Sunday, June 09, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE Clifton 6 Multi Tester Review: A New Softer Upper and Slightly Softer Midsole the Headlines

Article by Hope Wilkes, Derek Li, and Sam Winebaum

Hoka One One Clifton 6 ($130)
Sam: The Clifton is the shoe that put Hoka on the “road map” more than any other. The original was a very light 7.7 oz with the same and current 29 mm heel and 24mm forefoot stack, had tons of bouncy soft energy, was notably unstable for me at the heel, very fast but not for me for longer runs as a bit hard to tame and unstable at the heel.

Over the versions Hoka has adjusted the formula to get more life out of the shoe and make it a touch more stable and longer lasting. Changes in rubber configuration, somewhat firmer versions then softer then firmer, different uppers with each and every version controversial when compared to the original groundbreaking version 1, some preferring others not.
The Clifton 6 returns to a somewhat softer midsole, rearranges the front outsole and midsole geometry for a softer smoother transition, adds a soft pliable engineered mesh upper and loses a full ounce, 28 g of weight to come in about 8.9 oz / 252 g. Not the 7.7 oz of the original but notably lighter. If you want a lighter feel with the same stack and a touch firmer ride look to the new Rincon (RTR Review) which comes in July at an amazing 7.1 oz / 201 g. For hard core fans of the original Clifton 1 it is likely the more logical successor if its minimal more unstructured upper works for you,

Hope: There are two models that I’ve inducted into my personal running shoe hall of fame: the OG Clifton and the OG Fresh Foam Zante. 2014 was a watershed year for great shoes! The OG Clifton was my shoe of choice for the marathon distance and for my first 50-mile race. They were so light and comfortable I almost suspected witchcraft. I could tell that the first update changed a lot that I loved about the shoe, so I’ve stayed away from the Clifton since the OG version. I still have three pairs from the original release (not the recent re-issue) in my closet. Given how militant I have to be about donating old shoes to save storage space in my apartment, that’s a testament to how much I love the OG Clifton.
I’m making a point to explain my love for the OG Clifton because I really, really don’t love the Clifton 6 and I need you to understand that I’m not a Hoka hater. Nor am I some sort of edgelord who delights in ripping a shoe that’s likely to be a best-seller no matter what I say. I’ve given rave reviews for other 2019 models because I felt those shoes were great. By the same token, my less positive comments here are thoughtful and genuine.
Hope: Forgiving yet still responsive cushioning, rockered shape encourages speedy turnover, simple good looks
Derek and Sam: High Volume Fit. Very comfortable upper.
Sam: weight loss of 1 oz. / 28 g gets the Clifton back into a strong weight to cushion ratio
Hope:“bucket seat” midsole sidewalls, very little flexibility, decorative stitching that isn’t taped on the interior
Derek: Firmer ride than I would like for a Clifton.
Sam: Stiffer and more ponderous than the lighter by 1.5 oz Rincon

Tester Profiles
Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

Estimated Weight US 9 men’s: 8.9 oz / 252 g
US M8.5: 8.6 oz / 245 g
US M8: 8.15 oz / 231 g
US W9.5: 8.61 oz / 244 g
Clifton 5: 9.6 oz / 271 g (US M 8.5)
Available in Wides
$130. Available June 2019

First Impressions and Fit
Derek: The last pair of Cliftons I put considerable miles in were the Clifton 3’s, though I did recently break out a fresh pair of Clifton 1’s I had saved from 2014. With that in mind, I find the latest upper on the v6 to be extremely luxurious compared to previous versions I’ve tried, where the upper was either quite basic or on the plasticky side. The engineered mesh here has an almost silky feel to it, that makes me want to go sockless in the shoe. Fit is true to size for me. Toe box volume is generous, with the mid foot being a little snug before opening up to a higher volume heel.

