Our verdict

This third edition of the Cloudstratus by On is a daily trainer that takes comfort seriously! Our test runs were a pleasure over all distances thanks to its high quality and generously padded upper, the roomy toebox, and the responsive yet protective cushioning. It also looks great to boot! All this doesn’t come cheap, however, with its £190 price tag putting the Cloudstratus 3 at the more premium end of the daily trainer spectrum.

Pros

  • Excellent impact dampening
  • Propulsive nylon speedboard
  • Smooth rolling ride
  • Can go the distance
  • Feels stable underfoot
  • Secure and comfy lockdown
  • Luxuriously padded tongue
  • Roomy toebox
  • Sleek and sustainably made upper

Cons

  • Higher than advertised drop
  • Stiff speedboard feels apparent at low speeds
  • Pricey at £190
  • Midsole voids catch debris

Audience verdict

90
Superb!

Who should buy

We think the Cloudstratus 3 is a great choice for anyone that : 

  • Is looking for a well cushioned road shoe that can tackle most distances
  • Prioritises well padded, comfy, and breathable uppers in their daily trainers 
  • Has a slightly pronating stride but wants a neutral shoe that feels stable underfoot
  • Wants a shoe that is versatile and stylish enough for runs as well as walks around town

On Cloudstratus 3 1

Who should NOT buy

The Cloudstratus 3 features a “speedboard” commonly found in On running shoes. While this does give this shoe some added responsiveness, we find it to be a bit of a misnomer as the Cloudstratus 3 isn’t a particularly speedy shoe and far from ideal as a tempo training partner. For a shoe with more pep in its step, we suggest the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 or the even more race-ready, carbon-plated ASICS Metaspeed Edge+.

While advertised as sporting a mid drop of 6 mm, our accurate stack measurements reveal a higher drop of 9.1 mm. This makes the Cloudstratus 3 more conducive for heel strikers as it promotes protective landings and smooth transitions. Forefoot striking runners who prefer mid drop shoes should have a look at the ASICS Novablast 3 instead.

On Cloudstratus 3 cut

The £190 price tag puts the Cloudstratus 3 on par with more performance oriented shoes. For a daily trainer that won’t break the bank, we suggest having a look at the Brooks Revel 6 instead.

Breathability

We put the Cloudstratus 3 through our state-of-the-art smoke test in order to test the shoe’s breathability. While the video demonstrates that it did very well, quickly allowing smoke to vent rather easily throughout the shoe, it’s not the best performance we’ve seen so far; thus earning the Cloudstratus 3 a breathability score of 4 out of 5. This means that the Cloudstratus 3 should be airy enough to comfortably facilitate warmer summer runs. 

As a comparison, have a look at how the Adidas RunFalcon is outclassed in the same test; proving itself to be a better foot spa than a running shoe. 

To shed light on this, both figuratively and literally, we inspected a backlit cross section of the Cloudstratus 3’s upper. As we can clearly see; the light shines easily through the many perforations in the tongue and toebox while the more reinforced sections down the lateral side completely block it out. 

Our microscope provides us with further answers regarding the shoe’s breathability. While the upper is engineered to be quite porous, especially around the perforated sections, the fibres that make up the mesh are quite dense and tightly woven throughout the rest of the shoe. This means that the perforations provide the bulk of airflow, while the material itself keeps the shoe rather well insulated.

On Cloudstratus 3 cu

On Cloudstratus 3 cu2

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 4
Average 3.8
Compared to 227 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

We fired up our Dremel to see how tough the Cloudstratus 3’s 100% recycled polyester upper really is. Despite briefly snagging our tool’s grinding element towards the end of the test, the damage was clearly already done. Our merciless Dremel had blasted clean through the toebox. 

On Cloudstratus 3 toe

For the sake of comparison, have a look at the much more durable On Cloudswift 3 in the aftermath of the same test. 

However, this isn’t the worst result we’ve seen in the lab so far, if that can be believed, so we gave the Cloudstratus 3 a 2 out of 5 for toebox durability. 

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 2
Average 2.4
Compared to 161 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

We then turned our attention to the Cloudstratus 3’s heel counter. After applying our Dremel to it for four seconds at 5K RPM with a force of 3.2N; we found that we had barely scuffed the lining, with much of the padding intact beneath. As a result, we give the shoe a heel padding durability score of 4 out of 5.

This above average performance means that we shouldn’t have any issues with the heel collar wearing out prematurely, even for those who enjoy going sockless from time to time. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Heel padding durability

Compare that to how the On Cloudrift's much less durable heel counter fared in the same test. 

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 157 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Using our durometer to test the hardness of the outsole before subjecting it to our dreaded Dremel test, we got a reading of 84.4 HC. This is harder than most road shoes and puts the Cloudstratus 3’s outsole on par with that of the average trail shoe. This makes us cautiously optimistic regarding the next test. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Outsole hardness
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 84.4 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 278 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

With bated breath we pressed the Dremel’s abrasive element, spinning at 10K RPM, onto a section of the outsole with a force of 3.2N. The twenty second test turned out rather anticlimactically, with very little material seemingly lopped off the shoe.

