Our verdict

Maximum cushioning at minimum weight? Yes, please! On's unique CloudTech midsole makes it possible in the Cloudhorizon hiking shoe. But should we call it a hiking shoe? Our lab and wear tests proved that this offering from the Swiss brand is more of a trail-ready lifestyle sneaker. And by trail we mean hard-packed manicured park trails (no mud or rocks!). The On Cloudhorizon looks good and feels good but it didn't convince us as a performance hiking shoe. Which is unfortunate considering the price.

Pros

  • Excellent cushioning and impact protection for all-day wear
  • One of the lightest hiking shoes
  • Transitions from city to trails seamlessly
  • Nice and smooth heel-to-toes
  • Breathable for mild weather
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • True to size and fit

Cons

  • Not a real hiking shoe
  • Lacks durability for the price
  • Not very stable

Audience verdict

85
Great!

Who should buy

In our opinion, the target audience of the Cloudhorizon is rather limited. We think that you might be willing to pay the high price for this shoe if:

  • you are after a city-to-trail sneaker
  • you want a highly cushioned and fun ride that lasts all-day
  • you prioritize style in outdoor footwear (even if it means less durability)

On Cloudhorizon review

Who should NOT buy

We are convinced that you should take your money elsewhere if you are in search of a truly rugged and stable hiking shoe for all-day hikes with a heavy backpack.

Some of the non-waterproof alternatives to consider include the Hoka Skyline-Float X and the Merrell Moab Speed 2 (even more budget-friendly).

On Cloudhorizon lab test

Breathability

If you are considering the Cloudhorizon for summer hikes in warm weather, we recommend thinking twice. While it’s not as toasty as most hiking shoes we’ve tested in the lab, the Cloudhorizon’s ventilation capacity is limited by the thick inner lining beneath the mesh layer.

Even the light can't shine through the padded lining inside the Cloudhorizon.

On Cloudhorizon microscope

The underlayer is easier to see in our closeup microscope shot of the shoe’s upper fabric.

On Cloudhorizon under microscope

But the good news is that the inner lining doesn’t block the airflow entirely. As our smoke-pumping breathability test below shows, the shoe’s upper can channel enough air for mildly warm temperatures.

Look how effective the Cloudhorizon’s mesh cells are in the toebox area.

To sum up our meticulous breathability examination, we rated the shoe with a moderate score of 3 out of 5.

P.S. If you need a waterproof version of the Cloudhorizon instead, you can get it for $20 more ($190). It features On’s proprietary waterproofing membrane.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Despite their hefty price tag, On Cloud shoes don’t perform well when aggressive wear and tear is involved. To our great disappointment, we found it to be true for the brand’s Cloudhorizon as well. Even though as a hiking shoe, it is supposed to be more reinforced than casual sneakers.

Our standardized Dremel test revealed that 12 seconds of drilling the shoe’s toebox with sandpaper burned a see-through hole in its mesh layer just like that. But luckily, the thicker underlayer saved the day by remaining intact.

On Cloudhorizon Toebox durability comparison

This helped to bump up the shoe’s toebox durability to 3 out of 5 as opposed to the Hoka Anacapa boot on the right. The latter scored as little as 1 out of 5 because the Dremel went through the upper completely.

On Cloudhorizon toebox

However, it doesn’t change the fact that the Cloudhorizon’s mesh upper won’t survive frequent slashes against rocks, bushes, and roots. But if you are careful enough and limit the shoe's use to light and moderate trails, its protective overlay around the forefoot should suffice.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 3
Average 3.7
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the upper mesh of the Cloudhorizon that left us wishing for more.

The textile around the shoe’s heel counter did not show very promising wear resistance either. As little as 4 seconds of Dremel exposure left this part of the shoe completely torn.

