Earlier this year, the running shoe specialists at Hoka One One released the TenNine—a shoe so strange and bold in its design that it comes with its own special warning label on the shoebox: “CAUTION” it reads. “Using this product for anything other than running may impair balance and dexterity. So, don’t wear these on stairs or while driving.”
The TenNine’s most obvious (and controversial) feature is the extended midsole—which stretches several inches behind the heel to give runners maximum contact with the ground. It was made specifically for people prone to rolling their ankles on trails, as well as people who want to run downhill. They’re extreme.
Upon first glance, one Fast Company colleague pinged me: “I, too, would run down a hill and away from humanity if I was wearing these.” Fast-forward to today and Hoka is at it again—but this time with a shoe that is much more approachable. And dare I say, completely awesome.
Hoka just released the Clifton Edge, a running shoe that takes cues from both the TenNine’s specialty design and the brand’s traditional lightweight road running shoes—like the original Clifton model. Together, the design features of the Clifton Edge create a cloud-like—but supportive—feel. Wearing them somehow makes it seem like twisting my ankles is not a present danger but a faint memory of my past. According to Gretchen Weimer, global vice president of product at Hoka One One, I can thank a technology called “Meta-Rocker” for that.
“Our Meta-Rocker technology is a curved geometry in the midsole and outsole designed to help the user move smoothly from foot strike to toe-off, no matter where they land,” Weimer explains. “The extended heel is a geometry feature designed to reduce the stress of the body on impact, stabilize the landing, and help the foot securely transition from the heel to toe.” While the heel does smoosh out a bit underfoot, it does so with subtlety—giving it a fast, futuristic look and a feel that I can attest is much more stable and bouncier underfoot than other cushioned road running shoes.
And they are light. Like, featherweight light.
Weighing in at just a smidge over 7 oz. (for a women’s size 9), the Clifton Edge doesn’t weigh you down—whether you’re walking, road running, or doing an outdoor HIIT workout. It feels like being barefoot (but way better since your feet are being cushioned by yummy foam). The thin, single-piece knitted upper creates a sock-like hug around your foot, so you never find yourself sliding side to side over the sole when your foot moves laterally (a problem I’ve always experienced with Nike shoes).
Altogether, the extended heel, the one-piece knitted upper, the foamy midsole, and the sharp colorway (I’ve got the foggy white and dusty pink/mandarin orange combo) make for a shoe that is an absolute pleasure to slip on and head out for a run in. Not only are they functional as hell, but they are compliment-worthy cool. In fact, in my first 5K spin in them (which I ran mere minutes after the box arrived at my house because I was so excited to test them out), a woman out for a walk hollered out across the street at me, “Cool shoes!”
I certainly never got that while wearing my original Bondi’s back in 2014 (when the puzzled looks on passerby’s faces read: “What the hell are those clown shoes on her feet?”). Hoka has come a long way with its designs, and the Clifton Edge is an absolute win.
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