In today’s article, I’m going to be comparing the Hoka Clifton 7 vs 8.
Hoka made a few changes from the Clifton 7 to the Clifton 8 including some tweaks to the upper, the midsole, and even the landing platform.
Let’s get right into it…
Hoka Clifton 7 vs 8
The Clifton series is considered to be a neutral road shoe. I did order both shoes true to size and I had no problems with the fit.
There’s a slight difference in weight. The Clifton 7 comes in at 9.1 oz or 256 grams, and that’s for a men’s size 9. The Hoka Clifton 8 is slightly lighter and comes in at 8.9 oz or 252 grams.
Let’s start with the upper and take a look at the changes they made from the Clifton 7 to the Clifton 8.
Beginning with the 7, you can see that they have these big wide perforations up in the toe box. These perforations (pic about perforations) continue on through to the midsection of the shoe all the way back around to the heel counter.
Part of the issue that I had with the Clifton 7 was getting and maintaining a solid lockdown feeling across the midfoot section of the shoe. I think, in no small part, it’s because of the big wide perforations. There’s just quite a bit of give there in that material.
Hoka did tweak it and they made some changes and I think these were positive changes. On the Clifton 8, you can see that they went to a much smaller type of perforations up there in the toe box.
Then, as you work your way around to the side of the shoe, they really have some quilted material there. That quilted material just takes some of that stretch out of it. So, it is much easier for me to get a secure lockdown feeling across the midfoot section of the shoe.
Hoka used an engineered mesh on both of these two uppers although, with the Clifton 8, I feel like that engineered mesh material is just a little bit softer to the touch in terms of the texture. However, it feels really comfortable on foot.
And, as we look at the midsole and outsole later on, you’re going to see that the Clifton 8 is just a little bit more narrow there, which means that the upper is sewed in kind of underneath your foot almost and then wraps up around to the other side. For me, that just cinches you in a little bit more securely than it did in the Hoka Clifton 7.
I found that both the Clifton 7 and 8 had about adequate airflow. Neither one of them really blew me away in terms of allowing your feet to breathe, but they did a good job at least in keeping me comfortable while I was out running.
Up in the toe box, I did feel like I had plenty of room in both shoes in order to be able to splay my toes. It felt really comfortable.
With Clifton 8, I did feel like it was just a little bit more snug or narrow in the midfoot section of the shoe. I’m sure that has a lot to do with the geometry of the midsole and the outsole, and we’ll talk about that more in just a minute.
The Clifton 7 also has a little bit of extra plastic overlay up there around in the toe box, but it lost most of that with the Clifton 8. I’m not sure that made a big difference, but I guess it’s up there just to give it a little bit of durability and some structure.
Again, I don’t know that that change was a major change, but it is something that I just wanted to point out to you.
Comparing the eyelet chains, not much has changed. The Hoka Clifton 7 does have a loop and that’s to help cinch up that material upper in your toe box. It has some plastic overlays on the outside of the eyelet chain to give you a little bit of durability so you don’t rip through those with your laces.
Then on the inside cage area, the 7 has some extra material there as well and, again, that’s for some durability reasons.
The Clifton 8 has that same thing going on. The 8 did lose that lace loop, but it didn’t seem to make a difference for me. In fact, I feel more locked and secure in the Clifton 8 than I do in the Clifton 7.
I find that that has more to do with the type of material that they used on the upper and how that they designed it with that quilted material so they would lose that stretch so it’s much easier for me to get cinched in.
Both shoes feature a semi-gusseted tongue, but they did make some changes. Although I thought that the Clifton 7 has plenty of padding on the tongue, Hoka added a little bit of padding or density to the padding that they used in the Clifton 8.
So, as we look at the Clifton 7, you can see that it’s fairly thick but it’s fairly soft too and pretty pliable. It has those big perforations up there to help give it a little bit of airflow. It just feels a little bit lighter and a little bit more airy.
