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Hoka One One Clifton Running Shoe Reviews: Clifton Edge vs Clifton 6 vs Clifton 4

Our takes on the latest iterations of Hoka’s popular cushioned running shoe

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Hoka Clifton Edge Review

While the Clifton 7 is a very minor update on the Clifton 6, Hoka has also released the Clifton Edge in 2020, which is a significant departure from the rest of the shoes in the line.

The most notable feature on the Edge is the extended heel of the shoe, which juts out behind you in order to provide a smoother transition from heel to toe, especially when running downhill. Apart from on descents, I didn’t really notice this addition to the shoe, but it certainly makes for a comfortable and stable ride when you are flying down hills.

However, the Edge doesn’t just bring an outlandish heel to the table – it’s also designed to be firmer and faster than the standard Clifton, with a new foam in the midsole. As with most Hoka shoes, the Edge is much lighter than you’d expect given the size, with my UK 9 weighing 257g, so on paper it looks like a solid all-rounder that will perform well for both easy and faster running.

In practice, it didn’t excel in either type of run. It’s not as soft and luxurious for easy runs as the normal Clifton, and the Edge didn’t feel light and smooth on tempo runs either: the wide base and long heel seemed to extend my ground contact time and make picking up my feet that bit harder.

While I did enjoy using it for long runs at a steady pace, the Edge falls in between useful categories as a shoe, being neither enjoyably soft or reliably quick. The exposed foam on the outsole keeps the weight down but casts doubts on its durability – my pair showed quite a bit of wear on the heel after just 60km. If you want a soft shoe, the standard Clifton or Brooks’s Glycerin line are better bets, while Hoka’s Rincon is a genuine all-rounder that’s great to use for fast and slow running.

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Hoka Clifton 6 Review

Hoka Clifton 6 Review

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The Hoka One One Clifton line of low-offset running shoes attracted a dedicated fanbase from its first release by increasing the cushioning without adding too much weight. This is a shoe that people really love to run in and when I first tried out the Clifton 4 it didn’t take long for me to see why.

Both the Clifton 4 and 5 had a delightfully soft ride that made them an absolute treat to run in on easy and recovery days, with the cushioned feel of the shoe most obvious when running downhill.

The only criticism I had of those two editions of the Clifton was that while they were lightweight, the ultra-soft feel of the cushioning made them hard work to run faster in. They lacked the bounce that you find in more responsive cushioned options like the Saucony Triumph ISO 5 or Adidas UltraBoost 19.

The Clifton 6 was an improvement on that front, and the seventh edition of the shoe has done little to change the feel of the shoe, with only minor updates made to the upper. While the past two editions of the Cliftons are still soft, the ride feels smoother and more responsive, and I found it far easier to maintain a fast pace in the Clifton 6 compared with the 4 or 5. I even took it down to the track for some 800m reps, done a little slower than my 10K race pace, and it didn’t feel too spongy.

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It still wouldn’t be my first choice for track or tempo runs, where there are plenty of firmer, faster shoes that are preferable including the Hoka’s Mach 2, but the Clifton 6 is better suited to that kind of running than past editions while retaining the plush cushioning for long and easy runs.

The extra bounce in the 6 also makes it a stronger option for long races, especially once you hit marathon distance. The Clifton line has always had impressive durability, so it’s a great pick for someone seeking a maximum-cushioning shoe they can use for a long training schedule and then race day itself.

Hoka has also updated the upper on the Clifton 6, which is a softer, stretchier mesh than its predecessor. I found it comfortable, with enough room in the toe box and a secure enough fit around the midfoot. The shoe is true to size and in my experience it didn’t require breaking in.

The changes to the Clifton 6 haven’t altered the nature of the shoe – it’s still a soft, cushioned option that will make your easy running a joy – but the tinkering Hoka has done has made it better suited to faster running, making it more of an all-rounder. It’s my favourite of the three Clifton shoes I’ve tried.

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Hoka Clifton 4 Review

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The Hoka One One Clifton has starry-eyed advocates who describe its ride as “pillowy soft” or “like running on clouds”. This is a shoe that people really love to run in, and it only took me one outing in them to see why.

The Clifton 4 has added some weight compared with earlier iterations of the shoe – at 265g (men’s size 8), it’s about 30g heavier than the Clifton 3. However, it still feels almost disconcertingly light on the foot considering the amount of cushioning packed on the sole.

That extra weight is there for a reason, with the denser midsole expected to be more durable than on previous Cliftons, and the new upper more breathable and better-looking, especially in the blue/jasmine colourway.

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Importantly, the updates haven’t result in the Clifton losing the marshmallow ride it is famed for. It is hard to overstate how comfortable it is to run in this shoe, and due to the lightweight frame and creamy smooth heel-to-toe transition, the expansive cushioning doesn’t slow you down on everyday runs. I was regularly surprised by how quickly the mile notifications came around on easy runs in the Clifton – you simply don’t feel the road passing by under your feet in the same way as with other shoes.

While that’s a positive in terms of comfort, it’s a negative for those who like a more responsive shoe, especially during interval sessions or longer tempo runs. While the Clifton 4 is light enough for speedier sessions, the extra cushioning does result in a somewhat squishy feel, which hits the pace a little compared with tackling tempo efforts in a stiffer, less cushioned shoe.

If pace is not a great concern for you, the Clifton 4 is a superb all-round shoe that will carry you through all your training and races. You’ll love every step you take in them. And even if you keep a more responsive shoe in your arsenal for race day, the Clifton 4 is a great option for most training runs. It will certainly be the shoe I reach for on easy runs this winter.

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.