On is a footwear company that was founded in Switzerland at the beginning of 2010. Since then, they have taken the world by storm with their highly advanced athletic apparel that takes advantage of cutting-edge technology. After a long and drawn-out prototyping process, On released footwear so innovative that they won the ISPO Brandnew Award. In only half a year since their founding, On running shoes were flying off the shelves. After a few years of widespread success, On released the Cloud, a new running shoe taking advantage of their latest in lightweight cushioning technology. True to its name, the On Cloud emulates the feeling of running on clouds as one of the lightest fully cushioned running shoes on the market.
Thanks to the unique padding on the outsoles, the On Cloud looks and feels very different from competing brands. Instead of using rubber, a form of foam commonly used for midsoles are used instead. Hollowed foam is used for the construction of On’s proprietary CloudTec
outsole, supported with thick pillars that hold the pods up in order to avoid excessive compression. This results in a surprising amount of flexibility, maintaining an enjoyable sensation regardless of speed. Grip pads and a deep central channel provide much-needed traction and resistance against multiple forms of debris. With an outsole of questionable firmness, some runners may be skeptical as to whether the Cloud is viable for running longer distances
. However, one satisfied customer stated that they have managed to run in these shoes comfortably for 5Ks and marathons.
A minimalist and neutral design was implemented for the construction of the On Cloud’s midsole. Due to the unconventional design of the foam CloudTec outsole, a bulkier midsole was required. The result is a full-length EVA foam design referred to as a SpeedBoard. One major benefit of this design is fantastic arch support thanks to a solid connection along the midfoot to the upper. Special grooves added to the arch, heel, and forefoot provide additional flexibility in order to stave off potential rigidity from the thick padding. The result is a comfortable, flexible, and durable midsole that more than compensates for any shortcomings presented by the Cloud’s unusual outsole.
The initial appearance of the On Cloud’s upper more closely resembles a casual sneaker than a standard running shoe. This doesn’t mean that it can’t meet the needs of a standard running shoe, just that it also carries the benefit of fashion appeal. The mesh material used around the forefoot provides comfortable protection without weighing down the foot. Further towards the back, the upper begins to take on more of a canvas feel. The closest thing that compares to the feeling of wearing these shoes is a pair of slippers; whether that is a positive or a negative will ultimately depend on the individual.
Running in the On Cloud is very easy thanks to its extremely lightweight construction. These shoes are even roughly 1.5 ounces lighter than other running shoes
made by On. They weigh around 8 ½ ounces, making them as light as a minimalist road running shoe
. What’s impressive about this comparison is that the Cloud still offers the cushion and protection you would expect from a standard running shoe; as a result, the On Cloud is the best parts of both running footwear styles.
In addition to a pleasant visual aesthetic, the design of the On Cloud’s upper provides excellent breathability which makes it perfect for casual running
in a variety of environments. No complaints have been made by customers regarding the ventilation of these running shoes. The Cloud’s upper provides most of this breathability by being airy without feeling flimsy. Runners with a tendency to sweat around the pores of their feet will appreciate this feature the most since moisture is easily managed by these shoes.
True to its name, the On Cloud feels as comfortable as a literal cloud. One particular design aspect sure to provide much-needed comfort to runners is extra room for the toes around the forefoot region. Another comfortable design aspect is the fantastically light weight of the entire shoe, helping to prevent calf strain after longer runs. Unfortunately, the width of these shoes will only provide comfort for runners with an average foot width for their shoe size; runners with wider than average feet will need to look elsewhere.
The best way of describing the On Cloud’s style is that it’s a running shoe that looks nothing like any other running shoe. It’s an odd duck for sure, making it difficult to define exactly what makes it so appealing. However, it is a definite fact that these shoes are aesthetically appealing and much more fashionable than you may expect. It certainly doesn’t look like a running shoe at first glance, since it more closely resembles a casual sneaker. A variety of color choices and elasticized laces serve as a cherry on top since they aren’t the most stylish aspects of the Cloud but do add to its overall aesthetic.
One particularly durable component of the On Cloud is the canvas-like material located toward the rear of the upper. Despite feeling and looking flimsier than some other running shoe materials, runners have found that these shoes hold up in all manner of running conditions and environments. Thicker mesh material has also been implemented near the forefoot, helping to further improve the Cloud’s resilience to road hazards. On being known for making shoes with exceptional durability and the Cloud is a reflection of that reputation, showcasing just the right amount of longevity to handle up-tempo runs, jogging sessions, or casual strolls for a long time to come.