Sam: When first trying on there was some slight mid foot arch pressure I assume from where the sockliner meet as is often the case with new and stiff out of the box Hoka. After a few miles this went away. 
At my true to size, and comparing to the Clifton 5 on a side by side on each foot run, there is considerably more volume front to back compared to C5. This is largely to the soft C6 upper material and more minimal mid foot towards rear hold of the new embroidered stitching support. The toe box is more generous and easy fitting due to the softer more stretch upper and the more pliable less extensive toe bumper. As stated above the fit is generous, almost too generous from lace up back to heel for my narrower right foot and just about right for my wider left foot. My ideal fit would be rear of C5 and front of C6, made a touch less stretchy there.
The look is very sharp the Nebulus Blue upper contrasting well , but not clashing, with the Lemon Yellow midsole,
Hope: These are some of the best looking Hokas I’ve seen. I received the men’s Nebulas Blue / Lemon colorway (big Boston vibes and I wore them on Patriots’ Day when cheering from afar) and the women’s Plein Air / Moonlight Blue (a light blue ombre) colorway. The engineered mesh is simple and classy; none of the usual flashy overlays that have made past Hoka models less than aesthetically pleasing. The men’s 8 fits me perfectly with about a thumb’s width of room between the end of my big toe and the end of the shoe. The women’s 9.5 is a touch too long with maybe 1.5 thumb’s widths (say that three times fast!) between my big toe and the end of the shoe. Practically no adjustment required to achieve a good fit – just pull the laces moderately snug and these are good to go.
Sam: The Clifton also makes a great walking shoe. My 89 year old mother in law from Switzerland is also rocking a pair. A former mountain runner and long distance cyclist she walks about 10,000 steps per day. For her birthday we got her a pair in wide at Marathon Sports at the Boston Marathon finish line. 

Sam: The upper is a soft engineered mesh, far softer and more pliable than the dense and a bit rough Clifton 5's upper.
Midfoot support is provided by stitched in embroidered threads recalling the effective woven in Kevlar threads in the trail EVO Mafate. Here the upper is softer and more pliable and the foot hold form the stitching, as there are no overlays or underlays while adequate is not as secure as it could be for me.
The Clifton 6  has a softer less extensive toe bumper than Clifton 5 whose toe bumper is not only longer but covers more over the toes. There is clearly more foot splay room in the Clifton 6 as the upper is stretchier and more pliable up front if a touch less secure. I noticed unlike the Clifton 5 I can wiggle my toes upwards in the 6 on the run, not necessarily a good thing. 
The achilles and heel collars are slightly lower and more relaxed in the Clifton 6. Yes ,more comfortable but I miss the more locked down rear hold of the Clifton 5.
Derek: I like the new upper. It breathes quite well and has that semi-elastic feel that hugs the foot when you tighten up the laces, something which the early versions of Clifton seemed to lack. 
Overall shoe volume is on the higher side, and I think it’s fair to say the old toebox issues are a thing of the past.

Hope: The engineered mesh feels relaxed over the toes and more supportive through the midfoot. I’m baffled as to why Hoka opted for stitching through the midfoot. The stiff thread used here also faces the interior of the shoe and it is not taped down to create a smooth surface. That alone makes this shoe unfriendly for sockless running (not that I run without socks, but others do), and it seems to have been an aesthetic choice rather than a functional one. Because the stitching doesn’t form a truly continuous line, if it lends support, it’s not noticeable. I’d rather see a welded overlay here so the interior of the shoe isn’t plagued by a rough surface.

More bad news: the upper feels narrow. I have what I’d consider a normal width foot: I’m equally comfortable in a men’s D width and a women’s B. The Clifton 6 doesn’t exactly feel tight through the midfoot because the mesh is soft and airy, but it feels narrow. I have a theory about this: shoes with tall stack heights succeed when they bump up stability by including a wide platform. To keep weight down, Hoka has made the platform width the same from heel to toe (forgoing a traditionally sculpted arch), but its widest point isn’t necessarily much wider than that of an average running shoe. It feels wider than average because the upper is narrow.
I don’t hate the narrow upper from a performance perspective, but if you think the Clifton 6 is wide because it has a beefy sole, you’re in for a surprise.

One last thing: I also noted that the Clifton 6 branding is tiny and almost illegible. It seems smudged and it’s rendered in the same color as the upper. Hopefully this is fixed on production pairs.

From Hoka describing characteristics of the midsole foam
  • (Soft) Clifton 6 uses our universal foam that is in shoes like the Bondi, Arahi, Challenger. Soft, but also balances durability and resilience.

