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Run4It  •  Running Gear •  06.11.2020 •  12 min read

On Running Shoes Review

Run On Clouds

On is one of the most exciting running brands in the industry right now. Not only are they producing running products that are innovative and technical, they’re making running kit that brings a new level of style to your running wardrobe. It’s no surprise that the Swiss brand has partnered with one of the most stylish sports stars around, Roger Federer.

The technical merit of On running products is exceptional. Olivier Bernhard, a 3xWorld Duathlon Champion and multiple Ironman winner, collaborated with a Swiss engineer to create a new style of running shoe. The unique design convinced two of Olivier’s friends to join him in his quest to create a new offering in the running market. On’s goal was to create running shoes that provide soft landings followed by explosive take-offs. They call this running on clouds.

On Running shoes lifestyle image
Image by On

This concept has been at the forefront of footwear development since their establishment in 2010. There’s a sense of this unique feeling in every On running shoe. It’s helped athletes like Frederik Van Lierde win the Ironman World Championships, Tim Don (Ironman champion and ex ITU World Champion) get back to running after breaking his neck and thousands of other runners achieve their goals.

On make road running shoes and off-road running shoes, which we stock at Run4It. We frequently receive customer enquiries about On running shoes and runners normally want to know more about how models differ and which options will be best for them. Each model in the range has a unique quality and there are key differences in the level of cushioning provided, what type of running each one is best suited to and where they’ll work best.

The On running shoes range

The purpose of this article is to guide you through the On running range at Run4It and hopefully make it clearer which On shoes may work best for you. Some of the Run4It team have been testing out the different options. There are helpful reviews throughout the article which provide some insights into how they got on with them.

On's road running range

The Cloudflow – For fast running

The Cloudflow is an ultra-light performance orientated shoe that has been designed in collaboration with elite On athletes. While the Cloudflow features On’s superfoam cushioning Helion, to provide soft landings, the combination of their CloudTec cushioning and Speedboard helps to deliver explosive take-offs. This design is particularly effective for fast-paced running. Nicole from Giffnock said:

“The Cloudflow is a very lightweight responsive feeling shoe. It initially feels firm underfoot, but once you start running you feel that spring in your step. I have personally worn the shoe for my tempo sessions as well as a brick session and have felt the shoe adapts well and gives the spring in my step to help with tired legs.”

On Running shoes lifestyle image
Image by On

Lots of thought has gone into creating a well-crafted upper that meets the demands of fast-paced running. Niamh from Dundee provides a great insight into how the Cloudflow fits:

“The fit of the Cloudflow ensures the foot is snug and secure. The upper is lightweight and breathable, particularly the tongue which attaches to the inside of the shoe, wrapping around the foot to give a locked-in feel, reducing the risk of movement inside the shoe. The heel cup materials offer just enough cushioning and the plastic strip around the heel locks it in place and offers security. A nice feature of this shoe is the addition of the elastic lace strap, so no need for double (or runners like myself with a slim foot), triple bows!”

Weighing in at just 235g’s for men and 198g’s for women, this light-weight neutral responsive shoe is best suited to tempo style runs or interval sessions. It’s also a good option for racing and is a popular choice with triathletes for runs off the bike.

The Cloudswift – For urban running

As mentioned, On design their shoes with a specific goal in mind. The Cloudswift is a great example of this. It has been meticulously designed with the aim of helping runners who train in urban environments. Helion superfoam cushioning provides great shock absorption on hard surfaces. A durable rubber and specially designed outsole pattern help provide high levels of traction on wet surfaces like pavements. The upper is also constructed to provide lots of lateral support, which kicks in when a runner needs to suddenly alter their course and move around an obstacle. Eilidh from the Edinburgh team had this to say:

“The key standout of the shoe was the excellent grip on wet and slippery streets, particularly on cobbles and uneven surfaces. The traction provided by this shoe was also really helpful when navigating through busy city streets and parks. Overall, I really enjoyed how versatile the shoe was, it was perfect for a 5km commute run across the city, then an after-work speed session.”

This is a great option for runners who train in and around cities. The increased grip makes it a good option for wet winter runs too. The versatile cushioning system means it will feel protective on pavements but also responsive on some higher intensity sessions. If you like to mix up your runs and vary the intensity, the Cloudswift could be a great option for you.

The Cloudstratus – For distance or relaxed running

If you’re looking for a more cushioned On road running shoe, the Cloudstratus is designed to offer maximum protection. It features On’s Dual CloudTech system. This unique system offers great impact protection and also aids propulsion to help make running feel easier. The upper features an asymmetric design that enhances the ability of the upper to flex with feet as they move. Sophie from the Online team and Elis from Maybury were both fans of the fit.

Sophie said: “The first thing I noticed once they were on my feet was the snug fit around the midfoot. I think this is a result of the asymmetrical shoelace design which wraps the upper around the foot really nicely, meaning no wiggling around or adjusting your feet in these - they feel very secure. Another aspect which felt great on the foot is the wider toe box, giving my feet freedom in all the right places. You don’t feel restricted in these at all with the soft mesh at the foot's natural flex points.”

Elis said: “This is one of the most comfortable, breathable and secure uppers I’ve experienced in a trainer. I’ve mainly used the shoe at an easy pace and I think that’s its sweet spot.”

On shoes are unlikely to feel as soft as some other brands when you step into them because the emphasis is on creating soft landings and then delivering great energy return. Elis found the Cloudstratus to be slightly firmer than some other neutral soft running shoes he’s run in, but this wasn’t at the cost of comfort.

“The ride is firmer but with absolutely no shock or vibration travelling up the leg. The Dual CloudTec system, combined with the Speedboard, does a fantastic job of absorbing the impact of landing but also creating a smooth transition from foot strike to toe-off.”

