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

The Hoka Kawana and Clifton 9 are both popular running shoes from Hoka One One’s lineup. But with so many similarities, how do you know which one is right for you?

This in-depth comparison highlights the key differences between these two neutral cushioned trainers to help you decide which best fits your needs.

Similarities And Differences Between Hoka Kawana and Clifton 9:

FeatureHoka KawanaHoka Clifton 9
Launched In20222023
StabilityNeutralNeutral
FlexibilityModerateModerate
SizingTrue to sizeRuns small, consider sizing up 0.5
Weight10.6 oz (M), 9.5 oz (W)8.7 oz
CushionCMEVA foamHighly cushioned CMEVA foam
OutsoleFull rubber coverageRubber
MidsoleCMEVA foamCMEVA foam
UpperEngineered meshEngineered knit mesh
Retail Price$140$145

Features Comparison:

Here we will see how the features of Kawana differ from Clifton 9 to help you make an informed decision.

Materials

The Hoka Kawana features a breathable engineered mesh upper with embroidered overlays for structure and support. The Clifton 9 also utilizes an engineered mesh upper but uses a more streamlined knit construction for a flexible and sock-like fit. Underfoot, both shoes use Hoka’s signature CMEVA foam, but the Clifton 9 contains more cushioning, resulting in a softer ride.

HOKA KAWANA
KAWANA

Clifton 9
CLIFTON 9

The Kawana incorporates rubber coverage across the entire outsole while the Clifton 9 uses strategic rubber placement in high-wear areas. Overall, the Kawana has a more durable outsole and structured upper, while the Clifton 9 prioritizes cushioning and a flexible fit.

Durability

With its full rubber outsole and sturdy upper, the Hoka Kawana is the more durable option between the two shoes. The thick CMEVA midsole is also built to maintain its cushioning and responsiveness for many miles. By comparison, the Clifton 9 features exposed midsole foam and a knit upper that is more prone to wear over time.

However, the Clifton 9 still contains high-quality materials that can hold up to daily training. Runners report getting 300-500 miles out of the Clifton before signs of wear, while the Kawana can last over 500+ miles.

So while the Kawana wins out in long-term durability, the Clifton 9 is no slouch either – it should easily last for several months of regular running before needing to be replaced. Those looking for maximum mileage will get the most value from the Kawana.

Fit

The Kawana fits true to size for most runners, with a medium width through the midfoot and toebox. Its upper is not overly snug or constricting, yet still provides a secure foothold. The Clifton 9 is known for having a narrower fit, especially in the forefoot. Many runners with wider feet find they need to size up by 0.5 or opt for the wide version of the shoe.

HOKA KAWANA TOP VIEW
KAWANA TOP VIEW

Clifton 9 Top View
CLIFTON 9

The knit upper material does have some stretch to accommodate different foot shapes, but overall the Clifton 9 caters to those with low-volume or narrow feet. Both shoes have moderate heel and midfoot lockdown.

However, the Clifton 9’s smoother knit collar results in slightly less stability at the heel. If you have a wider foot or prefer a more secure heel hold, the Kawana would be the better choice fit-wise.

Stability

The Kawana and Clifton 9 are both neutral cushioned trainers best suited for neutral pronators who do not need correction for overpronation. Neither shoe has any added stability features such as medial posts, guide rails, or dense foam under the arch. However, the Kawana does provide slightly more inherent stability due to its wider platform and full ground contact outsole.

The exposed midsole sides of the Clifton 9 compromise lateral stability to some degree. For those who struggle with their ankles rolling inward, the Kawana’s platform may offer more support and security underfoot. Both shoes have moderate midfoot torsional rigidity to prevent excess twisting.

While neither model is ideal for severe overpronators, the Kawana’s wider base makes it the more stable option if you occasionally need mild-moderate pronation support.

Cushioning

There is no clear winner when it comes to midsole cushioning between these two models – it depends on your preferences! The Clifton 9 contains more overall foam thickness and softness, delivering extremely plush cushioning best suited for recovery days and long slow miles. The high stack height and rockered shape make the ride very smooth and low impact.