This is confirmed by our tyre gauge, with which we measured a loss of only 0.64 mm of rubber from the outsole. This better than average performance leads us to confidently predict the shoe to last at least 500-miles, even with the occasional mild trail thrown into the mix.

On Cloudstratus 3 Outsole durability
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 0.7 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 139 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

We measured the outsole with our calliper to be a rather meagre 2.8 mm thick. While the shoe’s performance in our previous test inspires confidence, we’d be happier with a touch more rubber to improve the Cloudstratus 3’s longevity, especially considering how much exposed foam there is underfoot. 

On Cloudstratus 3 outsole

On the other hand, skimping on outsole material is an effective weight-saving measure, a trade-off that might have been necessary considering how plushly padded the shoe’s upper is.

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 2.8 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Which brings us to the weigh in. At 10.45 Oz, the Cloudstratus 3 is slightly heavier than the average road shoe. 

On Cloudstratus 3 weigh

However, the responsive speedboard and subtle rocker geometry help give the Cloudstratus 3 a propulsive ride that makes the shoe feel lighter underfoot than the scale suggests. This allowed us to comfortably cover long distances without feeling burdened by the shoe during our tests.

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 10.44 oz (296g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Using our calliper, we measured the Cloudstratus 3’s stack to be 35.3 mm high at the heel, which is 3.3 mm higher than the 32 mm stated by On. We do include the insole in our stack measurements, which might account for some of the disparity. 

This is more foam underfoot at the heel than the average road shoe which helps to improve our sense of perceived cushioning. Therefore, despite the somewhat firm midsole, heel strikers will have plenty of foam underfoot to ensure a comfortable and well protected ride over any distance.

On Cloudstratus 3 Heel stack
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 35.3 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

Moving to the forefoot, we found the Cloudstratus 3’s spec height of 26 mm to be much more accurate, with our caliper measurements turning up a forefoot stack of exactly 26.2 mm. This is slightly higher than our current lab average and means that forefoot strikers should also have plenty of foam underfoot to ensure effective impact dampening, even during long haul efforts. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Forefoot stack
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 26.2 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

The difference in our stack measurements leaves the Cloudstratus 3 with a drop height of 9.1 mm. This is quite a bit steeper than the advertised heel drop of 6 mm, making the shoe fall in the category of high drop shoes as opposed to mid drop. 

On Cloudstratus 3 drop

While this drop height is beneficial for beginners and runners with a tendency to heel strike, forefoot strikers accustomed to shoes with lower drops will want to consider the ASICS Novablast 3 instead. 

This disparity in heel drop isn’t exclusive to On Running and is common enough among all manufacturers that we have an article exploring the matter using data we’ve compiled in the lab so far. 

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 9.1 mm
Average 8.6 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

At 4.6 mm thick, the Cloudstratus 3’s insole is right on par with our current lab average. This gives us a landing surface that adequately complements the shoe’s midsole cushioning. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Insole thickness
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 4.6 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Which brings us to the midsole. We pressed our durometer against the Cloudstratus 3’s Helion super foam and got a reading of 27.6 HA. While this result is firmer than average, the Cloudstratus 3 still provided us with a good level of cushioning and impact protection that kept us comfortable even during our longer test runs. 

On Cloudstratus 3 mid dur

The trick here is that On’s midsoles don’t solely rely on the softness of their foams to provide good impact dampening. The configuration of the voids that make up the midsole “clouds” also plays an important part. 

As we can see, each void allows the midsole to compress further to varying degrees; with the large ones at the heel being the most dramatic. The firmness of the foam allows these sections to snap back into shape, thus giving the shoe a ride that feels balanced and energetic. 

For runners who prefer a softer sensation from their midsole, we recommend the Hoka Clifton 9 instead or the truly cloud-like On Cloudsurfer 7.

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 27.6 HA
Average 21.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 225 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We popped the Cloudstratus 3 in the freezer to test the effects of cold weather on the midsole. After twenty minutes, we got a durometer reading of 34.8 HA which, like the room temperature result, is firmer than the average road shoe. 

While the shoe’s midsole becomes more firm than average in the cold, we have to point out that the Helion foam proves to be slightly more consistent than our current lab average; with a less than average differential of 26.1% between warm and cold conditions. This means that the shoe’s cushioning shouldn’t feel too different as the seasons change.

On Cloudstratus 3 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 26.1%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 224 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

The Cloudstratus 3 feels quite well-planted as we shift our weight from side to side in the shoe, but there is a bit of a rolling sensation as we reach the end of our range of motion. This isn’t unusual for a neutral shoe, and the Cloudstratus 3 should still be stable enough even for those with mildly pronating strides. 

