On Cloudboom Echo Review: Diamond Fists or Paper Hands?
BRANDON: If you’re not familiar with BITR’s past relationship with On, here goes: On sends shoe. Build quality is outstanding. Shoe is beautiful. But – shoe is insanely firm. Like, ‘wooden board’ firm, (despite the word Cloud in the name). Our feet hurt. We trash the shoe. Rinse. Repeat.
I’m relatively new to the team, but I’m here to restore balance to the force. I like firm shoes. A lot. It’s actually been somewhat of a struggle for me, as today’s super shoes are getting more and more cushioned. From the ASICS Metaspeed Sky to the Nike Alphafly NEXT% to the New Balance RC Elite, you’re getting stacks on stacks of bouncy foam, designed to save your legs for the marathon distance.
And then there’s the On Cloudboom Echo, a super shoe that is literally nothing like any of the aforementioned shoes. Sure, the Cloudboom Echo might be labeled as On’s long distance to marathon super shoe (and the evolution of last year’s On Cloudboom), but don’t be fooled, this is more of a firm and snappy racing flat than a well-cushioned marathon day shoe. It’s also $270. So that’s a thing we can talk about.
BRANDON: Finally, a firm racing shoe I can rave about. This shoe is an artist’s choice. Simple, yet sleek design, muted mint colorway wrapped in a clean white look with black accents, ah yes, a shoe that’s both desirable on the feet and off. Simply put – it looks as good as its IPO.
The tongue and heel collar are both comfortable and provide no unwanted extra padding. The upper is breathable, incredibly thin, and made up of 100% recycled polyester engineered mesh. Not to mention, the lockdown is incredibly snug and narrow, which I love when moving at top speeds. So, the shoe is eco-friendly, fast and great looking? What’s not to love? Well, there’s some stuff, but let’s keep talking about the good.
The shoe is light in a traditional racer sense, coming in at 7.8 oz (224 g) for a men’s size 9. Okay, sure it’s not Vaporfly light, but it’s in the same range as other racing shoes on the market like the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 and HOKA Rocket X. The 9 mm drop offers just enough of a kick and extra propulsion in the ride of the shoe. The Carbon-infused Speedboard places itself in between the thin Helion superfoam and Cloudtech midsole, providing a more flexible toe-off than the ASICS Metaspeed Sky or the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2.
I realize I’ve been comparing it a lot to marathon shoes, and On stakes its claim on the Cloudboom Echo as a marathon day shoe. But I cannot stress it enough that this shoe was somewhat miscategorized. THIS IS NOT A MARATHON DAY SHOE. Which, by the way, is okay. Because it is a pretty great racing shoe. Throw away the long distance expectations and let this shoe be super as a max speed, firm, up-tempo racing flat for short and speedy distances. I would choose to race any distance 5k and under in them.Shop Cloudboom Echo – Men Shop Cloudboom Echo – Women
BRANDON: Of course, there is always going to be something to gripe about. Usually, we’re not too keen on trashing a shoe for the price. If the quality is there and the market is willing, then charge whatever the hell you want. But $270 is a lot. That’s like two grocery trips for me, or ten if you shop at Aldi. I’m not sure I would forgo eating for 4 weeks during my marathon training just for these kicks.
But seriously, 270 big ones is a serious pill to swallow. And if you’re only getting the green light on one $250+ pair of shoes, you’re probably going to want to lean towards the Alphafly, Vaporfly, or the Metaspeed Sky. Or if you like a soft shoe, the New Balance RC Elite v2. They’ll be more versatile in the long run and they’ll save your legs (if that’s something you’re worried about).
Moving on. I don’t particularly mind this too much, but I should point it out because it will be a problem for 80% of runners: The shoe just isn’t comfortable. Which is a problem when your brand tagline is “run on clouds.” In this case, the message is most definitely not the medium, because the Cloudboom Echo is unforgiving AF. The only thing between your foot and the unforgiving stiff carbon speedboard is a thin footbed and some Helion superfoam. No max cushion or plush ride.
That said, to me it makes sense. Short and snappy racing flats aren’t really designed to be comfortable. Think of it like a track spike. Track spikes have no cushioning or midsole. Usually just a plastic or carbon plate with little metal spikes at the bottom to provide traction when sprinting at max speeds. Sound comfortable? Of course not, but will you run your absolute fastest? Definitely.
This shoe is not meant to go the distance, and if looking through my crystal ball, I’d expect it to provide you around 150-250 miles max.
Traction matters, and the outsole grip (or lack thereof) leaves a lot to be desired. On the roads on a dry day, it works just fine. But on days when it rained even just a little bit, I found my feet slipping from under me, which makes sense considering there isn’t that much rubber coverage on the outsole of the shoe.Shop Cloudboom Echo – Men Shop Cloudboom Echo – Women
BRANDON: The On Cloudboom Echo is a different kind of racing shoe, so make sure your expectations are aligned correctly when clicking the ‘buy’ button. The shoe is lightweight and insanely breathable. The Speedboard is flexible and snappy, while the Cloudtech and Helion Superfoam provide a snappy and firm ride made to go shorter and faster distances.
But with barely any rubber coverage on the outsole, best watch out when running on wet surfaces. Clout is real, and for $270 you’ll probably get loads of it when toe-ing the start line. I mean, you’ll look damn good for sure.
Long story short, if you’re looking for a boomstick that travels at the speed of sound you’re gonna pay for it, but you should be pretty pleased fitting it into your running arsenal.
You can pick up the On Cloudboom Echo for $270 at Holabird Sports (featuring free 2-day shipping) by using the shop link below.Shop Cloudboom Echo – Men Shop Cloudboom Echo – Women
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I have a pair of Cloudsurfers with full rubber coverage on the bottom, and they slip around in the wet so much I have to wonder if it ever rains in Switzerland. I literally do not understand how you can make a full rubber outsole that has that little traction. It’s an engineering miracle. So, your experience in these does not surprise me! Did you run in v2 of the Cloudflash? They are firm AF but good for 5ks on down.
My theory is that the slipping has something to do with the geometry of the Cloudtec and not so much the outsole rubber. I haven’t run in the Cloudflash but I can image the feeling being similar. As a company they have a great design team, and make some great firm running shoes. On just went public yesterday, so, to the moon, right? I can’t help but root for them.
PS: Just checked the weather in Switzerland. It’s raining all week across the board in all of the major cities. OOF!
And they have cobblestones over there!