Verdict from 6.8 hours of research from the internet

90
Great!
787 users: 4.4 / 5
30 experts: 84 / 100

9 reasons to buy

  • Several runners commented that wearing the On Cloudsurfer was like running in socks, but with loads of cushioning.
  • A runner commented that they weren’t able to feel any pressure on their ankles or knees while using this shoe for long running sessions.
  • Some purchasers noted that they were able to run faster and longer with this shoe.
  • There were testers who noticed a springy sensation with every step and they wrote that it allowed them to be more efficient when performing.
  • According to many users, this shoe was able to deliver a soft ride and a secure fit.
  • A consumer commended the responsiveness of this shoe; they felt like running on air with it.
  • A number of testers stated that its cushioning systems were efficient when it came to preventing discomfort or injury during the running session.
  • There were runners who felt that the On Cloudsurfer didn’t need a break-in period, that it was comfortable from the get-go.
  • The upper unit felt like a ‘natural coating’ for the foot, wrote a consumer; they didn’t experience blisters or irritation because of it.

4 reasons not to buy

  • A number of reviewers didn’t consider the On Cloudsurfer as a racing shoe because, for them, it was heavy.
  • Some runners didn’t like the laces used in this shoe; they wrote that it was too long, too thin, and difficult to adjust & secure.
  • The tongue was too long and it dug into the skin, according to a tester.
  • A consumer reported that heel section of the cushioning system collapsed after only a few uses.

Bottom line

The On Cloudsurfer was able to bring satisfaction to a lot of neutral runners. Many of them were impressed by its performance on the roads, as well as its innovative design and solid performance. Some were not as hooked because they had some complaints about it. Still, this offering from On Running was generally welcomed with enthusiasm.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

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Our reviews

90
/100 by Steve Hakim, posted on .

I’ve been a distance runner for more than15 years, and in that span of time, I have run in many different types of shoes. I’ve run in road, trail, and cross-training shoes. I’ve spent countless hours in neutral, super cushioned, stability, motion control, barefoot and minimalist shoes.

I’ve encountered a plethora of uppers and midsoles. Essentially, if it’s out there, I’ve probably run in it. That being said, very little surprises me in terms of innovation in modern-day running shoes. To quote a common proverb, “there is nothing new under the sun,” when it comes to running shoes - at least, that’s what I thought.

 

                                                        The ON Cloudsurfer

 

Naturally, as shoes modernize, more efficient and effective materials are used to enhance a runner’s performance. This “modernization” is not what I would call revolutionary. In fact, I don’t find that upgrading materials qualify as a departure from the status quo.

This is NOT necessarily a bad thing. If it ain't broke, don’t fix it right? That being said, I have never run in a shoe quite like the ON Cloudsurfer. I have run in shoes that aim to provide the same benefits, but I have never run in a shoe that's set to deliver these benefits in the same way as the Cloudsurfer.

“What are you on about?” You ask, shaking your electronic device hoping I get to the point soon before you lose interest. Well, buddy, I’ll explain it all very simple with one word - Clouds.

Intrigued? Well, I certainly was. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the ON Cloudsurfer, examine what a “cloud” is, what it does and how the shoe performs as a whole.

Shapes in the clouds

I would formally like to state how fun it is conjuring these cloud axioms. However, I promise this is the last of them (maybe).

So, what are clouds? Well, when it comes to the Cloudsurfer, clouds serve the purpose of any other shoe’s midsole. They are a series of gaps in an elongated outsole. They are designed to absorb energy and facilitate forward motion.

                        

                                                                  “Clouds”

 

Interestingly enough, different ON shoes use different materials in the composition of clouds in various “cloud-tec” shoes. The Cloudsurfer utilizes the same rubber that composes the outsole to create 13 cloud pods.

With each step, the oval pods compress, offering all the impact reduction and the marginal amount of energy return available in the shoe. With that out of the way, let’s see how these clouds perform!  

Comfort & fit

The Cloudsurfer is surprisingly comfortable. I was not expecting this to be the case as there is practically NO midsole present. This is really a testament as to how effective the cloud-tec concept really is.

At all speeds, the shoe feels great. At slower speeds, and with purposeful strides, I can really feel the cloud pods compressing as I apply weight to them. I feel the technology hard at work beneath my feet. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the upper, even though it provides an excellent fit and conforms to the foot rather well.

 

                                   Breathable, flexible, but thin upper and laces

 

Indeed, there is plenty that I do appreciate about the upper. It comfortably wraps around the foot and the mesh upper overs plenty of ventilation. The toe-box is also surprisingly roomy.

