Hoka Clifton 8 vs. 9: Are the Extra Bucks a Leap Forward or Just a Jump?


Now that I have enough mileage in both shoes, it’s high time I put the Hoka Clifton 8 vs. 9.

The Hoka Clifton series has long been a staple for runners, known for its exceptional comfort and performance.

Now, let’s delve into a meticulous comparison, dissecting the midsole, outsole, and upper of the Clifton 9 to uncover how it stacks up against its predecessor.

I’m putting the spotlight on the Clifton 8 and its successor, highlighting the subtle nuances that define the running experience and ultimately, determine which iteration takes the crown in this comparison.

Curious how the Clifton 8 compares to the Clifton 7? Give that a read as well!

Hoka Clifton 8 vs. 9

The Clifton 9 may seem like déjà vu with its resemblance to the Clifton 8, but don’t be fooled – this is a different shoe. Slipping my feet into the Clifton 9, there was an undeniable sense of smoothness that caught my attention right away.

Hoka, true to form, has been playing with geometries, and with the Clifton 9, I believe we’re witnessing the preservation of that reliable essence seen in its predecessors.

Yet, there’s an undercurrent of evolution, a subtle refinement that adds an extra layer of innovation to the Clifton lineage.

Reflecting on the Clifton 6, 7, and 8, while they offered a plush underfoot experience, there was a missing spark, a pop that left something to be desired. The series was good for recovery days, but I often found myself reaching for the Hoka Mach when craving that extra pop.

Now, with the Clifton 9, there’s a noticeable uptick in responsiveness. It’s as if Hoka has injected a dose of energy into the design, making it a promising contender for racking up the miles.

Let’s delve into the stats to break down the nitty-gritty details…


Stack Height, Weight

The Clifton 9 takes a step up, quite literally, with a three-millimeter increase over the Hoka Clifton 8, now boasting 32 millimeters in the heel and 27 millimeters in the front, maintaining that familiar 5mm drop.

As a funny side note, the Clifton 9 is only one millimeter shy of the ultra-max-cushioned Bondi 8.

Speaking of the Bondi, the contrast between the Bondi and Clifton is noteworthy. The Clifton, despite its minimal ounce difference, is a full ounce lighter than the Bondi 8.

This disparity is not just about numbers; the Clifton has a less bulky midsole, making it more nimble and versatile, which is a trait that sets it apart.

Here’s a detailed comparison of the Hoka Bondi vs. Hoka Clifton. Be sure to give it a read.

In terms of weight, this is a crucial factor for many runners. Hoka claims that the Clifton 9 is lighter than its predecessor, but my scale seems to have a different perspective.

My men’s size 9 Clifton 9 weighed in at 9.0 oz, while the Clifton 8, surprisingly, tipped the scale at a marginally lighter 8.9 oz. Perhaps it’s a quirk of my scale, but facts are facts.

However, I will say that the Clifton 9 does feel light underfoot largely in part to this nice midsole, which brings us to the beating heart of any running shoe…




The beating heart of the Clifton series remains the compression-molded EVA foam in the midsole. While some may be hoping for an entirely new foam, Hoka has subtly tweaked this familiar EVA, making it:

  • A tad lighter,
  • A smidge more bouncy,
  • A bit squishier,
  • A touch more responsive.

It’s like they took the essence of the Clifton 3, known for its plush feel with a hint of response, and injected it into the Clifton 9.

I must admit, I was personally anticipating something like Profly+, a dual-density setup, or a more avant-garde approach beyond the compression-molded EVA.

Here’s to hoping that Hoka pulls out all the stops and surprises us with a groundbreaking foam in future iterations, like the Bondi 9 or Clifton 10. Fingers crossed for innovation!

Doing the squeeze or the pinch test, the Clifton 9 midsole felt noticeably softer than its predecessor, the Clifton 8, despite Hoka claiming they share the same durometer. It’s an interesting nuance that might contribute to the improved underfoot feel.

As for the rocker, the Clifton 9 maintains the early-stage meta rocker, a feature designed to propel you forward, ensuring a smooth transition and perhaps nudging you to pick up the pace.


Midsole Durability

When it comes to durability, I believe the midsole of the Clifton 9 is likely to deliver the typical lifespan we’ve come to expect from the Clifton series.

Despite the incorporation of a newer compound in the CMEVA foam, my estimation would be in the range of 350 to 400 miles before it begins to exhibit signs of flattening and losing some of its initial liveliness.

This aligns with the longevity characteristic of the Clifton line, reassuring runners with a sense of what to anticipate in terms of wear and tear over the course of their mileage.



Even though the midsole did get slightly softer, I would still categorize the Clifton 9 as a relatively stable neutral shoe. Hoka has managed to strike a balance that retains the shoe’s neutral classification while introducing subtle enhancements.

Speaking of versatility, it’s worth noting that Hoka offers a stability version of the Clifton known as the Arahi which comes with their H-Frame stability system.

For more details, be sure to check our comparison of the Hoka Clifton vs. Hoka Arahi.