Sophie broke her ankle in 2018 (which resulted in a lot of permanent nuts and bolts). Stability and cushioning are the number one priority when she’s looking at shoes. She also found the Cloudstratus to be slightly firmer than some other models she’s run in but they worked really well for her:

“As these shoes have a firm feel to them, the max cushioning isn't initially obvious compared to a more plushy, spongy foam - which I have gone for in the past. But you can really feel it as soon as you start to move and pick up the pace, pushing you to run faster while still reducing the impact on the joint. I tried these shoes on again a day after, when my legs felt tired, and the soft responsiveness of the Double CloudTec sole really showed, giving the extra spring I needed.”

If you’re looking for the most cushioned On road running shoe, the Cloudstratus is the one to go for. It’s best suited to easy paced runs that could be anything from a short recovery one to a long endurance run.

The Cloudflyer – For added support on short or long runs

The Cloudflyer has more structure added to it and is the best option from On if you’re looking for a stability shoe. This lightweight stability shoe provides support in a non-intrusive manner and combines soft Helion superfoam cushioning with a Speedboard structure to deliver protection and great energy return. Laura from Edinburgh had this to say:

“The main thing I noticed when I first put the Cloudflyer on was that I didn’t feel as if I was wearing a stability shoe as the support within the midsole wasn’t intrusive. Normally my feet get really warm when running any distance but with the new engineered mesh upper my feet are super breathable in the Cloudflyer. With the current goal of trying to improve on my times, the responsive snappier feel that the Speedboard provides makes it a great shoe for shorter, faster sessions. Despite this when on longer runs the shoe still feels cushioned, making the Cloudflyer a great all-round shoe!”

Weighing in at 280g for men and 210g for women, the Cloudflyer is one of the lighter stability shoes available on the market. This makes it a great option for runners who want a lightweight feel for their runs or for those who potentially want a second shoe for faster run sessions while using them in conjunction with another pair.

On's trail running range

The Cloudventure – For trail running

The Cloudventure utilises Missiongrip to deliver great grip on ascents and descents. Solid grip-rubber studs provide excellent forefoot traction to help push off on soft and uneven surfaces. The rubber is durable enough to cope well with some harder packed surface running. On have also adapted their unique Speedboard system to work effectively on trails. The aim of this is to work with the natural motion of the foot for an improved feel over uneven surfaces and then help provide explosive toe-offs on soft ground. Tim, the Maybury Store Manager, took them out for a 9-mile run in the Pentlands where the weather conditions were wet, muddy and windy:

“The best part of the On Cloudventure for me was the Missiongrip outsole. Wherever I put my feet the grip was secure and at no time did I feel any slipping or sliding. The terrain today was a mixture of ascents and descents over grassy, muddy and rocky trails as well as some tarmac sections. As the run went on, my confidence grew in the shoe and it didn’t let me down regardless of what I ran through.”

While the Cloudventure offers a good level of cushioning, Tim wouldn’t recommend it for longer runs like ultras but found it worked very well on the distance he covered in the Pentlands. The upper has been carefully crafted to meet the demands of off-road running and has some great features. :

Cloudventure On Running shoes team photo

The forefoot of the upper is quite wide and I really liked how stable that wider platform felt especially when going uphill. The shoe upper is comfortable without being overly plush. I was pleased with how the shoe drained and also that no stones got caught either in the Speedboard or the Clouds and there was plenty of gravel and rocks on the run today so there was plenty of opportunity for things to get caught in the shoe if it was going to happen. Finally, I felt well protected underfoot from the trail. The Speedboard and Clouds meant I didn’t really feel the rocks beneath my feet. The On Cloudventure is an excellent all round trail shoe ideally suited to the more technical terrain.”

The Cloudventure Peak – For trail racing

The Cloudventure Peak also features Missiongrip, like the Cloudventure, but offers a more performance oriented design that helps with fast-paced trail running. Chris from Edinburgh has been testing them out on the hills around Edinburgh.

He’s been up and down muddy slopes, down scree descents, through bogs and has even been on some extended stretches of tarmac. It sounds like he was very impressed with the grip:

“Running short, steep, chewed up climbs, these kept me on my feet and gave excellent traction in spots where I’m normally prone to slipping and having my rhythm broken. Where the shoe has really impressed me though, is on descents. I was a little apprehensive about how much ground-feel I’d get due to the pods underfoot - on technical descents you’re always one bad foot placement away from a fall or even an injury, and as I have historically suspect ankles I don’t like to be too far removed from the terrain - but these are surprisingly nimble. The reduced number of pods underfoot keep you away from sharp rocks, and make stretches of tarmac surprisingly smooth for something so capable on sloppy ground. It has a dialled-in fit to a bootie-upper, and it’s reasonably flexible, so it really just feels like an extension of my foot.”

While the forefoot has 5 precisely positioned Cloudpods which provide cushioning at the points of impact, this shoe is lightweight and designed for fast-paced running. Chris wouldn’t advise it for ultras or longer sessions but thinks it’s an excellent option for races and short or fast sessions over rough ground. In addition to this:

“It’s also a good option for someone who wants a capable shoe for soft, hilly terrain that won’t feel uncomfortably luggy when on road sections, or lacking in protection when coming across sharp rocks. This is a really versatile option for anyone heading to the hills.”

So, that’s our guide to On running shoes at Run4It. Hopefully that gives you some more insight into the brand, technologies and who each model is designed for. Please get in touch if you have any more questions about On running shoes.

As the run went on, my confidence grew in the shoe and it didn’t let me down regardless of what I ran through.

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