ON CloudStratus - Reach for the skies, but the clouds are the limit
On Running. I love a company that is not afraid to try new and different things. Their shoes have always intrigued me with their unique designs and fancy looks. However, It has been a brand that has not impressed me, and yet I try their new offerings in hopes that they get it right.
The On CloudStratus is a huge improvement from the company, but On Running must take some serious considerations from consumer feedback to keep up with the other running brands.
Weight: 305grams/10.76oz Heel-to-toe Drop: 8mm Category: Stability
A soft and breathable engineered mesh upper is used. There is an orange mesh layer in the toe box to help with upper durability while maintaining its breathable nature.
The toe box is reinforced, which helps maintain the structure of the shoe.
An additional reinforced mesh layer is used to wrap the medial and lateral side of the foot like a burrito. This helps with securing the foot by providing a comfortable yet snug fit.
Finally! On got it right this time. I absolutely LOVE the upper! It has one of the best uppers that I’ve tried on to date. The toe box is not shallow, nor is it narrow like the rest of the On line-up.
I really enjoyed the form-fitting upper and had no need for any breaking in whatsoever. The excessive cushion in the interior of the shoes that exist in most daily trainers is not found here.
On manages to get the amount of padding just right. The shoe remained well ventilated and dissipated heat well even at temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius. This is the first time that I have zero complaints on the upper of a shoe. Just perfect!
A star-lacing configuration is utilized. I did not find any difference in the fit other than the fact that it looked unique. I am unable to tell if it really helps, but it seems gimmicky to me.
Three additional lace holes are available if the user wants a customized and more locked down fit. Personally, I found the standard lacing enough for lockdown.
Heel cup & ankle collar
The ankle collar has just the right amount of padding. This made the shoe feel plush and comfortable without feeling like too much shoe.
An external heel cup is used in the shoe. I noticed that the heel cup is higher on the medial side.
This is intentionally designed to increase stability. It was not noticeable and did not affect the comfort of the shoe.
The tongue is well padded and prevents any lacing pressure.
I like that it's attached to the upper, which prevents any side to side slippage.
The insole is ribbed on the medial side where the arch is. This is intentionally designed to allow consumers to be aware of their running form when it begins to be sloppy at the later stages of a run.
However, this was designed with the neutral runner in mind. As to how it works, the ribbed area will be felt if the arch of the foot encounters it.
At the later stages of a run, when form starts to get sloppy, overpronation will occur more often, and the runner will then be able to feel the ribbed portion. This acts as feedback for the runner to focus on his form.
I found the design to be interesting but sadly unhelpful as I felt the ribbed portion the moment I put my feet into the shoe. It may work for others, but not for me.
Sizing & fit
The CloudStratus fits true to size. It accommodates my wide foot well.
I had problems with almost all the shoes from the On line up, but On seemed to have widened the toe box in this one. The improved fit allowed for my toes to splay without any pressure points.
Midsole technology & the ride
An additional layer of Cloudtec Elements that run from the heel to the midfoot. The Cloudtec elements are designed to compress upon impact to provide for a softer landing.
‘Helion’ is a brand-new midsole compound that claims to be lighter, temperature resistant, durable, and bouncier than any previous cushioning setup On has used in the past.
A thin plastic board that runs just below the insole to facilitate a more directed, snappy, and responsive ride.
The shoe rides FIRM. I expected a bouncy and plush ride from the new ‘Helion’ midsole and added a layer of cloud elements.
With incredible new midsole technology such as Nike React and ZoomX, New Balance FuelCell, and Skechers Hyperburst, I was deeply excited about whether ‘Helion’ would deliver a similarly enjoyable experience.
I was sorely disappointed. Throwback maybe 5 years, and this would have been one of the best shoes in the market. Its time for On Running to move on with the times and keep up with the competition.
The midsole probably the softest offering for On Running but is still considerably firm. Even Mizuno, known for its plastic wave plates and firm midsoles, has ditched their wave plate in their newest offering: ‘Sky Waveknit 3’ and added a new polyurethane cushioning.
