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When I was growing up, I dreaded running the mile in gym class each year. Running and I have been in a complicated on-and-off relationship over the years. I’ve spent seasons of my life training for half marathons and others where the thought of even jogging was too much to bear.
More recently you’ll find me walking, pounding the pavement on the daily. One of my favorite ways to start the day is by getting in some mind-clearing, energy-boosting miles. And that morning routine always starts with slipping on my favorite sneakers, the Hoka Clifton 9.
While I always put great care and deliberation into finding the right shoes for running, I never gave the shoes that I walk in the same consideration. If you’re spending a long time on your feet, you’ll want a pair of shoes that can support you, regardless of the intensity of the exercise.
“Walking shoes need to have cushioning, but not to the same degree as running, since the forces absorbed by the foot are not as intense,” says board-certified podiatrist Dr. Robert Kornfeld. “The soles need to provide more stability since the speed of locomotion is slower and the foot is on the ground for a longer period of time with each step, subjecting the foot to more sustained biomechanical stress.”
After hearing about the wonder of Hokas from what felt like every other person I know, I decided to check them out in a store. I wasn’t in much of a running phase, so I was hesitant to buy a pair of $145 running shoes. But after a quick try-on, I was convinced that these would be the perfect pair for my daily strolls. And I was right.
My tired feet felt the sweet relief of the plush, cushioned kicks as soon as I slipped on the Cliftons. And I’m not alone — the Clifton has been one of Hoka’s most popular models for years now, so much so that it’s already on its 9th iteration.
The Clifton 9 — the lightest, most cushioned model yet — is a popular shoe for logging “everyday miles,” according to the brand. The neutral sneaker is an easy choice for walkers, road runners and people who spend a lot of time on their feet.
The latest and greatest version of the Clifton boasts a few improvements from the Clifton 8.
At 7.3 ounces for women’s pairs, and 8.7 ounces for men’s, the Clifton 9 is lighter than ever before. In addition to cutting some weight, the brand added some stack height (3mm for women’s sizes and 5mm for men’s sizes) to aid in creating a more cushioned underfoot feel. “It’s increased cushioning makes it great for absorbing impact but not as great for long runs,” Dr. Kornfeld notes.
Hoka kept many features of the beloved shoe the same, like the breathable upper, which provides great ventilation and keeps perspiration at bay. They also kept the early-stage Meta-Rocker, which is one of Hoka’s signature features.
It’s built right into the shoe’s sole to make transitioning from heel to forefoot smooth and keeps you from landing flat. Dr. Kornfeld says that the Meta-Rocker makes these shoes great for anyone with a history of tight calves, achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis, as the technology takes stress off of the achilles tendon.
When not to wear
“The Clifton 9 is a great shoe for runners who are neither competitive nor long-distance runners but are serious about consistency,” Dr. Kornfeld says. If you’re running long distances every day, he suggests seeing a podiatrist who can evaluate your feet biomechanically and then recommend a running shoe that’s right for your feet.
You should also leave these shoes at home for weight-lifting, boxing or any cross-training activities. All of the features that make these shoes so great for running and walking make them detrimental to your experience with other sports, especially those that require serious stability in your feet such as the ones listed above.
Some wearers note that the Clifton 9’s run narrow though there is a wide fit option as well.
Walking, made better
I wear my Cliftons pretty much every single day, and they haven’t let me down. Whether I’m going on a mile-long jog, sprinting to something I’m late for (it happens, okay?) or taking a leisurely 6-mile walk, these shoes keep my feet feeling happy.
Beyond the reliable fit and feel, the design and fun colorways actually get me excited about putting my sneakers on every day. If you also want a great everyday sneaker that can power you through wherever your day takes you, the Clifton os worth a look.
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