On Cloudsurfer

The On Cloudsurfer is a uniquely designed road shoe that looks just as good as it performs. The Swiss designed trainer was made for and by athletes and features what 'On' categorizes as level 3 cushioning. The company offers 4 different levels of cushioning overall. The shoe can easily be used as both a training and racing shoe thanks to its lightweight construction. Despite it's fairly significant heel to toe drop, the shoe manages to discourage rearfoot striking, which is a pretty impressive feat. Do those pods underfoot actually feel like clouds and does the 'On' brand shoe really perform as well as is advertised? Read on to find out more about this specially designed trainer.

Join our private, growing community of passionate runners.

Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Great cushioning and impact protection
  • Mesh upper is very breathable
  • Soft cushioning feels nice underfoot
  • Durable, made of quality materials
  • Pods are quite resistant
  • Good amount of ground feel
  • Good fit for wide footed runners
  • Cons
    • Heavier than similar shoe models
    • Poor energy-return
    • Pod structure doesn't provide enough traction
    • Poor ankle support
    • Flimsy laces
    • Severe heel to toe drop
    • Some found the fit too wide
    • Key Features
      The outsole of the On CloudSurfer is uniquely constructed. Right away you'll notice that instead of lugs, the shoe features what are called 'Cloudtec pillows'. They are intended to act as small springs under your foot to propel you forward and also absorb impact. Since there's no traditional outsole, the pods also work to provide grip for the wearer. What's strange about the shoe is that the outsole actually blends into the midsole making it significantly different than traditional running shoes. Unlike traditional rubber outsoles, the pod construction doesn't do a superb job when it comes to gripping underfoot. There's also another shortcoming in the fact that wearers are placed upon these pods. It tends to cause instability.
      As mentioned, the On CloudSurfer features a blended outsole and midsole. The clouds underfoot work to protect the wearer from impact and provide rebound but there's also a layer of EVA foam doing some work in the midsole of the shoe. Still, it's hard to figure out where the outsole ends and the midsole begins with this shoe.
      The upper of the On CloudSurfer is made of engineered air mesh. You'll notice that there are very few overlays adorning the upper. This helps to keep the weight down and allows for a sleeker design. Most of the overlays are present at the back of the shoe ensuring the heel is locked in quite well. There's a convenient heel tab at the rear as well. This tab makes it easier to pull the shoes on and off. The lacing is fairly standard although quite a few reviewers complained about them. They pointed out that the laces are super thin and are annoying to tie and untie. A simple glance will prove this to be true. The laces are super thin and feel flimsy compared to the rest of the shoe. The upper also features reflective portions for visibility and a protective toe cap to keep the feet safe from impact with hard objects.
      The CloudSurfer is heavier than similar shoe models. The men and women's version weigh nearly the same, which is a bit strange. It's a pretty heavy shoe which is deceiving considering the design looks so effortless and speedy. Looking at the shoe, the heft is not obvious so many reviewers were surprised when they put the shoes on for a run.

      Read also about best on cloud shoes for running.
      This shoe features breathable Air Mesh in its upper. The flimsy laces probably also contribute to the shoe's overall breathability since there's little going on in terms of snugness here. The fit is not super secure, there's definitely room to breathe. Reviewers were generally happy with the shoe's ability to ventilate.
      The On CloudSurfer is a mixed bag when it comes to comfort. Reviewers commented on the soft cushioning and found it felt nice underfoot. The impact protection was also quite good. Here's where things go wrong. The shoe is much too heavy to be comfortable for speedwork. Even for long runs, the shoe may feel heavy to some. Reviewers found the shoe felt hard when landing on the front of the foot. Some runners didn't appreciate the significant heel to toe drop. Many found the laces very uncomfortable and too thin. And there were a variety of complaints regarding the sizing. The design is roomy so most runners will likely need to size down.

