ON Running Cloudrunner ($140)
Sam: The Cloudrunner is positioned by ON as a “light” stability model. By light they mean it has moderate pronation control features. Specifically these features are:
reinforced medial side upper using a full midfoot to heel panel of denser mesh. I would say the upper is “trail shoe” worthy in its overall construction and support
smaller CloudTec elements on the medial side than lateral side to control movement
raised midsole side walls or “rails” with again as with the upper the medial side rails more substantial than lateral side.
a wider Speedboard plate than usual
Zero Gravity midsole foam which is quite dense.
Style! Matt, Jeremy/ Sam
Quality! as usual with ON shoes. Jeremy/Sam
Comfy upper, plush with thick foam padding without feeling “too much” Jeremy/Sam
Nice, gentle foothold without any tightness Jeremy
Heaps of room up front. Jeremy/Sam
A comfortable Swiss bank vault of an upper with trails worthy support Sam
Outsole is grippy even on wet surface Jeremy, Matt
Easily doubles up as a daily sneaker Jeremy/Matt/Sam
Really good heel counter that’s not obtrusive Matt/Sam
Fits custom orthotics to allow for more stability and customized experience Matt
Well executed post less light stability suitable for neutral fans as well, with effective rails that are not in way. Sam
Potential cross over to gym due to overall support Sam
Flexible Speedboard is a big improvement over older ON. Doesn’t over prescribe stride type Sam
Cushion to weight ratio is not that good at 10.45 oz / 295g (US9) Jeremy/ Matt/Sam
Midsole foam feels dull. Deserves a bit softer (Helion?) ride considering the target. Jeremy/Sam
A bit firm upfront (too much so for longer runs) Jeremy/ Matt/Sam
A bit too soft at the heel despite stability focus Jeremy/ Matt
Overbuilt if comfortable upper that would be ideal on a trail shoe Sam
Not an easy flowing ride, the transitions between midfoot and forefoot lacks something Jeremy/ Matt
Not stable enough to be considered for overpronators Matt
Between types. Basically a firmer, on the heavy side mostly neutral shoe with the support from the upper, moderate raised sidewalls, tweaks to CloudTec elements, and broad base Sam
Maciej ‘Matt’ Kolat– 35 years old, hailing from Poland but pounding Scottish pavements and trails since 2007. Mainly runs shorter distances on pavement 5-10km and reserves longer runs for beautiful Scottish Glens. Matt’s opinion sometimes may differ from other RTR testers as he is the slowest of the bunch (5k at 25:38). Matt also uses running as a way to stay healthy having shedded 100 lbs so far (and counting).
Jeremy: French, 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km – 4’30/km
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.
Approx. weight: men’s 10.45 oz / 295g (US9)
Samples: men’s 10.75 oz / 305g (US10.5)
Stack Height: men’s mm heel / mm forefoot , 9mm drop
Available April 21st. $140 / 150€
First Impressions and Fit
Matt: First impression – I was very skeptical as this is my first On shoe and I am always very apprehensive when a brand claims to have reinvented something that works (cloud technology). When something like this comes across all I see are red flags and probably this is why I am sooooo late to the ‘ON party’.
When I picked up the shoe from the box I was super impressed with the aesthetics of the shoe – it’s stunning. It can easily double up as a lifestyle shoe. In terms of the fit I would suggest sizing up a half size if you find yourself between sizes (for instance I am nearly always a 12 US but need 12.5 in Hoka) Lengthwise I would say ON fits similar to Hoka (did someone say European fit?). Otherwise the shoe fits as expected. The only other note I would make is that the toe box is on the average-to-narrow end of the spectrum but without getting in the way.
Jeremy: Nice and classy looking, the Cloudrunner makes a very good first impression. ON always designs very cool looking shoes, with color schemes that lean towards lifestyle and the Cloudrunner doesn’t disappoint in this aspect. I really like how their shoes look, their build quality, and the effort they seem to make on each new version to improve it. Alas, I still have to find a ON shoe that really works for me. Being the ultra firm CloudUltra, some quick runs in the Cloudflow or the On Cloud (which targets pure lifestyle now)…they felt as bad as they looked cool.
