On Cloudswift Review Facts
On, a Swiss company, is the fastest growing running shoe company in recent times. Founded in 2010 by Oliver Bernhard- a world duathalon with David Allemann and Casper Coppetti, they envisioned a fast running shoe that was very different from anything on the market. Most shoes can provide lots of cushioning in a bulky package while others provide stability with minimal cushioning. It is very rare to find a shoe that can do both admirably. The On series was made to bring both these characteristics because of two innovations- Cloudtec and speed boards. On believes that a runner only needs cushioning during the landing phase and once you push off, he/she would want firmness and close to the ground feel. This is the principle behind their innovative ‘On technology’ which is the first system to cushion only the impact. The main differentiator in this shoe is the Helion cushioning which gives a good bounce while feeling natural.
For those new to the On brand of shoes, the outsole will look like nothing they’ve seen before. The Cloudswift does not have the usual traps of thick rubbers, tread patterns or lugs. Instead, it features Helion foam elements that cushion horizontally for an incredibly soft landing and become firm for a bouncy takeoff.
This outsole is designed to help runners land soft and start fast which was the idea behind naming the shoe ‘Cloud’. There is a channel between the separated segments which give them space to move and expand. As runners complained about rocks getting stuck, On has narrowed down this channel and removed it from under the toe. This, in turn, helps the runners move naturally in multiple directions without losing grip and allowing the shoe to suit individual gaits.
The midsole uses their patented Cloud tech which brings a unique kind of cushioning into the shoe. You can find “Speedboards’ which are layers of special plastic in the insole that work to support the motion of your feet. There is a helion which is a kind of EVA blend that is responsible for a soft cushioning feeling throughout the run. The tongue is thin, soft and comfortable which allows the runner to wear the shoe without socks
There is an inner bootie attached to the tongue, a feature found in the On Cloud X
and On Cloudflow which keeps the feet snugly in the shoe. There are some rubber strips on both sides of the insole that helps keep the foot inside the shoe no matter the pace or direction of motion.
The upper features an engineered mesh that has a nice stretch to it. It feels secure around the foot and has a nice feel to it. The tongue is attached to the upper and has many perforations to help aerate the insides of the shoe. The Cloudswift features a quick-lacing system with elastic laces that you do not need to tie. The lace can be tightened and loosened by adjusting the knots at each end. Some runners found that the elastic laces left the shoe a little flimsy and not tight enough.
Luckily, the shoe comes with standard laces which you can use to replace the elastic ones with. There is a cage-like construction around the midfoot which reminds us of the Ultraboost
. This cage is not hard or aggressive but is a rubber elastic material.
There is a coated toe cap that works to prevent water, snow or cold air from entering the shoe from the front and also protects your toes from collision injuries. Some areas of the upper are sealed with a ‘no-sew foil’ which prevents the edges from fraying.
The On running shoe weighs 10.2 ounces for men and 8.5 oz for women but still brings a great amount of cushioning
. This shoe is not the lightest of racing flats but is a happy middle. We can attribute it to the open construction of the outsole and the mesh upper which has only one layer of mesh and minimal overlays. Seeing the segments underfoot, you would expect the shoe to feel clunky but you hardly feel them because of their hollowness.
The upper is lightweight and breathable. Almost all runners enjoyed the feel of the upper and appreciated the breathability. The mesh is lightweight and flexible and can wrap a variety of feet widths. Some runners with wide feet felt a bit snug around the toe box but this did not reduce air flow. The tongue is thin and perforated all over which helps make the shoe airy and prevents the shoe from getting too hot.
All reviewers agreed that the shoe was very comfortable thanks to the midsole cushioning and Cloudtec outsole. The Helion foam is lighter than most midsole materials and brings soft cushioning to the runner without adding extra weight to the shoe. The cushioning is derived mainly from the midsole which uses Helion foam with open air pockets. The toe box is not very narrow and the mesh upper brings a lot of ventilation inside the shoe which is useful if you tend to sweat a lot. The cushioning is great for short runs but not the best option for marathon or long-distance running as runners experienced some discomfort in the last few miles.
As far as looks go, On knocked it out of the park with really off-beat and attractive color combinations for both men and women. You can certainly see elements of style that the Swiss are known for. Details like the reflective overlay to the Swiss flag on the rear are appreciable. If you like wearing a shoe that will make some heads turn, the Cloudswift will do that. There are 3 colorways for men and 2 for women and they are attractive enough to work as a casual lifestyle shoe.
The upper is made of only one layer of mesh so we are not sure how the upper will fare over time. However, the cage feature will protect the upper from external materials. Talking about the outsole, there are patches of high abrasion rubber placed in cloud pods in the front and the rear of the shoe. This feature greatly enhances the durability of the outsole and ensures that it does not wear out easily even after usage on rough gravel surfaces.
