Published on May 20, 2016
Hoka One One Clayton
The Hoka One One Clayton is a road shoe that, the brand claims, ‘offers the option to run in an unbelievably lightweight shoe without sacrificing comfort.’ With Hoka being a long-time favourite with RunningMonkey the opportunity to lace up and put that claim to the test was one we relished…
Not often that we’d start a shoe review by looking at the outsole, but in many ways this is where the key to the Clayton’s success (or otherwise) was always going to sit. Various Hoka iterations have served us well across the years – both on trail and road – but the speed of deterioration to the outsole has often been their undoing. Hoka isn’t alone in this; they, like many running shoe manufacturers, construct the outsole primarily from EVA foam and whilst this has many admirable properties in the weight and grip department it is prone to relatively quick wear and tear.
The solution with the Hoka One One Clayton is the use of a proprietary blend of EVA and rubber called RMAT. This delivers the best of both worlds with little compromise for grip (especially in wet conditions) and durability.
The Clayton experience
The Clayton, like all Hoka shoes, is based around the ‘oversized’ semi-rocker design. It is, as we always note, a love it or hate it concept, but one that has always certainly worked well for us. The spec here is a 24mm heel and 20mm forefoot giving a pretty minimalist 4mm drop to the shoe. The strike to toe-off transition is helped by the wedge / rocker deign and aided further in the Clayton by the employment of a midsole that is slightly softer at the heel for absorption on landing, but firmer in the forefoot to help propel you forward.
The result on test was noticeable (if not quite profound) with the Clayton feeling responsive and quick across the ground; a smooth running style that didn’t dip with extended mileage.
If the RMAT innovation is a unique selling point that you may have to bide your time to appreciate, the incredible lack of weight in the Clayton is one you’ll notice right off the blocks. Whilst Hoka’s last true road release, the Clifton 2 with its 5mm drop, felt impressively light at 240g (480g, pair UK 8.5) the Clayton ups the game with a ludicrously featherweight 207g (414g, pair, UK 8.5). On the run this feels as close to running truly barefoot as imaginable.
Comfort and fit
All of this would count for nothing if the Hoka Clayton wasn’t comfortable; so how does it score there? Pretty much as we had hoped. Whilst there’s considerably less padding around the heel collar than with the Clifton 2 it’s perfectly adequate even on long runs and the Achilles notch – something that was always missing on earlier Hokas – helps with comfort here too.
The Clayton feels a little wider through the toe (no bad thing for us) and there’s room for some foot expansion as the miles mount up without it being so excessive that it causes movement or rubbing on shorter runs. The tongue is comfortably padded, somewhere between the Clifton 2 and the really stripped back original Clifton, and there’s some degree of toe protection – certainly ample for a road shoe.
We’re hugely impressed by the Hoka One One Clayton – every bit as much as we had hoped we would be. The real quandary might then be how to chose between the Clayton and the Clifton 2. The Clayton certainly has the weight advantage and the innovation of the RMAT outsole, and the ride is as comfortable as the Clifton 2. On the flipside the Clifton 2, with it’s more substantial overlay to the mesh upper, has a little more rigidity and structure, particularly towards the back of the shoe – it’s also a smidge cheaper at £100.
Digging a little deeper into the ever-expanding Hoka back catalogue the Challenger ATR 2 is likely the best bet for mixed terrain running, whilst the exceptional Hoka Speedgoat remains king of the pure trail.
The Hoke One One Clayton retails at £120 available in women’s (teaberry and neon coral) and men’s (citrus and white.) Further details at hokaoneone.eu