But the CloudRunner might change this. Described as an « easy shoe » to fit every runner – I might say the more recreational ones- it’s focus is on comfort, light support, and soft cushioning. Sounds promising.
Comfort is clearly here on the first try at home, everything is padded and plush. The sizing is TTS and my usual 10.5US fits me perfectly.
The nicely rounded shaped toebox is not especially wide but its shape works very well, emphasizing on this comfortable first step in.
Sam: Spectacular aesthetics, color and design with the grays and greens reminding me of Swiss glacial streams.
Try on is solid, like Swiss bank vault solid with a trail shoe worthy hold all over. The decently thick tongue is particularly well executed as it is very well padded but not over plush and sloppy.
This is a shoe where the tongue doesn’t need to be fussed with to photograph. It stands on its own yet wraps the foot in conjunction with the rest of the upper really well with for sure no gusset needed here. No issues with any tight lace up biting here. The solid feel continues with the heel and achilles collars.
Put them on, laced them up and away I ran with no adjustments ever needed.
There is plenty of toe box room for most foot shapes here with the stout toe bumper raising the mesh for plenty of toe overhead room which is if not a performance shoe well held perfectly adequate for daily training uses.
Matt: As mentioned before the upper is really beautiful and makes it more than appropriate to rock with a pair of jeans and a pint of IPA in hand. The lockdown is excellent as are the shoelaces. Sometimes it takes a number of attempts to get the lockdown right (without cutting off the blood flow to the foot) but with On Cloud Runner it was very easy to get a secure fit. The heel counter works very well without feeling obtrusive and contributes to the overall stability of the shoe. The sides of the upper or really the midsole is also equipped with guide rails, they are however too minimal and therefore do not perform the job they are intended for that well especially combined with the soft midsole of the back of the shoe (more on this in the next section). The breathability of the shoe is excellent, especially for a shoe that’s on the heavier end of spectrum of daily trainers. The insert is easily removable and can therefore be replaced with custom orthotics. I’ve tested the shoe with my trusty pair of Superfeet and can report that there is no ‘lift’ and the lockdown does not suffer.
Jeremy: Under a very lifestyle sneaker looks, the upper hides lots of very thoughtful details. The back of the shoe really focuses on heel hold and stability: a rigid heel counter takes ⅔ of the height and is topped with a flexible layer offering a thick padding around the Achilles. The rigid counter goes quite far on the sides of the shoe, and more on the medial side, and participates in the excellent stability and slight support the Cloudrunner is designed for. It works extremely well and despite sounding chunky and overbuilt, it’s never really felt on the run. I had no issue of heel hold, and never felt the rigid heel counter rubbing, an issue I can have with rigid heel counters. The thick and soft padding perfectly plays its role and also offers a nice contact just belo the ankle.
On the external side and on the front, a thick, high density mesh, very soft and flexible, offers far better breathability than expected.
It feels sturdy and durable, almost like a trail shoe upper. An overlay offers some very slight support and structure, and perfectly blends into a sturdy toe rand that’s not really different from the ones seen on some lightweight trail shoes.
On the medial side, the mesh is completely different. It has more structure, stretches less despite being thinner.
Even the overlays are a bit « stronger » and go further back than on the external side. The goal is simple: giving support and preventing tired feet collapsing. It works in combination with a subtle « rail » on the top of the midsole that raises just above the foot level, and with a very specifically designed insole.
The medial curvature is something I’ve never seen pushed this far for an insole.
It acts like a cradle for the foot and despite its extreme look, I must admit that it feels totally natural, so is the whole shoe’s upper despite its light stability and support focus.
The tongue is not gusseted but stays perfectly in place. Its thick padding offers lots of comfort and completely annihilates any pressure point from the thin flat laces. Even with a firm and tight lacing, the pressure feels distributed all along the instep and this padding still allows for some foot swol.
Generally speaking, the upper of the Cloudrunner works really well, offering a nice lockdown, it’s support and stability design touches all feel natural, and the comfort is adequate for 2h runs (the longest I had).
