Light, fast, and soft usually don’t go together, but they do with the HOKA ONE ONE Clayton. Although it’s not the first running shoe to accomplish this feat (think Nike LunaRacer/Tempo and original Saucony Kinvara), this shoe is unique. With a molded EVA midsole that is softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot, the Clayton promises to be soft for midfoot landings and highly responsive at toe-off.
At its targeted weight, the HOKA Clayton is 0.8oz lighter than the original HOKA Clifton and Saucony Kinvara 6 and is just 0.2oz heavier than the Nike LunarTempo. Of note, the shoe is 2mm thicker in the forefoot than the Kinvara and LunarTempo, which should be a pleasant benefit on long runs. And though the Clayton is thicker than these other performance shoes, it is 4mm thinner than the HOKA Clifton. This result signifies a HOKA shoe that falls in the realm of average stack heights.
While some people believe HOKA should only make maximal height shoes, I think HOKA ONE ONE has been unfairly pigeon-holed as a Maximalist Shoe company. Sure, all of their shoes have been maximal shoes, but HOKA is a solution-oriented shoe company. HOKA ONE ONE was started with the goal of developing a shoe that would allow runners to perform their best during ultra endurance events. The result of this quest was the creation of oversized shoes, that are light relative to the amount of cushioning provided, easy-rolling thanks to a rocker shape, and stable due to an Active Foot Frame midsole cradle that envelopes the foot. So while HOKA has mastered a concept for covering ultra distances with relative ease, they are now turning their efforts toward shorter, faster runs – you know, like marathons down to the 1500m (does the name Leonel Manzano ring a bell?)- and the Clayton exemplifies this additional focus.
Although the HOKA Clayton sits closer to the ground than other HOKA models, you still get an early stage Meta-Rocker to further enhance a quick toe-off and an RMAT outsole that is light and responsive. It also has an Active Foot Frame construction, so you sit low in the shoe for a stable ride. And though the Clayton is not a direct replacement of the outgoing HOKA Huaka, it should be considered a better Huaka. It will have a better fit and a roomier toe-box for toe splay and a faster feel.
Preliminary Tech Specs
Stack height: 28mm heel, 24mm forefoot, 4mm heel-toe offset