|Weight:||Men: 10.1oz | Women: 9.7oz|
|Heel to toe drop:||Men: 7mm | Women: 7mm|
|Arch type:||High arch|
|Strike Pattern:||Midfoot strike|
|Distance:||Daily running | Long distance | Marathon|
|Heel height:||Men: 29mm | Women: 29mm|
|Forefoot height:||Men: 22mm | Women: 22mm|
|Width:||Men: Normal | Women: Normal|
|Colorways:||Black, Blue, Green, Grey, Multi, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Yellow|
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81 / 100 based on 18 expert reviews
On Cloudsurfer: Head in the Clouds, feet on the groundMore photos
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
My thoughts on the On CloudsurferMore photos
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
I like the soft ride of the ON Cloud Surfer, but the shoe is too narrow for my foot.
They are excellent for slogging out the hard miles, and are comfortable enough to wear for a long time. The heel cushioning layout is especially good for people who often experience heel pain.
- 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.