HOKA ONE ONE clifton 8 running shoe on pavement
(Photo/Mary Murphy)

HOKA Clifton 8 Review: My Go-To Road Runner Just Got an Upgrade

HOKA ONE ONE has a ton of shoes to offer. But in testing over the years, a few models have really stood out. The latest to drop is an update to HOKA’s lightweight road shoe, the Clifton 8.

At some point as a runner, you get overwhelmed by the sheer number of shoe choices on the market. In that same vein, as a shoe tester, I get doubly overwhelmed.

Like anyone, when you find a shoe you like, you stick with it. You trust your instincts. So when HOKA reached out with a proposition for me to test an update they did to one of my favorite road shoes in rotation, I was excited and anxious at the same time.

Are they discontinuing my favorite shoe? Am I going to like the changes? What if the new model fits differently? 

Of course, to dispel my anxiety, I had to test them. Enter the new-for-2021 Clifton 8. Originally slated to release in the fall, the Clifton 8 dropped this spring and really impressed us in testing. Read on for our full review.

hoka clifton 8 in some tall grass

I’ve been running and walking in the Clifton 8 for about 3 months now. I’ve also tried running in them back to back with my previous versions of Cliftons for a direct comparison of their fit and feel. For me, the Clifton 8s held up — and may just be the best iteration this HOKA model has seen yet.

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8 Specs

  • Engineered mesh and TPU upper
  • Lighter EVA foam midsole
  • Abrasion-resistant rubber outsole
  • Longer pull tab
  • 5mm drop
  • Verified weight: 7.5 oz. per shoe (women’s size 8)
  • Price: $130

The New Clifton: How It’s Different

hoka clifton 7 and 8
The HOKA Clifton 7 and Clifton 8 side by side; (photo/Mary Murphy)

Now, I’m not an expert on all shoes, but I do run on pavement and road a lot, and I’ve been running in various Clifton models for years. (The Clifton 6, Clifton 7, Clifton Edge, and now the Clifton 8.) Which is why I’m comfortable saying I’m an expert in this shoe.

The reasons I loved my earlier models of the Clifton were mainly because of the balanced feel underfoot and the minimal yet supportive cushioning. They were easy to slip on, perfect just dashing out the door to put down a few miles before work. And luckily, the Clifton 8 still boasts these qualities and more.

HOKA made this new Clifton with a lighter and more responsive midsole (thanks to a new EVA foam compound), an updated silhouette, and an updated heel design and pull tab. It also sports an upper updated with new engineered mesh materials.

All of the updates result in a lighter shoe that still maintains the original Clifton’s comfort and feel. What stayed the same, you might wonder? The early-stage Meta-Rocker, the gusseted tongue, and the lacing system that made the Clifton series so popular in the first place.

hoka top view compare
A top view showing the slight differences in the Clifton’s silhouette, footshape, and uppers; (photo/Mary Murphy)

Right out of the box, I definitely noticed the slimmer shape of the shoe and the slight changes to the upper. The Clifton 8 seemed to have more mesh venting in the upper on each side of the foot, and it seemed a bit more breathable overall.

I’d say these were the two biggest changes made to the line, marked improvements from the Clifton 7.

The other main update in this model is HOKA’s springier EVA foam midsole. The brand shaved weight here, and it was noticeable — HOKA estimates that this Clifton is 15% lighter than the previous iteration.

The shoes don’t have an excessive amount of cushioning, nor do they have as much cushioning near the Achilles as other HOKAs (I’m looking at you, Bondi). But that’s their design — lightweight, neutral, and able to support everyone from occasional joggers to hardcore runners. I still found them comfortable and supportive for medium to long distances.

hoka profile compare

Finally, I found the fit accurate, both shoe size and width. The toebox here on the 8 is definitely an improvement over that on the 7, though I do have narrower feet.

Some more specific feedback I’d give is that these shoes are really great for those who overpronate or heel strike, and those runners who are more flat-footed. If you have a really high arch or are a forefoot runner, you may find that adding insoles or orthotics helps make the Clifton 8s a better ride.

The HOKA Clifton 8: Conclusion

What’s not to love about this shoe? Like previous models, the Clifton 8 provided a great fit and offered enough support without feeling too plush. Initially, running in this shoe felt familiar to the Clifton 7, but it also felt bouncier and lighter. Every single time I run in them, I think, these feel so great.

The Clifton’s eighth iteration is light, responsive, comfortable, and definitely outrank the Clifton 7s. They may even rival the Clifton 6. If you’ve ever run in the Clifton 6, you’ll know that’s high praise, indeed.

Shop the Women’s Clifton 8Shop the Men’s Clifton 8

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Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.