There are many protective features in the On Cloudswift. The Helion midsole adds thick padding to the shoe and prevents the runner from feeling the debris underfoot while also absorbing the shocks of foot strides. The mesh upper with its perforated tongue brings good breathability to the shoe and helps the shoe stay cool throughout the run. The heel in this shoe is V-molded which adapts to the shape of the feet easily. Although the CloudTec is primarily responsible for cushioning, it also adds to the protective features of the shoe. It allows for the impact of landing to be spread out over time making runs painless. However, because of the space in between the segments, gravel can get lodged on the inside.
According to On, the shoe has a delayed touchdown yet starts quicker than conventional shoes. Whether you land on your heel or forefoot, the pods will compress the same because it goes through the entire distance of your shoe
. The pods return the energy as you start moving forward in your running stride. While this technology sounds amazing, it is easy to put it off as marketing speak. However, almost all the runners agree that the shoe gave a stable yet bouncy ride.
The Cloudswift is a neutral running shoe which provides enough support for most kinds of runners. The speed board and Helion in the midsole aid the natural rolling motions of the feet and supports the rolling motion of your foot. The V-shaped heel counter offers some support to the ankle that tries to prevent fatigue from setting in. The cage structure on the upper enhances the fit and hold of the shoe in comparison to other On running shoes
A neutral running shoe
, the On Cloudswift works for road running, speed work, tracks, trails, and recovery runs. They are not an aggressive racing flat. Although the shoe did more than fine on gravel, packed dirt or grass trails, we wouldn’t recommend this shoe for extreme technical trails. This is because it is not a big burly shoe and the traction will not hold over muddy and difficult terrain.
A runner mentioned that this shoe was great for track running as it has a lot of grip with the right balance of cushioning and responsiveness. The shoe did well for sprints, 5-10k runs or Olympic distance triathlons but runners mentioned feeling hot spots for longer distances.
This is a mid-range priced shoe. The pricing reflects the unique technology used that brings a balance between cushioning and stability. Considering that runners can use this shoe on trail runs, road or track runs, you can reduce your overall shoe budget.
The makers of the shoe believed that the running experience is better when you can feel the ground and hence their shoes including this one have a low profile. The shape of the pods allows for stable runs at sharp turns or uneven roads. While this shoe has good traction for road-running and can handle uneven surfaces with ease, many runners felt unstable on slippery surfaces and moderate trails
On didn’t want to keep the shoe too flexible to minimize energy being lost. This is why we can see a Speedboard attached to the sole. This semi-stiff plastic board promotes heel-to-toe motion, helping energy transfer while limiting a full flex.
The Helion foam in the midsole is hollowed-out and bisected which gives more flexibility to the shoe than a typical midsole design. The shoe is very flexible at the heel which helps in getting a smooth transition. When you push off, the soles lose the cushion and instead give you a firm platform to gather power. The mesh upper is stretchable and can wrap around the foot without feeling too snug.
Being a neutral shoe, the Cloudswift cannot provide as much stability as a stability shoe.
However, it does provide a moderately stable ride without giving a sloppy run. There is a speed board which is a full-length plastic plate that adds stiffness to the sole and also transforms the shock from impact to the energy needed for forward propulsion. This feature adds some stability to the run while providing a snappy toe-off. The mesh upper provides a stretch that hugs the top of the foot and the interior liner helps in keeping the foot inside the shoe.
As opposed to the more built up heel-heavy shoes, the heel to toe offset on the Cloudswift is only 7mm. While the drop could be lowered to satisfy the minimal, barefoot runners, many reviewers commented that they didn’t notice the drop
. In general, drops of 0-7mm promote midfoot or forefoot striking instead of heel striking.
-Cloudtec outsole with 18 pods for a fast, responsive run
-Single-layer engineered mesh upper
-Speed lacing system with elastic laces with easy tabs to customize the fit
-7 mm drop
-Flexible sole which disperses impact away from the foot
The elastic laces and the soft inner of the shoe were the major reasons why this shoe was marketed as a shoe for triathlons
. On assumed that being able to wear and remove the shoe quickly would make it attractive for triathletes. But its potential for speed running without the bulk makes it attractive to other segments as well. Short-distance runners enjoyed this shoe with many feeling that it is the lightest shoe they ran in. This shoe can be worn on the road, light trails, racing, transitions, recovery runs, gyms and even for casual wear.
Cushioning is the major selling point of the shoe with many reviewers enjoying the feel of the shoe second only to Nike’s Ultraboost. It has a unique responsiveness system allowing runners to alternate from cushion to firm toe-off so it can also appeal to serious racers. Overall, this shoe is an ‘all-rounder’ for racers, athletes and serious runners with the looks of the shoe finding takers in casual wear too.