Hi all, Colan here! I’ve been increasing mileage and training for a half marathon this summer, which has necessitated a new pair of trainers. We’ve gotten so many new shoe offerings in at the store lately that I wasn’t even sure where to start. I’m continually dealing with the same nagging injuries every time I start training, so I was looking for a shoe with a bit more cushion to it. A long-time fan of responsive and fast running shoes with lower offsets, I had trouble finding a more protective offerinng that felt great on my foot…until I tried on the new Clayton from Hoka One One. I’ve logged about 90 miles in them so far, and I think I’ve found a winner!
The Clayton is a bit of a departure from typical Hoka shoes. Its brother the Clifton is one of the most popular shoes that we carry, but has always been too soft and squishy for my preferences, especially in the forefoot. Utilizing Hoka’s new PRO2LITE cushioning system, the Clayton aims to combine a softer, shock-absorbing heel with a firm and responsive forefoot for a cushioned yet speedy feel. Not surprisingly, Hoka succeeded. I am not finding myself bogged down by the cushioning, which is only 4mm lower than the Clifton. In fact, I felt faster than I did in my previous two shoes, the New Balance Zante v1 and Brooks Pure Connect 4, which are marketed as speedier shoes. Despite this somewhat different feel, the Clayton is true to its roots with a rockered sole and higher stack heights. There’s still a sensation of having a lot of shoe underfoot—something that kept me away from the brand in the past—but it’s responsive. In addition to a quicker feel, I’m having less issues with my usual injuries both during and after runs. In the past, I’ve dealt with some extra soreness because of my preference for quick, low-profile shoes. With the Clayton, I don’t have to do that.
Like other Hoka models, the Clayton’s moderately thin upper hugs my foot without causing any extra rubbing. It has a thin tongue that doesn’t slide around much, and well placed mesh provides adequate ventilation for the high heat and humidity we’ve been having lately. The forefoot flares a bit wider than other shoes in the line that tend to rub on my pinky toes (looking at you, Clifton 2). This allowed for a bit more comfort and room for my toes to move around.
I don’t have any complaints about the shoe, but I suppose I have to pick at least a couple of thing to gripe about. I’ve never been a fan of Hoka cosmetics. The chunky midsoles and borderline obnoxious colors are far from attractive. A sleeker, more subdued color scheme would be welcome; however, the undeniable performance of the shoes make this trivial. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of red and neon green combinations. Future colors look promising, though!
Pros: Responsive feel and trademark cushioning combine a shoe that is light, soft, AND fast—a rare combination.
Cons: Cosmetics…This really shouldn’t matter, but I feel like I have to put something here. Plus, the color for the second half of the year is a bit less in-your-face.
Bottom line: The Clayton is a speedy Hoka that stays true to the brand’s mantra of providing high cushion without excess weight. I would recommend the Clayton to lovers of quicker shoes like the Vazee Pace/Zante from New Balance or Brooks’ Pure series or to long-time Clifton, Asics Nimbus, and Altra Torin devotees looking for something to pick up the pace in for uptempo training sessions or racing. I’m absolutely enamored with these shoes. Stop by the store and see why!