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10 Best On Cloud Running Shoes: Ultimate Buyers Guide + Review

CEO Tinh Phung
Maybe you've heard your running partner raving about these shoes with bubbles, or you've noticed them on more and more feet and started to wonder... what's the deal? Let's dive into the world of On...

Maybe you've heard your running partner raving about these shoes with bubbles, or you've noticed them on more and more feet and started to wonder... what's the deal? Let's dive into the world of On Cloud running shoes, explore what sets them apart, and discover what you need to know before making a purchase.

best on cloud running shoes

Over the past 10+ years, I've had the opportunity to try out numerous models of On Cloud shoes. As an avid runner, I understand that there is no one-size-fits-all shoe for all runners. So today, I'll be sharing my personal findings. However, I always encourage you to visit a running store and try on the shoes for yourself. Run around the shop and see how they feel on your feet. Alternatively, you can take advantage of ON's generous return policy and test out the shoes before committing.

On Cloud Running Shoes

Technically, the brand is simply called On. However, many people refer to them as On Cloud due to the distinctive cloud-like pods on the soles. These pods are what make the shoes look and feel different from other brands. Just like with any new shoe, it may take a few runs to get used to the unique feel of the pods.

On Cloudstratus review

On Running, the official name of the company, was founded in 2010 by Olivier Bernhard, a former triathlete and six-time Ironman champion. Frustrated with the lack of suitable shoes for his needs, Bernhard collaborated with an engineer to develop a prototype. After completing the design, he brought on two close friends, Caspar Coppetti and David Allemann, both runners, to join the company. Within a month, they unveiled their prototype and won the prestigious ISPO BrandNew Award for their innovative design. Since then, their popularity has skyrocketed, and their shoes are now available in major running stores worldwide.

On Running Shoes Technology

Central to the design of On Cloud shoes is their CloudTec technology. This technology sets them apart and provides the unique look and feel that runners love. The shoes feature cloud-like pods on the soles that compress with each step, absorbing impact and providing a cushioned feel. Each shoe model has different-sized pods tailored to its specific purpose and desired feel.

Here's what else you'll find inside On running shoes:

  • Cloud Elements: These special pods underneath the shoes absorb both vertical and horizontal forces, making landings and takeoffs smoother and more explosive.
  • Zero-Gravity Foam: On's running shoes have ultralight cushioning that maximizes comfort without weighing you down.
  • Rebound-Rubber: The open Cloud elements are made of On's durable, responsive rubber compound.
  • Grip-Rubber Outsole: On's trail running shoes feature a sticky rubber outsole for enhanced traction on rugged terrains.
  • Speedboard: A springy board sandwiched between the soles and Cloud elements supports the natural rolling motion of your foot, ensuring a smooth transition from landing to takeoff.
  • Helion Foam: On created Helion foam for its exceptional performance. This lightweight, yet strong, EVA foam withstands extreme temperatures and provides long-term comfort with less compression over time.

While running on On Cloud shoes may not exactly feel like running on clouds, they do offer excellent cushioning and support. Each runner's experience may vary, but it's important to note that the shoes strike a balance between cushioning and responsiveness.

Why Use On Cloud Shoes?

What makes On Running shoes stand out from the competition? The key differentiating factor lies in the design of the shoe's sole. However, as runners, it's essential to look beyond the marketing claims and focus on what truly works for our bodies.

Here are some benefits that runners have reported with On Cloud shoes:

1. Reduces Muscle Fatigue

A study of 37 trained male runners found that On running shoes performed similarly to standard running shoes in terms of ground force and running economy. However, two areas where they outperformed standard shoes were:

  • Average 1.3% lower heart rate, indicating improved efficiency.
  • Average 5.5% lower blood lactate levels, suggesting reduced muscle fatigue.

2. Improves Speed Off Ground

The cloud pods on the sole of On shoes compress both horizontally and vertically before rapidly expanding, propelling you faster off the ground. This innovative design helps to harness and return energy, ensuring efficient running and reducing energy loss.

3. Reduces Injuries

The unique cloud-based design of On running shoes helps reduce injuries caused by excessive braking force and poor form. The individual pods allow the sole to adapt to your stride, providing better shock absorption and cushioning, regardless of how you land.

4. Comfort and Personal Preference

Ultimately, the most important aspect of any running shoe is how it feels on your feet. If you find that On Cloud shoes fit well, support your natural gait, and leave you feeling comfortable after runs, then they are a great choice for you. Additionally, On is committed to sustainability, using recycled materials in their shoe construction and incorporating other eco-friendly features.