On Cloudhorizon Heel padding durability comparison

Compared to other hiking shoes we’ve tested, the damage was major enough to lower the heel lining durability rating to only 2 out of 5. We expect some premature wear in this part of the Cloudhorizon, especially if you’re prone to developing holes in the shoe lining.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 2
Average 3
Compared to 14 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Checking the bottom of the Cloudhorizon, we weren’t convinced that we were looking at a proper hiking shoe, to be honest. Thin rubber layer, shallow and sparse lugs, exposed foam with undulations that attract pebbles… Not a great first impression, we’ve got to say.

On Cloudhorizon Outsole hardness

But luckily, the rubber itself happened to be rather sturdy with a high hardness reading of 87.0 HC. But is this enough to sustain regular abrasion on roads and trails?

Test results
Cloudhorizon 87.0 HC
Average 84.6 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
65.0 HC
Outsole hardness
94.1 HC

Outsole durability

We used our trusty Dremel to find out.

With the speed set to 10K RPM, we ruthlessly drilled one of the shoe’s lugs for 22 seconds. Finally, the Cloudhorizon started to meet our durability expectations!

On Cloudhorizon Outsole durability test

The damage on the shoe’s rubber was as shallow as 0.8 mm which is on par with the average of hiking shoes. But does it mean that the Cloudhorizon’s outsole will last as long as the average hiking shoe? Not necessarily.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 0.8 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 14 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

That’s because the shoe’s outsole happens to be thinner than what we’ve come to expect from outdoor shoes.

On Cloudhorizon Outsole thickness

At only 1.8 mm, it is one of the thinnest on our roster. Thus, we expect to see earlier signs of outsole wear on the Cloudhorizon compared to the more rugged hiking shoes.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 1.8 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.6 mm
Outsole thickness
4.0 mm

Weight

So far, we haven't been very positively impressed by the Cloudhorizon. But don't worry, this On shoe has some pretty strong points to make. Specifically in the weight department...

It is by far THE lightest hiking shoe in our catalog!

On Cloudhorizon Weight

Showing as little as 11.0 oz (312g) on our scale, the Cloudhorizon undercuts other very light options like the Merrell Moab Speed 2 and the Salomon Outpulse (both at 11.6 oz/330g). It is also lighter than the industry average by over 2 oz!

On Cloudhorizon shoe weight

The Cloudhorizon feels (and looks) nothing like a typical hiking shoe. Think of it as a light casual sneaker that you can wear on a hiking date and then seamlessly transition back to the city streets or a coffee shop.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 11.01 oz (312g)
Average 13.19 oz (374g)
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
6.49 oz (184g)
Weight
17.14 oz (486g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

When the brand claims a shoe to be their most cushioned one, we cheerfully grab our caliper to check if that's true.

On Cloudhorizon Heel stack

Measuring the heel stack of the Cloudhorizon, we are happy to confirm that statement. At 35.5 mm, it is about 4 mm thicker than the average and makes it to the max-cushioned range of hiking shoes. The trick is that the apertures of the shoe's Cloud-Tec Phase help to increase cushioning without actually adding more foam to the midsole.

The shoe's heel stack is nearly as tall as in the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX (36.0 mm) but is a bit lower than the Hoka Skyline-Float X (39.0 mm).


However, we can't complain about those few millimeters of difference because the Cloudhorizon never fell short of comfort or impact protection during our wear tests. We could confidently wear this shoe all day, even on concrete pavements. And on the trail, it provided a sufficient buffer to mute out sticks and stones. 

Test results
Cloudhorizon 35.5 mm
Average 31.4 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
9.9 mm
Heel stack
39.0 mm

Forefoot stack

But the shoe's abundant cushioning is not limited to the heel alone - its forefoot stack also surpasses the average by 5.5 mm!

On Cloudhorizon Forefoot stack

Having 26.4 mm of foam under the balls of our feet made us feel even more isolated from the ground.

This part of the Cloudhorizon exceeds the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX (25.5 mm) and is only second to the Hoka Skyline-Float X (31.0 mm). Looks like Hoka's attempt to offer the most cushioned hiking footwear faces some tough competition from On!

Test results
Cloudhorizon 26.4 mm
Average 20.9 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
31.0 mm

Drop

According to On's official specs, the Cloudhorizon should have a 6 mm heel-to-toe drop. Meaning that the heel should be elevated above the toes by 6 mm.

