Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hoka One One: Clayton Review

What goes on your mind when you hear the word Hoka? Massive sole and MAXIMUM CUSHION, right? Well, that’s the whole premise when Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard built this company back in 2009. They revolutionized the shoe industry by embracing the idea that maximum cushion offers less stress and impact to the body.

While some runners like the idea, there are some against it. I’ve read a lot of articles on this topic and it can be debated all day. Is this really an issue? I personally don’t think so. It’s just a matter of personal choice. My training partner loves the less cushioned shoe while I personally run most miles on cushioned shoes and I found that it works best for me. That said, Hoka is one of my favorite shoes to date and if you want to find out some of their shoes, I did an in-depth review of the Hoka Infinite just last month and you can read my review here.

For those runners who may still be on the fence about cushioned shoes, maybe we can find some common grounds here. Hoka just released a new member of their family. A shoe that is made for speed with lightweight cushion…the CLAYTON. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Clayton shoe was launched at the beginning of April and is the hybrid of Clifton 1 and Huaka. Not super soft as the Clifton but not as firm as the Huaka. The Clayton offers both worlds that most runners will surely appreciate. It’s a line drawn between earth and sky.

Clayton is a neutral shoe designed for runners with medium to high arch. The shoe weighs in at 7.30 ounces for men size 9 and 6.30 ounces for women size 7. The heel to toe drop is 4mm for men (Heel height: 24mm, Forefoot height: 20mm) and 4mm for women (Heel height: 23mm, Forefoot height: 19mm). I tested a size 10 and it really feels true to the size.

The upper is made of a no- sew TPU lattice (woven material) while the support structure is made of bonded overlays and with a massive Hoka logo at the back end. The material offers a decent amount of air to flow thru. Quite similar with the Clifton 1, the Clayton has a minimum padding on the tongue area and stretchable lace that locks my foot nice and comfy. One of the things I like most is the wide platform on the upper and additional width on the forefoot, making this shoe very stable. The upper is a bit restrictive on the flex but it still offers a nice ride. Unlike other shoes, the Clayton has no heel counter or support cup but this is very unnoticeable and my heel was locked in place throughout the run.

The entire outsole of the shoe is made of full RMAT material that creates a high rebound cushioning and traction. While the midsole is made of PRO2LITE material that offers a unique balance of propulsion and protection. HOKA didn’t put a lot of rubber on the outsole, there are no crash pads…yup, you read it right. The benefit is the reduction in weight, making this shoe amazingly light.

The Ride
Ok, here’s the fun part…well, it was actually painful. My first test run was the 7.5-mile interval. At around mile 4, I stopped for a moment, thought that there might be something that got into it that makes that irritating feel. I took it off (nothing fell) and adjusted my ankle compression sock. I put it back on and continue with my run but the rubbing was still there. At the end of the run, there was a blister on my left foot on the medial side, just below the ball of my foot. I’ve been wearing different kinds of shoes for a while now and this is the first time that I experience this. Yes, I had blisters before but not on this area.

I don’t want to jump on any conclusion yet, so after three days, I gave the shoe another try and did 10 miles of tempo run. However, I experienced the same issue and it is still on the same spot…now the blister was even worse.

My training partner has the same shoe but he didn’t experience anything like mine. I read some reviews that other runners experienced the same thing. So at least I’m not the only one (or maybe it’s just an isolated case?). I’m guessing that it might be the inside material just below the midsole that is so dense that causes that irritation. With this, I have no choice but to abandon the remaining test runs I normally do (i.e. easy and tempo). This past few days, I ended up riding my bike instead…waiting for the blister to heal.

Regarding the outsole, I normally see crash pads or at least additional rubber for durability purposes, but Hoka opted to use the RMAT compound instead. I was a bit skeptic about how long will the shoe last since there was nothing to protect the soft RMAT. But I was surprised that there was little to no sign of wear after running this for 17+ miles. I guess only time will tell exactly how long the shoe can last. So depending on your running style and your body structure will probably dictate the life of the outsole.

My Verdict
Hoka took a gamble on this shoe by getting out from their comfort zone and I applaud them for taking that risk. It’s amazing how they were able to produce a shoe this light without sacrificing the quality and the ride. I know Clayton will pave the way for the next shoe and this is just Hoka’s benchmark.

Yes, I might have the issue of blister during my test runs but that’s just the reality on this sport. Do I blame the shoe? Absolutely not. Just like a computer software on version 1.0, that there will be bugs that we’ll encounter along the way. So hopefully, this issue that I had will be address on version 2.0 and I’m really hoping for that, since this is the kind of shoe that has the potential to be an all-around shoe…from training to races, you can bet on this.

Is there other negative? Yeah, the price. It comes with a hefty price tag of $150 which I think is above the average price that normally comes at $120 - $130 range. The life of the shoe is still unknown but I hope that it will last long to live up with that price.

You can purchase the Clayton directly on their website or at retail stores near you. Let me know what you think so feel free to comment on the section below.

Thanks again for reading and as always have fun and be safe out there.

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