Now, what makes the Clifton 9 relatively stable? There are a couple of factors at play. The flat-waisted geometry through the midfoot provides a stable foundation, offering a large surface area for landing.

Additionally, the Clifton 9 doesn’t lean towards being overly flexible, contributing to a supportive frame that lends stability during your runs.

These characteristics collectively position the Clifton 9 as a dependable choice for runners seeking both comfort and stability in their neutral shoe.



The Clifton 9 has a stripped-back engineered knit material with a subtle synthetic feel. This design choice imparts a touch more structure to the upper, a departure from the Clifton 8‘s fabric-like feel and slightly looser construction.

The nuanced adjustments in the material not only enhance the overall structure but also contribute to the Clifton 9’s aesthetic and functional evolution.

Let’s talk fit…




The Clifton 9 fits true to size, even with the added room in the toe box and midfoot. The fit experience diverges from its predecessor, the Clifton 8, and for the better.

The Clifton 9 doesn’t feel as tight as I felt with the 8, a snugness that wasn’t a result of overly tight laces but rather a characteristic of the shoe itself.

Moving to the toe box, the Clifton 9 feels slightly wider than the Clifton 8, allowing for a bit more freedom of movement. Despite not having wide feet, I find the Clifton 9 to be more accommodating in the toe box compared to its predecessor.

Moving up the shoe to the medial arch area, the Clifton 9 is more forgiving than the Clifton 8, offering a comfortable fit without sacrificing the noticeable arch support sensation that has become a hallmark of the Clifton series.

Speaking of the arch, it’s worth mentioning that the Clifton 9 still provides excellent lockdown despite feeling less tight and snug overall.

If your foot has a bit more volume, the Clifton 9 should accommodate it comfortably. And for those seeking even more room, the availability of a wide option in the Clifton 9 is a welcome addition, providing an extra dimension of choice for an optimal fit.



The tongue also got some solid changes. While still generously padded, it feels slightly less cushioned compared to its predecessor, the Clifton 8.

The Clifton 8 boasted a thick and dense tongue, and the subtle reduction in padding on the Clifton 9 could be a significant improvement for runners who prefer thinner tongues over puffier tongues.

Don’t get me wrong, the tongue on the Clifton 9 still maintains an excellent level of padding, ensuring ample protection for your foot against the pressure of the laces. It just strikes a balance, providing comfort without excess bulk.

It’s worth pointing out that there’s a change in the gusseting of the tongue. On the Clifton 9, the gusseting is on the medial side only compared to the Clifton 8 which featured gussets on both sides.


Surprisingly, I didn’t notice any issues during my runs. The tongue functioned seamlessly, and the level of padding left me content, showcasing that even subtle changes can enhance the overall experience without sacrificing comfort.



As for the lacing system of the Clifton 9, it looks pretty consistent with what we had on the Clifton 8. Those flat laces are still there, doing a good job of staying securely tied throughout your run. Plus, you’ve got that handy extra eyelet at the top, ready for action if you prefer the runner’s knot.

Yet, here’s a little heads-up about the upper and the laces:

The upper section, where the eyelets reside, comes a bit closer to your ankle. It’s a minor adjustment, but if your tongue isn’t perfectly positioned, there’s a chance of some slight irritation.

Now, the tongue is pulling its weight in keeping that discomfort at bay from your foot and ankle area. However, if it slides one way or the other, you might feel a bit of that annoying irritation. Just a little something to keep in mind as you gear up for your run.




Moving to the back of the shoe, the elf heel pull tab remains a staple, and it seems to have grown slightly larger. I’ve also noticed a bit more padding and cushioning in this area. Just like with the Clifton 8, the heel has proven to be remarkably comfortable, and I’ve experienced no issues with rubbing.


In terms of the lockdown, in the Clifton 9, I’ve observed improvements for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my heel effortlessly slides further back into the heel counter, providing a more secure fit.


Additionally, the material used has a grippier texture, featuring a quilt-like pattern unlike the Clifton 8‘s silky smooth experience. This adjustment minimizes the chances of heel slippage, especially if you’re wearing the wrong kind of socks or if the fit isn’t just right.

Overall, in my experience, whether it’s the Clifton 9 or the Clifton 8, as long as you ensure those laces are well-tied, the heel remains securely snug in the heel cup, ensuring a hassle-free and comfortable running experience.



In terms of breathability, the Clifton has never been the most breathable shoe, but it’s certainly not the worst either. Interestingly, with the Clifton 9, there’s a noticeable improvement in breathability compared to its predecessor, the Clifton 8.

In my experience, running in temperatures ranging from 15 degrees up to 55, the Clifton 9 felt just right. I haven’t experienced any discomfort due to overheating or chilly feet.

It strikes a balance, providing adequate breathability while also managing to maintain a comfortable temperature in colder weather.




On the outsole, there’s a subtle but noteworthy tweak to the Clifton 9’s lug pattern and the rubber placement. Hoka has reportedly made the Durabrasion rubber on the Clifton 9 a bit more robust, aiming for enhanced durability.