My only problem is with the tongue of the shoe and the laces. The tongue of the shoe is very, very thin. I hate super thin tongue design in all shoes (looking at you Nike Zoom Strike) not just the Cloudsurfer.

The tongue is stiff, and while running, it would often lay awkwardly against my ankle and cause unwanted friction. Furthermore, as a result of the thin tongue, the laces of the shoe tend to dig into the top of my foot if I lace the shoe up tightly.

Impact reduction

The Cloudsurfer offers a surprising amount of impact reduction. The entire premise is interesting as most shoes approach impact reduction from a foot first perspective, and not a floor first perspective.

This is my personal conception of the technology at work here, and not necessarily an endorsed position offered by ON as a company. How I see it, most shoes minimize the impact of the foot as it comes down to meet the road by compressing the midsole. Essentially, the impact reduction starts at the foot and travels down.

 

                                                    Compression of “Clouds”

 

The Cloudsurfer, however, minimizes the impact from the road as the cloud pods compress in response to the force that shoots up from the road upon foot strike - the cloud-tec works. The cloud pods effectively absorb vertical and horizontal forces of an impact with the floor as they compress.

Midsole

As previously mentioned, there isn’t much midsole in the Cloudsurfer to speak of. There is essentially enough room for an insole and a ¼ inch barrier in the heal, separating the foot from the outsole.

It’s really weird talking about this shoe, as I have no technological point of reference. It is indeed a unique shoe, and I’m not sure what the utility in the midsole actually is.

The best sense I can make of it is that the midsole is supposed to act as a sturdy “platform” for your foot, as the outsole does most of the work. The sturdiness of this “platform” adds to the stability of the Cloudsurfer and adds an element of motion control by eliminating lateral movement.

 

                               Minimal midsole - Comparison w/ Brooks Levitate 2

 

Unfortunately, however, the lack of midsole material is apparent in one glaring way. It is a semi-flexible plastic plate.

At faster speeds, or during high impact running, the midsole becomes uncomfortable. The stiffness of it is unaccommodating, as there is little give in the midsole material creating a less than comfortable foot strike.

This led to hotspots and a burning sensation on the pads of my feet. These were never bad enough to develop into blisters, but the skin on the bottom of my feet was raw and sensitive to the touch after longer runs.

Outsole

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of this shoe - the outsole. The outsole is composed of 13 cloud pods, 9 in the forefoot and 4 in the heel. These 13 cloud pods are responsible for all the cushioning and energy return you’ll be getting from this shoe.

I hesitate to go too deep into the performance of the outsole in this portion of the review, as I believe that analysis is best saved for the “ride” portion. However, now is a perfect time to give you some stats.

The Heel-toe-drop of the shoe comes in at 13mm, which is very high for any shoe. Naturally, the heel is also pretty high, coming in at 37.8mm. This is a direct result of the cloud pods having to do all of the work.

To accomplish a comfortable ride using only the cloud pods, they need to be pretty robust. This adds to the height of the shoe. The robust nature of cloud pods also adds to extra heel cushioning. Heel strikes are very soft, but transition well to the firmer forefoot.

 

                                       Heel vs. forefoot “Cloud” size difference

 

The firmness of the forefoot adds to the responsiveness of the shoe. The rubber composing the outsole is also very grippy, adding to a feeling of control and closeness to the road, while still remaining semi-flexible.

The forefoot also lends itself well to quick transitions as you pick up the pace of a run. Unfortunately, the speed of the shoe is also betrayed by its weight.

With all of that extra material in the outsole of the Cloudsurfer comes some extra baggage that isn’t present in shoes that utilize a full midsole. Weighing in at 12 0z, my size 14 never felt too heavy, but it bears mentioning that some may have their performance impaired by the heft of the shoe. 

 

                                                     Flexibility of Cloudsurfer

Upper

As I stated in the “comfort” portion of the review, there is nothing glaringly negative about the upper, except for the tongue. The mesh is breathable, and I never felt my feet heating up too much. Ventilation is excellent.

The upper is also flexible, never leading to pinching or friction during my runs. The toe-box is large, and it accommodates even excessive toe splay. The heel is sturdy, and it locks the foot in very well.

Generally speaking, the upper does everything I would want it to do. Furthermore, the upper contains rubberized overlays that streak across the mesh that offer a tiny element of water resistance.

 

                                                                Thin tongue

 

Then we get to the tongue and laces of the shoe. Sheesh, what a disappointment the tongue and laces have proven to be on this shoe.

Continuing with my already established grievance with the tongue, I can’t help but wish that all of the upper was a little thicker and had a plusher feel. As I understand it, the ON Cloudflyer does exactly this to amazing results.