Sam: The midsole foam is a full compression EVA. It is softer to pressing than C5’s and also softer on the run, although not dramatically so. The midsole is not quite as soft from recollection as the C1’s but does provide a nice bouncy yet stable ( a big issue for me with C1 at the heel) feel. The front grooves and outsole geometry is modified from C5 and I notice an easier more “flexible” feeling transition and toe off with a touch more sense of road feel. This said the midsole feel and flex does not compare with the 1.5 oz lighter same stack height Rincon (RTR Review) which to boot is also in a first as far as I can recall actually a flexible big stack Hoka. Bouncier and more lively a small touch firmer the Rincon has very well executed decoupling and although more minimal in coverage outsole that just moves it along more lively and also more enjoyably than the Clifton 6. Think performance feel in Rincon, denser trainer feel in Clifton 6.

Derek: I agree with Sam. The midsole, while still soft, still pales in comparison to the C1. I did a few runs with one foot in each shoe and the C1 is still noticeably softer and bouncier. Having said that, the C6 has less ground feel courtesy of the denser foam.

Hope: I really wanted to like the midsole. It feels like a slightly denser version of the foam used in the OG Clifton. So more on the airy side of things than the rubbery side, but with more body to it so I didn’t get the feeling of “running through” the shoe after several miles (during the final miles of a marathon in the OG Clifton the shoe’s midsole foam felt maddeningly unsupportive). I won’t get too much into the performance characteristics of the foam since that’ll be covered in the Ride section. Suffice to say that it’s soft and light.

I wish I could leave it at that. But Hoka employed their signature “bucket seat” design (officially called Active Foot Frame) that has foam midsole walls extending up the upper to enhance the fit and supportiveness of the shoe. 

I think it was mistake to use what feels like a firmer midsole compound for this treatment. I felt the midsole walls biting into my feet as soon as I put the shoes on and I knew I was going to rack up some righteous blisters during testing. My arches are on the high side of what’s probably considered a normal arch. (The water test shows contact between my forefoot and heel, but it’s somewhat less than half of my arch.) Between the unrelenting pressure of the midfoot sidewalls on my arches and the sharp edges of the thin Ortholite sockliner, each step in the Clifton 6 hurt. I experienced this issue in the men’s 8 and women’s 9.5 (it took a lot of guts to keep testing these!). I’m considering taking a knife to the shoe to cut out a ~3” section of the extended midsole to see if that gives me any relief. This flaw makes the shoe unrunnable for me without modification.

The arch-destroying Clayton is not that far in the past, so I’m a bit surprised that Hoka employed such an aggressive Active Foot Frame design in the Clifton 6.

Sam: The full contact outsole features an array of high abrasion rubber zones with exposed midsole elsewhere.
The Clifton 5 had a somewhat fuller, thicker heel rubber coverage and a deeper rear cavity.
I found when midsole and outsole changes are combined that the Clifton 6 is slightly softer, transitions more smoothly and also had a touch more road feel than the Clifton 5. The differences are slight and detected when running with each, one on each foot.
Watch Sam's A/B Test Clifton 5 vs, Clifton 6  video

Derek: It’s still too early to say but the rubber coverage on the C6 seems more durable than previous years. I had outsole rubber wear on earlier Cliftons as early as 30 miles in, especially at the heel, but so far the C6 rubber is holding up quite well.

Hope: This seems like pretty standard fare from Hoka. Grip was good for me in both wet and dry conditions. Durability seems kind of sketchy (I burned through the OG Clifton’s outsole rubber quickly too and like Derek, I noted accelerated wear at the heels), but will probably end up being adequate. Some rubber compounds seem to wear quickly at first then hold up well towards the middle and end of their lives. It was my impression that the OG Clifton’s outsole was like that and the Clifton 6’s outsole seems similar. The thickness and placement of the rubber allows for about as much flexibility as can be expected from a maximal shoe.


Derek: The ride has not changed dramatically from the C3 (the last Clifton I used) for me. It still feels a little more sluggish compared to the C1, especially when I try to pick up the pace to sub 7:40/mile. Is is a smooth steady state trainer. It is very comfortable at easy paces but doesn’t seem particularly happy with sudden pace changes. I also feel more stable in the C6, mainly because the new upper allows me to get away with higher pace tensions and generate a more secure overall foot wrap, but the overall underfoot feel is more of “familiar” than “groundbreaking”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Clifton has its share of loyal fans and I can understand that Hoka doesn’t want to rock the boat too much. Any radical changes to the ride will be (and rightfully should be) left to newer models like the Rincon.

