By now you have either run in or heard of the Hoka Clifton, which is essentially the gold standard for lightweight plush trainers. It really does get a lot of love from elite runners down to the weekend warriors, and even walkers.
You might like to try something else with a similar style, so let’s take a look at the top-rated running shoes similar to the Hoka Clifton.
Shoes similar to the Hoka Clifton are the Nike ZoomX Invincible, New Balance 1080v11, and Saucony Triumph because of the plush cushioning, and versatile performance benefits.
To be fair, there aren’t many comparable shoes to the Clifton within the same price range, so we can mimic that amazing lightweight trainer, but the price is going to rise.
3 Running Shoes Similar To The Hoka One One Clifton:
Nike ZoomX Invincible
New Balance 1080v11
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
1. Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
To keep it candid, this shoe is a total game-changer when it comes to a cushioned performance trainer. The signature ZoomX foam known to make up some of the fastest shoes in the world is now brought to a daily running shoe. So much “pop” in every step you take.
Visually, it’s easy to see how much foam there is underfoot, but it may be misleading, as so much foam can be perceived as heavy.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, as a men’s size nine is only 9.3 oz. This blend of plush ground contact with an insane energy return at the toe-off makes for a fun and fluid ride.
The only qualm with the midsole is that the foam in and around the heel area can feel unstable if you are loping along at a slower pace. It just might feel a little too mushy, which makes my ankles work a little too hard to stabilize at every step.
Nike knows this and has put a TPU wrap around the back of the heel to add some structural integrity to the shoe, but it does not quite feel like enough.
That being said, this shoe is meant to get your cadence up, so this is a good opportunity to work on that.
The Flyknit upper is sturdier than previous flyknit shoes, it still has some extra give, but it's far more secure than you might think.
It is still breathable and comfortable, but it is nice to feel a better lockdown over the top of the foot and not be falling over the shoe like in previous flyknit models.
To hold the midsole together for longer and increase the durability of the shoe, there is a full-length rubber outsole with the waffle pattern for grip. The traction is good—even on wet surfaces—and the durability has been impressive, as the shoe still has pop after over 300 miles.
Along those lines, the rubber outsole also holds the foam’s structure in place from the bottom to keep it from “pancaking” out the sides of the shoe. It may be hard to picture that, but these shoe designers know what they are doing.
The lacing is smooth and easy, the lockdown feels more like a performance fit, so it's a little snug, but still best to go true to size in most cases.
Read my full review of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
2. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11
Talk about a comfortable premium daily trainer, the NB Fresh Foam 1080v11 is a great lightweight premium daily trainer that offers good ground contact absorption while still giving you some good bounce in your toe-off.
The FreshFoam X midsole is a great rendition that improves upon the rather underwhelming standard fresh foam. It feels softer, lighter, and bouncier overall than its original counterpart.
This would also be a perfect shoe option for someone seeking a comfortable shoe to have “day-to-day” if you work on your feet or walk around a lot.
The one dilemma with the midsole is that it only really feels great through about 200 miles before it pancakes out to the side and loses both its bounce and cushioning feeling. That is disappointing durability for a premium trainer. All of that said, it’s a very enjoyable 200 miles.
The Knit Upper is a very welcome sight because it helps the shoe maintain a lighter weight and provides some extra space in the toe box, but the knit material then tapers off in the midfoot to help provide a more secure lockdown with the laces. It’s all the benefits of a knit upper, but without many of the usual drawbacks of instability and lockdown.
That being said, the lacing system feels backward, in that it is laced through the eyelid chains in the opposite direction that you usually see with shoes and it throws me off every time I tie them up. This is not a huge deal, it is just something to get used to.
The rubber outsole is strategically placed in high-wear areas, like the lateral heel and the medial toe areas. Normally it would feel like a red flag, but in all candor, the cushioning will flatten out long before the exposed midsole will wear on the bottom.
The fit is true to size for most feet, but I have found that some people might need to try a half size down because of the flyknit in the toe box area. It would be ideal if you could try these shoes on before buying them, or order online with a good return policy in case things don’t fit just quite right.
The 1080v11 is a fun option to try out, especially if you have enjoyed New Balance models in the past. I may also be the quickest to wear down above most of the other shoes in this lineup as well.
- Fresh Foam midsole cushioning is precision engineered to deliver an ultra-cushioned, lightweight ride
- Bootie upper construction hugs your foot for a snug, supportive fit
- Synthetic/mesh upper
- Ortholite sockliner for comfort
- Ultra Heel design hugs the back of the foot for a snug, supportive fit
3. Saucony Triumph
If you want a shoe that might actually last for a year while still providing some premium cushioning underfoot and a signature sleek and premium lockdown around your foot then the Saucony Triumph is a great option to explore.
This shoe doesn’t get enough credit, and that’s probably because it's heavy (more on that later), but it has so much upside that it feels like a good fit for plenty of different runner profiles.
The PWRRUN+ midsole foam is made up of tiny EVA pellets that are fused together to provide a fun mix of impact absorption and energy return. This isn’t a lazy shoe, it feels great underfoot, but it does feel heavy. Saucony has probably put more emphasis on comfort than on weight.
The Triumph is a sturdy shoe that protects your feet and legs while being quite durable, so this feels like it makes up for the weight.
The engineered mesh upper gives you that signature Saucony comfortable fit, and this is enhanced by the integrated FORMFIT Contoured footbed that cradles your foot and provides some extra inherent stability.
The Outsole has a Tri-Flex design to increase the flexibility of the shoe even in the presence of the extra cushion. That rubber is the XT-900 Carbon rubber that is made to be durable and provide traction. The jury is still out on the extra traction, as it feels standard at best, but the durability is definitely real.
The lacing system is super smooth and I appreciate that I never have to think about tying my shoes as it just happens so effortlessly.
- Breathable Mesh - Air can flow in and out for ventilation.
- FormFit - Delivers a personalised fit and feel.
- Traditional Lacing System - Easy to secure a comfortable fit.
- PWRRUN+ Midsole - Innovative next generation of Saucony midsole.
- Rubber Outsole - Offers exceptional traction and durability
These are some of the closest shoes to the Hoka Clifton on the market. It is hard to find shoes that are near identical to the Clifton, but these options get pretty close to the cushioning underfoot but have some other subtle differences.
The sticker prices of all of these other options are higher, but you can find most of these at a discount so that feels like a non-issue. The ZoomX Invincible is very soft and has more performance benefits, but it's less comfortable at slower paces.
The New Balance 1080v11 probably gets too close to that Clifton feeling, but it probably won’t last nearly as long. The Saucony Triumph will last for a long time with plenty of cushioning, but it won’t feel like you can get quite as many of the performance options with it.
All that said, you should enjoy all of these possible options and it’s worth giving one of them a try if you want to branch out from your Cliftons to try something new.
Hi, Jeremy Here,
I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journey. About Me.
Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API