On Cloudhorizon Drop

But based on our own stack measurements (following the rules set by World Athletics), the difference is higher, at 9.1 mm.

Even though we must point out such discrepancies in the measurements, in practice most wearers will not notice the difference. Unless you are an experienced trail runner coming from low-drop shoes or a barefoot shoe enthusiast.

A 9-mm drop is on par with the hiking shoe average and is ideal for people who need this shoe for casually hitting the trails. Your ankles and Achilles tendons are going to feel well-supported in this setup.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 9.1 mm
Average 10.5 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
15.9 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The Cloudhorizon features the brand's unique cushioning tech in the form of compressible CloudTec Phase pods made of Heloin superfoam.

On Cloudhorizon cloudtec

Sounds fancy but what does it mean?

It means a whole lot more shock absorption than most hiking shoes can provide! We also felt a nice touch of energy return which made the Cloudhorizon feel a bit more like a running shoe. 

The Helion foam itself, however, is not plush. Measuring it with a Shore A durometer returned 26.3 HA which is a standard midsole softness for a hiking shoe.

On Cloudhorizon Midsole softness
Test results
Cloudhorizon 26.3 HA
Average 27.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
13.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Having tested the Helion foam in cold temperatures over and over again, we found that it shows minimal change on the durometer.

On Cloudhorizon Difference in midsole softness in cold

After keeping the Cloudhorizon in the freezer for 20 minutes, we repeated the measurement and found that the shoe's midsole softness indeed changed by only 11.4%.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 11.4%
Average 17.3%
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Insole thickness

In addition to primary cushioning, the Cloudhorizon features a well-padded insole. It feels cozy underfoot and shows a standard insole thickness of 5.2 mm in the heel.

On Cloudhorizon Insole thickness
Test results
Cloudhorizon 5.2 mm
Average 5.4 mm
Compared to 20 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.6 mm
Insole thickness
8.6 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

With its high stack, minimal reinforcements, and lack of proper arch support, the Cloudhorizon is not a shoe we would recommend for stability.

It doesn't mean that you will be twisting your ankles all over the place but we would warn people with overpronation, ankle instability, and similar foot conditions against choosing this On Cloud shoe. The Hoka Skyline-Float X is a much more reliable option for these folks.

Can you see the difference in lateral stability?

Torsional rigidity

The shoe's torsional rigidity tells us a lot about its stability. Designs that are easier to twist have fewer supportive elements in the midfoot which means less leverage to prevent the unfortunate ankle roll.

Checking the Cloudhorizon in our manual test, we didn't feel a lot of resistance from the shoe. It was a bit easier to bend than the average hiking shoe.

Thus, on a 1-5 stiffness scale, we gave it a lower score of 3.

We felt as though the Cloudhorizon had just enough firmness to avoid feeling unstable but not enough structure to make us 100% surefooted.

On Cloudhorizon medial side

Test results
Cloudhorizon 3
Average 3.4
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The shoe's heel counter is another example of that.

Giving it a push and squeeze in our manual test, we found that it had more give than the average hiking shoe heel. On a 1-5 stiffness scale, we gave it a middle-of-the-road score of 3.

It means that the Cloudhorizon will make you feel supported if:

  • you have neutral pronation and no issues with ankle stability
  • you carry no backpack or it is a very light one
  • you hike on more or less even, non-technical terrain

Anything beyond that is ultra vires for this On hiking shoe.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 3
Average 3.6
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Luckily, a few extra millimeters of midsole width earn the Cloudhorizon some bonus points in the stability department.

On Cloudhorizon Midsole width in the forefoot

The shoe comes with a bit of an outrigger in the forefoot which shows 114.7 mm on our caliper. That's about 4 mm wider than the average hiking shoe forefoot.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 114.7 mm
Average 110.3 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
103.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
117.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

We were also happy with the heel width of the Cloudhorizon. At 88.3 mm at the widest point, it is slightly wider than the average too.

