On Cloudswift 2.0 review and lab test
After testing, I’m a little unclear if these are running shoes, gym trainers, or just sexy sneakers?
Cloudswift 2.0 is a daily trainer designed for an “urban” setting. I’m not 100% sure what that means, but I assumed it meant heavily cushioned for hard surfaces. It’s a cool-looking shoe that grabs your attention and is best suited for running around town or hitting the gym.
I have to admit, I’ve been really excited to try these since I gawked at the On display last year at The Running Event (a giant running trade show in Austin). I was really impressed with their branding and the design of their shoes. Every time I passed their booth I was drawn in.
- Flawless grip
- Wow looks
- Great for the gym
- Excellent laces
- Light runs only
- Dull ride
- Heel slipping
- No extra lace hole
- Midfoot lockdown issues
The On Cloudswift 2.0 has epic branding and marketing, but the hype of a “Swiss Engineered” shoe leaves me wanting. It's not my handy childhood pocket knife that could do it all.
Who the shoe is (not) for
Buy the On Cloudswift 2.0 if you’re looking for a:
- head-turning training shoe with a completely different look than most running shoes
- daily trainer for light, short jogs around town.
Don’t buy this shoe if you want a high-performance, cushioned daily trainer. There’s a vast array of other daily trainers out there that perform better, weigh less, and fit properly compared to these. Check out the Brooks Glycerin 19, Saucony Triumph 18, Skechers Maxroad 4+ Hyper, or a myriad of others.
4 serious lockdown issues
I’ll elaborate on each one.
- Heel slips.
- No tongue leads to midfoot lockdown challenges.
- Loose lacing system.
- No extra lace hole.
I struggled with the fit on these. For one the heel pocket feels shallow.
I like a deeper heel cup, it tends to feel secure, and shallow ones just feel loose. This leads me to my main complaint, there’s a ton of heel slip.
The shoe has a sock-like construction, it’s more like a slip-on than a lace up, lacking a proper tongue. This makes the shoe difficult to get on, but also harder to lockdown.
The lacing structure is designed out of stiff, sew-on external overlays, and I hate this method. The Adidas Ultraboost 21 had these as well and I complained then too.
The Cloudswift 2.0 doesn’t have an additional upper lace hole, and these overlays allow the lace to slip easily, so every time you try to tie them tighter, you inevitably lose some of that tightness as you’re tying your knot. Annoying!
Lastly, it felt a bit narrow in the toe box.
On Cloudswift 2.0 has a stiff and dull ride
This is kinda where On lost me. I have been drooling over their design for a while, assuming their innovative midsole design (they call each of these round, hollow lugs “clouds”) was springy, responsive, and plush.
They literally call them clouds! And this shoe excited me mostly because I assumed it would be fast and pillowy, with springy toe-off and great shock absorption, but to my dismay, these just felt stiff and dull.
My feet were cramping up, and it felt like there was no cushioning underfoot.
I wasn’t sure if these were just too narrow, or if the drop was too steep, or what, but I found out as soon as I cut them open.
On Cloudswift 2.0 lacks cushioning
I found out why they felt like there was no cushioning.
There’s a full-length, 3.5mm plastic shank under the sockliner that makes up the base of this shoe. I get it, they have to stiffen this shoe up somehow, hollow foam isn’t going to provide enough support, but there’s almost no cushioning atop this piece of plastic.
Most shoes that have a nylon or carbon shank, bury it in the middle of plush, luscious, bouncy foam (check out the Asics MetaSpeed Sky) which solves this issue of comfort and response.
The Cloudswift 2.0 leaves you with a dinky dual-density foam insole that’s just not enough for the “Urban” abuse this shoe was designed for.
Heel drop not as advertised
On says this is a 7mm drop shoe, but man did it feel steep. So I measured it.
We cut these shoes in half to get as exact as possible, and my measurements (and trust me I did this task over and over figuring I was wrong) put this shoe at 11.6mm of drop from heel to forefoot (Heel stack of 33.9mm and forefoot stack of 22.3mm).
On the bright side, if you like high-stack shoes that are stiff, this could be an enjoyable trainer. To me this shoe fits better in the gym, lifting weights, than out on the roads running around.
On the heavier side
I don’t want to keep tearing these asunder, but they are also billed as “light and swift” trainers.
- At nearly 10 ounces (actually 9.9 ounces/281g) these are solidly in the middle ground when it comes to heft.
- The average shoe is around 9.5 ounces.
- Lightweight shoes that get my praise start around 7ounces.
On Cloudswift 2.0 is stiff and durable
I do think these shoes will have plenty of life. The Helion superfoam used for the midsole is pretty dang firm. At 37.9HA on the durometer, it's 45% stiffer than the average shoe (26.2HC).
I don’t think it will wear down that fast, and it has an equally stiff rubber outsole protecting the highest wear areas.