Examining the zonal pods, you’ll notice a slight update in their shape, and there’s less exposure of the compression-molded EVA on the outsole.

This adjustment is likely geared towards increasing both the durability and traction of the Hoka Clifton 9, a move that aligns with the desire for a longer-lasting and more reliable running companion.

In terms of traction, my experience with the Clifton 9 echoed that of the Clifton 8 – they felt quite similar, and I found them to be satisfactory.

Dry pavement and paved trails posed no challenges, and I even took them on some gravel and dirt roads without encountering issues in dry conditions.

However, it’s worth noting that their performance took a hit on wet trails. I also tested them in a bit of snow and slush, and unfortunately, there was some slipping and sliding. So, while they excel in certain conditions, it’s wise to exercise caution in wet or slippery terrains.



Realistically, assessing the overall durability of the Clifton 9, my impression is that you’re likely to witness the midsole flattening out before experiencing significant wear on the rubber components.

The adjustments made, particularly with the more durable Durabrasion rubber and the redesigned lug pattern, seem geared towards extending the lifespan of the shoe and maintaining its performance over time.

While the outsole enhancements contribute to overall durability, the midsole’s resilience will likely play a key role in determining the Clifton 9’s longevity as a reliable running companion.


Run Test

The Clifton 9 stands tall as one of Hoka’s flagship daily trainers, and it’s not hard to see why. Despite being categorized as a neutral road running shoe, I’ve noticed a bit more rigidity than expected for a neutral shoe.

There’s a sweet spot here – a touch of comfort and plushness that makes those easy days and recovery runs an absolute delight. But what pleasantly surprised me is the versatility of the Clifton 9. It’s not just a laid-back cruiser; it can handle speed work pretty decently.

Now, let’s be clear, the Clifton is not the fastest shoe, but it definitely outpaces the Hoka Bondi 8. I’ve taken the 9 through fartleks and one-mile threshold testing on the treadmill, and I was genuinely honestly quite surprised by the snap it delivered.

So the magic happens when you combine that midsole foam with the early-stage meta rocker, creating a seamless heel-to-toe transition. The ride is just fantastic, and the Clifton 9 provides an exhilarating experience.

So, if you’re on the hunt for a single pair of shoes that can seamlessly transition from easy days to occasional speed work, the Clifton 9 could very well be your go-to choice.

It’s a versatile companion that brings comfort to recovery days and surprising snap to your faster-paced endeavors.



Speaking of the price tag, the Hoka Clifton 9 comes in at $145, marking a $5 increase from its predecessor, the Clifton 8. While this bump in price might give some pause, it’s essential to consider the potential enhancements and innovations that come with the Clifton 9. 

Evaluating the value against the investment, particularly in terms of comfort, performance, and durability, will ultimately determine if the Clifton 9 justifies the slight uptick in cost.

Where to buy Clifton 8 (not affiliate)
HokaDicks Sporting Goods
Where to buy Clifton 9 (not affiliate)
HokaRunning Warehouse


Hoka Clifton 8 vs. 9 – Which One I Like More?

So, if you’re trying to decide between the Hoka Clifton 8 and 9, let me spill the beans. I’m leaning towards the Clifton 9. Why?

Well, after putting both through the paces and sharing my detailed thoughts, the Clifton 9 won me over. The tweaks like the roomier toe box, better heel lockdown, and that noticeable arch support just hit the sweet spot.

Plus, that midsole – a bit softer, a bit bouncier – really resonated with my running style. Don’t get me wrong, the Clifton 8 is a champ, but the subtle upgrades in the 9 sealed the deal for me.

So, if you’re on the fence, my nod goes to the Clifton 9 for that winning combo of performance, comfort, and versatility.


Dive into the Hoka world with the Clifton 9 – a versatile gem that caters to faster paces, recovery days, and beyond. Not confined to just running, it’s a comfortable choice for those on their feet all day.

From my experience, the Clifton 9 offers an enjoyable ride, maintaining the Clifton essence with added bounce. Changes like an expanded toe box, improved heel lockdown, and less slick interior distinguish it from the Clifton 8.

Noteworthy is the introduction of noticeable arch support, a factor to consider if you’re not accustomed to it. The slightly softer and bouncier midsole, paired with the early-stage meta rocker, ensures a cushioned and smooth ride.

Looking forward, the potential for a supercritical bouncy foam in the Clifton 10 intrigues. For now, the Clifton 9 stands as a workhorse, excelling in various scenarios and capable of handling half marathons without fatigue.

While there are speedier options for dedicated speed work, the Clifton 9 proves itself more than capable. Tailored for easy recovery runs with occasional bursts of speed, it pairs well with shoes like the Hoka Rincon 3 or the Hoka Mach 5 in a rotation.

For those venturing into the plated world, the Rocket X2 is a great option.

Now, share your experiences. Have you tried the Clifton 9 or the Clifton 8? Your insights on the ride, upper, outsole, and more could offer valuable guidance for fellow runners navigating the vast world of running shoes.

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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