I understand that the Cloudsurfer is designed to be a racer, so the upper was designed a little thinner, but why then compose the outsole of a heavy rubber material?

I suspect I know the answer to this (although I don’t have it on any authority) which I will explain in the “ride” portion and my impressions.

Performance/ride

Ok, so there is a lot to sift through here. I’ve been pushing most of this review to this point, where I finally get an opportunity to discuss how “cloud-tec” actually performs.

But beyond how effective the cloud-tec is, there is an entire shoe with moving parts here that adds up to be something unlike anything else I’ve ever run in. So here we go…

 

                                                        Cloud-tec Technology

 

Speed

The shoe almost wants to go fast, but I don’t think that’s exactly what it was designed to do. The firm toe-off and heel drop height imply that this shoe is indeed a racer.

In that respect, it only partially succeeds. My strides are quick in the Cloudsurfer. It never feels like I’m laboring to pick up the pace.

The heel to forefoot transition is quick, and as a result, my foot turnover is consistently fast. The upper is thin, with an effort at adding flexibility and breathability, while minimizing weight on the shoe. However, when it comes to killing speed, the guilt lies with the outsole.

As previously mentioned, the rubber present in the outsole is what composes the cloud pods on the bottom of the shoe. To make these cloud pods effective, it simply requires too much rubber material. This weighs the shoe down significantly.

That being said, I don’t think I would recommend an extended pace of more than 8-9mph. Sprints, however, feel excellent in the Cloudsurfer, as the weight of the shoe isn’t apparent in short bursts.

Road running

The Cloudsurfer makes a pretty decent road running shoe. The upper is flexible and breathable allowing for longer duration runs (assuming you’re staying between 8-9mph).

The outsole is also comfy enough to support longer runs, even for a guy my size (6’3” 180lbs). The main selling point of the shoe when it comes to road running is this comfort. The heel, in particular, offers sufficient enough impact reduction to allow for many miles.

Furthermore, while I have acknowledged that the weight of the shoe could be considered by many as excessive, I never once felt inconvenienced by it. This is strange because other shoes that weigh as much as the Cloudsurfer have been much harder for me to run in.

Through some miracle of engineering, while the shoe is objectively heavy, it doesn’t feel heavy. This translates into more miles at faster speeds, and at faster speeds is where the responsiveness of the shoe, and a firm toe-off, really shine.

The shoe is, in my opinion, a formidable racing shoe. Furthermore, as a result of the shoe’s responsiveness, if added traction and connection to the road are necessary due to inclement weather, I can imagine myself reaching for the Cloudsurfer.

Trail running

Here is where I feel I’ll have the opportunity to reconcile the various design elements of this shoe and have an opportunity to hypothesize what I think is the true purpose of the shoe.

As a trail running shoe, the Cloudsurfer is surprisingly effective. It isn’t going to convert you if you already have a favorite pair of trail shoes, but in my opinion, it serves as an excellent entry point for those who want to tackle simpler (non-technical) trails.

The reason I find the Cloudsurfer so suitable for trail running is simple: the heavy-duty outsole. Once again, this is a perfect example of the outsole doing most of the work in this shoe.

The responsiveness of the outsole combined with the significant heel-toe drop work together to offer speed on trails, which is interesting. It is interesting because usually speed is not a priority with most trail shoes. You don’t exactly jump into the woods to see how fast you can go.

This is why I believe the Cloudsurfer makes an excellent shoe for triathlons. A mixture of speed, utility and responsiveness are required for triathletes, and for that, there is no better shoe than the Cloudsurfer.

 

                                                               Robust Outsole

 

However, there are some drawbacks to using the Cloudsurfer on trails. The absence of a rock plate is noticeable and always concerns me when speaking about trail shoes.

This missing feature is mitigated by the large outsole and general design of the shoe. That being said, the cloud pods are not without fault here as rocks, gravel and other debris can get stuck in them. This is the case even on road runs.

The other drawback is the absence of a stability feature for the shoe. Always be mindful while running on trails, as a twisted ankle could result from tackling aggressive terrain.

 

                                                      Debris can get caught in shoe

Aesthetic

Concerning the look of the shoe, I have to say that I am generally a fan. To each his own, but I think the cloud pods look extra cool and make a statement. Some might find the design off-putting, but I’m not one of them.

Unfortunately, there are only two colorways for both men and women. I am not really a fan of any of these colorways. If you purchase the Cloudsurfer, understand that every penny of that purchase is going toward performance.

