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On The Cloud Running Shoe Review

ON The Cloud HeelI have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to like these shoes. My previous experience with an ON shoe was the original Cloudracer, and my impression was that to take advantage of the cushioning provided by podded sole design you needed to land with a pronounced heel strike. Otherwise the shoes felt very firm (not necessarily a bad thing), and were too heavy for a racing shoe. They were also expensive relative to most other shoes in the racing niche.

ON contacted me again this summer and asked if I’d be willing to try out a few of their newer models. They sent pairs of the ON The Cloud, and the ON Cloudsurfer. I’ve now put miles on both, and am going to start by reviewing the Cloud (just going to refer to it as Cloud since saying the The Cloud sounds silly…) since I prefer it over the Cloudsurfer. (Disclosure: these shoes were review samples and were provided free of charge by the manufacturer).

ON The Cloud

Specs

Per Running Warehouse, the Cloud weighs in at 7.4oz in men’s size 9. Stack height is reported at 24mm heel, 15mm forefoot (9mm drop). In contrast, ON reports drop at 6mm.

ON The Cloud

Sole and Ride

ON’s trademark is the podded sole design seen on all of their shoes. Basically, these consist of squarish rubber pods that are hollow in the middle. The pods compress on contact to provide cushioning – the bigger the hollow, the more cushioning provided.

ON The Cloud

The Cloud differs from other ON shoes in that the sole pods are built from the midsole rather than the rubber outsole – in other words, they are hollowed out foam and the pillars supporting the pods are thicker, so they don’t compress as much. This gives the shoes a more responsive feel from heel to toe than the other ON shoes I have tried. For me, this was actually a welcome surprise as they have a racing-flat feel on the road (though more flexible), and they felt great when picking up the pace. I’ve actually had fun running in this shoe, and at 7.4oz they are and 1.5 oz lighter than ON’s actual racing shoe. I think the weight reduction is largely due to the lack of heavier rubber pods on this shoe.

The drawback of the firm-feeling sole of the Cloud is that I’m not sure I’d choose this shoe for long distances. I tend to prefer more cushion for double-digit miles. But if a firm, flexible shoe sounds like a good match for your stride, they could certainly work for that purpose.

One last thing about the sole, and this is a negative – the podded design is really good at picking up road debris. I’ve had to stop to pull acorns out of the sole on many occasions (acorn production is out of control this year where I live!), and I wouldn’t go anywhere near a trail in these for fear of what they might pick up. They’re a lot like the Nike Free shoes in this regard – you will occasionally have to stop to pull junk from the sole.

Upper and Fit

ON The CloudWhen I first saw photos of the Cloud I felt that it looked more like a causal, fashion shoe than a running shoe. When they arrived this feeling was further enhanced by the fact that they come with thin, elasticized laces that allow for easy on/off but do not allow for tightening (see photo at left). The elasticized laces don’t even utilize the bottom two lace loops, and I didn’t feel that the fit was secure enough with them for running purposes. Fortunately ON includes standard laces in the box, and I immediately swapped them onto the shoes.

The upper of the Cloud has a very casual look to it. Although they run like a racing shoe, they do look like a fashion shoe, and that’s not a great match. This is not a flashy shoe that will make you feel fast. Conversely, they are subdued enough that you can wear them casually around town and not look like you’re about to run a 5K.

The upper mesh over the forefoot is fairly thick and feels very durable, and toward the back of the shoe the upper has a canvas-like feel. There is minimal internal structure to the upper, and it almost has a slipper-like feel to it. Pretty comfortable shoe.

ON The Cloud

Regarding fit, this is not a roomy shoe. The forefoot width is adequate for my foot, but there’s not a huge amount of room for toe wiggle. Those with wide feet should look elsewhere, but if you like a racing flat feel these should be fine on an average width foot. I’ve been wearing them casually quite a bit and they feel fine for all-day wear.

ON The Cloud - Top

Conclusions

The Cloud is a bit of an odd shoe. It looks like a fashion shoe but runs like a racing flat. I love the ride, especially when picking up the pace, but would like a bit more flash for a speed shoe. However, they are conservative enough in appearance that you can wear them out and about and not look like you’re wearing a running shoe. I’d recommend these for someone who likes a firm, flexible feel with a low-key aesthetic (with a average to narrow-width foot). The Cloud is solid offering from ON.

The ON The Cloud is available for purchase at Running Warehouse and Zappos. Purchases made via these links provide a small commission to Runblogger and help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

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Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science
About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Great review, thanks. With no rubber outsole, sorta like Newton’s Distance line, do you see the life of the shoe to be short? A few millimeters of wear anywhere on that sole and the pod in that area would break?

  2. Thanks for the review. I started running in the On Cloudrunner during the Summer of 2013 and can’t remember feeling better in a running shoe. I used to go by the theory that you stick with what works until it doesn’t with shoes, but made the exception with the cloudrunner. I’m going to have to give these a try.

  3. Tom Buckner says:

    Has got to be the ugliest, most awkward looking shoe I have seen in awhile.

    Thanks for the review!

  4. I ought the cloud suffers- I love the way they look and the way the tongue not move, the shoes also stay tied tight BUT they killed my lower back. Something about it the way I ran and crosstrained id not allow for me to have full support and a result pain. I also found these to be extremely slippery in wet conditions on the road. I had to stop wearing them :/

  5. don`t buy the wintershoes from on cloud, afther 200 km running 2 dampers are broken, no garantie, shame on you on cloud. shoes cost 180€

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