The new Hoka One One Clayton is a lightweight speedster featuring the massive cushioning you’d expect from Hoka One One. They have figured out how to include a generous layer of protective cushioning while at the same time providing enough rigidity to give the shoe a responsive feel. You can’t feel the surface like you might in a traditional racing flat, but you can feel the rebound. You may wonder where to employ this shoe in your training schedule. Is it a racer, a trainer, a recovery shoe? Or, is it all of the above?
The Clayton features PRO2LITE technology with a softer heel for cushioning and a firmer forefoot for propulsion. It makes it easy for heel-strikers like me to run down hills without cringing at the thought of another stress fracture. You might think all that heel cushioning would result in a huge drop differential, but it only drops 4mm. So, the Clayton actually “feels” more like a minimal shoe on your calves and Achilles. If you’re used to running in a more traditional shoe with a 10-12mm heel-to-toe drop you’ll want to transition slowly.
The toe area is designed to be more responsive and the rocker shape of the Hoka outsole provides a smooth transition from landing to toe-off. The upper is extremely lightweight and the there were no issues with seams or hotspots on any of my runs. The stylish graphics and brilliant colors of the Clayton are typical Hoka design elements, and you’re guaranteed to turn heads in either the citrus/white or poppy red/acid color combinations.
The shoe fits well in the heel and offers a roomy toebox up front. I found myself cinching up the laces a bit as there is some room mid-foot that most certainly would be appreciated by runners with wider feet. The tongue is flat and stayed in place under the laces. Airflow and breathability was excellent.
The RMAT® outsole layer eliminates the excess weight of traditional rubber while still providing excellent traction. The sacrifices made to keep the shoe as light as it is, seem to have come at a cost. I’ve logged about 40 miles on these shoes and I’m already seeing some significant wear in the usual spots.
Road Test with the Hoka One One Clayton
I became curious about the Claytons after seeing a couple of the local 16-minute guys wearing them at 5K races. I mean, c’mon who races in Hokas? I’ve always thought of them as recovery shoes or distance trainers. So, it was a real surprise to take them out on a speed day and find out what they’re made of. Turns out, the Hoka One One Clayton is a fast shoe. It’s light, responsive, and protective. Pretty cool.
However, the stack height bothered me. At 24mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot this shoe is a skyscraper. It’s probably my imagination, but it seemed like I could feel the camber of the road a bit more. In the end, I decided to use the Clayton as a trainer/recovery shoe. It’s what I wear the day after races for a little extra TLC. And, when they eventually wear out, they’ll become my regular ‘kicking around’ shoes.
What do you guys think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
I received a pair of shoes for review.