The On Cloud provides the majority of its exemplary protection through the generous application of cushioning. The outsole’s Cloud Pods provide the underfoot with protective cushioning with compression on contact with the ground. Some runners may be wary about the defensive capabilities of an outsole not made of rubber, but the ingenuity of On’s design make up for any shortcomings. Additional cushioning placed in the SpeedBoard midsole and around the breathable upper provides terrific foot protection hand in hand with amazing comfort.
The level of responsiveness offered by the Cloud is much better than previous models of On running shoes. This is even more impressive when considering just how responsive other On shoes are. All the way from the heel to the toe, runners can experience quick reactions to the movements of their feet. This is possible mostly because of the CloudPods that make up the CloudTec outsole; by weighing less and compressing more than conventional rubber, a greater feeling of bounciness is provided.
Out of the many fascinating and functional design features added to the On Cloud, one that has left many runners puzzled is the elasticized laces
. These are the default laces included on the shoes; while they save time that would otherwise be spent tying and untying, many runners feel that they do a poor job securing the foot in place and can potentially lead to feet sliding inside the shoe. Fortunately, On includes traditional laces in the box, meaning that runners can replace them if they feel the elastic laces aren’t supportive enough. Aside from this one feature, no complaints can be made regarding the support offered by the On Cloud.
It’s important to keep in mind that these shoes are fundamentally different from the majority of other running shoes. The On Cloud may fulfill enough criteria through its design to be classified as a minimalist style running shoe. However, the amount of cushioning present in the midsole and upper make them strongly reminiscent of more serious running shoes. Ultimately, these shoes are best used on flat and hard surfaces with minimal hazards due to the peculiar design of its outsole potentially attracting debris. While many features are present that can make these shoes viable for more intense terrain, durability becomes harder to maintain in these environments.
The suggested retail price listed through On’s official website is the average cost a runner should expect for a high-end running shoe. A very small discount can be found when searching for the Cloud on alternate retail sites but for the most part, runners will have to pay close to full price. This may seem unreasonable to some frugal runners but the fact is that these shoes are worth the value. When considering how ingenious of a design the On Cloud showcases and how comfortable it feels, this initial cost should be seen as a quality investment.
The On Cloud provides a great deal of traction that may surprise some runners due to the fact that it implements an unconventional outsole design. Despite this interesting distinction, the Cloud remains ideal for short or long running sessions. The use of 16 Cloud Pods and a deep central trench contribute greatly to this functional traction, with the SpeedBoard midsole compensating for any drawbacks caused by the CloudTec’s foam construction. Because of this, the On Cloud manages to provide traction appropriate for use on similar running surfaces to standard running shoes without weighing nearly as much.
As a consequence of the lightweight materials used for the majority of its construction, the On Cloud is very flexible. The appropriate amount of give provided by the perfect balance of outsole and midsole results in a shoe perfect for racing
. That said, the heel of the Cloud feels a bit stiff. Other than that, these shoes manage to provide a comfortable flexibility without feeling uncontrollable.
Many of the pitfalls runners have learned to expect with a lightweight and highly flexible running shoe have been avoided with the On Cloud. Even though they may need to switch out the laces, runners can run comfortably knowing that their shoes will maintain stability through a solid upper grip. Additionally, a very firm SpeedBoard midsole prevents excessive bend that may have otherwise ensued due to the widely spaced foam outsole. This means that On has accomplished the incredibly difficult task of balancing flexibility and stability.
With a heel drop of roughly 6 mm, the On Cloud has a heel to toe elevation slightly less than a standard running shoe but still a bit more than a minimalist runner or trail shoe. What this means is that less heel padding is present, reducing weight and promoting a faster, more efficient stride as a result. Runners who have a tendency to strike the ground with their heels will still have a modicum of cushioning, especially when you consider that essentially the entire bottom half of this shoe is made of cushioning.
- CloudTec outsole
- Zero-Gravity foam construction
- Deep flex grooves along the outsole
- Elastic laces
- Additional standard laces for greater tightness
- Reflective materials improve low-light visibility
- Highly breathable mesh upper
What is immediately apparent at first glance is that the On Cloud is very different from the majority of running shoes on the market. They are certainly stylish, with many different color schemes and a sleek, futuristic visual aesthetic. Out of all the design features present, the one that is sure to be the most controversial is the CloudTec outsole. It’s true that On has taken great pains to mitigate any issues that could arise from such an unconventional style of outsole but the fact remains that long-distance runners will feel neglected. However, thanks to the amazing flexibility, durability, and comfort displayed in a pair of shoes that are this fashionable and lightweight, runners are sure to see the appeal of this footwear. In particular, runners interested in the most possible cushion during their run will want to hunt down a pair of these. True to their name, the On Cloud really does emulate the feeling of running on a soft, pillowy cloud.