Hoka Kawana 2 VS Clifton 9: What Should I Buy?

If you’re a runner searching for your next pair of comfortable, cushioned running shoes, you may be trying to decide between the Hoka Kawana 2 and the Hoka Clifton 9.

Both shoes come from Hoka One One’s extensive line of max-cushioned footwear, but they have some key differences that may make one model a better choice for your needs. This in-depth comparison highlights the most important contrasts between the Kawana 2 and Clifton 9 to help you pick the right Hoka shoe.

Similarities And Differences Between Hoka Kawana 2 And Clifton 9:

FeatureHoka Kawana 2Hoka Clifton 9
Launched In20242023
StabilityNeutralNeutral
FlexibilityMediumMedium
SizingTrue to sizeRuns small, order 0.5 size up
Weight9.8 oz (M), 8.8 oz (W)9.5 oz (M), 8.8 oz (W)
CushionMediumMaximum
OutsoleRubberRubber
MidsoleEVA foamCMEVA foam
UpperEngineered meshEngineered mesh
Retail Price$140$145

Features Comparison:

Materials:

The Kawana 2 uses a rubber outsole, EVA foam midsole, and engineered mesh upper. The outsole provides good traction while the EVA foam midsole offers responsive cushioning that is soft yet relatively firm. The engineered mesh upper is breathable and flexible.

HOKA KAWANA 2
KAWANA 2

Clifton 9
CLIFTON 9

In contrast, the Clifton 9 has a rubber outsole, CMEVA foam midsole, and an engineered mesh upper. The CMEVA foam midsole is softer than traditional EVA foam, resulting in plush, pillowy cushioning.

However, it is less responsive and durable than standard EVA foam. Both shoes use breathable mesh uppers, but the Clifton 9’s upper runs warmer than the Kawana 2’s.

Durability:

In terms of durability, the Kawana 2 tends to be more durable than the Clifton 9. The EVA foam midsole will maintain its cushioning and bounce for more miles compared to the softer CMEVA foam in the Clifton 9.

Additionally, the outsole rubber of the Kawana 2 is thicker and provides better traction over time. Users can expect the Kawana 2 to last for around 500-600 miles before signs of wear, while the Clifton 9 wears down after 300-400 miles on average.

The uppers on both shoes use durable engineered mesh, but the Clifton 9’s mesh may rip or develop holes sooner. Overall, the firmer materials and thicker outsole rubber help the Kawana 2 hold up better over high mileage compared to the Clifton 9.

Fit:

The Kawana 2 runs true to size for most runners, with a medium width through the toe box and midfoot. It will work for runners with medium to slightly wide feet. The upper is engineered mesh for flexibility and the last shape provides natural toe splay room.

HOKA KAWANA 2 TOP VIEW
KAWANA 2 TOP VIEW

Clifton 9 Top View
CLIFTON 9 TOP VIEW

In comparison, the Clifton 9 is known for having a more narrow, snugger fit. The toe box is low volume and tapered, which can pinch wider feet. The mesh upper is less stretchy than the Kawana 2’s knit upper. In general, the Kawana 2 will accommodate more foot shapes and widths.

Runners with wide feet or toes may struggle in the Clifton 9’s narrow fit. It is recommended to try the Clifton 9 on in-store and consider sizing up half a size. The Kawana 2 has a more forgiving fit suitable for most neutral runners.

Stability:

When it comes to stability, both the Kawana 2 and Clifton 9 provide adequate support for neutral runners. The Kawana 2 has a firmer EVA foam midsole that gives a stable platform for heel-to-toe transitions.

The beveled heel promotes smooth landings and the 5mm drop keeps feet close to the ground for a natural strike. Similarly, the Clifton 9’s 5mm drop aids forward momentum.

However, the ultra-soft CMEVA midsole compresses easily, which some find less stable. The wide base still ensures an even ride. Overall, both are stable neutral shoes, with the Kawana 2 giving a more secure feel underfoot thanks to its denser foam and beveled design.

