Hoka Clayton 2 Review
Hoka Clayton 2 - Review
Having clocked up 200km in my Clayton 2s the shoe has proved it's worth as a brilliant piece of footwear and one I relish putting on in the morning.
Originally I bought the Clayton 2 to use for my recovery runs on firmer surfaces. Historically I avoid tarmac like the plague but having come to the conclusion if I want to get a bit more speed over the hard, unforgiving and monotonous surface I'll have to pound some miles into the pavements.
Since using the Hoka Huaka for a fair amount of speed work last year and finding the Meta-Rocker a total revelation for easing the stress on my toe joints and plantar fascia it seemed wise to keep a Hoka shoe in my current quiver of go-to shoes. The Clayton was doing it's job well, more cushioned than other shoes I own, the Meta-Rocker giving me a good and smooth push-off but still feeling responsive. I did have one reservation about the Clayton....I've a bad habit of wearing down the lateral side of shoes and was a little worried the RMAT* outsole might not withstand my gait! After 200km it's still looking in good condition which is pleasantly surprising.
Hoka market the Clayton 2 as one of their "Speed" shoes, yet I'd been using it for my steady recovery runs and tempo runs on the Monsal Trail and had been more than happy with it for this purpose. However, I'd never run fast (for me) in the Clayton so thought I'd have a go at a Park Run in them and managed to bop out a 16min19sec 5km - only 10 seconds off my PB.
Testament to how much I like this shoe - I find the Green/Blue colour combo pretty rank but I still put the shoes on several times a week!
Photo credit - George Carman
My overall feelings on the Clayton are that it is a very versatile shoe. For those after a lighter shoe to clock some miles it is excellent, the 4mm drop (24mm heel) might be a bit low for some but I personally think the stiff Meta-Rocker off-sets the low drop some what by helping to initiate the push off. Equally the shoe is as at home running quick on the tarmac, the dual density midsole (firmer at the heel than the forefoot) means if you're up on the forefoot you've a very responsive and peppy feel but should you fatigue or relax into a more mid to rear foot contact you've the cushioning there. I wouldn't want to tackle a course with too much twisting and turning in the Clayton (or any Hoka to be brutally honest) I do find that as a result of the wide sole, which gives the shoe it's stable platform (something I like) when turning tight corners the ankle is under more lateral stress.
How the shoe fits & feels:
The Clayton fits a little broader than the other Hokas I've used (Huaka, Speedgoat & Speed Instinct). The toe box is much more open. The overlays are quite even over the foot meaning it doesn't feel too tight in an particular area and generally gives a comfortably snug fit around the mid foot.
Although the Clayton is a neutral shoe I personally feel as though the medial side of the heel has some "lift" to it, not an intrusive sensation but one of my foot being cradled and well held. The heel counter is non-existent with no structure to it at all, the heel is counter-sunk into the midsole so there is some cradling from this but the heel collar is very soft and supple. As a mid foot runner I don't really notice the difference in the different densities of the sole. However, I don't think the forefoot is too firm and still has that soft Hoka feel to it.
I'm generally highly critical when it comes to footwear but am finding it hard to critics the Clayton 2. Perhaps it's isn't specific enough for some, maybe it should be a little lower to the ground and a few grams lighter or should Hoka have made the heel collar more structured to cater for the less stable runner? I personally think that to have a shoe which you can run a 15 mile tempo in and then run a fast 5k in as well is pretty good going.
The Clayton 2 is up on our website here > Clayton 2 - Super Shoe
*R-Mat - a blended rubber EVA. Lighter, harder wearing, more rebound and grippy.