      The saving grace of the On CloudSurfer is its unique styling. The pods stand out quite a bit and may deter some runners looking for a more traditional design, but the rest of the shoe is sleek and fast looking. If the pods were non-existent, the shoe would look like a fashion sneaker.
      This On shoe rates quite high in this category. Even with such a strange outsole design, the shoe stands up to everyday use quite well. The shoe is made of quality materials, and it shows. The sole doesn't degrade as quickly as some expected, which was quite the surprise. The 'Cloudtec pillows' don't deteriorate quickly and users marveled at how long lasting the outsole really was. Over time the pods actually become more responsive to movement and become less rigid.
      The CloudSurfer provides adequate protection for everyday training. The outsole, as mentioned above, is quite durable and protects the foot quite well from surfaces underneath. The shoe also features reflective components for nighttime and early morning visibility. The cushioning, of course, also lends a hand with protection by helping to absorb the shock from each footfall. Reviewers probably loved the cushioning more than anything else in the shoe, citing it as soft and comfortable.
      This trainer provides a poor energy return. It's surprising considering the design of its outsole/midsole. Those Cloudtec pillows sure look like they provide a springy, energy-filled ride. Except, that's not really the case. Reviewers did mention that over time the pods seemed to provide a little bit more bounce back as they softened up, but overall, the shoe just isn't going to provide a super springy feel. Ground-feel still remains quite good, though, even with the strangely constructed outsole. The pods don't seem to get in the way of this at all.
      There's not a lot of the support in the On CloudSurfer. The upper features very few overlays and while the material hugs the foot nicely, the lacing system lacks the ability to properly tighten and ensure a secure fit. This is not a good training option even for mild overpronators. Reviewers also complained about the lack of ankle support with the On CloudSurfer. Most running shoes are not intended to provide lateral support, but this shoe provides a very wobbly according to users. Quite a few runners also mentioned that the shoe felt a little big. The wide fit will likely please those with larger feet but for some, it may make the shoe feel less supportive.
      The On CloudSurfer is made for road running so there's not a significant amount of traction underfoot. Just enough to prevent slipping. The shoe handles wet weather quite well but trails are another story entirely. Even on the roads, the On CloudSurfer tends to pick up pebbles and rocks. They tend to get stuck in between the Cloudtec pillows underfoot and they don't dislodge easily. Running in muddy conditions is also discouraged as it will likely become caked between the pods. It's just really not an appropriate trail shoe.
      The shoe is priced a little higher than some were comfortable with, but the On CloudSurfer is a Swiss designed shoe meaning it's built with quality materials. The shortcomings of the shoe do tend to minimize its overall value, though. There's a fair bit of cushioning to offer a comfortable ride and the shoe itself is quite durable but the ride also feels flat and the support and stability are just not up to par.
      The On CloudSurfer features a slip pattern underfoot for grip. There's not that much in terms of tread pattern, though, since the outsole does not provide full contact with the ground. Still, reviewers were pleased with the shoe's ability to handle wet conditions. The pod structure isn't going to perform as well as more traditional outsole types but it'll do fine for the occasional run on a slick ground. It's not a good choice for muddy conditions either since mud is sure to get stuck between the pods and reduce traction even further.
      This shoe's flexibility is about average. There are no special technologies to improve the shoe's malleability. Reviewers didn't seem to have too many complaints regarding this aspect of the shoe although they did mention that the cushioning sometimes felt a bit rigid. Forefoot runners, especially, found landing on the front of the foot a little uncomfortable, kind of like slapping the ground. Overtime, the pods do become a bit more malleable providing a bit less of a rigid feel underfoot.
      It was mentioned earlier that the shoe lacks appropriate ankle support, more so than your average running shoe. Reviewers found the ride in the On CloudSurfer was unstable, perhaps because of the specially designed outsole with its Cloudtec pillows. The shoe also performs just okay when it comes to traction in wet weather, further decreasing the overall stability. A crappy lacing system and lack of overlays further degrade the shoe's ability to stabilize its rider. It's really not a shoe made for pronators. Neutral runners will be alright, especially those who prefer a more free-feeling ride.
      The On CloudSurfer has a 7mm drop and is purported to encourage a more natural strike. This seems odd considering the severe geometry of the Cloudsurfer. Even when forefoot runners tried to strike as they naturally would, they found the impact jarring, not soft like the rearfoot. Some runners, even heel strikers, did not appreciate the very prominent drop from heel to toe.
      Key Features
      - Unique outsole construction
      - Outsole is actually part of the midsole
      - Slip tread pattern for grip underfoot
      - EVA foam midsole
      - Engineered Air Mesh upper construction
      - Nearly zero overlays (except for the rear of the shoe)
      - Pull tab at the heel
      - Standard lacing system
      - Reflective components
      - Toecap for protection your feet fingers
      Bottom Line
      The On CloudSurfer rates below average in several areas of evaluation. The shoe is heavier than most in its category. It doesn't deliver as expected in terms of energy-return. Its traction isn't up to par and it just doesn't work for forefoot runners. A severe heel to toe drop feels awkward and the pods underfoot make the overall ride very unstable. Even mild pronators should look elsewhere for control since the On CloudSurfer just doesn't provide any. So, why buy? There were certainly some reviewers who enjoyed the pillow pods in the shoe's outsole. A few mentioned that when softened up, the rebound improved. The cushioning is also quite good, especially in the heel area, so landing feels soft. The shoe is also well-made. Its materials won't degrade quickly, even its outsole pods are resistant to wear. The upper is breathable, too, making it another thing the On CloudSurfer does well. The pods do provide a nice amount of padding but the shoe definitely still needs some work.
      Where to Buy
      By Steph Coelho
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 26. 2021

      Join our private, growing community of passionate runners

      Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.