I did notice that Hoka supplied a thicker Ortholite sockliner than usual for the C6 and that may have contributed to a ride that is more muted than lively. Ortholite insoles have a way of moderating the ride of a shoe. 

As with previous Cliftons, the shoe seems to perform best at recover or easy paces, and does an excellent job of absorbing the harshness from the ground. Compared to current offerings from other brands (e.g. NB Beacon, Skechers GoRun Ultra), I think the Clifton still holds its own in terms of what it does best - soft predictable maximalist cushioning (that doesn’t weigh a ton).

Hope: The ride is the best thing about the shoe. It’s so good I’m frankly kind of annoyed about it because the chafing issues make this shoe a no-go for me and it otherwise runs really well. The Clifton 6 is smooth! Its gently rockered sole kept me rolling along at a good clip even on tired legs. Hoka has managed to achieve with the Clifton 6 what they didn’t achieve in the OG Clifton: softness that remains responsive. 

I don’t mean to suggest that the Clifton 6 is bouncy or returning a ton of energy from each stride. Rather, they allowed me to feel surprisingly connected to the ground even with maximal stack height. That much foam underfoot can have an unpleasant insulating effect. I’ll use a $5-dollar word to explain what I mean: I value proprioception, an awareness of where my body is positioned in space. Having suffered an ankle injury that required extensive rehab and that comes back to haunt me every so often, I want to really feel it when my foot hits the ground and I want to be able to sense something about the surface. Is it smooth? Is it off-camber? Is there a large piece of gravel that could cause me to slide? I don’t want to abuse my feet with paper-thin shoes (not yucking anybody’s minimalist yums: my preference is to sense everything, but not necessarily feel everything), so I appreciate conventional shoes that can keep me in touch with the road or trail surface. A maximal shoe that can do that is even more rare, but I found that in the Clifton 6.

Sam: No big changes in ride from its predecessor here. You get a maximal cushion ride at a light weight which is a touch softer and transitions a bit better. It is not a particularly exciting ride, as the new same stack much lighter sibling the Rincon has, but as Hope says the gentle rocker keeps things rolling along if a too bit stiffly for me. Much more trainer than racer or up tempo in ride feel,  it has considerably more underfoot stability than the original Clifton 1 a shoe I only used for faster shorter training runs as a result of its  heel instability and softness.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Derek: t’s a solid upper update which scores very high in the comfort department. However, let’s just say if this were an Altra model, it would be the Clifton 5.5 rather than the Clifton 6. I just didn’t feel any big changes to the overall ride of the shoe, it maybe marginally smoother, and more durable, but not something that is immediately noticeable when you run in them the first time.
Derek Score: 9/10
-1.0 for lack of wow factor for want of a better word. I

Hope: I can’t in good faith recommend these. If you have a different foot type than I do, and you have enjoyed previous versions of the Clifton (especially recent versions that likely have more in common with this update than the OG Clifton did), you should take these for a spin on the treadmill at your local running store. For instance, flatter feet might not be susceptible to the same arch irritation. The ride is excellent, but that’s totally undone for me by the blistering caused by the high midsole walls.
Hope’s Score: 4.7/10
-.1 for too short laces
-.1 for rough midfoot stitching
-.1 for sharp insole edges
-5.0 for brutal bite of the midfoot foam into my arches

Sam: It's a Clifton for sure but as times have moved on to lighter, faster, very well cushioned trainers Clifton has drifted towards more substance, firmer, and less exciting to run. With the Clifton 6,Hoka has improved upper comfort for sure but maybe less so hold. Lighter, lightly softer and easier to transition it is for me a slight improvement over the Clifton 5. If you want similar cushion stack in a lighter faster shoe look to the upcoming Rincon, reserving the Clifton for more moderate training days. Exactly as Hoka intends from what we understand.
Sam's Score: 9.3 /10
-0.5 for dull: transitions, ride and stiffness. If Rincon can flex why can't Clifton?
-0.2 for mid foot upper support. More embroidery stitching, a different approach?


Clifton 1 (RTR Review)
Derek: C6 feels firmer and higher off the ground. C6 also feels less bouncy though there is less ground feel compared to C1. Still early but C6 outsole seems more durable. I think heavier runners would enjoy the C6 more.
Hope: OG Clifton is more comfortable, but less supportive than the Clifton 6. Fix the midsole irritation issue and I might choose it as the superior shoe, but as it stands now, OG Clifton all the way.