While these benefits are reported by many runners, it's worth noting that individual experiences may vary. As with any running shoe, it's best to try them on and see how they feel for yourself.

Drawbacks to On Running Shoes

It's important to acknowledge that not every shoe will meet the preferences of every runner. Here are a few drawbacks that some runners have experienced with On Cloud shoes:

  • Rocks Stuck in Pods: Some runners have reported issues with rocks getting stuck between the pods on the sole.
  • Less Plush Cushioning: While On Cloud shoes provide cushioning, some runners have found them to be less plush compared to other brands.
  • Fit Issues with Upper: Some runners have experienced fit issues, particularly with the upper creasing in odd spots on the top of the foot. Different lacing techniques may not resolve this problem.
  • Narrow Fit: Most On Cloud shoes tend to run narrow, although the brand has started offering specific wide models.
  • Higher Heel Drop: The average heel drop of On Cloud shoes is 9mm, which is higher than what some runners prefer.

It's worth noting that different models may have varying characteristics and address some of these issues. For example, the Carbon fiber shoe runs small, while others in the On Cloud lineup generally run true to size. Additionally, it's important to keep in mind that On rarely offers discounts on their newest collection, including Black Friday sales. However, you may find heavy discounts on previous models on their On Classics discount page.

Best On Running Shoes Review in 2023

On offers a solid lineup of different models based on various runners' goals and preferences. Rather than constantly introducing new models, the brand focuses on improving existing styles. While the following shoe information is specific to women's models, the men's models share similar characteristics, with a slight variation in weight.

You may notice that the On Cloud models look similar at first glance, but each model has its unique features and utilizes the technology differently to cater to different running needs.

On Running Shoe Models

Overall Best On Running Shoe: Cloudmonster

If you're looking for a highly cushioned shoe, the Cloudmonster is a top contender. It offers excellent cushioning comparable to the Hoka Clifton, making it the overall best On Running shoe in my opinion. This shoe features On's largest-ever CloudTec and utilizes springy Helion super foam for maximum underfoot cushioning without sacrificing energy return. The Cloudmonster combines a radical rocker profile with a snappy Speedboard, delivering a unique running experience. The shoe's soft sock lining provides a supportive fit, and the spacious toe box offers comfort during long runs.

  • Heel Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 8 oz

Most Cushioned On Running Shoe: On Running Cloudeclipse

For runners seeking plenty of cushioning for recovery runs, easy days, or long runs, the On Running Cloudeclipse is an excellent choice. It features a double layer of CloudTec Phase cushioning, providing a comfortable and responsive ride. Despite the ample cushioning, the Cloudeclipse doesn't feel overly plush, thanks to the speedboard technology that adds firmness and a touch of stability. This shoe offers a great balance between cushioning and responsiveness.

  • Heel Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 8.4 oz (women's)

Best On Running Shoes for Long Speedwork: Cloudstratus 3

Designed for runners who need maximum cushioning, the Cloudstratus 3 is On's most cushioned running shoe to date. This shoe utilizes double the Cloud components for double the cushioning. The Cloudstratus features a nylon speedboard that offers a springy feel and propels you forward. It provides a smooth and stable ride on the road, making it an excellent choice for long-distance runs and marathon training.

  • Heel Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 8.75 oz
  • Price: $179

Best On Running Shoe for Stability: Cloudflyer 4

The Cloudflyer 4 is a lightweight running shoe that offers enhanced stability. It provides a balance of cushioning and support, making it suitable for daily training. The shoe features wider parts beneath the foot to limit inward rotation and provide extra support, making it ideal for runners with flexible arches or those who require additional stability. It also incorporates On's patented star-lacing system for increased flexibility and pressure distribution.

  • Heel Drop: 11mm
  • Weight: 9.75 oz

Best On Running Shoes with Carbon Plate: On Clouldboom Echo 3

The Clouldboom Echo 3 is On's carbon fiber model, designed for speed and performance. While it may not offer as much cushioning as other models, it strikes a balance between speed and cushioning, making it suitable for shorter and faster runs. The Echo 3 features an updated design that eliminates the issue of rocks getting stuck in the pods. It provides a secure fit and improved performance, making it a favorite among speed-focused runners.

