My experiences with Hoka running shoes is still in it’s infancy. They are a brand I have know about for a long time and seen it build strongly since the early days when they brought out their first models. They were different and the perception was they were an ‘old man’s’ shoe for people with bad knees. This is harsh I know and not the reality. Founded in 2009, I initially came in contact with them in around 2014. I first met their Australian sales and marketing manager when I was managing a running shoe store. Roger’s passion for the brand (and life) was another level. And still is. I can’t believe it took me so long to try them properly.
Finally after buying and running in a pair of Mach 2s for over a year I had an opportunity to review a couple of their latest 2020 models. When I pulled the new 2020 Clifton Edge shoes out of the box, I had to double check that I had the right model. By that I mean the gender neutral version. A distinctive pink and orange outsole with a white upper were not what I was expecting. Not that men can’t rock pink. I just had to make sure.
One of the first things you notice about the Clifton Edge is the extended heel and the high splayed heel collar. The heel is designed to help with a smooth transition when running. The consensus is that this has been taken from the Hoka TenNine albeit in a less dramatic fashion. This design intent with the TenNine is to aid you when running downhill. This feature seems to be wasted on the Clifton Edge in theory but there was obviously something they liked and decided to run with. I am glad they did.
When I first put them on and walked around there was a noticeable ‘slap’ with the walking ‘heel to toe’ action. Maybe because they were straight out of the box and a bit stiff, maybe because of the extended heel. This reminded me of a couple of models of a well-known running shoe from a few years ago. However, when I started running in them the change was instant. The extended heel did not interfere at all. Even though I am a natural mid foot striker when I changed to a heel strike the extended heel kicked in and the smoothness of this shoe improved. It is one of the smoother shoes I have run in. Very typical of a Hoka although with less foam underfoot than a lot of their other models. The other noticeable thing is that the outsole has a lot of stability. By this I do not mean pronation support. The shoe lands well and is stable. Even when striking on the lateral side of your foot.
Before we get into the test runs let’s talk about the fit and feel.
The seamless mesh upper is a medium fit. My recommendation would be to go a half size more than you would normally wear as the fit is snug across the top of your foot. I would suggest that you buy from a bricks and mortar store and try them on before you buy. I normally wear my shoes in a bigger fit than most people care for and would go one full size bigger for this shoe. I like a lot of space.
I thought these shoes may not have enough space in the toe box when I first put them on but was proved wrong.
Another unfounded concern was the high heel collar. In the past I have taken running shoes to ‘my guy’ to get the heel collar cut down. I did this during a long phase of Achilles issues. So far, the heel collar hasn’t caused any concern. It does splay outwards significantly.
The outsole is a rubberised EVA which, typical of Hoka One One, gives you a good level of support. The Clifton Edge is built on the last from the Rincon but utilises a new midsole foam which is 15% lighter and adds to the feel which is very good. They are light and they feel lighter than they are.
The Hoka One One Meta-Rocker in the midsole is, as Hoka says, ‘aggressive and plays a role in the forward propulsion that makes you want to run, faster’. This is exactly how it felt when I went for my first run in the 2020 Clifton Edge.
In the past I feel that the average runner has been molded to think that a 10-12mm offset is the standard. We have seen various newer brands drop this offset. I’ve been doing most of my running in 4-8mm over the last few years and am enjoying the range of shoes I have with these lower drops.
My plan for the first run was to head out for an easy 15-16km and put the new Clifton Edge through some paces over some different surfaces. However, the first five kms were so enjoyable that I stopped to turn around and pick the pace up on the way home. By enjoyable I mean that I was running faster than planned and I wanted to run faster in them.
These are firmer shoes than you would expect from a Hoka shoe and ideal for faster runs. They will be a shoe I will use for 5-15km runs especially when pushing the pace.
After a short stop for a stretch (when you’re older and running in new shoes you need to be careful) I started running the 5kms back. These shoes just got better and better. Speed is relative and I was running faster than I have in a while even though I had already run 5kms. Placebo? New shoes? Maybe, but the Clifton Edge felt great.
The Meta-Rocker is positioned to give you an earlier than normal forward propulsion. This is partly why I felt I wanted to run faster than planned in these shoes. A new pair of shoes always gives you a bouncy feel, but the Clifton Edge had more than this.
Following runs gave me more confidence in the way the Clifton Edge performs. Having run in the Hoka Mach 2s for about 12 months The 2020 Clifton Edge will be a very good shoe for tempo miles, speed training and as an alternative race shoe. The Mach 2s are lighter and have 5mm less foam than the Clifton Edge and serve a role for racing and short work. I have run a marathon in the Mach 2s and a number of long runs with no issue.
I have run just over 60kms in these now including hill sessions and a few 10km runs. I am liking doing hill repeats in these shoes. Their firm springy feel works well for these sessions.
If you are a heel striker then these shoes will be a good match for you. If you don’t know how your foot strikes the ground maybe spend some time getting a feel for this. If you are a beginner you may well heel strike. Not always but highly likely.
As mentioned, they are very stable shoes with the wide splay in the outsole. Like the Hoka Mach 2s I found them to be very stable and accommodating of the way I land. They are responsive shoes and like most Hoka shoes the extra foam under foot aids in lessening impact but not interfering with pace.
I am yet to see what the wear will be like. The Clifton Edge does not have a layer of tougher rubber to protect outsole. I am interested to see how these wear.
The white upper is not something I would normally go for due to it getting dirty easily. After the third run in them I admit I did soak them in some Napisan after getting some dirt splashed on them that I couldn’t get out. Vanity is a curse.
Conclusion: This is a very good shoe. I am enjoying running in them. I would recommend them for short to medium runs, 5-15kms. If you like a responsive shoe with a bit more feel than normal the 2020 Clifton Edge is a good option.
Be careful with the snug fit over the middle of your foot. These definitely need to be tried on before buying.
Weight: Approximately 252gsm for a US Men’s 9.5
Stack Height: 29mm heel, 24mm toe, 5mm drop
Upper: Embossed TPU yarn, Padded collar, New vertical pull tab for easy entry
Outsole: Rubberized EVA
Midsole: Early-stage Meta-Rocker, New high-resiliency foam, Extended heel offering a softer landing and smoother transition from heel to toe
Karl is a Sydney based father of 3, a keen home improver and an age group triathlete who races on the M5 Acadamies triathlon team, coached by 'The Croc' Brad Beven. A good life balance is incredibly important! Karl is the co-founder of Trizone, works in the commercial joinery industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.