Hoka are synonymous with the oversized shoe, a design they’ve not moved away from with the Clayton. The Clayton is a lightweight neutral cushioned shoe incorporating many of the brands’ latest technologies. Designed for every day running, the versatile Clayton aims to give a well cushioned but responsive ride as well as being light enough to race in.
Hoka’s point of difference is that it has these huge oversized midsoles. In short, they have a reputation for well cushioned pillow-like shoes good for slowly cruising about it. Can the Clayton change all that?
Bulky they may look but there is a strong technology behind all that bulk. The midsole (Hoka calls the ‘marshmallow’) are super thick, light and wide which offers really good stability.
Another point of difference between the Hoka’s and ‘normal’ shoes is the way the midsole is sculpted. Your foot sits inside the midsole rather than on top of it. This is known as Hoka’s ‘Active Foot Frame’ AKA ‘the bucket seat’!
Another Hoka design feature is the curve of the shoe, known as the Meta Rocker. Designed to encourage your natural running gait, they actually look like they feel, you really do experience a very smooth flowing motion from impact through to take off again and it’s a good experience.
The Clayton features their Pro2Lite midsole material; a material that is softer in the heel area for protection, but firmer in the forefoot to aid toe-off and be more responsive. The material does give very good shock absorption yet at the same time, is responsive. You don’t feel like you’re wallowing boat of a shoe, even though they may look like it!
The drop from heel to toe is just 4mm (24mm to 20mm) and that again is part of Hoka’s differentiation. Designed again to encourage natural running gait, they felt fine to me which was surprising. I am normally suspicious of such a low drop considering them ‘not for me’ as I’ve suffered calf / Achilles issues in the past but they felt fine. This drop is definitely part of the Hoka technology / design package and it works.
We really liked the look of these shoes. They’re impressive. They have a tight-knit mesh upper with a lovely lattice TPU overlay configuration for support in key areas and a welded toe box area. The lattice work really helps support the forefoot and stops the shoe getting baggy through its life cycle and there’s an additional microfiber reinforced midfoot support to help hold your foot in place.
The toe box would be wide enough for the wider foot but they also felt fine on my long skinny feet and gave me no issues when running in them.
The outsole layer is made of Hoka’s RMAT material, a product designed to significantly reduce the weight of normal rubber while adding to the responsiveness of the shoe.
They felt fine and work seamlessly with the Meta Rocker shape of the shoe. I’m not sure if the Hoka’s will be super durable but it all felt good underfoot. RMAT works well with the midsole material adding responsivity to the ride and they gripped well on the dry and wet roads we ran in them on.
I mentioned earlier that they look how they feel and they really do. We liked them for their smooth ride and great lightweight cushioning. They’re stable, responsive and there’s plenty of room in the forefoot, but they won’t be for everyone.
The big upside with the Hoka shoes is that they are hugely protective and you get the most out of them if you land on your heel and roll through benefitting from that Meta Rocker shape and responsive forefoot but, if you are a swifter runner landing midfoot, you might want a lower profile shoe.
We really enjoyed the Hoka Clayton and given its light weight, they would make a brilliant longer distance racing shoe.
Thin Mesh Upper - For enhanced breathability.
No-Sew TPU Overlays - Reduces irritation and discomfort.
Upper Lattice Pattern - Provides structure to the upper and support in the forefoot.
Form-Fitting Heel - Ensures a secure, plush fit which keeps your foot in place.
Reinforced Microfiber Forefoot - Helping to secure the foot and offer stability.
Meta-Rocker Midsole - Encourages a guided gait cycle.
Pro2Lite - Gives a fast and comfortable ride.
Oversized Active Foot Frame - Provides integrated stability.
Forefoot Matrix Technology - Ensures dynamic cushioning and flexibility.
RMAT - Delivers fantastic durability, high elasticity and supreme grip.
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