To the touch, the Helion foam hardly had any give. Other foams like Saucony’s Everun, and the few abovementioned foams all had a certain level of ‘squishy’ characteristics when I pressed them. I thought, ‘Maybe the Cloudtec elements will allow for a softer ride while running in them.’
On foot, the CloudStratus felt firm but very stable and protective. However, the CloudTec elements provided a little effect of softening the ride.
The ride seemed to soften a little after roughly 30km in them but far from ‘Running on Clouds.’ If any representative of On Running is reading this review, please, soften the midsole. I am unable to use the shoes on recovery runs as they are just too firm.
The next issue I found was with the Speedboard. The plastic speedboard is placed too close to the foot, with only an insole separating it.
I used the same analogy in previous reviews of On shoes: Placing a bed on top of the wooden plank is softer than if it were the other way around.
It seems like a plate is necessary to stabilize the Cloudtec elements. If that were the case, a suggestion would be to sandwich the plate in between the top and bottom elements, akin to the Nike Vaporfly 4%/Nike Zoom Fly 3/Hoka Carbon X.
Another suggestion could be to add a thin layer of Helion with a softer durometer above the speedboard and have the Cloudtec elements remain as it is. The ride may be greatly improved while maintaining the stability of the elements.
That said, the firmness of the shoe may appeal to those looking for a firmer ride. I found the CloudStratus to run quite smoothly at steady paces during easy days where I felt fresh.
I especially enjoyed them on progression runs, where I increased my pace slightly towards the end of the run. The ride, although firm, is well cushioned and is not in any sense jarring. Vibration dampening is decent, as well.
Outsole & durability
The outsole uses durable black rubber patches that cover all but the medial part of the shoe. The rubber patches are cut laterally to specifically increase grip when moving forward.
The outsole has a decent grip. I have not slipped in the shoe even while running after a short thunderstorm.
I only experienced mild slippage when I picked up the pace on a wet surface. The outsole has great durability and shows little wear after 80km.
However, I feel that the traction pattern of the outsole rubber could be improved. Also, using the outsole rubber of a softer durometer could further increase grip while enhancing the ride experience.
Types of workouts
The On CloudStratus can be used for a variety of paces. It is best used for easy to up-tempo paces (up to half-marathon race pace).
- Firm but protective cushioning
- Smooth transition from heel to toe
- Most comfortable upper to date from On Running
- Helion is a very firm midsole material
- The plastic speedboard and the foot is separated merely by an insole, further firming up the ride
- Leaning towards the heavy side (>300grams)
Areas of improvement
- Softer Midsole foam
- Change of placement of Speedboard
- Thicker Laces
On CloudStratus vs. New Balance Fuelcell Propel
The Fuelcell Propel is lighter and much softer than the firm CloudStratus. The CloudStratus, however, has a superior upper.
Put the upper of the CloudStratus and the fuelcell midsole of the Propel, and you’ve got yourself a beast of a shoe. The Fuelcell Propel is $110SGD cheaper and has a higher versatility. I’d stick with the Fuelcell Propel.
On CloudStratus vs. Nike Pegasus Turbo 2
At 220grams, the Pegasus Turbo 2 is much lighter than the CloudStratus and yet offers cushioning that is both softer and more substantial.
The upper of the CloudStratus feels plusher and more structured. The Pegasus Turbo 2, on the other hand, has an upper that is more form-fitting and breathable while being thinner. Both shoes are similarly priced.
With my preference towards a softer ride, I would go for the Pegasus Turbo 2.
On CloudStratus vs. Asics Kayano 26
The Asics Kayano line has one of the highest popularity ratings when it comes to daily trainers in the market. With both shoes in the same price range and serving the same purpose, I found it fitting to compare a new market offering with a product that went through 26 versions.
The CloudStratus is wider and has a noticeably, more comfortable upper. The Asics Kayano is slightly softer but feels clunky in comparison. I’d rather opt for the superior ride and upper construction of the CloudStratus.
The On CloudStratus is a firm but protective daily trainer with an excellent upper and an attractive look. Despite being the best On shoe to date, there are necessary improvements that have to be made to keep up in the rapidly growing market of super-foams.