I must say, however, that I absolutely love the reflective elements in this shoe. The glow in the dark “ON” symbols and stripes along the side look so rad!

 

                                                              Glow in the dark

Value/price

Speaking of purchasing, to own a pair of these shoes, you’re going to have to cough up 150 big ones. That’s right, the shoe is priced at a premium. This isn’t to say that you can’t find it cheaper on various websites, but to get it straight from the manufacturer, it will cost you a pretty penny.

So, is it worth it? Yes and no. “Yes,” if you’re looking for a multi-purpose trainer and “no,” if you’re looking for either a trail OR road shoe. As I mentioned, the shoe is good at both types of activity, but there are individual shoes that perform better in each realm.

Unless you see yourself facing a fusion of terrain, I would save my money. However, if you are looking for an all-purpose shoe that transitions across various terrain, then give the Cloudsurfer a spin.

Bottom line

I loved my time running in the ON Cloudsurfer. From experimenting with different terrain to getting accustomed to the cloud-tec, it was a thoroughly enjoyable month I spent with these shoes.

The most fun I had was on a trip to Big Bear CA, where I had an opportunity to run across all kinds of terrain in a single run. It was such a joy speeding by lakes, then hiking up trails, only to be shot out the other end onto a winding road.

I had the time of my life running in these shoes. This may result in a skewed review, but I don’t care. The Cloudsurfer allowed me to engage in these activities. Any shoe that does that gets my stamp of approval.

I got lost in my runs while wearing these shoes. There was an element of excitement and whimsy during each run, as I decided where I would go, what turns I would make at the spur of the moment, and where they would lead me.

The Cloudsurfer allowed me to use my imagination as I ran. I never felt limited, not even once. On each and every run, I had my head in the clouds… even though my feet were firmly on the ground.

 

                                                               See you next time!

Steve Hakim | Level 3 expert Verified
Hey guys, this is Steve and I've been running for 14 years now, ranging from 7-14 miles on average training days, culminating in 60+ mile weeks. I've run the Magic City half-marathon four times, the Mercedes-Benz marathon twice, and recently finished the California leg of the Pacific Crest Trail. Currently training to get my mile time down in hopes of qualifying for the Boston. Now, let’s get out there and log some miles!

72
/100 by Koh Ancheng, posted on .

The Cloudsurfer works well for anyone who wants a trainer they can grind long runs in. Being sufficiently cushioned, most people who have been running in traditional running shoes would not have much problem transitioning over to the Cloudsurfer.

One of the main differences one may notice when they start running in the shoe is the ride. Compared to more traditional running shoes, the Cloudsurfer feels springy due to the high rebound rubber pods found on the outsole that feels weird yet nice. 

 

What I like

Upper

One of the things that I noticed when I first wore the shoe is the upper. The upper is made up of 2 layers of mesh that have no overlays which allow the foot to move naturally as it is so soft. The upper accommodates my foot well and is both stretchy and breathable.

Having a wider foot, the upper was stretchy enough that it can accommodate my wider foot without it being too tight. During longer runs, the stretchy upper allows my foot to move with a little restriction that helps improve overall comfort. 

 

 

The upper on the Cloudsurfer is also relatively breathable for a trainer. With the upper having plenty of ventilation holes, the shoe helps my foot stay cool on longer runs. For runners who run in warmer weather, this would be highly appreciated as the shoe wicks sweat fast.

Something else I like about the upper is the tongue. The tongue is made up of a thin piece of fabric to help save weight and has plenty of ventilation holes to help keep the shoe breathable. Although the fabric is thin, it does not fold over on the foot and stays in place.

Fit

Although the shoe lacks welded overlays, it does not compromise the fit. The lockdown is good, and my foot does not move much when I corner sharp turns.

One thing that runners should note is that this shoe is a bit tighter at the forefoot and the fit can feel a bit narrow for people with wider feet. For runners with wide feet, I would advise to go half a size up to help accommodate the slimmer fit.

Build quality

Anyone who picks the shoe up will notice one thing for sure which is the build quality. The build quality definitely feels like they are Swiss engineered. The shoe is rugged and can be expected to withstand what most casual runners can throw at it. After running in it for about a month, there is minimal wear on the shoe.

 

What I dislike?

Ride

I am kind of on the fence when it comes to the ride of the shoes as I kind of like and dislike the ride at the same time.

The ride on the Cloudsurfer is not meant for me from my experiences running in them. They are just a little too responsive for my liking as a daily trainer. For runners who want a shoe to change into after a hard workout for their cooldowns, the Cloudsurfer would not be a very good choice as it is just so hard and stiff.

