- Fits true to size
- Great ground feel
- Surprisingly good grip
- Steadfast lockdown
- A super speedy energy return
- Perfect as an all-rounder
- Outsole catches debris
- Not highly padded
- Grip is only good on pavement
ON Cloudflow 3.0 review and lab test
The ON Cloudflow 3.0 is (unsurprisingly) the third iteration of ON’s mid-range runner. Built as a daily runner that adds a bit of tempo into your workouts, the Cloudflow 3.0 has a strong list of features that we think to make it an overall improvement over the last version.
Who the shoe is for
If you want a daily runner that is comfortable enough for longer runs, whilst springy enough to help you with your spadework, the ON Cloudflow 3.0 is more than capable.
Who the ON Cloudflow 3.0 is not for
The Cloudflow 3.0 might not be for you if you:
- You’re looking for a more comfortable, padded shoe. ON have a couple of options, but my favourite is the ON Cloud X
- You’re in need of specific support for overpronation; whilst you can add a supportive insole to the Cloudflow the ON Cloudflyer is a better option for support.
A tried and tested design
At 9.3oz (265g), the Cloudflow 3.0 is slightly heavier than its predecessor (8.29oz). This isn’t a huge problem as the weight has clearly gone into making a more padded and yet springy ride, with a slightly higher stack height of 32mm in the heel and 22.4mm in the forefoot.
Another improvement is room in the upper, there’s a bit more in the toe-box and the material itself doesn’t hug the foot so much. However, the Cloudflow 3 still remains among the narrower designs. It is 83.3 mm in the widest part of the forefoot, running 15% narrower than the average.
ON always get lockdown right in my opinion (although some disagree when it comes to the Cloudswift!) The Cloudflow 3.0 has a really nice, conforming heel cup that I found my foot sit in very naturally.
It has a simple, yet effective lacing system with extra eyelets if you really want to jam yourself into the heel cup. This is imperative in a shoe with a responsive midsole as the whole of your feet needs to be really locked in.
The laces are also an improvement over the last version, with more padding to them and a less slippery feel.
The ON Cloudflow 3.0 midsole is a bit hard
ON’s flagship design is what they call their ‘cloudpod’ cushioning. Essentially multiple U-shaped foam sections compress and rebound individually to absorb impact from your stride.
Aside from being an eye-catching feature, they do work quite well. Earlier versions of the Swiss company’s runners had issues with the durability of the pods, especially due to large gaps inviting rocks and debris into your midsole.
Recently, (and the Cloudflow 3.0s included) I’ve seen no problems with the midsoles wearing down at all. This is probably due to how hard it is. At 52.5HA the midsole is a fair bit above the average for running shoes (27.9HA). With add heel stack height, this might impact how far you can comfortably run in them, but I found the payoff is a really responsive shoe, that still had more cushioning than others of similar hardness.
ON Cloudflow 3.0s have more pace than your average daily
I have a feeling that in order to keep some control of the cushioning, with so many individual pods that could potentially go in different directions, ON have to add a shank to their midsole. Usually, this is in the form of their speedboard, which adds shape, along with lots of spring to the flexibility of the shoe.
The speedboard flexes with your foot strike (either heel or forefoot) and snaps back into the original position when you lift off, which adds a noticeable amount of energy return on runs. It’s this that really injected a little extra speed into my runs which may make it a really good option if you just want one pair of shoes for tempo and daily runs.
Flexible but inconsistent
Our lab flexibility test involves using a force gauge to measure how much force is required to bend the shoe to a 90° angle. With the speedboard in the midsole the ON Cloudflow 3.0 needed 33.2N to bend, which isn’t too much of a surprise given the materials used.
What didn’t impress me about the Cloudflow 3.0 was its resistance to the cold. If this is going to be your daily runner, it’s nice to know it will perform the same on any day.
In testing, we also chuck our shoes in the freezer for 20 minutes and test the flexibility again. While the average percentage change between the two numbers is 34.5%, the Cloudflow 3.0 had a change of 58.69% which is considerable. Probably due to the material of the shank firming up rather than the midsole, either way, you’re going to feel these differently in the cold.
The ON Cloudflow 3.0 look incredible
ON has been serving minimalist, clean aesthetics with all of its shoes since they launched. With such an eye-catching midsole it’s genuinely impressive that the shoe looks so simple.
The Cloudflow 3.0 continues this with a very sleek upper in a range of muted, yet detailed colorways. I went for the Alloy/Magnet colorway which I found reflective enough to help me be seen in the long Scottish nights
The grip is surprisingly good for the lack of it.
Continuing with the minimalist theme, the outsole on the ON Cloudflow 3.0 is very sparse. Only on the necessary pods, the amount of rubber grip is surprisingly lacking at 1.8mm.
Even if it isn’t really there, the grip really works on both wet and dry tarmac, allowing me to really utilise that pep from the midsole.
It’s definitely only a road-running shoe though, with no all-over coverage and those gaps that pick up debris, it’s best to stay away from any adventurous terrain in these.
The ON Cloudflow 3.0 is a perfect daily trainer for those who prefer a little ground feel. With a typically Swiss view of engineering, the Cloudflow looks great and is really fun to run in. I’d personally choose these as my only pair of shoes for daily runs and up to half marathon races.