Matt: The midsole is a tale of two cities. The front of the shoe is nice, firm and springy. The back of the shoe is very soft. This creates a problem because in my experience the vast majority of overpronators (whom this shoe is aimed at) are heel strikers. The softness of the back of the shoe contributes to instability which the above mentioned, rather minimal guide rails are not potent enough to counter. If anyone from ON is reading this review the biggest improvement this shoe could benefit from would be making the back half of the shoe as firm as the front. Not only would that create additional stability for heel strikers but make the shoe much more snappy for those faster efforts. Other than that the midsole feels relatively average, nothing to write home about.
Jeremy: Ah, the midsole of ON shoes. It’s usually where my love at first sight story ends…and unfortunately the song remains the same with the Cloudrunner, despite clear improvements. I’m a midfoot to forefoot striker, and the midsole foam, « Zero Gravity » as ON calls it, feels like an outdated, firm and dull Compound. Not really cushy, it’s still far on the firmer side of midsoles, and offers no pop, no rebound. The Speedboard plate is more flexible than other ON shoes but it feels really unnatural to me. It doesn’t flex in the right place, too backwards for my stride at least, and as a consequence, the energy return and explosive toe-off it is supposed to give is never felt. It seems like it reacts out of time, every time, giving the feel that the shoe works against me. This feeling occurs on tempo paces, and fades out a little bit on more mellow paces. Still the dullness of the midsole is still present and I have issues finding a right spot for the Cloudrunner.
As Matt perfectly describes, the heel feels softer, but I wouldn’t call it soft. I’m not a heel striker save from the occasional downhill pounding, and I also feel like heel striking is a bit unstable, despite the Speedboard plate and the foam being not so soft. Therefore I have the same conclusion as Matt: for a stability shoe, an unstable heel seems quite unfortunate.
Sam: I must say I find the midsole overall on the firm side and that includes the heel but not so firm to be unpleasant. The more flexible (than usual) Speedboard acts as lightly impulsive and stable plate. Landings are stable with no real sense that the Runner is a pronation control shoe, just a more stable neutral.
The side rails are particularly well executed with higher ones medially (top above) and lower thinner ones laterally (bottom above). They do not get in the way of my transitions which many such railed shoes do including the Nike Infinity and Brooks Launch GTS and there is no over firm post like feel on the medial side with the smaller CloudTec elements (see comparison above) providing a touch of noticed support but if you didn’t tell me they were there for pronation control I might not have noticed.
The Zero Gravity foam is quite dense and not exactly as exciting as say the latest PWRRUN from Saucony or even for that matter the great softer Helion in the Cloudmonster. I imagine this foam was spec’d to provide the support and stability to the platform as were the single layer (unlike Monster) of smaller Cloudtec elements and that it does.
This said I found the larger Cloudtec elements of the Monster (shown above) likely improved the cushion feel of the shoe as much as the Helion foam.
Matt: Great outsole. Tested in dry and wet conditions and nothing to report apart from excellent grip which is what we want to see in a road shoe. With regards to wear and tear there is very little after my 50+ miles. Good job ON!
Jeremy: No wear signs after 30+ miles, perfect grip on wet asphalt, adequate for light dry trails. I have not a lot more to write about the outsole of the Cloudrunner. This is an outsole made right!
Sam: Agree with the guys. Among the best grip on ocean washed over sand on pavement of any of the shoes I have tested this spring.
Matt: In terms of the ride itself I would classify the shoe as a neutral daily trainer with very minimal elements of stability. As described in the previous sections the back end of the midsole is too soft for a stability trainer because it creates instability. The shoe is not springy enough for faster efforts and therefore works best for medium and slow paces. The cushioning is appropriate for a daily trainer but probably due to lack of springiness most runners would not choose to race in this shoe at any distance but if they did it would most likely be distances between 10k and half marathon.
Jeremy: The Cloudrunner aims at being a daily trainer. I can’t see it being anything else, as it’s not working at all at faster paces. As I described earlier, the midsole have nothing special about it, and the shoe doesn’t offer any pop nor anything close to an « explosive toe off » that the Speedboard plate is supposed to bring.