Taking a look at the Clifton 8, you’ll notice that there’s just a bunch more padding there or at least it feels more dense padding. The tongue has lost those perforations and so it doesn’t have that same airy type of feeling on foot.
The gussets are pretty much the same in terms of the placement. However, the material on the gusset of the Clifton 8 is a little bit more solid than the gusset in the Clifton 7.
So, all in all, that makes the Clifton 8 just run a little bit warmer underfoot, but I guess it’s what you’re giving up in terms of breathability gain and comfort with that extra padding.
Heel Collar & Heel Tab
As we compare the padding around the heel collar and the tab, the Hoka Clifton 7 has plenty of padding there. It has that nice Achilles heel flare and they changed absolutely nothing.
The Clifton 8 has got the same amount of padding and it’s the same Achilles heel flare. Neither shoe has a pull tab back there to help get your shoes on, but you can use that Achilles heel flare to help do that if you need to.
Both shoes have this nice little area that your Achilles rests in. I found that to be comfortable on both of them.
The real only change that they made in terms of the padding around the collar and the tab is the material that they use. The Hoka Clifton 8 uses a more smooth type of material than it is in the Clifton 7.
The Clifton 7 has a fair amount of plastic that’s on the outside as an overlay that starts on the medial side and wraps around to the lateral side of the shoe, and it’s pretty substantial.
Then, the Clifton 7 has Hoka’s EVA foam that comes up pretty high both on the medial as well as all around to the lateral side of the shoe.
I often describe that feeling as sitting in the bucket seat of a racing car so your heels kind of nestle into that EVA foam that you have there.
The Hoka Clifton 8 just has more of that plastic in terms of the overlay and they did change the texture a bit. It feels like they’ve wrapped it in a little bit of material somehow so it’s really soft to the touch. But, you can see that it, too, wraps around your heel.
Also, they kept the same styling in terms of the EVA foam which comes up pretty high around that heel counter of the shoe, again, giving you that sitting-in-the-bucket-seat-of-a-racing-car feeling when you’re out running to add some stability to the feel as you move through your gait cycle.
Both Cliftons are max-cushion shoes and have really maintained the same stack height in each of these. They both have 29 millimeters in the heel and 24 in the forefoot for a 5-millimeter offset from the heel to the toe.
They still are using that compression-molded EVA foam although they did reformulate the foam for the Hoka Clifton 8. Hoka states that the midsole material in the Clifton 8 is softer, lighter, and more responsive.
I used the thumb test to see just how much resistance there is in both shoes. With the Clifton 7, I found there is a fair amount of resistance.
Doing the same thumb test in the same spot on the midsole, I found the Clifton 8 to be way softer. It’s easy to tell when you’re using your thumbs to compress that material.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to feel more cushioned when you’re out running because that has not been my experience so far in these shoes and here’s why…
What I think is happening is because the midsole material on the Clifton 8 is softer, it compresses a little easier and a little faster so you kind of get to the ground contact a little quicker and you feel it more underfoot. And because you feel that ground contact, the shoe doesn’t feel quite as plush as you do in the Hoka Clifton 7.
It doesn’t mean that it’s an uncomfortable ride because it’s not. I enjoy the Clifton 8 and I think it’s a quick shoe. I do find that midsole material to be soft and to be responsive so I think it lives up to Hoka’s description. But, again, it also doesn’t necessarily translate into being more plush on foot.
In terms of the geometry of each of these, both the Clifton 7 and 8 maintain that nice heel bevel and they each have that early-stage meta rocker that Hoka is so well known for.
But the big change that they made here has to do with the width of the landing platform.
The Hoka Clifton 7 has a pretty wide landing platform up in the forefoot, but it maintains that width through to the midsection all the way through to the heel of the shoe.
With the Clifton 8, Hoka tweaked the landing platform a little bit. The shoe still has a nice wide landing forefoot area, but it gets more narrow in the midsection of the shoe, and it does stay more narrow in the heel as well.