Compared to other trainers I regularly use such as the Saucony Freedom, the Cloudsurfer is just in a class of its own in terms of responsiveness. For the cloud technology used, I feel that it is a unique experience that is quite enjoyable on easier runs.

When used for harder long runs where I need a shoe to be reliable and consistent in terms of the experience it gives me, the Cloudsurfer kind of fails. During the first half of runs, the responsiveness feels good, but as time passes the ride gets sloppy as my form breaks down. I feel that when I run in the shoe, I have to pay particular attention to my form to get the most out of them.

 

Design

I am not a fan of the design of the shoes. I personally feel that they look weird. The clouds and the whole design make them look like a pair of hiking shoes.

One of the things I dislike most of the design is the clouds. When running, they collect debris especially when I run on gravel. 

Weight

Even for a trainer, these shoes are heavy. Weighing in at 283g they are some of the heaviest shoes that I have ever ran in. Although On included some weight saving features such as a thinner tongue, the weight of the shoe is noticeable especially during the last parts of a long run.

Break in period

Breaking in the shoes was not exactly pleasant. The time it took to break in the shoe was long and uncomfortable. After 20km, the shoes felt better and running in them became a more pleasant experience.

Traction

Traction on the shoe is not exactly bad, but neither is it outstanding. The shoe performs decently on both wet and dry surfaces but struggles a little when there is a lot of mud.

Overall performance

The shoe is a good trainer for anyone who wants to experience how it is like to run in one of ON’s running shoes. It is responsive and quite a unique experience to run it, but due to its weight and ride, I would not use it as a post-workout shoe as it does not provide enough cushioning.

Conclusion

Anyone who has the money and wants to run in On Cloudsurfer running shoe should try it, but there are other shoes on the market that provide the same performance for a lower price in a more comfortable package.

 

Koh Ancheng | Level 3 expert Verified
Hi I'm Ancheng! I'm from Singapore and an avid runner. I'm currently part of my school’s cross country team and run roughly 30km a week. Besides being an avid runner I am also a shoe geek, for the most part a running shoe geek.

80
/100 by Shamus Reid, posted on .

I’ve been interested in the trying a pair of On shoes for a while, so I jumped at the opportunity to test these out, even though they were a fair bit heavier than my other shoes.

On claims, the Cloudsurfer is "training-shoe comfort meets racing-flat speed." I was eager to test those claims (though skeptical of the latter half of that statement, given the weight).

 

                                           Pretty good right out of the box.

The fit

While the marketing tagline may be a stretch, On really followed through on the fit claims made on their site. The shoes fit my foot like a dream. Roomy toe box without too much fabric. Heel nestled snugly but not too tightly.

End-to-end I felt well-supported and never thought twice about the upper once the shoe was on and laced up. I do take care to arrange the tongue prior to lacing up, as it can slide to the side, but again, once properly laced up, no issues with the fit.

 

Snug in the right places, room in the right places, one of the best fitting shoes I’ve worn.

The feel

 Use: Easy & aerobic runs  Weight (g)  Heel (mm)  Fore (mm)  Drop (mm)
 On Cloudsurfer  285  29  22  7
 My average aerobic shoe  254.2  26.4  17.8  8.6
 Difference  30.8  2.6  4.2  -1.6

 

The running feel is not as much a story of perfection. The “clouds” make me feel like I’m wearing platform shoes. Curious if this was just my perception. I ran the numbers, and, as you can see above, the heel and forefoot height is indeed quite a bit more than my average shoe.

In my first few runs, I felt like the shoe was touching down earlier than my other shoes, disrupting my stride, particularly ascending hills. It didn’t help that the heavier weight wore on me as the miles piled up.

This may be a blessing in disguise. Once I understood the realities of the shoe, it forced me to stay focused on my foot turnover and other elements of my form as I run.

Beyond the general feel, the Cloudsurfer’s are excellent cold-weather shoes (though definitely not slick cold weather). They’re well-ventilated for warmer days, but so far most of my experience with them has been weather hovering near freezing, and my feet have never felt cold.

Performance

My Cloudsurfers arrived at a difficult time - early in what would turn out to be 8 weeks of flu-like symptoms. Unfortunately, it is tougher than normal to give an objective evaluation.

My pace was much slower than normal. And the muscle and joint aches and pains I experienced during most of my runs were illness-related, not shoe-related. That said, I can blame one particular set of aches and pains on the Cloudsurfer.

My very first run, I bailed hard on some slick, rain-soaked surface. Those clouds are good for surfing alright; not so much for traction.

 

         After my first run. No traction on slippery surfaces, but the mud blends in well.

