Well, it's about time I write this! I've been running in my Hokas for nearly 2 months now and meant to write up my impressions weeks ago. Since I have even more miles on them, I think it just makes my opinion that much more credible! I wish I could tell you exactly how many miles I've put on them, but unfortunately I'm not a shoe-mileage tracker. Never have been. I attempted to do it this past spring when I bought my new Vomeros and even made a new entry in the Notes section of my phone, only to enter 3 runs and then stop. Any suggestions for how you track mileage (and stick to it!) on your shoes would be greatly appreciated.
I don't really want to spoil the ending of this review, but in short, I could not be more in love with these shoes! I liked them when I tried them on at the store. I liked them right out of the box on my first run at home, and I've continued to love them in every run (indoor or outdoor) since. This is big for me, since I've had a hard time finding a shoe that serves me as well as my Vomeros do. I've tried several other brands, and always end up returning them and going back to my Nikes. This is the first time in years I've switched shoes successfully! So, let's break it down a bit...
Weight: 6.6 oz (SUPER LIGHT!)
Heel/Toe offset: 5mm (most standard running shoes have 8-10mm offset)
The first thing everyone notices on these shoes is their admittedly *exotic* aesthetics. I admit to calling them 'moon shoes' before, during and after my purchase. I don't even care anymore because that's how much I love them. The sole is obviously much thicker than a standard running shoe, however, the offset (difference in height between the heel vs. toe) is only 5mm, giving them a lower drop than most regular (non-minimal) shoes, so that it doesn't feel like you're higher off the ground (I swear).
I've been running about 3x a week in these since I got them, mostly low mileage (3-5 miles) since I'm not training for anything right now. I've worn them both on the treadmill and on the road. I've noticed no difference in performance on either surface. These shoes are SO LIGHT. I don't know how they cram the amount of cushioning in them that they do without the shoes feeling like bricks but they have figured it out. They are for sure lighter than my Nikes. My pace has picked up without me even trying, so there's that too.
These are categorized as a Neutral shoe, but I've also been told they offer some stability. I can't really comment on that as I don't need stability and never run in a stability shoe so I honestly do not notice if that's the case, but I can tell you that for a neutral/cushioned runner these are a dream come true. They are highly cushioned but your foot doesn't feel like it's sinking into quicksand. They feel surprisingly springy.
One note: Initially, I wanted to get a feel for these without my Spenco insoles, so I was running without them in the shoe. [I've been running with the Spencos in my Nikes ever since the owner at Charm City Run suggested that may be the missing link in my recurring shin issues. They have been a Godsend because I trained for and raced my last half marathon without wearing compression sleeves once and didn't experience ANY shin pain the entire time.] I ran in the Hokas alone for about a month when I started to feel the start of some pain on the medial side of both of my lower legs, so I quickly decided I'm an idiot and put my insoles in. This has nothing to do with the shoe, but with my own anatomy. There is no shoe alone that can support my extremely high arches, not even my old standbys. The only thing I miss about running with the insoles is they add a little bit of weight back into the shoe and I kind of miss how light they felt prior.
This is actually my only negative point on the shoe. I feel they run almost a 1/2 size too big. The running store did not have my size in stock so I had to order them, and I ordered my regular size - 6 1/2. Most people recommend a thumb's width of distance between your big toe and the end of a running shoe for the best fit. These definitely have more than that. After running a few times in them, I actually called the store and they confirmed these shoes do run a bit big, but most people still went with their regular size. Being the fantastic store that they are, they tried to order a 6 for me to at least compare, but Hoka was sold out of them! So, I've just been wearing extra super thick socks to compensate. My recommendation here would be to just try them on in the store and go with what works for you. Other than that, the inside of the shoe feels wonderful with no hot spots, and nothing that rubs. I've not had a single blister in the 2 months I've been wearing them!
IN LOVE! I've been running relatively low mileage in these shoes, but I can see why ultra runners love them. I look forward to putting more mileage on them throughout the winter in anticipation of a spring half. I don't care if I still get some weird looks from people at the gym. I predict Hokas will soon take over the world. Go at least try them on!
I wasn't compensated or sponsored for writing this review. I bought the Hoka Cliftons with my own hard earned money and the opinions contained herein are mine alone!