Hoka Clifton 9 Running Shoes – True to the Trail

This month I’ve been lucky enough to upgrade my running shoes (which so desperately needed replacing anyways) to the newest version of HOKAs. I am thrilled to rock my HOKA Clifton 9 Running Shoes as the temperatures cool and my favorite time of year for running begins! 

Hoka Clifton 9 Review - Devin Dowd of Engearment.com
Hoka Clifton 9 Review – Devin Dowd of Engearment.com


Hoka Clifton 9 Running Shoes Review

Light and plush for everyday miles, the HOKA Women’s Clifton 9 Running shoes are the 9th iteration of HOKAs award-winning Clifton franchise.  I am wearing a Women’s Size 9, with “White/White” coloring, but also got to test out the Rust/Earthenware color. Personal preference – go with the Rust color as it hides trail dust a bit better than white-on-white! 


*Pro Tip: Although they run true to size, I, like HOKA and any running store, recommend going to your local running store or REI to try on a pair to ensure you have the wiggle room needed to keep your toes happy and heHoka – True to the Trail

art out on the roads you’re running on. It’s always recommended to size up ~ a half size from your normal shoe when picking out the ideal running shoe size.


You may be wondering, what differentiates the 9 from its predecessors? Well, this model is now lighter and more cushioned, as HOKA has removed overlays and hotmelts, added a plusher heel, reflective heel panel, and streamlined the tongue with a single-side medial gusset. As HOKA advertises, the Clifton 9 delivers a revitalized underfoot experience with a responsive new foam & improved outsole design. And being an avid Clifton 8 fan, I actually did notice the slightly quicker turnover this lighter model allowed me to have. Heck, five miles have not felt that good in a while!

Hoka Clifton 9 Review - Devin Dowd of Engearment.com
Hoka Clifton 9 Review – Devin Dowd of Engearment.com

Before we dive into the spec that stood out to me with the Clifton 9s, I want to share my quick love story with HOKA.


Growing up with a mom who loves to run, I will say HOKAs were not a household name in my early running years. We were more of a BROOKS or ASICS family. However, once I had reconstructive hip surgery in 2016, I knew I had to be a bit more calculated with what gear I used, especially if I wanted to try to preserve the new hip my reformed hip was given.


So fast-forward to post-collegiate lacrosse days, I was faced with the same predicament all retired athletes feel – what do I do now? Trying to see if running spoke to me was my first thought, so I began logging some miles and did my first half marathon. Review of this period: running seemed overrated and was honestly low-key painful (not the good kind of painful either). I thought maybe it had to do with my shoes but was not ready to pull the trigger.


Hoka Clifton 9 Review - Devin Dowd of Engearment.com
Hoka Clifton 9 Review – Devin Dowd of Engearment.com


Jump to 2019, and somehow I had talked my best friend into running a half marathon with me one weekend when she came to visit us in Virginia, and to my disbelief she forgot her running shoes!

No idea how, but oh well! So we walked around the corner to the local running store (shoutout Carytown Road Runners), she picked up the last pair of HOKAs that happened to be in her size, and less than 12 hours later was pulling them out of the box and lacing them up for race day. (For the non-runners out there, this is probably #1 on the DO NOT DO list – but that’s Michelle for ya!). Anyways, we finished the 13.1 miles and to both of our surprises, she had no blisters, no pain, and felt amazing.


Intrigued, I decided to try a pair myself. And low and behold, running finally shifted from painful/painful, to challenging but rewarding. I had found that goldilock shoe that provided the cushion and support my hip craved, and it helped me run further and further!


Fast forward another four years, I met our good friend Sean (Engearment’s Founder & Director of Stoke!) and as he was telling me about Engearment, he mentioned he was about to test out a pair of HOKAs. Realizing I dabbled a bit in running (Disclaimer: I do not call myself a “runner” but rather am more of the “5K a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” kind of person), he thought maybe we could use a runner’s perspective on the next review. And now we’re here – 30 reviews later – and FINALLY getting to test out HOKAs! Crazy, full-circle moment.

Hoka Clifton 9 Review - Devin Dowd of Engearment.com
Hoka Clifton 9 Review – Devin Dowd of Engearment.com

So anyways, getting back to the review! Here were some things that stuck out most to me about the HOKA Women’s Clifton 9 Running Shoes:


  • Early stage Meta-Rocker Keeps You Rockin’ All Run Long! – This design allows for a smoother heel-to-toe transition, forcing an improvement in running mechanisms naturally. I personally may not know all of the science behind the chemistry and design that builds these shoes, but I did notice first-hand my runs with the Clifton 9s had a quicker turnover & increase in stride-rate, in turn leading to running further at a faster pace!
  • Easy to Break In! – Although we never recommend taking your running shoes right out of the box and knocking out a long-distance PR, I will say none of my HOKAs have disappointed me since starting to rock these on weekly runs since 2019! Like my experience with past generations of Cliftons, the Clifton 9s welcomed my feet like an old friend from the first run onwards. This is huge, especially if you’re someone that does not like to factor in the uncomfortable feeling of breaking in new running shoes, these may be for you.
  • Revamped Durabrasion Rubber Outsole – The only pain point I have had to date with my HOKAs is that once they’re worn out, they let you know. And quick! Although I’ve noticed historically the Clifton 8s wore out quicker than my Brooks, HOKA must have heard this customer feedback and that is directly addressed with this new Rubber Outsole. With Durabrasion it extends the rubber’s longevity, meaning more miles on fewer HOKAs! 


Fun Fact: ​Did you know the HOKA Clifton 9s have received the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA)  Seal of Acceptance, indicating they have been found beneficial to foot health? To earn the Seal, each product is reviewed by a group of APMA podiatrists to ensure it promotes foot health.​


In short, Hokas have definitely worn over my heart and will be my go-tos for any and all of my future runs. Although the Clifton 8s have been my go-tos for the last four years, the HOKA Women’s Clifton 9 Running Shoes have my approval and will be my running shoe as we move into the fall & winter months. So if you’re looking to run on the clouds without the necessary breaking in period, make sure to check out Hokas! With that, wishing you full hearts & happy trails!


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