Recently (July 2016), runners in Kuching have been introduced to a new running shoe brand; The Hoka One One, which basically means “Flying Over the Earth” (in Maori). This shoe was founded by 2 Frenchman (2009), whose vision was to create a light weight, but yet maximal cushioning shoe.  Although the norm was, light weight shoes are always considered minimalist shoe (minimum cushioning), it never stopped them. Since leaving their previous shoe company to pursue their dream, they have been very successful and was bought over by Deckers Outdoor (in 2013), which produces brands such as Teva, Sanuk and UGG.

Over the years, Hoka One One shoes have received numerous awards, including the Competitors Editor’s Choice Road Running Shoe 2016, Competitors Editor’s Choice Best Update Shoe 2016, Competitor Magazines Best Ride Award 2015, Competitor Magazines Best Cushioning Award 2015, Competitor Magazines Trail Shoe of the Year 2015, Runner’s World Editor’s Choice Award 2014, Competitor Magazines Editor’s Pick 2014, Competitor Magazines Best Innovation Award 2014. So, what makes Hoka One One shoes so great? Is it just because of the awards, or is there something really special? The only way to find out was to purchase a pair.

Last year, buying a Hoka One One in Malaysia with my shoe size was hard. Even in Singapore. There were no retailers available. Thus, when my family and I had an opportunity to visit my sister-in-law and family in Perth, it was a great opportunity to go to the Hoka One One retailer and try it on. I was looking for a maximum cushion shoe for my first 100km ultra-marathon. I found out that my marathon shoes were not sufficient to sustain my weight over a duration of > 6 hours. You will start to feel that the heels take the most impact, especially on the tarmac. And since, I have read so much good reviews and video blogs about the Hoka One One Clifton 2, I just need to have it. I still recall my expression, the first time I picked up size US 11 of the Hoka One One Clifton 2, “Wow! This is light”. As I tried it in store, I could really feel the meta rocker at work.

Clifton 2 Weight:

I have never tried the Clifton version 1 prior to using the Clifton 2. But, if I were to compare the Clifton 2 to other maximal cushioning shoes of the same categories. I can assure you that the Clifton 2 was the lightest. Here is a simple comparison for reference, (Nike Lunarglide 3, Saucony Iso Triumph, Zoot Ultra Tempo 6 & Hoka Clifton 2). The Hoka Clifton only weights 282grams versus the Zoot Ultra tempo 6, which is Tri shoe, and is considered light. When comparing to Saucony Iso Triumph (max cushioning running shoe), you can see the difference in weight of about 25grams.

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Shoe weight comparison

Clifton 2 Comfort:

Due to the unique material design of the Hoka Clifton 2, using a CMEVA foam midsole and Meta-Rocker, the comfort is beyond comparison. What is CMEVA? (Compression Molding Ethylene Vinyl Acetate block foam inside a metal mold. Imagine you are making a jam tart. The mold used to make the jam tart will have the design etched into it. Using heat and pressure, the material EVA material is injected into the mold and allowed to cure. Attached is a link of how shoes are made , which you may find it interesting. As for Meta-Rocker, it is a rocking chair concept, similar to the Skechers rocker bottom shape up shoe at one time

The Hoka Meta-Rocker design is to have a low heel-toe differential and a sculpted outsole that creates a unique fulcrum effect. The purpose of this is to promote a runner’s natural running form and smooth roll-off. Hoka came out with 2 types / stages of the Meta-Rocker, The Early stage (used in Clifton 2, Odyssey, Challenger 2 ATR) and the Late stage. Why do they call it that? I have no idea. However, the Meta-Rocker Early stages if meant to focus on the transition zone behind the metatarsal head. It is to create a smoother ride and faster transition to the forefoot. While the Late stage Meta-Rocker (Stinson 3) focuses on the transition zone placed in front of the metatarsal head), which is meant for a more stable base and forefoot support.

If you are < 80kg (men) and are looking for an ultra-distance or marathon distance shoe, you can try the Hoka Clifton 2 (normal feet), Hoka Vanquish or Hoka Infinite (wide feet) or Hoka Odyssey. However, for me, my choice of preference is still the Clifton 2. However, if you are of > 80kg (men), you may want to look at other Hoka One One models which will provide a better cushioning and comfort, such as the Hoka Stinson 3, or Bondi 4.

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Clifton 2 Durability:

Base on my current usage of the Hoka One One Clifton 2, I have clocked about 750km, since January 2016. I have used it in my LSD runs, marathon and ultra-events. The recommended replacement (lifespan) is after 400miles (~643km). You can see from the photo attached, that I can still get about another 100km + out of it. (Do note that I am 180m in height and 75kg in weight, the weight of a person does affect the lifespan of the shoe.). Thus, to me I would consider the Hoka One One Clifton 2, a very durable shoe.

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My Hoka One One Clifton 2

The new version for 2016 Clifton 3 is out. According to the specification, the toe box is wider. Not sure if it is suitable for runners with wide feet. You will need to try and find out.

Where to try and purchase?

If you are interested in trying a comfy and yet responsive shoe, you can try the following places in Sarawak and West Malaysia:

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