On running shoes are the brainchild of World Duathlon Champion and multiple Ironman Winner, Olivier Bernhard and likeminded Swiss engineers, David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti. The company was created in Zurich, Switzerland in January 2010 with the first shoes hitting the European markets later that same year. The company opened their US headquarters in Portland, Oregon and entered the US markets in 2014.
About Me, My Running & My Feet
Depending on what time of year it is and what event I’m training for, my weekly running mileage varies anywhere from 20-50 miles per week. At the time of this report my training is focused on the upcoming road marathon known as CIM (California International Marathon).
Physically, I stand at 5’6” and weigh anywhere between 120-125. I have teeny-tiny feet for my height – like freakishly tiny. I wear a 6 or 6 ½ in street shoes so a 7 in running shoes typically keeps my toenails from turning black. I have very high arches, a narrow heel and an average, if not wide forefoot/toe region.
|Weight:||7.0 oz (in Women’s size 8.5)|
The Sole: The CloudTec® sole is formed from a super-light, flexible and responsive Zero Gravity EVA foam which is separated by a central channel. Each side of this channel is flanked by “cloud elements” or individual pods that provide cushioning through each phase of every step.
While walking, I found that the “Clouds” produced a little spring-like sensation with each heel lift. The clouds at the heel are larger and more robust than those at the toe which makes sense, but the result is that I didn’t notice the same spring-like sensation while running. This is likely due to the fact that I’m primarily a forefoot/midfoot striker and generally try to stay off of my heels. I imagine that runners who tend to heel strike would notice the benefits of the clouds much more dramatically.
In regards to arch support, I would say that these shoes offer a little support, but not much. The foot bed and insoles do bow up a bit toward the arch of the foot, but I never noticed ‘support’ per se. Again, I have extremely high arches so runners with more moderate arch structure may feel more supported. With that said, I feel as though the insoles and foot bed were extremely comfortable – especially for shorter, faster runs such as speed work on the track or shorter races (think 5 and 10Ks).
The one problem I encountered with the sole relates to rocks and debris getting caught in the channel or in the clouds themselves. The vacant space in these road shoes is much larger than on their trail counterparts. I found that rocks consistently got caught in the channel while everything from pine needles to small sticks got caught in the clouds even if I was just running a short distance on dirt, between paved segments or even through patches of debris on pavement. Given our mountainous surroundings, it’s pretty impossible to avoid this type of debris unless running on a track or treadmill.
The Lacing & Uppers: On is all about the soles, but ironically, the thing I loved most about these shoes were the uppers and the laces. The uppers are ridiculously comfortable. They fit like a glove, but feel like a slipper. The mesh is very breathable and lightweight, keeping the feet cool and airy.
On Clouds feature an easy entry lacing system which is basically a bungee-type lace in lieu of more traditional laces. I loved these as I’m usually too lazy to unlace my shoes before taking them off (ironic, right). By tightening up the bungee and then knotting, it’s extremely easy to customize the lacing to suit individual needs and preferences. This bungee-type lacing system would be fantastic for triathlons! No laces to worry about! The Clouds do come with conventional laces as an option for those who prefer them as well.
The Bottom Line
These road shoes feel like slippers more than running shoes. They are incredibly lightweight and comfortable with a minimalist feel. They provide tactile connection with the contour of the surface underfoot without eliminating cushioning and protection.
They are most definitely road shoes and do not work well on trails, or any surfaces that have loose rock, gravel, woodchips and other debris. I loved them on the road, track and treadmill, especially for speed work. They would be fantastic for triathlons due to the bungee lacing and ventilation of the uppers.
The On Cloud is certainly a worthy arrow to include in a road running quiver. I found it to be fantastic on shorter, faster runs (3-6 miles), but prefer more structure and cushioning for longer training runs. I tested these shoes too late in the season to use them in any triathlons, but I will definitely be racing in them next summer. For anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet from an occupational standpoint, these shoes are great for daily use, just standing and walking around as they provide ample cushion without bulk.
From the On-Running Test Lab, Check out The Cloud Technology –
We have On Shoes in stock at Tahoe Mountain Sports so come in and try them on! If you can’t come in then please use these links to shop online from our affiliate partner, On-Running.
Read the On Cloud Venture Shoe Review.
Mone Haen is a Truckee-based ultrarunner and regular TMS contributor