By contrast, the Kawana has a moderately cushioned, slightly firmer ride that maintains a decent ground feel. It has enough foam to soak up hard impacts but provides a responsive sensation better suited to tempo runs and faster workouts.

The Kawana’s extra weight also adds cushioning through its inherently higher momentum. Both shoes use CMEVA foam to prevent packing down over time. So the Clifton 9 wins for softness while the Kawana offers a more balanced, moderately cushioned ride.

Value for Money

At $140 retail, the Hoka Kawana sits at the higher end of the price range for a daily trainer while the Clifton 9 costs $145.

Considering the excellent durability of its robust outsole and upper, runners can log hundreds of miles in the Kawana to maximize value. However, the ultra-cushioned Clifton 9 appeals to more foot types with its plush yet responsive foam and stretchy engineered upper.

Given its versatile wearability for long distances, recovery days, and daily miles, most runners can make great use of the Clifton 9. Unless you specifically need the stability and structure of the Kawana, the Clifton provides better overall performance.

For runners with narrower feet seeking a very cushy feel, the Clifton 9 is the better value purchase.

Performance Comparison:

After features, we will see how both models deliver when we compare their performance. So let’s start.

For Walking

The Hoka Clifton 9 is the better choice for walking shoes between the two models. Its plush cushioning absorbs shock comfortably and reduces fatigue when walking for fitness or running errands around town. The flexible knit upper moves naturally with the foot during striding motions.

In contrast, the Kawana is quite rigid and restrictive for casual walking, with its structured mesh upper and moderately firm midsole. The Clifton 9 provides much smoother heel-to-toe transitions for a more natural gait when walking.

For Running

For running, it depends on your needs. The Kawana is the more versatile option suitable for tempo runs, fartleks, and daily training up to marathon distances. Its responsive midsole, stable platform, and breathable upper make it a well-rounded neutral runner.

The Clifton 9 truly shines for recovery days and long runs when you want ultra-soft cushioning to soak up high mileage. The rockered shape encourages forward momentum at easy paces. Choose the Kawana if you want one shoe for all training, or the Clifton 9 if you prioritize cushioning for long distances.

For Plantar Fasciitis

The Clifton 9 is the top choice between these two Hokas for plantar fasciitis or foot pain relief. Its soft, marshmallow-like cushioning absorbs shock gently to prevent jarring the sensitive plantar fascia tissue. The curved shape also encourages a smooth heel-to-toe roll-off motion to minimize strain on the arch and surrounding structures.

While the Kawana offers adequate midsole padding, runners with plantar fasciitis will benefit more from the plusher compression and heel bevel of the Clifton 9. Its softness eases pressure on the heels and arches with every step.

For Standing All Day

Similar to plantar fasciitis, the Clifton 9 is better equipped for all-day standing comfort compared to the Kawana. Abundant foam under the heel and forefoot keeps you feeling fresh even after hours on your feet. The engineered knit upper also adapts to swelling feet with its forgiving fit.

While the Kawana provides sufficient cushioning for short periods of standing, its dense foam and stiff mesh upper limit its all-day wearability. For nurses, retail workers, or others on their feet for long shifts, the Clifton 9 has the edge for keeping discomfort at bay.

Final Verdict:

The Hoka Clifton 9 is the better choice if you want maximum cushioning for recovery days, long distances, walking, plantar fasciitis relief, or standing all day. Its plush ride offers comfort through the highest mileage.

However, runners who need a durable, well-rounded trainer suitable for tempo workouts and daily miles of any distance should consider the Hoka Kawana instead. It offers a moderately cushioned and responsive platform in a stable package built to last. Narrow-footed runners who run primarily easy miles will get the best fit and feel from the Clifton 9.


Go for the Kawana if you have medium to wide feet and want just one versatile shoe rather than a quiver. Both models cater to neutral pronators who do not require stability features. Weight-wise, the Clifton 9 wins out by nearly 2 ounces.

While the shoes share similarities like the CMEVA midsole and engineered mesh upper, the Clifton 9 prioritizes softness while the Kawana focuses more on underfoot stability. Considering your foot type, mileage needs, and training goals will help determine which of these quality Hoka options is right for you.

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