Clifton 3
Derek: C3 and C6 have very similar rides. C6 has the higher shoe volume and marginally wider toebox. C6 upper is also more luxurious and stretchy compared to C3.

Hoka Mach (RTR Review)
Hope: The Mach has a much firmer ride than the C6. I prefer the cushioning of the C6’s midsole foam. Hard choice here as I’m disinclined to choose a shoe that gave me blisters over one that didn’t, but I think that provided the C6 design works for your foot, you’ll get more enjoyment out of the C6.

Hoka Mach 2 (RTR Review)
Derek: C6 definitely more cushioned and softer. Mach 2 notably harsher when comparing the two. Toe box volume is similar but they are essentially very different shoes, with the Mach 2 more of a medium-uptempo pace shoe.
Sam: Concur with Derek here. Mach is also stiff as Clifton is and harsher plus stiff (Mach) is not as pleasant a daily training experience as softer and stiff (Clifton)

Hoka One One Rincon (RTR Review)
Sam: The upcoming (July 2019) Rincon is much more like the original Clifton 1 in run feel (somewhat firmer but with bounce) and weight than the Clifton 6. It shares the same stack height with the Clifton 6 but is more flexible, has a much smoother transition and is lighter by a half an ounce than C1 and is a full 1.5 oz lighter than the Clifton 6. Hands down Rincon. This said if you are seeking a more trainer feel in a light Hoka consider Clifton 6.

Skechers Performance GOrun Ride 7 (RTR Review)
Derek: the GRR7 is a softer and bouncier shoe, but also noticeably less stable. The softness of the GRR7 sometimes works against it as transitions feel a bit more sluggish at slower paces. The Clifton provides more cushioning, feels higher off the ground and has more vibration dampening by comparison. If you want something lively and bouncy go with the GRR7. If you want something with more cushioning for slower miles, I would go with the C6.

Skechers Performance Ultra Road 3
Derek: This is a tough one. I prefer the fit of the C6 but the underfoot bouncy cushioned feel of the Ultra Road 3. I think overall, the Skechers is a better and more fun show to run in, and is more versatile over a wider range of paces. It is also lighter than the C6.
Sam: Concur with Derek.

Reebok Forever Floatride Energy (RTR Review)
Derek: the Floatride Energy represents phenomenal value and I think currently only the Skechers GRR7 comes close at this price point. The Energy is a noticeably firmer more stable ride, but also less flexible through the forefoot. I would consider the Energy a closer cousin to eg Hoka Mach 2 than Clifton.

Saucony Kinvara 10 (RTR Review)
Hope: Not a great comparison except perhaps in terms of weight. The K10 is an uptempo trainer with a firmer ride that remains forgiving. I can’t ever see myself at a crossroads where I’m choosing between the K10 or the C6 for the same activity, but I’d choose the K10 for its superior upper and versatility. Leaving aside the arch irritation I dealt with from the C6, some runners might prefer the C6 over the K10 for recovery efforts.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR Review)
Derek: the C6 is softer and more cushioned than the Beacon but otherwise both shoes have fairly similar rides. I think if people like the Beacon but want something a little thicker for longer stuff, the C6 would fit the bill perfectly.
Hope: The Beacon is snappier and far more comfortable for me. I don’t think of it as a maximal shoe, but it is well-cushioned. If you’ve been in maximal shoes and you want to transition into more traditional running shoes, the Beacon is probably a great choice as it’s a step down in stack height and has go-fast in its genes from the Fresh Foam.
Sam: More pleasant and fun to run the snappy Beacon is not as cushioned as Clifton and is more a tempo than distance shoe for me when compared. I prefer the Beacon upper although it runs a bit short compared to Clifton for me,

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v9 (RTR Review)
Derek: The 1080v9 is a firmer ride but also transitions faster because of the firmer rockered shape. The C6 is an overall softer shoe that works better for slower paces. The 1080 actually beats me up a bit at slower paces.
Hope: The 1080v9 is so fast for a shoe with a traditional trainer build. It’s not as forgiving as the C6, so I’d only choose the C6 if the focus was recovery miles. Otherwise the 1080v9 is the superior shoe.
Sam: the 1080v9 is a faster daily trainer and as Derek says not quite as suitable for recovery runs as the Clifton 6. Overall 1080v9 is a better all around single daily trainer choice for me,

