HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 3

An evolution of the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 2, the brand listens to feedback from ultra distance runners.


Now that the whole minimalist running shoe movement has stabilised, other designs that have been living in the shadow of it are starting to have their share of the spotlight. HOKA ONE ONE shoes have been gaining popularity and a steady following internationally for their thick soled shoes, which seem to be the antithesis of barefoot running shoes. But they do have some things in common.

The Clifton 3 is an evolution of the 2, and this time round HOKA ONE ONE claims that the toe box section has been made slightly wider in response to feedback from ultra distance runners. An all-rounder designed for a balanced running style, there is just 5mm of drop from the heel to toe. The shoe may be riding on a wedge of foam, but your foot is not riding in a toe down position when standing.

It’s a pretty low level of drop, and if you come to the Clifton 3 from high 10 or 12mm heel drops, this will feel practically barefoot, but with more elevation.

HOKA ONE ONE shoes are designed around the oversized midsole which are made of a lightweight and highly stable synthetic foam. This is formed according to the Meta Rocker geometry, which with its low heel to toe differential and sculpted outsole propels the runner forwards naturally.

It all looks a little tippy toey and slightly unstable from the outside, but your foot actually sits lower in the shoe than it appears from the outside. The Active Foot Frame houses the foot bed deep in the midsole rather than on top of it, giving the shoes an inherently stable design on which to kick off from.

For anyone who has not tried running on the HOKA ONE ONE Meta Rocker platform, the initial ‘getting to know you’ session passes very quickly. Within 400 metres or so, you’ll get a hang of the concept. The 10m heel bevel provides a suitable smooth heel transition if you’re still trying to move from being a heel striker to the more accepted midfoot striker.

It’s during the middle phase and toe off where the Clifton 3 is radically different from other running shoes. The slight rocker profile of the outsole naturally keeps your foot rolling forwards after landing, until you kick off your next stride. There’s a constant, forward momentum to the run, and while it won’t flatter whatever aerobic capacity you have, it’s easy to keep moving with them on.

You’re barely aware of the thick midsole, and even over rough, bumpy surfaces there isn’t any more danger of accidentally twisting your ankle than usual. It’s actually a pretty stable platform because sections of the midsole come up around your foot. The seamless upper is well ventilated, allowing for good airflow too.

HOKA ONE ONE doesn’t make any claims about their shoes being built to make you go faster, but it does seem to keep encouraging you to take that next step forwards, as long as your legs and lungs are still holding out.


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