Hoka One One was the first company to release an oversized foam midsole running shoe in 2010 and the trend has been gaining popularity ever since. Now most companies have some variation of a highly cushioned shoe. The founders of Hoka One One wanted to create a larger sweet spot, much like on oversized tennis racquets or skies. There have been statements both for and against these highly cushioned shoes.
While they might not be for everyone, there some benefits that various shoe companies are claiming. They claim that the extra cushion provides a softer ride, which you cannot disagree with. They also claim that the extra cushion lessens the impact on your joints and can reduce the amount of recovery time needed after long or higher intensity runs. Another claim is that the extra cushion provides an increase on energy return, meaning that the shoes will provide more of a spring than lesser cushioned shoes.
The extra cushion in these max cushioned shoes can be a lifesaver for people coming back from injuries or just can’t handle the impact that they once could. That is not to say that you couldn’t benefit from a max cushioned shoe if you don’t fall into those two categories. Your own personal preference will play into what you like wearing. My training partner loves more cushion, while I tend to run most of my miles on less cushion. It’s just what feels best to us.
Have you ever put a pair of running shoes on, started your run, and felt like you were in a running commercial? That is how I felt when I tested the Hoka One One Clayton. Let me be clear about this. I have never had that feeling before. I read reviews about how light and comfortable the Clayton was before I got my pair to test, but never expected this.
The Clayton is about the lightest shoe that I have run in at only 7.3 ounces for a men’s size 9. That is due in part to using Hoka’s PRO2LITE technology with a softer heel for cushioning and a firmer forefoot for propulsion. The RMAT outsole layer eliminates the weight of traditional blown rubber that most shoes use but adds weight. Even though it is super light, the Clayton has plenty of cushion.
The oversized Active Foot Frame allows your foot to sit inside the cushioning to provide a great deal of support and has Hoka’s early stage Meta-Rocker to ensure a smooth ride from heel/mid foot strike to toe off.
I was a little concerned at first with not having blown rubber in the outsole, but I have put about 50 miles on these shoes and the RMAT material is holding up nicely. I can tell you that with even with a decent amount of cushioning, these shoes won’t rob you of energy like some of the more cushy shoes. It’s quite the opposite. I felt like I could run forever and my pace was about 30 seconds faster per mile without any additional effort. That was the result each time I tested the Claytons, so it wasn’t a fluke.
I also really like that they took the heel counter (the hard heel cup) out which made the shoe more comfortable as well. All in all, they were comfortable mile after mile.
4mm heel drop
Very light 7.3 ounces
Tons of cushion for all types of runs
Responsive ride with a nice spring at toe-off
Decent price ($150) for this shoe
Fits true to size
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If you haven’t tried out Hoka One One shoes yet, there are some really great shoes to choose from. I am a huge fan of the Clifton 2 (click here for my review of the Clifton 2), but the Clayton took over not only as my favorite Hoka, but my favorite shoe period. Head on down to your local running store and check them out. You can also get them at the Hoka One One website for $150. You won’t be disappointed.
Note: I received this product in exchange for a review. The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it. I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.