At easier paces, the shoe feels a bit better but still I struggle to find a sweet spot. It does not transition really well from midfoot to forefoot, its cushioning may feel a bit firm and harsh for recreational runners looking for a daily easy trainer, and it doesn’t offers the same springiness or softness of other trainers (Saucony Triumph 19, Puma Velocity Nitro for instance).
Sam: A solid firmer ride for me with the Speedboard providing the excitement to what is a quite dense foam with not much give back. The forefoot starts to feel thin during longer runs I assume from the relatively low stack plus wide Speedboard in the mix. I thought the shoe transitioned well and its geometry smooth and effective without to much over stabilizing feel yet as the others did in finding a niche in a rotation for the shoe. I think the very solid beautiful upper adds weight as we check in at 10.45 oz / 295g (US9), not bad, but given the quite thin running underfoot platform and the action of the Speedboard the Cloudrunner speaks more to faster pace uses but is held back by the weight. Get it to 9.5 oz or less and I think the ride and uses would change. I never go to the gym but.. for those seeking solid upper support, some stability and of course run capabilities the ride here speaks more to that kind of mixed use.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Matt: All in all I do like this shoe. I would recommend it for the less serious crowd of runners to whom style is as important as function. In terms of biomechanics most likely this shoe will suit neutral runners due to the softness of the back of the shoe.
Matt’s Score: 7.8
Ride 7.0 (50%) Fit 9.0 (30%) Value 7.5 (15%) Style 10 (5%)
Jeremy: The Cloudrunner is a miss for me. Despite its excellent upper, which works as well as it looks – and it looks good! – the On Cloudrunner really disappoints on the run. Aiming at recreational runners, I think it’ll be too firm and harsh underfoot for them, and more serious runners will probably not like the lack of springiness or pop of the midsole.
It really bugs me because the quality, the upper and the looks of the shoe are all so good. I also think it will be very durable considering the sturdiness of the upper and the minimal wear of the outsole. I’m sure that one day I’ll find a On shoe that suits me!
Thus, with that in mind, some runners who prefer a firm daily trainer might like it, and can then benefit from a running shoe that can double as an everyday sneaker as well.
Jeremy’s Score: 7.8
Ride 7.0 (50%) Fit 9.0 (30%) Value 7.5 (15%) Style 10 (5%)
Sam: A superb fitting, very supportive and comfortable trails worthy upper with incredible aesthetics is joined to effective light near neutral stability features and for me a great implementation of the ON Speedboard. Unfortunately the Cloudrunner does not deliver that much excitement given the overall shoe weight, stack, foam and small CloudTec elements. That spectacular upper adds weight affecting the ride as at 10.45 oz / 295g (US9) we are up there for the underfoot platform cushion to weight ratio. Put the Cloudmonster’s excellent softer Helion foam and somewhat larger Cloudtec elements which clearly add more dynamic feel in the mix as well as a lighter yet supportive upper (see Saucony Guide 15) and I am pretty sure things would change for me making the Cloudrunner a stable more uptempo to daily trainer trainer.
All of this said if you are looking for an all around stable and superbly built shoe for “some” running, gym and casual use with great style the Cloudrunner is a great choice.
Sam’s Score: 8.87 /10
Ride 8,4 (50%) Fit 9.5 (30%) Value 8.8 (15%) Style 10 (5%)
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
ON Cloudmonster (RTR Review)
Sam: With the Monster ON clearly demonstrated they can create great “run” shoes. At 9.7 oz / 275g (US9) they are not only lighter but considerably more cushioned in feel and stack. Rocker based and stiffer than the Cloudrunner they have a smoother flowing ride and with softer more energetic Hellion foam and larger Cloudtec Elements a more fun one that is for sure! I do find, as intended, the Cloudrunner to be more stable due to its features, firmer foam, and upper. The upper is not at he classic ON Swiss bank vault security but appropriate and light for sure given the weight reduction and strong weight to cushion ratio which makes the Monster a great all around run shoe for me and if you have never tried ON the one to start with before the Cloudrunner
Hoka Clifton 8 (RTR Review)
Matt: Very similar in terms of application – best suited for slower daily miles. Dramatically different in terms of style, On Couldrunner is a stunning shoe. In terms of the ride and performance both shoes are best suited for neutral runners, however the On upper is much higher quality and holds the foot better therefore making it a more secure shoe than the Clifton.