  • Heel Drop: 10mm
  • Weight: 7.6 oz (men's and women's)

Best On Running Shoe for Speedwork: Cloudflow

The Cloudflow is the perfect shoe for picking up the pace. It's lightweight and built for speed. This shoe doesn't offer as much cushioning as other models, but it excels in shorter and snappier speed workouts. Its CloudTec cushioning, combined with the responsive Helion foam midsole, provides a quick turnover and a responsive stride. The Cloudflow's sleek design, minimalistic upper, and comfortable fit make it an excellent choice for road and track workouts.

  • Heel Drop: 9mm
  • Weight: 6.98 oz (women's)

Best On Running Shoe for Short Road Runs: Cloudsurfer

The Cloudsurfer is a lightweight shoe that strikes a balance between cushioning and speed. It offers the perfect amount of cushioning for daily training and is best suited for middle-distance runs rather than long runs. The Cloudsurfer features an updated midsole design for improved comfort and a sole with a cushion layer beneath the pods, eliminating the issue of rocks getting stuck. It provides a soft and comfortable ride, making it a favorite among many runners.

  • Heel Drop: 10mm
  • Weight: 7.6 oz (women's)

Best On Running Shoes for Pronation: Cloudrunner

For runners who require stability and support due to pronation, the Cloudrunner is an excellent choice. It offers moderate stability through a solid midfoot and responsive protection underfoot. The shoe's sole incorporates collapsible forefoot pods, providing a responsive feel and helping counter excessive foot roll. The Cloudrunner strikes a good balance between support and cushioning, making it a go-to option for runners with flexible arches or moderate stability needs.

  • Heel Drop: 9mm
  • Weight: 9.42 oz

Best On Running Shoes for Trail Running: Cloudultra 2

When it comes to trail running, the Cloudultra 2 takes the spotlight as On's most cushioned trail shoe. It offers excellent cushioning and traction, making it suitable for long-distance trail runs and ultramarathons. The Cloudultra 2 utilizes Helion midsole foam for a comfortable and responsive ride on both trails and highways. Its redesigned pod setup ensures a reduced risk of rocks getting trapped in the sole, and the lugs provide enhanced grip. With its maximum cushioning, the Cloudultra 2 delivers a fantastic trail running experience.

  • Heel Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 8.64 oz

Best On Running Waterproof Trail Running Shoe: Cloudventure

For trail runners seeking a waterproof option, the Cloudventure is a great choice. The shoe features a waterproof model, providing protection against wet conditions. However, it's important to note that fully waterproof shoes tend to be less breathable and can feel stiffer. The Cloudventure's Cloudtec cushioning responds to your stride, allowing you to feel the trail while remaining comfortable. Its split-design Speedboard offers agility and protection from rocks and uneven terrain. The Cloudventure is a versatile trail running shoe that can also serve as a replacement for hiking boots.

  • Heel Drop: 10mm
  • Weight: 9.3 oz (women's)

Explore the current colors and pricing of all the On running shoe models on their website. You may also find sales and discounts on On shoes at retailers like Backcountry.

What about On Running Apparel?

Now that we've covered On shoes in detail, it's time to shift our focus to On Running apparel. As an avid runner, I can confidently say that I am a big fan of their clothing line. On's apparel is known for its quality, durability, and functionality.

Some notable pieces from On's apparel line include:

Weather Jacket

The Weather Jacket is a lightweight jacket that keeps you dry, making it suitable for both spring and winter running. It features a hood that stays up during runs, and the front chest pocket comfortably fits an iPhone. Additionally, On's winter Insulator jacket offers excellent insulation for colder conditions.

best women

Winter Running Pants

On Running pants are highly regarded for their comfort and fit. They offer a slightly looser fit compared to tights, providing wind protection and added versatility for various weather conditions.

There you have it: a comprehensive breakdown of On Cloud running shoes and their differentiating features. Each model caters to specific running needs, and now you have a better understanding of what to expect from each one. Remember, finding the right running shoe is a personal journey, so don't hesitate to try on different models and see what works best for you.

For more articles related to On Cloud shoes, such as the best On Cloud walking shoes or comparisons with other popular running shoe brands, check out the RunToTheFinish website. You can also connect with me on Instagram (@RunToTheFinish) for daily running tips and laughs, or join the Facebook community for engaging conversations. Sign up for the weekly newsletter to receive top running tips directly to your inbox.

Happy running!

On Cloud Shoes Review