Again, with this updated design, it’s now a little bit more snug across the midfoot section and so the upper material feels like it just wraps your foot more like a burrito rather than draping over it like it does feel more like in the Clifton 7.
Let’s compare the outsoles…
The Clifton 7 has got plenty of blown rubber. It starts in the heel in the high-abrasion areas. The bottom does have a fair amount of that EVA foam that’s left exposed in the midsection of the shoe, but then the shoe has got plenty up in the forefoot all the way through to your toe-off, which gives it a little bit of extra durability to help protect that soft EVA foam.
Also, you’ll notice that the Clifton 7 has a couple of grooves and that can add a little bit of a trampoline effect to your run experience. The other thing that I want to point out is that these flex grooves run pretty much across the shoe.
The Clifton 8 still has lots of blown rubber in the forefoot and in that heel area, but there’s less exposed EVA foam in the midsection of the shoe.
I think that that’s important in this case because they did reformulate this to make it a little bit softer so we don’t want to have it chewed up prematurely. I think it’s important that they do protect that EVA foam with that outsole rubber.
The rubber comes down a little bit further into the midsection of the shoe. So, I think that’s a good change that they made there.
I also want to point out that the decoupled groove they have down in the center starts a little bit further back in the heel and it runs all the way up through to the midsection of the shoe.
The reason I point that out is because it gives you kind of a squishy feeling in the heel and it’s noticeably different than in the Hoka Clifton 7.
Also, I want to point out that the flex grooves no longer run across the shoe, but they run more on a diagonal. I think that that’s a nice change, at least for me. But why?
Typically, when I toe off, my foot rolls outward and so now these flex grooves line up with how my foot is actually leaving the ground or moving through its gait cycle.
So, I think it makes it just a little bit more natural underfoot. I do feel this new landing platform setup gives me a little bit more ground contact with those flex grooves helping me move through the gait cycle a little less inhibited, which is a really nice feeling.
Walking In The Cliftons
The best thing about these Hokas is that they’re also great for walking. Not everyone who reads these running shoe reviews is buying shoes to necessarily run in them, but I know a lot of people are wondering if these Hokas are good to walk in because there’s many of us who have occupations where we’re on our feet all day.
I think if you’re walking, you are going to be striking the ground with your heel and moving through to your toe, which is just a natural gait for a walker.
So, I think you’re going to find that the Clifton 7 or 8 are a little bit more comfortable that way just because there’s more give and a little bit more cushion in that heel.
Get The 7 Or Upgrade To The 8?
Both of these everyday trainers perform really well and I don’t think you’d be disappointed if you picked up either one.
If you have the Hoka Clifton 7 and you’re trying to decide if you want to move up to the Clifton 8, hopefully, this will help make some of those decisions a little easier for you.
The Clifton 8 does have a softer midsole material, it is a little bit more responsive in my opinion, and I also feel like I’ve got a little bit more ground contact. However, it’s not quite as plush a feeling in terms of your ride.
Also, if you’re a heel striker, I think you have a little bit of an advantage thanks to that groove back in the heel section all the way up to the midfoot. And with the softer EVA foam underfoot, this heel just feels like it’s a little bit more squishy.
So, if that’s where you’re striking the ground, I think you’re going to get a little bit more of a comfortable feeling in both Hoka Cliftons.
So, for me, it was worth updating to the Hoka Clifton 8.
- I like the changes that they made to the upper.
- I like the fact that I can get a more secure lockdown feeling across the midfoot section.
- I like how the diagonal flex grooves help make me move through my gait cycle just a little bit more naturally.
- I enjoy the reformulation of that midsole material.
I know this last point is fairly subtle, but it does give me a little bit more of a ground contact feeling while still having plenty of cushion to keep me comfortable when I’m out running.
Thanks for making it to the end of this Hoka Clifton 7 vs 8 comparison. I hope you’ve learned something new from my experience and see you on the next one.