Hoka Arahi vs Clifton – Which Is Right for You?


Hoka shoes have become very popular with runners thanks to all the soft, shock-absorbing cushioning built into the shoe.

In this article, we’re comparing two of their best-selling shoes: the Hoka Arahi vs Clifton. Which is right for you? Well, mainly it depends on your gait. But more on that in a bit.

There are some large differences between the two shoes, but they also have a lot of overlaps.

If you’re a Hoka fan and you’re looking for a new shoe, compare these two to decide which one would work best for you.

Main Differences

The biggest difference between the two shoes is that the Clifton is a neutral shoe, while the Arahi is a stability shoe.

If you’re an overpronator who needs extra support, this will be an important difference to take note of. Choosing the wrong shoe means being uncomfortable while you run, with added chance of injury too.

Neutral runners, on the other hand, should be able to wear both with no issue. The stability shoe may be slightly less comfortable.


Hoka Clifton 9

The upper of the Clifton 9 is made from 100% vegan materials and consists of seamless engineered mesh. It isn’t overly padded and features multiple large perforations in the toe box and midfoot, making the shoe more breathable.

Your toes will have plenty of wiggle room, as the toe box is wide and has depth. This is ideal if you use custom orthotics or have a foot condition like bunions, metatarsalgia, or hammer toe.

The smooth inner-lining provides step-in comfort without creating any hot spots. The gusseted tongue is generously padded and stays on top of the foot without moving or sacrificing flexibility. It allows you to cinch down for a dialed-in fit, while distributing pressure evenly across your foot.

The Clifton’s laces are long and threaded through reinforced eyelets. There’s an extra set of eyelets that you can use to customize the fit even more.

The Clifton 9 has an extended “elf ear” heel collar, which helps to hold your foot firmly in place. To make you visible in low light conditions, reflective detailing has been added on both sides of the toe box and the back of the heel.

Hoka Arahi 7

The Arahi 7 also has an engineered flatknit upper that’s nice and breathable, with welded overlays and ample room in the toe box for people who have wide feet. The upper is a bit more secure than past versions of the Arahi.

The heel is more structured, with a thick, firm heel counter to control lateral movement of the foot. A flared elf ear heel collar keeps your foot locked in, and you don’t have to worry about chafing or blisters as the heel doesn’t actually touch the Achilles.

The laces of the Arahi 7 are very long, which is great if you use the additional eyelets. But you may still have extra lace after double or triple knotting, which can be a little annoying.

The tongue is well padded, adding to the comfort of the shoe without creating any hot spots. Two holes in the tongue for the laces help keep the tongue in place. There’s reflective detailing on the heel, to make you visible from the back in low-light conditions.


Hoka Clifton 9

The Clifton 9 features a lightweight, one-piece, thick layer of EVA foam cushioning that doesn’t overly compress during use.

The generous amount of cushioning will provide exceptionally soft landings (especially if you’re a heel striker). It’s supportive and does have some bounce on medium and long-distance runs.

The sidewalls are raised on the heel which helps to guide your feet, while providing additional cushioning and comfort. A thick Ortholite insole provides a plush step-in feel and contributes to a soft, protective ride.

While you may not be able to go after your PR in these shoes, the Clifton 9 won’t weigh you down. They’re estimated to be up to 15% lighter than the previous version.

You will, however, be able to push a slightly faster pace and the shoes should provide a smooth, balanced ride.

Hoka Arahi 7

The Arahi 7 is a max-cushioned trainer that’s low in weight, with a great balance of support. The dual-density midsole features a J-frame, which is made from firmer EVA than the rest of the midsole.

This frame wraps all the way around the heel, into the arch on the medial side of the shoe. This helps to guide your foot and provides additional support and stability throughout your gait cycle.

The thick layer of EVA foam in the midsole is soft, but may not be very responsive. It’s best for recovery runs and longer distances, but not so great for speed work.

