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Road Running Shoes • April 21, 2022

On Cloudrunner Review: On Again, Off Again

on cloudrunner cover

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10 oz. (283 g.) for a US M9 / 8.1 oz. (229 g.) for a US W9
  • On just keeps winning us over, well, most of us anyway
  • Helion Foam and CloudTec feel familiar, yet improved
  • Don’t be afraid to take corners sharply
  • Available now for $140

ADRIENNE: Watches, pocketknives, chocolate, and uber-exclusive ski resorts. You mention the Swiss, and these are the items likely to come to mind. Oh, and running shoes that look amazing, but opinions on the feel and ride historically have been all over the Alps — especially in our past reviews. I’ve held a more favorable view than most here and have gone through three pairs of the Cloudflyer for the bulk of my daily miles — each in a stunning new color. Call me a sucker? Perhaps, but the shoe worked for me. I know who I am, and I know what I like.

Full disclosure: I’ve enjoyed the bashing and puns that the BITR crew put out in the past, and perhaps On heard us silly Americans bitching so much they decided to change design strategy and make some shoes that not only look cool but ride just as nicely (like the recently-released Cloudmonster). Okay, it’s probably the likes of the On Athletics Club and other sponsored athletes who the company takes feedback from. I can totally see someone like Leah Falland having some say in the formation of the Cloudmonster — such a deviation from the typical Speedboard and Helion combo leaving more to be desired by many.

Enter the Cloudrunner. A more sublime, traditional daily trainer for On’s 2022 lineup. The Cloudrunner is still true to On, but this is one of the most user-friendly daily trainers I’ve tried in a long time (sorry, New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12). It also has a very approachable price point, for an On shoe, anyway. While on the more conservative side appearance-wise, the shoe still looks hella clean. I’d rather rock these at brunch after a run than the loud Cloudmonster.

Long-time fans (not named Robbe) of On may remember the original Cloudrunner. It looked neat but had the original circular pods underneath the Speedboard, not making for the smoothest and easiest of rides. Rest assured, this version has little in common with the original. One of the most significant deviations is a wide-based, highly forgiving platform and a cradle around the foot for added comfort and stability. The Speedboard? It’s still there, just sandwiched between two layers of On’s signature Helion, zero-gravity foam. I think the Speedboard serves a stabilization function here because you may have gotten a sloppy, unstable mess without it. You’ll also notice closely spaced CloudPods with minimal separation in-between. Basically, you get the classic On aesthetic without what some find a punishing ride.

RENALDO: I’ve heard a lot about On running shoes and how they’ve been the shoe you have to try, if only for shits and giggles. The crew here obviously have their opinions, but being among the freshmen here at BITR, I wanted to give the On Cloudrunner the good old college try for this review and get in-depth about this eccentric Swiss technology. Like higher education, it may not be for everybody… stay in school, kids.

JAYTON: On Cloud Running shoes have never packed the excitement I look for in a daily trainer, but it seems like 2022 might be the Swiss company’s year. After running several different workouts and covering many miles, I’m delighted with how the Cloudrunner performs.

on cloudrunner heel and outsole

The Good

ADRIENNE: Up top, you get a partially recycled, breathable engineered mesh upper that looks awesome. The star lacing system is gone (did I mention already how clean this shoe is?) and is instead replaced by an effective traditional system with small eyelets. The lockdown is excellent here and appears to account for mild overpronation with thicker mesh on the medial side of the shoe. On uses a plusher sock liner for a fabulous step-in feel. You won’t necessarily feel like ripping fast miles in the Cloudrunner, but you immediately get the impression that this shoe is in it for the long haul and will feel good throughout. The tongue is lightly padded but works well with the lacing system to relieve pressure. If this shoe fits your foot, you’re likely to forget about it within the first few miles of a run. The rubber coverage is substantial in the heel and forefoot but not overdone.

My US W9 weighed in at approximately 8.1 oz (229 g); not feather-light, but it didn’t bother me as the shoe seemed to ride light. The heel-to-toe drop is 9mm, and the Cloudrunner is one smooth vehicle. You can strike just about anywhere in this shoe, and it’ll respond with a smooth transition. The heel and forefoot cushion is substantial. To compare the Cloudrunner to a car, it’d be a BMW X6 — smooth, rugged, and luxurious.

For once, the running on clouds brand tells the truth! As a former sufferer of lower-leg and foot injuries, I started running in On because of the bi-directional cushioning. Vertical and horizontal forces (or shearing forces) can contribute to wear and tear on the legs, and these bad boys basically cancel impact. For On, this is a soft and forgiving shoe but is in no way mushy, just how I like my trainers. You do sacrifice some road feel, but with the Cloudtec system, you get that cushy landing and springy toe-off sensation. While I wouldn’t call this a bouncy ride, there’s a subtle sense of energy return here. My legs felt fresh after each of the 40 miles I put in this shoe (with near-minimal wear). I kept reaching for this shoe again and again for my daily runs. I enjoyed it that much.

