Clifton or Huaka? The new Hoka conundrum.
If you run but also live under a rock, you might not know that a couple of entirely new running shoes from Hoka One One will be arriving in Australia within the next couple of weeks. We’re not talking about the Mafate Speed – not yet, anyway – we’ll leave that to a review from young gun Ben Duffus which we’ll be posting here shortly. Today we’re talking about the two new very speedy road-oriented models – the Huaka and the Clifton.
You might remember that when Hoka One One’s Bondi first appeared in people’s hands, it was generally accompanied by a face that looked something like this…
We have seen a bit less of that face as people have come to understand that among other things, Hoka One One always means
Well guess what?
Thanks to the Clifton, The Face IS BACK!
The Clifton is the lightest Hoka yet. The women’s weigh in at 185g, the men’s weigh in at a barely there 215g – lighter than a happy thought and they still put 24mm under the forefoot and 29mm under the heel.
But despite being so float-right-off-your-hand light, the underfoot feel is still of supreme cushioning with a nice and fast roll through the front and back rockers. How fast? Fast enough for a running shop owner with a 3:15 marathon PB to take a bright yellow pair and run 2:56 on the Gold Coast just recently. Sure, he had to train for it, but the shoes – step aside Alice, Clifton are going to be the magic shoes for 2014.
But what about the Huaka?
Good question, my learned running friend.
The Huaka is almost as insanely light as the Clifton, coming in at 226g for girls and 259g for guys. That little red ‘R’ on the side of the midsole means it has been formulated in the secret Hoka Super Secret Science Lab using R-MAT, the new Hoka-only superstuff that blends the softness of foam with the irrepressible boing of rubber, plus the added magic of unicorn tears and dragon spit.
With 25mm of unbelievably springy cushion under your forefoot and 27mm stack height of pure rebounding awesome under your heel, you better be a running god if you’re going to do this shoe the justice it deserves. Or at least, a highly motivated learner like the rest of us.
So, given that they both offer a high level of cushion, comfort and performance, and that they’re both superlight, even before they have arrived on shelves the most commonly asked question we have heard over the last month has been, “what’s the difference between the Clifton and the Huaka?”
Here are the key differences, in order of majorness.
– the Huaka uses high rebound R-MAT midsole technology, whereas the Clifton uses Hoka’s standard (but extraordinary) supersoft foam.
– Clifton has a 5mm ramp height, the Huaka has a 2mm ramp height meaning that the Clifton will take less adjustment for runners switching from more traditional high-drop running shoes.
– the Huaka’s outsole offers greater versatility for the runner wanting a shoe that can migrate to trail but it is still very much a road shoe. The Huaka is agile and grippy through boulder gardens and on packed or rocky trail, whereas the Clifton is entirely one for the road purist.
– the Clifton uses an H-shaped platform for extended stability, meaning a straight roll through on the run, while the Huaka is built on a K-shaped platform with what feels to us like a subtler roll through and a beautiful splay through the forefoot that really stabilises the runner moving at speed.
– Huaka will be retailing for $219.95RRP, while Clifton will be the first sub-$200 Hoka in Australia, retailing at $189.95 for what will be many people’s first taste of The Hoka Experience.
Both models are neutral, both feel supremely comfortable, both will make you feel happy to be alive. They’re also both bred for racing or training so it’s up to you which best suits your needs. In the end, it may just come down to which colours you like best. If your biggest problem is deciding which incredibly performance-focused shoe to run in this spring, let’s face it – that’s a good problem.