Sam: The lighter Clifton is softer, lighter and considerably less stable for me. As a heel striker I really can’t run them slow whereas I can the Cloudrunner.
Saucony Guide 15 (RTR Review)
Sam: More cushion stack of a considerably more dynamic softer foam, at least if not more stable, the Guide 15 weighs a full ounce or 28g less and costs the same. If you need a light stability trainer for pretty much any type of run the Guide is the clear choice.
Brooks Launch 9 GTS (RTR Review)
Sam: The venerable Launch in the rails based GTS version is almost 2 oz and $30 lighter. Its upper is adequate if crude in comparison. Its midsole feel and cushion is actually quite similar to Cloudrunner but I prefer the impulse of the Speedboard in the mix. The key deciding factors are weight and uses. For more uptempo run uses Launch GTS, for all around use including some runs, gym and casual no doubt Cloudrunner.
New Balance 860 v12 (RTR Review)
Sam: A more classic stability trainer the 860 v12 features a firmer medial foam post with the rest of the midsole considerably softer. It is a more flexible trainer unlike the stiffer Speedboard based Cloudrunner. Its upper is equally as secure but not nearly as comfortable or polished. If you really need solid pronation control, and you will notice it unlike Cloudrunner, head to the 860 and as with many of these comparisons if you are seeking a shoe with some light stability for multiple uses the classy Cloudrunner.
Adidas Boston 10 (RTR Review)
Matt: Completely different league. While lots of runners dislike the Boston 10 for the fact that it’s a total departure from Boston 9 and because of its very firm ride – I love them (no sorry I loooooooooooooove them). They are more secure, stable and functional than the On Cloudrunners. Boston 10s can be a swiss knife in your arsenal, just as suitable for daily training as for speed work or even as a long distance racer. Cloudrunners only work well for slower daily mileage for me. The two shoes are both as excellent in terms of grip and traction.
Saucony Triumph 19 (RTR Review)
Jeremy: As an everyday highly cushioned trainer, there’s no match. The T19 is both softer and livelier, has more bounce, is more cushioned, and works best for a wider range of paces.
It’s also more expensive, and on the style front, it won’t be as easy to use it as a “sneaker”.
Puma LIberate Nitro (RTR Review)
Jeremy: Both are targeting general easy runs. The Liberate is one of my favorite 2021 shoes, and it’s still a delight when I reach for them. Light, ultra-flexible, with an energetic and bouncy pure Nitro-foam midsole, they’re a joy to run in from easy pace to 10k pace. The upper is far less refined than the CloudRunner, and offers less support. The midsole is targeted at runners with some leg strength andgood form, whereas the CloudRunner brings light stability and support. But they definitely feel dead in comparison. They might appeal more to recreational runners.
Puma Velocity Nitro (RTR Review)
Jeremy: 1.5 oz lighter in weight, same light support features that are almost invisible…The Velocity is more cushioned and springier. The upper of the Cloudrunner is head and shoulders ahead, be it in design, quality, fit and support. Even if I felt like the Velocity weren’t really working for me, the CloudRunners are even worse…
Saucony Kinvara 10 (RTR Review)
Jeremy: A shoe made for every runner, made right. Light, cushioned but not too much, a nice fit, a nice midsole foam that’s not mushy nor harsh…The K10 was my bread and butter at the time. From what I’ve read, the following versions were as good if not better, so…the Kinvara always are a safe bet, the Cloudrunner if way too harsh in comparison.
Sam: As Jeremy said the latest Kinvara 13 has about the same cushion stack of softer bouncier foam but is far lighter and far more flexible while providing a touch of support but less than Cloudrunner. Its light upper is superb but not the highly supportive (overbuilt) Cloudrunner’s. Overall think fast slippers for Kinvara and solid deliberate and a bit snappy (Speedboard) Swiss security for the Cloudrunner.
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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