 

Because of my illness, I haven’t yet worn the shoes through a standard training cycle. That said, I can confidently say, given the weight and structure of the shoe, that I will only use these for easy and aerobic/consistency runs during a proper cycle.

So much for the claim of “racing-flat speed.” The support and cushioning are there for long runs, but the feel isn’t comfortable enough for going longer than 20k. Short pickups are fine, but the shoe is too heavy for speed workouts.

The upshot

A heavier shoe, with a lot below the foot, the Cloudsurfer’s are ideal trainers for those who want a well-engineered shoe that offers strong support and responsive cushioning.

Shamus Reid | Level 2 expert Verified
Shamus took up marathon training in 2016 as part of the healing process following the death of his father from cancer. He since logged over 5,500 meditative miles. He recently completed his fourth marathon with a PB of 2:44:02. He’s now on a quest for 2:30:00. His next step would be running ultras.

81
/100 by Jesper Sommer, posted on .

On is a Swiss company founded in 2010, solely focusing on running shoes and apparel. It’s always nice with companies with a clear focus, and On seems to be pretty dedicated. Referring to the On website, they spend a lot of time listening to runners feedback.

What makes On shoes distinct in general, is the original take on the sole. All On shoes are designed with soles based on hollow pods. Due to the high-profile soles, they are easily being mistaken for trail shoes, but they are far from that.

 

 

The On Cloudsurfer is described as being comfortable at high speeds, converting soft landings into explosive take-offs and offering the ultimate ride for road runners.

Fasten your seatbelts please

Okay, so I’ll fasten my seatbelt, tighten the (flimsy) laces and get ready for some cloud surfing in Swiss air.

First observations of the On Cloudsurfer reveals a 17-pod sole, a 6 mm heel-toe offset (drop), weight on the heavy side (360 g/12.7 oz for US M 10.5 / EU 44½). The shoe is described as a road shoe, designed for neutral runners.

Ready to take off?

Before taking off in these shoes, my crew (that’s my left and right foot) examined the Cloudsurfers closely. The soles are not particularly flexible length-wise.

The tongue is very thin and about 4-5 millimeters longer than usual. The insole is surrounded by a black rubber band. Stepping into the shoes revealed that the fit length-wise is spot-on, but the width favor runners with wide feet.

Having slightly narrow feet, I was far from the sock-like feel I’m used to. So, +1 point to wide feet runners. Walking around before boarding, I noticed the soles were quite stiff, due to the stiff rubber pods.

 

 

The result was very far from cloud walking. On the positive side, I simply felt alert in these shoes, but apart from that really missed some damping. The arch was very well supported, which was highly appreciated.

Besides that, I’m having a hard time getting a firm heel grip, despite using the RunRepeat lacing technique for heel slipping.

Ok, without further delays, let's take off.

The first flight

The first flight in the On Cloudsurfer was a 5K in rainy conditions. To make a long story short, the sole is very slippery on wet surfaces, so extra caution is needed around corners, at manhole covers, cobbles, and passing wooden bridges.

The grip was acceptable but not spectacular in dry conditions. I wonder if that’s a result of the special ON soles. Do the pods create a smaller contact area compared to ordinary soles, thereby reducing the grip?

I didn’t get any blisters, and the flimsy laces and long tongue didn’t create any problems either.

Soft landings & explosive take-offs?

Well, unfortunately, I didn’t experience that. The landings were not soft, but actually rather firm, and no propelling effects were noticed. In other words, Cloudsurfing for my part was hitting the ground, not crashing, but let’s call it an average journey in honesty.

Multiple workouts unfortunately confirmed these observations. I didn’t find the characteristics changed over time.

So, who are these shoes for?

Well, at 79 kg (175 lbs.), I'm a midfoot runner with slightly narrow feet, I wasn’t spot on for these shoes. I’d say the shoes are too heavy for racing, but as everyday trainers for heavy runners with slightly-wide to wide feet, I believe these could work out fine.

I suspect heavier runners could initiate more pressure on the pods, resulting in more soft landings and explosive take-offs, but I might be wrong.

Runners are different, and shoes work out differently for each. You may prove me wrong by trying these shoes. I’d happily accept being wrong if that means you get your hands on some great Cloudsurfers and they work really well for you.

A long journey, but we have now reached our final destination. You may loosen your laces. We wish you pleasant runs.

Summary

A special shoe not suited for everyone. Potential great everyday trainers for heavy runners with slightly-wide to wide feet.