Cushioning:

The Clifton 9 stands out for its exceptionally soft, pillow-like cushioning that provides marshmallow-soft comfort underfoot. The proprietary CMEVA foam midsole absorbs impact forces and reduces fatigue on the joints through its high shock attenuation. This plushness comes at the expense of ground feel and bounce, however.

In contrast, the Kawana 2 has a moderately thick EVA foam midsole that smooths impact while retaining responsiveness. While not as pillowy as the Clifton 9, the Kawana 2 offers sufficient cushioning for long miles while providing a lively, well-balanced ride. The Clifton 9 wins for pure softness, while the Kawana 2 gives cushioning with feedback.

Value:

With a retail price of $140, the Kawana 2 offers excellent value for a durable, cushioned daily trainer suitable for any run. Its versatile performance and secure fit make it a mileage-friendly workhorse.

Meanwhile, the Clifton 9 costs slightly more at $145 but is less versatile, best for slower efforts. The plush midsole also wears down faster, reducing longevity.

While the Clifton 9 provides luxurious softness, its limited use case and shorter lifespan make it a pricier proposition per mile. Overall, the Kawana 2 gives more bang for your buck as an accommodating trainer that can handle any workout while going the distance.

Performance Comparision:

Walking:

For walking shoes, both the Kawana 2 and Clifton 9 offer flexible uppers, cushioned midsoles, and grippy outsoles to make walking comfortable. The Clifton 9’s extra-plush cushioning absorbs shock effectively for low impact walking.

However, the Kawana 2 provides a touch more stability with its firmer midsole that prevents excess rolling of the foot. Both have sufficient traction for varied walking surfaces.

Overall, while the Clifton 9 is softer underfoot, the Kawana 2 may be more versatile for transitioning into light jogs or faster-paced walking intervals making it better for multi-use.

Running:

The Clifton 9 stands out for its exceptionally soft, pillow-like cushioning that provides marshmallow-soft comfort underfoot. The proprietary CMEVA foam midsole absorbs impact forces and reduces fatigue on the joints through its high shock attenuation. This plushness comes at the expense of ground feel and bounce, however.

In contrast, the Kawana 2 has a moderately thick EVA foam midsole that smooths impact while retaining responsiveness. While not as pillowy as the Clifton 9, the Kawana 2 offers sufficient cushioning for long miles while providing a lively, well-balanced ride. The Clifton 9 wins for pure softness, while the Kawana 2 gives cushioning with feedback.

Plantar Fasciitis:

The Clifton 9’s maximally soft foam midsole helps minimize pressure on the plantar fascia, absorbing heel strike shock. However, the narrow toe box crowds the forefoot which can aggravate plantar fasciitis.

Meanwhile, the Kawana 2 offers a roomier toe box to allow proper toe splay while providing adequate midsole cushioning to soften the impact. The moderate firmness adds stability underfoot.

For reducing irritation, the Kawana 2’s wider toe box helps take tension off the plantar fascia while providing the necessary cushioning, giving it the advantage for plantar fasciitis.

Standing All Day:

Cushioning and support are key for shoes worn standing all day. The Clifton 9 delivers on the plush cushioning aspect with its soft foam that maintains comfort hour after hour.

However, the narrow fit reduces support. In contrast, the Kawana 2 combines cushioning with a secure upper to lock in the foot. This prevents wobbling or instability when worn for extended periods of standing. Given its balance of cushioning, support, and roomy fit, the Kawana 2 is better equipped for all-day wear when you’ll be on your feet.

Final Verdict:

Overall, the Hoka Kawana 2 is the better pick for most runners seeking an everyday training shoe. It offers the cushioned and stable ride Hoka is known for, with excellent shock absorption and a comfortable fit suitable for wider feet. The responsive midsole provides a lively feel across varied paces and distances.


In contrast, the Clifton 9 is ideal for those prioritizing softness and comfort above all else. Its plush ride dampens the ground feel and is best reserved for recovery days and slow mileage.

For versatile cushioning you can take anywhere, the Kawana 2 is a winner. Save the Clifton 9 solely for rest days when you want to treat your feet to pillowy soft landings.

Leave a comment