New Balance Fresh Foam More (RTR Review)
Hope: The FFM is faster and feels lighter on foot. If you’re looking for squish, pick the C6, but for the ability to run comfortably at a range of paces, I’d recommend the FFM.
Sam: Beating the Clifton by 1mm in stack the More is considerably heavier, firmer and yet stiffer with a relatively shock free faster ride. It suffers from an overly voluminous harder to fit upper. Slight nod to Clifton overall.

Salming Greyhound (RTR Review)
Hope: The Greyhound is a strange shoe. It’s positioned as an uptempo trainer, but it has a cumbersome upper and a marshmallowy ride. That said, I like it a lot, just not for its intended purpose. The thick application of Vibram rubber paired with the Recoil PLUS midsole makes the Greyhound feel very comfortable underfoot for recovery runs. Both shoes are smooth. The bouncy midsole and outsole combination of the Greyhound might be just a little bit more special, but I prefer the upper and Metarocker sole design of the C6. If both work for your feet and money is no object (the Greyhound retails for a spendy $155 vs. $130 for the C6), flip a coin. Otherwise I’d pick the cheaper C6.
Sam: Agree with Hope that the Greyhound's soft, bouncy ride over firmer full coverage Vibram makes a great recovery ride, if the voluminous non elastic and stiff upper fits you. The Greyhound's Vibram outsole should outlast the Clifton's and while not sure yet I think its midsole will too.
The Clifton 6 releases June 2019
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Anonymous said...

Hi Sam.
how do you sustaining the quality of the 3 pairs OG Clifton since it's in your closet for quite a long time ?
doesn't the midsole deteriorating (not as soft as new bought) after more than a year ?

appreciate your kind feedback.


Derek Li said...

Hi Danny
Generally I’ve found the newer generation of shoes to last quite well. I have many shoes from 2013/2014 that I still pull out to use once in a while and the ride characteristics are mostly well preserved. If it’s a new shoe that you kept in the box for years, the first few miles may feel like the shoe is a bit stiff, but it breaks in quite fast. I don’t do anything special to preserve the shoes. Just keep in a cool dry cupboard.

Anonymous said...

Hi Derek
Thanks for your feedback.


Mark said...

Thanks so much for the review! Any idea on how the ride of the Clifton 6 compares to the Saucony Triumph ISO 5? I currently run in the Triumph and would like something a little softer. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

They make a wide version. How about try that next time before complaining that a shoe didn't fit your arch, and then down scoring it because it didn't fit your foot. Should I give all Nike shoes -5 for fit because they are narrow. Please use some actual common sense before reviewing another pair of shoes.

60 said...

The midfoot arch pressure is noticeable on the first few miles but as Sam said it goes away by mile 10. And the upper has ample room for splay and is super comfortable. Best Clifton since 1 and 3.

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks for the feedback Webman!

Yanuar said...

Hi Sam, very nice review. Would you mind to give me some advice? I have a big (heavy and fat) body but still want to exercise with simple walking dan small jogging also affraid to put too much pressure at my leg and ankle. I believe i have wide feet. I've read about Clifton 5 is good for heavy runner (the author is heavy runner also). Would you suggest me clifton 5 or clifton 6 or else?
Thank you, looking forward for your kind advice.

Grant Humphrey said...

Hi Sam,

Of the two models, namely, the Clifton 6 and the Challenger ATR 5, what would be the softer underfoot? Would the ATR 5 be better at speeds because of the secure upper,or is the more substantial outsole a hindrance on the road?

Kind Regards!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Grant,
I have not run Challenger ATR in several versions but from recollection and our review of the ATR 5 I would say about equal cushioning softness. They were great on the road and I preferred to Clifton 1 whose softness and big heel bevel I found very unstable, Clifton 6 improving in that department for sure, The ATR outsole should not be much of a hinderance as the lugs have high surface area contact but present. ATR is a far more versatile shoe as it is truly more all terrain than pure road as Clifton is. Both my daughter and brother who mix smoother trails and quite a bit of road pretty much exclusively run in Challenger ATR. Challenger ATR 5 review is here:
Sam, Editor

Grant Humphrey said...