Jesper Sommer | Level 2 expert Verified
Born 1965, a passionate runner in the first wave of running in the 80’s (PB 5 km 16:01), running for almost 2 decades and rebooted in 2018 at 181 cm, 79 kg and shoe size 44 (9½-10 in UK size). Average mileage is usually around 30 km/week at 4:40 min/km pace, rotating 2-3 pair of shoes in a neutral and midfoot running style.

68
/100 by Ben Jarvis, posted on .

So, what are my immediate impressions of this new On Cloudsurfer? Well, I love the look of them. They have a type of army green with accents of a very light blue and lime green.

 

 

These stand out and personally suit me down to the ground. I love a good amount of colour in a shoe, and this shoe gives you that by the three colours.

It also has a mesh upper where you can see through the green and just about see the lime green beneath, which I think is an excellent touch in the design department.

The text “Built for speed” on the insole help give you the placebo effect that you will be faster in these shoes. It's subtle but good thinking from the designers at On.

For me, its things like this that take the shoe to another level. Otherwise, it's like slapdash kind of shoemaking, which in my opinion these are not!

The first things I notice when putting these shoes on were that they are nice and light. But, it is not as light as some other racing shoes.

They have a lovely upper that you can hardly feel and a tongue that isn’t massive. It is very thin and lovely material, which won’t cut in or add extra cushioning and weight when it is not needed.

 

 

The other thing I noticed is the cushioning within the shoe isn’t overdone. What I mean by this is it is used where it is needed to be and isn’t like putting a pillow around your foot. This will inevitably save weight and in theory, make you go faster, right?

First 5k impressions

So, putting the Cloudsurfer on, I didn’t know what to expect. I have never worn On shoes before, so didn’t really know what I thought about the different technologies in the sole.

 

 

The lugs look good, but I had my reservations: how long will they last, can they break, can stones get stuck in them?

In my first run, I was just on a recovery run—a steady 5k, which I knew I would have heavy legs for yet, my legs didn’t disappoint in that respect! But, the shoes seem to help.

I could feel my legs were tired and heavy, but the surfers seem to keep me going at the same pace. They seem to take all the heaviness and turn them into a trampoline, pushing me forward step by step.

In the wet

So, I had a run in these shoes while it was wet, and overall I wasn’t very impressed. It felt very slippery underfoot and felt like I couldn’t get an awful lot of grip.

Running around corners, I ended up being very cautious. And, considering I was doing a speed session at the time, this wasn’t a good thing, especially as these shoes are said to be a fast racing shoe.

 

 

The one thing I did like from the wet run is how the shoes didn’t get bogged down from the rain and didn’t become too heavy. So many shoes with lots of cushion get very heavy from the rain, but these stayed fairly light, so that was a good thing!

Long runs

During my long runs, I felt these shoes had several good and bad points.

To start with, the good point is mainly how the cushioning was there all the way through and that it didn’t lose its feel. Sometimes, I find some shoes can lose a bit of bounce, or towards the end of a long run you can become very lazy, and the shoes don’t help to propel you for long enough.

 

 

With the surfer, however, I could feel the small amount of bounce the whole time. I got tired towards the end, which meant I was going towards mid and heel striking. But, the bounce was still there, and the shoes were still giving me the propulsion it talks about without pushing you up onto your forefoot.

 

 

The shoe was also very comfortable throughout. There were no signs of rubbing, no pain in my feet, and they felt the same at the start and the end of the run.

One of the bad points is mainly the fact that for long distance running, I don’t think these give enough. I know they are classified as a racing shoe, but I would expect some more cushioning if you wanted to use these for long distance racing.

 

 

I also felt it was too easy once I was tired to lose the forefoot striking and end up nearly heel striking!

For a racing shoe, there are other shoes in both ways that beat the Surfer to race, but not train. For a lighter shoe with less cushioning, I would probably go towards the Adidas Adios. Meanwhile, for a shoe with more bounce and more cushioning, I would instead go with Nike 4%.

Regardless, as a training racing shoe, the Cloudsurfer is perfect—slightly heavier with not much bounce but will give you the feel of the road.

Fast sessions

While using these, I discovered how good they were if you could keep up on your toes. They gave you enough bounce but meant you could feel the ground underneath your foot.

I would say they are an in-between shoe, so not fully being able to feel everything but also not having loads of bounce and cushioning.

The Cloudsurfer seemed to lack a bit of technology to make you lean more forward. And, if you become tired, it won’t keep you up on your toes. Instead, it will let you come back to mid-strike, which for a racing shoe doesn’t give me enough.

 

 

I did like the shoe feel but wasn’t sure what area the shoe was aiming for regarding the type of racing shoe.

