podiatrists do recommend Hoka shoes, particularly for individuals with specific foot conditions like Hallux Rigidus and Metatarsalgia. Hoka is known for its innovative design that focuses on comfort and reducing impact on joints. However, it’s crucial to remember that shoe recommendations can vary based on an individual’s unique needs and foot mechanics. Consulting with a podiatrist or a specialist for a professional assessment and personalized footwear advice is the best approach to ensure the right shoe choice for your specific foot health.
Is Hoka Clifton a daily trainer?
Yes, the Hoka Clifton is a fantastic daily trainer. Its balanced combination of cushioning, lightweight design, and responsiveness makes it a versatile option for runners seeking a shoe they can use day in and day out. Whether you’re tackling shorter runs or longer distances, the Clifton provides the comfort and support needed for daily training sessions, making it a popular pick among runners.
Why are Hokas suddenly so popular?
Hoka shoes have gained popularity due to their innovative design featuring generous cushioning and support, making them comfortable for various types of runners and walkers. Additionally, the “maximalist” shoe trend, which prioritizes cushioning, has gained traction in recent years. Hoka’s reputation for minimizing impact and reducing fatigue during runs has contributed to their sudden surge in popularity among athletes seeking comfort and performance.
Before we wrap this up, here’s a short history of Hoka…
History of Hoka
Hoka One One, now referred to as just “Hoka,” is a relatively young company in the running shoe industry, but it has made a significant impact since its inception. Here’s a brief history of Hoka running shoes:
Early Beginnings (2009)
Hoka was founded in 2009 by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, two former Salomon employees with a passion for trail running. Their goal was to create running shoes that offered enhanced cushioning and support while maintaining a lightweight design.
Revolutionary Design (2010s)
In 2010, Hoka introduced its first running shoe, the Bondi B. The shoe’s distinctive feature was its oversized midsole, providing maximal cushioning and support. This design challenged the minimalist running shoe trend of the time, marking the birth of the maximalist movement in the industry.
Fast Growth and Acquisition (2013)
Hoka quickly gained a following among runners, especially ultra-marathoners and trail runners who appreciated the extra cushioning for long-distance races. In 2013, the company was acquired by Deckers Brands, a corporation that also owns brands like UGG and Teva.
Expansion and Innovation (2010s and Beyond)
Hoka continued to expand its product line, introducing a variety of road and trail running shoes designed to cater to different types of runners. They developed proprietary technologies like the Meta-Rocker, which promotes a smooth and efficient gait cycle, the J-Frame, and the H-Frame offering stability.
Mainstream Success (2020s)
Hoka’s innovative designs and emphasis on comfort began to resonate with a broader audience of runners and walkers, not just elite athletes. The company’s popularity surged in the 2020s, with many top-tier athletes endorsing and competing in Hoka shoes. They also introduced models like the Clifton and Rincon, which became bestsellers.
Today, Hoka is a prominent player in the running shoe industry, known for its commitment to cushioning, support, and innovative design. Their shoes are favored by a wide range of athletes, from professionals to casual runners, and their impact on the running shoe market has been nothing short of revolutionary.
That pretty much wraps this Hoka Bondi vs. Clifton comparison. I hope this comparison has helped you understand the unique strengths of the Bondi and the Clifton and how to make the right choice for your running needs.
In the end, the best approach is to lace up in both and see which Hoka resonates with your running style. That’s how you’ll find your true winner.
Thanks a million for sticking with me through this comparison, and I’ll catch you in the next one – happy running! 😊