On Cloudhorizon Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Cloudhorizon 88.3 mm
Average 86.7 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
64.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
101.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The On Cloudhorizon is not particularly flexible but bends just enough to create smooth heel-to-toe transitions. Our force gauge test revealed that it takes 28.3N to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle, which is the same as an average hiking shoe.

In addition, we found that the shoe's rockered shape also plays a key role in carrying the foot forward.

On Cloudhorizon rockered profile

Test results
Cloudhorizon 28.3N
Average 29.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.8N
Stiffness
54.0N

Difference in stiffness in cold

Our freezer test revealed that the shoe stiffens only moderately in low temperatures.

On Cloudhorizon Difference in stiffness in cold

After a 20-minute exposure to low temperature, the Cloudhorizon needed 23.9% more force to bend to a 90-degree angle. This is not as much as the other hiking shoes required in the same conditions.

Considering the findings of both our freezer tests (midsole softness and stiffness), we can conclude that the Cloudhorizon remains quite comfortable in cold conditions.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 23.9%
Average 29.6%
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

The Cloudhorizon has some of the shallowest lugs we've seen on hiking shoes. While they work well for moderately rocky and rooty patches, these treads are helpless in soft and muddy terrain.

On Cloudhorizon lugs

Flat and square, we could barely even feel them on hard city streets.

On Cloudhorizon Lug depth

At only 2.5 mm they are not much deeper than the sneaker treads.

New Balance 327 grip

No, really, even the lugs on the New Balance 327 sneaker look more aggressive!

Test results
Cloudhorizon 2.5 mm
Average 3.9 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.1 mm
Lug depth
5.0 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

People with medium-width feet like ours are going to feel right at home in the Cloudhorizon. We found that the shoe's toebox fits just as expected for a D-medium width.

On Cloudhorizon fit

Measuring the widest part of the forefoot, we got 102.2 mm on the caliper. If falls into the medium range of toebox widths we've measured in our lab.

On Cloudhorizon Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Cloudhorizon 102.2 mm
Average 100.6 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
94.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
107.7 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

We are also happy to report that the tip of the toebox is not very pointy in this shoe either. We got just a standard measurement of 81.1 mm in the big toe area.

On Cloudhorizon Toebox width at the big toe

We should also note that there is absolutely NO stretch in the shoe's upper so we wouldn't rely on a break-in period to help loosen the fit.

Test results
Cloudhorizon 81.1 mm
Average 81.7 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
68.8 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
108.6 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Featuring a semi-gusseted tongue, the On Cloudhorizon instantly elevates the fit and comfort of the shoe.

On Cloudhorizon Tongue: gusset type

First, the gussets secure the tongue in place which prevents it from sliding sideways. Secondly, it helps the upper wrap around the foot more intimately creating a more foot-hugging sensation.

Test results
Cloudhorizon Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

Measuring the shoe's tongue thickness with a caliper, we got 8.2 mm. We found it to be just right - neither too puffy nor too thin.

On Cloudhorizon Tongue padding
Test results
Cloudhorizon 8.2 mm
Average 9.5 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
5.0 mm
Tongue padding
17.0 mm

Heel tab

The shoe features two finger loops to help with the on-and-off action.

On Cloudhorizon Heel tab

One is on the heel collar and the other one is on the tongue.

On Cloudhorizon finger loop
Test results
Cloudhorizon Finger loop

Removable insole

The Cloudhorizon comes with a removable insole.

You can replace it with a custom orthotic but we had no gripes with the stock one. It is contoured to the foot and is even perforated for better aeration.

On Cloudhorizon Removable insole
Test results
Cloudhorizon Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

If your hike makes you lose track of time and you end up coming back i the dark, the reflective logo on the side of the shoe will keep you visible.

Test results
Cloudhorizon Yes

Sustainable materials

As a welcome bonus, the Cloudhorizon's upper is made with about 88% recycled polyester. This might be a drop in the ocean but still better than no effort.

On Cloudhorizon Sustainable materials