Overall

I do like the On Cloudsurfer for a shoe to train in, but I don’t think it is good enough to compare with the like of Nike 4% or Adidas Adios. It isn’t far away, but I don’t think it can compete.

It is a great shoe to train in for racing as it gives you the feel of a racing shoe with slightly more weight, which can be good when you come to the race with a lighter shoe.

But in wet conditions, I think a lot needs to be done. The grip is just not good enough when you are pushing the boundaries and racing.

 

Looks of the shoe 9/10
Feel for the road underfoot  8/10
Bounce/cushioning  4/10
Grip in wet  5/10
Overall feel when running  8/10
Ben Jarvis | Level 1 expert Verified
My name is Ben Jarvis. I am the men's captain of Gosport Road runners and have been a part of the club for six years. I love to compete in races but also love to help at pacing events, run easy, and chatty at parkruns, and be a run leader at my club. Aside from running events, I have been doing a triathlon for two years and a 2-time Ironman finisher. Currently, I am on 57 marathons and slowly building to 100.

  • The On Cloudsurfer is a running shoe that’s created for those who have neutral foot-pronation. It features robust and high-quality materials that make the entire package more long-lasting and appealing to look at. The overall structure of this version isn’t much different from its predecessor, though it has employed some changes that allows it to distinguish itself from the previous iteration.
  • The upper utilizes a single-layer knitted mesh. The material is thin, soft, yet durable enough to withstand many running sessions. It accommodates the natural motion of the foot, ensuring exceptional comfort and flexibility as the runner moves forward. Thin overlays are fused to the upper, giving a snug and secure fit to the wearer at all times.
  • To shed weight and bulkiness, On Running has done away with the use of stitched overlays, as well as much of the padding in the tongue, where a thin comfort-layer has been utilized. The tongue also has perforations, which allow air to enter the shoe and cool the foot inside. A handy pull-tab is present to assist the runner when it comes to wearing and removing the shoe.
  • The midsole unit of the On Cloudsurfer makes use of high-grade EVA. It is the platform on which the foot rests. This version of the industry-standard foam is less prone to breakdown, making it more long-lasting.
  • The outsole features an arrow pattern, which provide more traction over the asphalt. High-rebound rubber is utilized for the individual cushioning elements known as the Clouds. This material delivers additional protection and responsiveness on top of its capability to grip the surface securely.
  • The different colorways for the On Cloudsurfer allow the runner to have more freedom when it comes to choosing the aesthetics of its façade.

The On Cloudsurfer is half-a-size smaller than the standard. Runners are advised to go ½ up when purchasing this product. The available width for both the men and women’s versions is medium. It is more accommodating of those who have medium sized feet. The semi-curved shape of this shoe follows the natural curvature of the human foot.


The external sole unit of the On Cloudsurfer features the Clouds, an innovative technology from On Running that’s actually meant to provide additional cushioning and responsiveness to the runner. For this product, the individual units are made from high-rebound rubber and they also deliver reliable surface traction.

An arrow pattern is employed in the outer side of the Cloud units. This design has a more practical use than just being aesthetically appealing: they enhance traction by allowing the rubber to hold onto the asphalt with ease and sureness.

Flexibility is enhanced by the presence of vertical and horizontal grooves on the surface of the outsole.


The midsole unit of the On Cloudsurfer features high-grade Ethylene vinyl acetate, a sturdier version of the industry-standard foam. It makes up the platform that carries the foot. It’s comfortable, responsive and long-lasting.

The Speedboard is a layer in the underfoot platform that delivers torsional rigidity. It protects the foot’s muscles from straining too much when going through the gait cycle. It also enables more energy-return during the toe-off phase.


Engineered mesh is the material used for the On Cloudsurfer. This knitted one-layer material offers comfortable coverage and breathable support. It wraps around the foot securely and prevents it from wobbling while inside the shoe.

The overlay system features thin, fused layers that assist in providing a snug and precise wrap. Some stitching is used in the mid-foot section, but it serves as a means to reinforce the upper.

A protective toecap shields the toes from any debris or harsh surfaces on the road. It’s also made from a thin, yet durable material.

To reduce the overall weight and bulk of the shoe, the tongue only has a thin layer of padding to keep the foot comfortable. It has tiny perforations that accommodate airflow into the shoe, maintaining ventilation for the runner.

A handy pull-tab helps the runner when it comes to wearing the shoe and removing it.

Size and fit

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How Cloudsurfer compares

This shoe: 90
All shoes average: 86
54 98
This shoe: $140
All shoes average: $119
$40 $350
This shoe: 10.1oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
3.5oz 16.2oz
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com