Many thanks as always for the guidance!!

AlexJouJou said...

I just wanted to comment (based on another comment) that I did buy the wide in women's and I got blisters running in this one. I have a high arch, short toes, and high volume feet that tend towards wide (but do not always take a wide shoe - for example New Balance 890V6 and 880V9 were fine in regular but that brand runs a bit wider at the widest part of your foot).

The part where your feet "sit" in the shoe is my #1 issue with Hoka and it is an issue with most, if not all, of their shoes. Leaving aside that they are narrow. I loved the OG Clifton and went through multiple pairs and never had a single issue like this. Original Bondi had that sidewall type issue but the wides were wide enough for me. I haven't been able to wear Hoka for years w/o pain.

The wide is perfect except for how the foam is above the flat line. Not sure how to explain it better. Anything that pushes against the ball of my foot medially causes blisters. Full out stop. Did a 10 miler on Sunday and by mile 8 I could tell exactly where the blisters were going to be and it was a crying shame as I love the shoe.

I added an insole (OTC Carbon one) and I'm going to try and see if that helps because it worked well on another version of shoe to mitigate the issue. Everything else about this Clifton for me works great.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

Thanks for this and especially thank you for the breakdown of who the testers are - its really helpful to compare our own experience!

I'm looking for a new shoe for a long summer in Europe which will involve very light hiking (well marked trails) but carrying a backpack, a lot of road/cobblestone walking and just plain old standing in museums, etc. I'm in pretty good shape but I am not a runner (bad knees) so I ask this while reading a lot of your site content, but not as a runner.

I enjoy a wide toebox (especially long miles and hot days) - do you think the Clifton 6s would be good for me? I usually do my walks in the Adidas boost foam (not pureboost) and have used Nike Free before. I want something that really just "works" across all these, doesn't need to give me the most performance but just comfort and durability. Thank you!

New York

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Bill,
Thanks for asking about a good shoe for Europe hiking. The Clifton would not be my choice. We did a 13 day 200 mile hike across Switzerland with lots of pavement this spring and used the Hoka Toa light hiker. Far roomier toe box than usual Hoka and very roomy, sized down a half. See our gear and trip report here: Other options in Hoka would be the heavier duty Kaha which in retrospect despite massive looks would be a great choice for long days on smoother terrain. Review along with others I will mention at the link below. In Hoka the EVO Speedgoat and EVO Mafate 2 would also be good choices along with the new Speedgoat 4 which now will come in wide. Also consider Topo Mountain Racer, Ultraventure, and new higher top hiker. All Topo have a wide well held toe box. Altra Lone Peak in low and mid is a very popular choice for thru hikers on the AT, also wide toe box. Have a great trip!
Sam, Editor
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Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

HI and thank you for the very complete review.
I come from a Clifton 5 (with which I had problems with the narrow toebox, but not for its length). With Clifton 6, and its larger toebox, should I go with the same size or should I go for a half size down?
Thanks for the advice.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Stefano,
It is slightly wider but you might also try the wide version of Clifton 6 given length was OK
Sam, Editor

sortie said...

That firm midsole wall/active foot design! Is that the same as on the Bondi 6?

I bought the Bondi 6 and I was very surprised how "snug" and tight the shoes is just below the laces (on the outside). The Bondi 6 killed my ankles, and I eventually returned to a pair of Pegasus 35 as my go-to shoe.

I am very hesitant to try the C6, if its the same. Do you know?

Daniela said...


I bought the Clifton 6 yesterday and went for a run right away. I've experienced exactly what Hope described.
Something was pushing against my internal lateral arches causing a blister.

They run so smooth and plush.
This biting and blister outcome really is not what I had hoped for.

About my feet: I wear insoles for sagging transverse arch and I have a wider foot. Neutral runner.

As you all have run more miles in the Cliftons, is this "biting" side wall problem going away (doing more miles) or will it remain?

Personally I'm afraid it won't improve cause it has nothing to do with chaving or rubbing,
it's like my arch gets pressed against the side of the (in)sole over and over.

Thank you for your reply.


Daniela said...

Forgot to mention that this biting became noticeable after about 4-5 miles.

Anonymous said...

Do you find the length of the Clifton 6 runs longer than the Clifton 5?