In case anyone is wondering: I removed ZERO rocks from the soles of the Cloudrunner. How’s that for evolution. Sadly, the rock-magnet jokes are probably in danger of going extinct. Oh, well. Also, the ride is silky smooth and feels great at easy paces, and it’s a good choice for a recovery day shoe. Think of this shoe as a funner and sexy Brooks Ghost — it’ll work for many a runner, from newbie to seasoned. I’ll just say it: this is my new favorite mileage shoe and will stay in my rotation. My On fandom is as strong as it’s ever been.

RENALDO: The Swiss know comfort. I’ll give them that. Made up of 90% polyester, the upper on this shoe slips feels like velvet on the first step in. Light and airy, the shoe almost envelops your foot. Areas around the toe box are covered in On’s Swiss-engineered mesh, allowing for ventilation you can feel. You can literally feel the air over your toes when wriggling them. Go ahead. It’s not weird!

The lacing is simple, with the laces themselves having a texture to them to lock them in place once tied. And the tongue is nice and plush, giving the shoe a comfortable locked-in feeling when you have it all done up. At only 10 oz. (283 g.) for a US M9, you’ll really feel the quality of this shoe when you go to pick it up.

JAYTON: The styling of the On Cloudrunner is exquisite, it’s very modern and unique, and the colors are dope (agree to disagree, Renaldo). Having a shoe that looks as good as it feels is always a plus. The ride of the Cloudrunner is cushioned, but I still felt supported throughout my whole step. The traction on these shoes is excellent in both dry and wet conditions, so cornering wasn’t a problem. I loved the upper because of how breathable it was, which will be very helpful for hot and humid summers. The shoelaces are high-quality, which I greatly appreciate. To all shoe companies giving us thin and cheap shoelaces to save weight: PLEASE STOP.

Shop On Running Shoes on cloudrunner heel midsole

The Bad

ADRIENNE: Not a functional issue, but this shoe could use some anti-aging properties. After a couple of runs, the shoe already looked pretty dirty — like I’ve been running Alpine trails instead of the roads of College Station. Obviously, this doesn’t affect the ride at all. Also, this shoe feels sluggish to me at any pace faster than easy, but that’s probably because it’s made to be a cruiser.

RENALDO: Despite all of my praise for the design, I absolutely did not enjoy running in this shoe. It hurt.

Before receiving this shoe, I’d heard so many good things about On’s other rising star, the Cloudmonster. I was eager to get out and give this shoe a spin. In the first mile, I wanted to take it off. The real culprit is the sole. As On puts it, The Cloudrunner takes the impact out of asphalt with CloudTec cushioning in ultralight zero-gravity foam. However, I felt every single plop on the pavement in this shoe. I can recall physically grunting while taking a rolling hill with a friend one Sunday morning. The pain in my feet and ankles throbbed with every step. That was when I knew this was going to be a tough review.

So, these CloudPods — I don’t think they work. Maybe I’ve grown accustomed to the high stack shoes, but On recommends this shoe as a daily trainer for long runs. Still, it’s by far the firmest shoe I’ve run in. Nestled between the upper and the midsole also seems to be a Speedboard, a plastic polymer plate that’s supposed to help propel you forward. Honestly, it makes the ride even firmer than it needs to be.

And hey, can we talk fashion for a second? The Alloy and Moss colorway gives me strong dystopian dad vibes, and I’m not a fan.

JAYTON: The downside of the light green colorway was that it got dirty after a few runs on the pavement. Nothing a toss in the wash won’t fix, but it had to be said. Due to the upper’s light and meshy construction, the lockdown was a miss for me. It felt like the upper and the midsole were from two separate shoes that never quite fused together. Like I said earlier, the traction made for outstanding cornering, but sometimes the upper didn’t want to cooperate, which could potentially lead to a rolled ankle. The heel counter also lacked some cushioning, which made the whole experience feel a bit cheap.

Shop On Running Shoes on cloudrunner toes

On Cloudrunner Conclusion

ADRIENNE: On is truly onto something in ’22. It’s created a shoe that strikes a balance between the original Cloud formula and a more traditional-feeling shoe. Those in the market for a new daily trainer would be wise to check out the Cloudrunner. I enjoyed all the miles I put in with this shoe (minus a 95% humidity day, but not On’s fault), and it’s available now for a reasonable-in-2022 price of $140.

RENALDO: I don’t see a future where I return to the Cloudrunner. The ride is too stiff. The holes are too weird. The shoe is just too European (I mean different, but that might be offensive). At $140, that’s a decent investment to be that guy/gal/runner with the On’s at the group run. I’d say skip this one if you’re looking for a new daily trainer or are the curious bystander that’s always been making eyes at the On shoe at the running store.

JAYTON: This shoe was fun to run in, but it lacks the snap to have it as a daily trainer and speed day hybrid like a Brooks Launch 9 (which is about $30 less expensive). Although running shoes seem to get more expensive every year, for $140, the On Cloudrunner seems a little too pricey for the shoe you get. In the On world, it’s cheap, but in reality, it’s a bit overpriced. Overall it’s a decent shoe that I enjoyed, and this is a big step in the right direction for On, but I don’t think the value is there on this particular model.

You can pick up the On Cloudrunner for $140 at Holabird Sports using the buy button below.

Shop On Running Shoes on cloudrunner midsole


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