Runners with pronounced pronation in their strides, however,  should definitely consider a shoe with added stability features like Hoka Arahi 6 or the ASICS Kayano 30.

Torsional rigidity

To get an idea of the shoe’s torsional rigidity, we bent and twisted the Cloudstratus 3 in our hands and were faced with quite a bit of resistance in the process. This slightly stiffer than average performance leads us to give the shoe a score of 4 out of 5 on our subjective scale. 

This is definitely a result of the rigid speedboard embedded in the Cloudstratus 3’s midsole, which imparts a sense of stability underfoot by minimising the amount our foot is able to contort or roll within the shoe; leaving us with a firm and level landing surface to spring off from.

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The Cloudstratus 3’s heel counter didn’t put up nearly as much resistance to our manual manipulations. We therefore gave it a rather flexible score of 2 out of 5. This level of stiffness in the heel counter is good for a daily trainer as it secures the rearfoot in a way that doesn’t put much pressure on the Achilles and allows the ankle to move more naturally and comfortably. 

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 2
Average 2.8
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

We measured the Cloudstratus 3’s midsole to be ever-so-slightly broader than our current lab average at 115.4 mm wide at the forefoot. This ensures that forefoot strikers have enough of a base to land on and spring off from, but without going too far and sacrificing weight or agility. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 115.4 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

At 90.3 mm wide at the heel, the Cloudstratus 3’s midsole is right on par with our current lab average. This means that heel strikers will also enjoy sure-footed landings in this shoe. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 90.3 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

As mentioned earlier, the Cloudstratus 3 boasts a nylon speedboard embedded in the midsole which is typical of On running shoes. This is meant to act like a stiff spring that gives the shoe increased energy return and responsiveness. While our earlier test demonstrates that the shoe is quite rigid laterally, our longitudinal flex test turns up an unexpected result. 

With only 25.1N of force required to bend the shoe 90-degrees, the Cloudstratus 3 is significantly more flexible than the average road shoe. This certainly contributes to the shoe’s comfortable ride as it is able to conform with the natural bending of our foot without much resistance. 

While the speedboard does certainly impart some responsiveness to the Cloudstratus 3, we wouldn’t advise taking the name literally and using it as a tempo trainer. If afflicted with the need for speed and in need of a shoe with a cure; we suggest checking out the Saucony Endophin Speed 3 which also features a nylon plate, or the carbon-plated Puma Deviate Nitro 2 instead.

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 25.1N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

We also repeated our flex test after leaving the Cloudstratus 3 in the freezer for twenty minutes, this time getting a result of 36.2 N, which is more flexible than the average shoe under similar conditions. This means that the shoe should still feel comfortable and forgiving underfoot during even the harshest and most frigid winter runs. 

We expect shoes to lose some flexibility when exposed to cold conditions, and stiffening up by 44.2 % puts the Cloudstratus 3 right on par with our current lab average. Therefore, the flexibility of the Cloudstratus 3 is about as consistent as the average road shoe between warm and cold conditions. 

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 44.2%
Average 36.2%
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Using our caliper, we found the Cloudstratus 3’s toebox to be roomier than average; measuring 101 mm at its widest point. This gives us plenty of space within the shoe, even towards the end of longer runs when our feet tend to swell and get sore. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 101.0 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The toebox maintains the roomy motif as we move to the area around the big toe, which we measured to be 81.8 mm wide. This is significantly broader than average, leaving the Cloudstratus 3 with a more natural foot-shaped silhouette which means that hotspots or blisters shouldn’t be an issue, even for those with wide feet. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 81.8 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 172 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Continuing their trend of pleasing pirates; On has again opted for a bootie-style gusset that runs up most of the length of the Cloudstratus 3’s tongue, securing it snugly and comfortably over the instep. It also helps in preventing debris from finding its way into the shoe if mild trails are in the cards. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 Bootie

Comfort

Tongue padding

Sticking to the tongue, On continues in their quest of crafting comfortable uppers for daily trainers. Using our calliper we measured it to be a whopping 9.6 mm thick; considerably more padded than the average road shoe.

On Cloudstratus 3 tongue

This gives us an incredibly luxurious and secure midfoot lockdown, with the laces seemingly disappearing into the padding no matter how tightly we laced up. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Tongue padding
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 9.6 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 295 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Removable insole

The Cloudstratus 3’s insole is fully removable, so runners in need of custom orthotics will be able to use them with this shoe where necessary. 

Test results
Cloudstratus 3 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

With only a small reflective element (yes that’s singular) on the lateral side of each shoe, the Cloudstratus 3 doesn’t offer much in terms of nighttime visibility. We recommend sticking to well-lit routes or using additional reflective elements if going for a nocturnal run. 

On Cloudstratus 3 Reflective elements
Test results
Cloudstratus 3 Yes