On Running has a cult-like following, especially in Europe. Its uniquely designed sneakers feature cloud-like puffs on the outsole, making them instantly recognizable. The Cloudace launched in June of this year, and we took it out in the mid-summer heat to get a feel for whether or not the latest update to the On Running portfolio is worth its price tag.
The Good: People love the feel of the On Running Cloud, one of the first sneakers the brand launched back in 2010. The Cloudace fits true to size and will hold up long after your training runs have subsided. Underfoot, the Cloudpods grip wet and uneven terrain without breaking a sweat. Designed by the Swiss, the running shoe is On’s most technical sneaker yet. The multi-layer upper features tape and practically no seams, so the lack of abrasion inside is a selling point.
Who They’re For: These are for runners who need a bit more support in their shoe. If you need an upper that will keep your feet in place, so you have more structure beneath your toes, this is the one for you. If you love On Running, you’re likely used to the ride of this shoe, and will appreciate the feel.
If you’re a design nerd who loves well-made products, look no further. An ISPO Gold Winner for 2018/2019, the Cloudace speaks to a specific aesthetically minded consumer. On puts a lot of thought into every single detail.
Watch Out For: For running sneakers that are eventually going to wear out, $200 is a hefty price to pay. The On Cloud is just $130, which makes it more in line with the typical sneakers on the market. It’s also heavy. Weighing in at 11 ounces, this is a pretty hefty sneaker. You might have to get used to the weight on longer runs.
Alternatives: If you want a sneaker with added cushioning underfoot, take a look at something like the Hoka One One Arahi 2 ($130) or the Brooks Levitate 2 ($150). Another stable option for longer distances would be the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v8 ($150).
Review: First, I’m not a runner that needs a stability shoe, so that took a few runs to get used to. However, when I first stepped into the shoes, they felt very tight and stable. They fit true to size, but definitely had more structure and heft to them compared to the Pegasus 35, which has been my go-to running shoe. They’re not quite as structured as the Asics Dynaflyte 3, which have a lot of support in the forefoot.
I wore these over cliffs while hiking, trail running, along wet roads post-rainstorm and on the treadmill. The grip was unparalleled. I never felt as if I was going to slip. The external TPU molded heel counter stabilizes with each step, but I didn’t necessarily feel it while I was running, which is a good thing.
The first time I put the shoes on, I wore them as a travel sneaker. They were lightweight enough to rock in the office and to run to the bus station, but also had a distinct stiff-feeling to them. I wear pretty thin socks when I run or walk around, but I had no issues walking around all day in the Cloudace. I did find that I needed to loosen the laces extensively so that I could have more breathing room in my midfoot. And it turned out that when I started running, I didn’t want to tighten them.
My first run was on an open road in upstate New York. The weather was ping-ponging back and forth between hot and humid and flash-flood rain. The roads were broken up into a mix of freshly paved sections, altered by winter storm-worn pieces and then bits of grass and gravel along the way. An initial downhill had me worrying that I was going to slide forward the entire time and have my toes bump up against the upper, but after a couple miles, they just seemed to disappear.
The tightness around my arch and forefoot felt more supportive than I am used to. Most of the sneakers I run in these days have a much thinner and looser upper (i.e. more breathable). While I can’t say I noticed a huge difference in how hot the toe box got compared to other lightweight uppers, I did find that during my research many complained about the lack of breathability. This could make for the perfect winter running shoe. The upper literally hugged my foot, but not in all the places you would think — the arch being one. I felt the most support around my bunions and right at the beginning of my arch. There’s not a ton of arch support in the sneakers, which means there’s also no pressure.
Another unique point of support is the sock liner. From the top of your arch to the edge of your toes, it’s very forgiving with every forefoot strike. From your arch down, the dual-density sock liner has an adaptive memory foam, which feels great. I felt this most acutely on the road and on the treadmill — there was plenty of cushion underfoot, yet the energy return (and push back) also felt natural.
On treadmill runs, the shoes didn’t feel slow or clunky, even as the speed inched closer and closer to 10.0. After sprints on the tread, I hopped down to the gym floor to see how the Cloudace would respond to weights, and for the most part, it does the trick. The only catch was during mountain climbers, I could feel the back of my heel slipping just a bit. Other than that, these make a great gym sneaker as well.
Verdict: These are the perfect shoes for someone who is looking to log a lot of miles. If you’re not racing for speed, the Cloudace is a good shoe swap for your long run days. The unique Cloudpod-support system is designed for miles, but it also works extremely well for hikers. If you’ve loved the other On Cloud sneakers, this pair is worth testing out as you continue to go the distance.
What Others Are Saying:
• “We liken it to a Humvee as it looks like it’s built to last and designed to take you to the farthest finish line. Once you put ’em on, you’ll feel every bit of why it’s priced at a premium. ON did themselves a favor by holding nothing back in terms of innovation.” — Swim Bike Run
• “The attention to detail, design-wise, is incredible. The lace aglets are printed with “put me On”, which is kinda cute, and the insole says “the Ace up your runner’s sleeve.” The upper is an engineered mesh, and there’s no stitching anywhere I could see. The On logos are reflective, and there’s the little Swiss flag on the outside of the right heel.” — Erin, Believe in the Run
• “The On Cloudace shoes are designed for those who need protection without sacrificing comfort and speed. These stability shoes offer support while still being lightweight. Once they are broken in, they are perfect for running long or short distances, walking, or use on light trails.” — Running Shoes Guru
Weight: 11.8 ounces
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