Hoka One One Clifton vs. Asics Gel Kayano
Runners looking for a solid daily shoe have a lot of options these days—and two that often top the popularity list are the Hoka One One Clifton and the Asics Gel Kayano. Asics is a perennial favorite brand with runners, while Hoka One One, founded in 2009, is a newer player on the scene. Both brands have proponents among professionals and amateurs alike. At face value, Asics’ classic Gel Kayano series and Hoka One One’s Clifton provide similar benefits, offering a cushioned, supportive ride for base training and logging miles. But how does a runner without brand loyalty choose between the two? Each shoe has its own distinct pros and cons that may impact different runners in different ways. Read on to find out what you need to know about these two shoes.
Asics Gel Kayano
Pros: Asics’ Kayano model has been a favorite shoe with overpronators since 1993 thanks to its strong stability supports. The company’s proprietary Dynamic Duomax support, provided by a firm section on the inside of the midsole, works with the shoe’s signature TRUSSTIC resin midsole section (essentially a medial post) to prevent excess twisting and rolling of the foot. An external heel counter provides an additional feeling of security and prevents the foot from slipping inside the shoe. For the runner, the result is a stable ride that still feels natural and not rigid.
The shoe is also quite well-cushioned thanks to a two-layer sole and padded tongue and heel collar. A gel pad in the heel protects against excessive force by dispersing it throughout the shoe, reducing the risk of injury. While comfort was clearly prioritized in the design, the shoes remain responsive and springy enough for runners to keep up a strong pace.
Though these shoes tend to fit slightly narrow and small for their size, runners have found the latest models roomier than previous versions, providing plenty of space even on long, foot-swelling runs. The mesh upper is designed to stay snug and secure without getting too hot—and while it’s not waterproof, the weave is tight enough to prevent small splashes from getting through. The shoe comes in at a fairly typical 10 mm drop.
Cons: The Kayano has never claimed to be a minimalist shoe, and runners looking for a light, fast ride or a true racing shoe will likely be disappointed. This is one of the heavier shoes on the market, coming in at 11.1 ounces in the men’s shoe. The back of the shoe, in particular, can feel heavy in motion.
While plenty of neutral runners use the Kayano, its stability features are best suited to true overpronators—other runners may find the shoe too rigid, and won’t get the benefits of the features, which do add weight. And runners who need or prefer a smaller drop should likely look elsewhere.
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Hoka One One Clifton
Pros: Hoka One One took a maximalist approach from the start, and the Clifton is no exception. Its fans keep coming back for its full-compression EVA foam, which provides both comfort and the cushioning to protect injury-prone runners. At the same time, Hoka One One has proven that cushion can come without too much added weight—the men’s Clifton weighs in at 8.7 ounces.
Despite all that cushion, the Clifton remains responsive and even springy, thanks to its Meta-Rocker design technology and beveled heel. Together, these features encourage a smooth, rolling stride, creating a strong shoe for base miles and long runs.
While the Clifton isn’t a stability shoe per say, it does have a wide footprint, which combined with the thick cushion adds a certain amount of stability. With its low 5 mm drop, the shoe is designed for runners who want a more natural (albeit soft) feel, and takes some of the stress off the hips and knees.
Cons: Since it doesn’t have structural supports like a medial post, the Clifton is unlikely to be the best choice for a serious overpronator.
While the Clifton’s upper is made of layers of mesh, it’s thick and traps a lot of heat. Runners who are bothered by hot feet or who run in hot climates may want to look for a more breathable shoe.
The foam midsole doesn’t offer the kind of springiness found in more racing-oriented shoes of its weight—while it provides a smooth and reasonably quick ride, it’s likely too soft for some racers focused on their time.
While its 5 mm drop may be a good choice for runners prone to knee and hip injuries, it can put additional pressure on the ankles and calves, which may be a bad choice for some.
Conclusion: There are plenty of great options for daily trainers available these days, and the Asics Gel Kayano and Hoka One One Clifton are no exception. Both shoes offer well-cushioned, supportive rides yet avoid a sluggish feel. Ultimately, the choice comes down to the anatomy and preferences of the runner. Overpronators would be better served by the Kayano, with its midsole supports to prevent feet from rolling in too far, while neutral runners will find flexibility and cushioning with the Clifton. Runners with specific injury-prone areas may also want to consider the impact of the difference in drop between the two shoes. Whichever you choose, both shoes are sure to be great equipment for many miles ahead—and you can find them both here at Shoekicker.