However, it will keep your joints protected and you may only feel the J-frame guiding your foot when your legs are tired. Ideal for overpronators, but also decent for neutral feet.

Adding to the comfort of the shoe is a thick, 4.5mm Otholite insole, which will make your recovery and long distance runs feel easier.

The foam extends a little at the heel, which helps to provide a more stabilized feel for heel strikers and smooths out the ride.


Hoka Clifton 9

There’s a fairly thick layer of rubber that’s strategically placed in areas that are susceptible to wear. There’s also some exposed midsole foam, which may decrease the durability if you use this shoe often.

The tread design has changed in the forefoot since the previous version. The lugs are now diagonal, with flex grooves that run across the forefoot. This makes the forefoot feel slightly stiffer, but it still provides some snap during transitions.

The rubber on the heel extends a bit further up on the lateral midfoot, which could help to reduce wear for midfoot strikers. A central triangle running down the heel on the outsole may help provide additional stability when your foot makes contact with the ground.

To improve transitions, the heel of the shoe is angled and the early stage meta rocker helps you roll forward. This reduces fatigue and will also help save energy, especially on long runs.

Hoka Arahi 7

At least 75% of the outsole of Arahi 7 is covered in thick, dense rubber, which means there shouldn’t be any premature wear.

The outsole is harder to the touch, has great grip, and works well in all conditions. The tread pattern features interlinking lugs in the forefoot, with some exposed EVA in the midfoot.

Two flex grooves run across the forefoot, providing some flexibility. The rubber on the heel extends all the way up to the toe on the lateral side of the shoe.

The combination of the J-frame and the early stage meta rocker helps to propel you forward, making your transitions easy while reducing overpronation.

Other Features


Hoka Clifton 9

The Clifton 9 has a lot of cushion but your feet won’t sink into the shoe. It provides a balanced cushioned ride, even if it’s slightly firmer than its predecessor.

While the stiffer forefoot does have some flexibility, the early stage meta rocker helps you to roll easily through your stride. The midsole cushioning is responsive and will help to keep your legs feeling fresh on those long runs.

Hoka Arahi 7

The Arahi 7 provides a firm, slightly stiff ride, but the shoe easily rocks you forward. A cushy midsole keeps your feet and legs comfortable even if you have to push a bit for faster miles.

You may not feel the J-frame during the run, but when your legs fatigue you should feel the shoe guide your feet through the gait cycle.

Even though the shoe looks a bit clunky and it’s a stability shoe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how light it is.

Heel-to-Toe Drop

Both the Clifton 9 and Arahi 7 have a heel-to-toe drop of 5mm. They also both have substantial stack heights, which are slightly more stable with the lower heel drop.


The Clifton 9 is slightly lighter between the two shoes. An average-sized men’s shoe weighs 8.8 oz, and the equivalent women’s shoe weighs 7.5 oz.

The Arahi 7 is probably the lightest max-cushioned stability shoe on the market at the moment, although it’s still a little heavier than the Clifton. A men’s shoe weighs 9.9 oz and the women’s shoe weighs around 8.1 oz.

It’s important to note that the weight of the shoe does vary a little with each size of shoe. That goes for any running shoe, not just these two!


These two shoes are very close in price at the time of writing, with the Clifton coming in at $140 and the Arahi slightly more, at $145.


The Clifton 9 is Hoka’s most popular shoe, and it’s definitely favored by neutral-footed runners who want an everyday trainer with plenty of comfy cushioning.

If you want a super padded shoe that’s built for distance and comfort rather than speed, the Clifton is an excellent choice.

However, if you need a stability shoe, then the Arahi is the obvious choice. The stability features are subtle, so they’ll only come into play when you need them. But you’ll be getting a max chunk of cushion to protect your joints too.

It’s interesting to note that the Arahi’s stability features are so unobtrusive that runners with neutral feet could actually wear the shoe fairly comfortably too.

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Shanna is a writer who runs... And cycles, jumps rope, and lifts weights. She lives in beautiful South Africa and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other avid athletes.