Shoe Reviews

HOKA ONE ONE Clayton

The Good

Meaghan: The HOKA Clayton is a lightweight, ultra-cushioned neutral running shoe. I believe they actually consider it a racer. Right off the bat, I loved the fit. The toebox is roomy, both in width and height. There is plenty of room for toes to spread out. The upper is a mesh construction with flex film overlays that offer some decent support. Despite the roomy build, my feet felt secure. The shoes come with flat, semi-stretch laces that allow for a snug fit. It’s a simple lacing system, but it works. The tongue and collar have just enough cushioning to make the shoe comfortable. HOKA used an “Active Foot Frame” midsole geometry which basically means your foot sits deeper down inside the shoe for a cup-like fit. It helps keep the foot in place and feeling secure. What might be my favorite aspect of the Clayton is the weight. You get a heck of a whole lotta shoe for a mere 7.3oz (W7.5). There’s no rubber on the outsole. I was worried about wear issues, but after 75+ training miles and a marathon, they’re holding well. The RMAT outsole layer has minimal wear and continues to provide some nice grip.

Thomas: HOKA has done a great job of making the shoes that used to look like moon boots, look pretty darn cool. Even better, they are making them more conducive to speed. The Clayton promises faster-cushioned miles than the previous HOKA models. The upper looks fragile, but it isn’t. It is light, thin, breathable, and has flex film overlays to create the structure of the upper. There are no signs of delamination or cracks in the materials. The tongue is just thick enough to provide comfort under the laces. The wide flat laces have a little bit of give that helps you find the right fit over the arch. The midsole has a nice roll-off provided by the rocker shape. I weigh 165 lbs, and under that weight, the outsole has proven to be durable and shows very little wear, after over 100 miles of road running.

Hoka Clayton

The Bad

Meaghan: I had issues with the Foot Frame. I have wide, flat feet and the material by the inside arch rubbed against my foot, causing a pretty gnarly blister. I removed the original insole and put in an Ortholite insole (a bit thicker) which pretty much fixed the issue. The only other complaint I had is with the tongue. When I tightened up the laces it caused the tongue material to pucker and jut out.

Thomas: The following complaint has more to do with the way I run than the design of the shoe. I supinate, which means I land on the outside (lateral) edge of my foot. When my foot comes in contact with the pavement the wide flat bottom slaps down in a clunky way. I believe this may have contributed to some hip discomfort. For this reason, I may not recommend this shoe to a runner that supinates. Conversely, this may be a good shoe for a slight pronator (lands on the inside of the foot). Originally, I had some rubbing behind the ball of my foot behind the big toe. It is sort of odd because it was only on one foot, my left. I had heard a few people on different forums complain about the same issue. Most remedies included switching out the insole or using a Dremel tool. I switched to a minimally thicker Ortholite insole and the problem was resolved.

Hoka One One Clayton

Conclusion

Meaghan: I chose to wear the HOKA Clayton for the Coastal Delaware Marathon. The course is a mix of asphalt, boardwalk, and packed gravel trail. The shoes felt great on all of it. The HOKA Clayton, despite its gargantuan looks, feels like a light racing flat. While this shoe does not have that same “bounce” you find with the HOKA Clifton, the firm ride is perfect for race day. I would recommend this shoe to anyone who likes a roomy toebox, big stack height, and a firmer ride.

Thomas: The HOKA Clayton was one of the shoes I was really looking forward to trying out this year. I may have hyped these up too much in my head movies. I wanted the Clayton to be a faster feeling Clifton. While I really like the Clayton, I still like the Clifton better. I ended up running a marathon in the Clayton. I can’t tell if it was me or the shoes that just felt dead the last few miles. Meaghan ended up wearing them too and took 2nd place overall female. My guess is, it was me that fell flat. Trying the Claytons out makes me want to get the HOKA Tracers to see if they are the fast HOKA I am looking for.

 

8 Comments

  1. I had an issue in the left shoe of my Hoka Clayton too… it really irritated the lateral edge of my foot near the peroneal tendon. I tried lacing with different pressures to no avail. I probably should’ve tried a different insole as well, but the problem only occurred on the one side. Like you, Tom, I was really hyped for the Clayton and even purchased it on the exclusive presale 1 month early at Jackrabbit Sports. The search continues for more lightweight cushioned trainers/racers…

  2. Congrats for the analytical review! I would really like to see a point-to-point comparison with the Hika Clifton, as I am a huge fan of them until now. Clayton seem to be quite close in terms of lightness and drop.

    1. They are not the Clifton 1s. The Clifton 1s are far superior in impact cushioning and much lighter making for a faster racing shoe in general. The Claytons in size 8.5 women’s are much heavier than the published weight of 6.3oz claimed on the Hoka website (I weighed them)…. They weigh 8.1 oz. I did a side by side comparison of the Clifton 1s and the Clayton and found the Clayton to be firmer with a wider toe box. Still prefer the Clifton 1s by far. Unfortunately they may never come back. A staffer at Boston said that the Clifton 1s were the result of a manufacturing aberration making the foam softer than intended and the shoe ended up being a lot cushier than originally designed. Sigh.

  3. My boyfriend and I who are neutral runners with high arches both experienced severe blistering from the Claytons. Major deal breaker for us. We changed out the insoles to no avail. We did not try a thicker insole because we didn’t have any interest in adding any more weight to a shoe that was already heavier than the Clifton 1s (the Clifton 2 is a horrible, heavy, sloggy shoe and I will not even comment on it because I hated them that much). Of note is the fact that I am a consistent mid-foot striker and do not pronate. My boyfriend runs more on the outside edge of his foot and slightly heel strikes. The shoe blistered both of us similarly after 6-8 miles. We both own the Tracers and love them. No issues there. The Tracers are a super responsive and fast shoe. The decreased cushioning is great for anything up to a half marathon. For reference, My easy pace for marathon training is about 9:20 and my boyfriend trains at a minute faster. My marathon race pace is 8:00-8:10 and his is 7:10-7:20. So we are not insanely fast but we are not slow either. It got us into Boston after all. We are both awaiting the Clifton 3 release without any high hopes (if it is anything like the slow Clifton 2, we will have to take our shoe search elsewhere). In the meantime, I have 3 more pairs of Clifton 1s stockpiled and that should last me through the rest of the marathon majors.

  4. Absolutely agree with Fat Maggot and Meaghan regarding those damn blisters……got them in both arches, although the left foot (left handed!) was more severe. Happened both times I wore them and came on around 4 or 5 miles in. Will try the thicker insoles…..have the tracers. love those, and no issues with blisters, and a much better ride. I am a mid foot striker at easier paces, and a forefoot runner at tempo upward. The tracers feel smooth, and the claytons a bit clunky.

  5. Thomas,
    I have 2 pairs of Tracers and I love them both! One pair is Womens 8.5, one is men’s 7.5. They are the exact same shoe, just different colors. So women who don’t love the female colors (which are usually atrocious) can buy a men’s shoe in a size smaller for the same fit and better colors. The ride is amazing. Despite having less cushioning, the ride is smoother and just as cushy as the clunky Clayton. I don’t have particularly high hopes for the Clifton 3 which should be released any day now because it is likely to just be a new version of the Clifton 2 which I found to be heavy, sleepy, and slow (hated every mile I ran in them– divorced them at 250 miles)… So I think that I am going to train my feet and legs to marathon in the Tracers. It really is more of a mental shift, not so much of a physical one. My second pair of Tracers, I literally broke out of the box 1.5wks ago and did a 12-mile tempo @8:00-8:10 pace with no issues whatsoever.

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