Rocks get stuck in Cloudswift 2.0
One issue where durability may be a concern is getting rocks stuck in the “clouds” and tearing them up a bit.
On my very first run in these this happened and I got a small tear in one, I don’t know if it will spread, but if it did, and a whole cloud ripped off that would create a very unstable shoe.
As for grip and terrain, I had no issues with grip and ran them on concrete, asphalt, and in the gym on the treadmill.
They performed best on the treadmill where I had a little extra flex from the machine’s deck.
Cloudswift 2.0 is padded and warm
This shoe has a dense upper made from thick foam and mesh. It’s nicely cushioned around your foot, but it runs warm and I fear that mid-summer this will be noticeable.
The ankle collar alone was the thickest we’ve tested with an average thickness of 13.2mm, compared to 9.9mm on the average shoe.
No need for a double knot!
Other than the heel, the lockdown across the midfoot was actually decent and although I couldn't easily get the laces as tight as I normally like, once tied they stayed tight.
The laces are very lightweight and thin, but they had excellent staying power, taking 39.7N on average to untie, compared to 30N from the average shoe.
In the end, the funky midsole of On shoes is the main focus. They look cool and they push consumers to assume they are bouncy and cloud-like.
I’m just not impressed with how this Swiss-designed shoe performed for me. I would have preferred a standard-looking midsole with a simpler, lighter upper that fit and performed better. I’ll need to try a higher-end model to see if this $150 version is just not high-tech enough.
Although I think this could be a great shoe for lifters or gym rats, I see more flaws than benefits as a daily runner. Damn, I still like how they look.
Complete lab-specs overview
|On Cloudswift 2.0|
|Weight - Left (g)||281|
|Weight - Right (g)||279|
|Weight - Insole (g)||3.7|
|Weight - Lace (g)||18.3|
|Length - Overall (mm)||293.93|
|Length - Insole (mm)||276.23|
|Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm)||112.2|
|Width Midsole - Heel (mm)||91.1|
|Width Midsole - Middle (mm)||74|
|Width Upper - Forefoot (mm)||99.8|
|Width Upper - Heel (mm)||76.4|
|Width Upper - Middle (mm)||75.2|
|Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm)||22.3|
|Stack - Heel with insole (mm)||33.9|
|Stack - Forefoot without insole (mm)||18.2|
|Stack - Heel without insole (mm)||26.4|
|Insole Thickness (mm)||6.5|
|Outsole thickness (Forefoot) (mm)||2.29|
|Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm)||2.29|
|Lugs Depth (mm)||N/A|
|Laces (without stretch) (inches)||50.5|
|Laces (with stretch) (inches)||58|
|Laces - Thickness (Height) (mm)||0.9|
|Laces - Width (mm)||5.1|
|Room temperature (F)||60.4|
|Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Room temperature) (HC)||78.3|
|Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC)||79.5|
|Outsole % of change from Heel to Forefoot (Room temperature)||1.49%|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Room temperature) (HA)||38.7|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Room temperature) (HA)||N/A|
|Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA)||37.2|
|Durometer Insole (Room temperature) (HA)||35.7|
|Flexibility of the shoe (N)||31.4|
|Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour) (HC)||81.7|
|Durometer Outsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour) (HC)||79.8|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour) (HA)||44.0|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Freezer 1 hour) (HA)||N/A|
|Durometer Midsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour) (HA)||41.8|
|Durometer Insole (Freezer 1 hour) (HA)||41.7|
|Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 1 hour) (N)||54.6|
|Durometer Outsole Forefoot (% change with temperature)||4.26%|
|Durometer Outsole Heel (% change with temperature)||0.42%|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot (% change with temperature)||13.79%|
|Durometer Midsole Heel (% change with temperature)||12.56%|
|Durometer Insole (% change with temperature)||16.82%|
|Flexibility of the shoe (% change with temperature)||74.08%|
|Thickness - Heel Counter/Insert (mm)||1.8|
|Thickness - Ankle Collar (Front) (mm)||9.1|
|Thickness - Ankle Collar (Middle) (mm)||14.2|
|Thickness - Ankle Collar (Back) (mm)||16.3|
|Thickness - Tongue (mm)||5|
|Flexibility of the heel counter (N)||57.5|
|Lace slip test with the knot (N)||39.7|
|Longitudinal flexibility (1-6)||3|
|Torsional flexibility (1-6)||2|
|Heel counter material||Starched fabric|
|Tongue: gusset type||none|
|Tongue gusset material||N/A|
|Laces: material||braided nylon|
|Laces: extra hole||no|
|Laces: are they long enough to use the extra hole||N/A|
|Heel: pull tab||none|
Rigid heel counter
Elevated medial insole under arch
Supportive tensioned medial upper
Thermoplastic medial post
|How minimalist the shoe is in %||18|
Note: all the tests were done on a men's shoe US size 9.
Tip: see the best running shoes.