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Trail Running Shoes • September 20, 2018

On Cloudventure Performance Review

The On Cloudventure, according to On’s website, is “The Ultimate Trail Running Shoe.” So with that and their “Swiss Engineering” in mind, Don threw these babies in the car, drove a little north, and did a ton of miles in them in the closest thing to the Swiss Alps that he could find: Rocky Mountain National Park. Back on the east coast, Robbe took these through a local state park with multiple creek crossings and mud, and even for some miles through the city.

On CloudventureThe Good

Don: You know that sound that really expensive cars make when you close the door? The sound that kind of seals everything and just screams luxury? Well, that’s kind of how it felt to step into the On Cloudventure for the first time. For me, these shoes fit wonderfully. I am usually in that awkward area between a 12 and a 12.5, and the 12.5 in these shoes felt perfect.

I have felt pretty hit or miss with some of the road offerings from On, so I was somewhat skeptical about a trail shoe. I have to admit; I was pleasantly surprised at how this shoe ran right out of the box. For how over-engineered it initially felt (more on that later) it didn’t give me that overbuilt feel on the trails. The real wonder of this shoe for me was how it handled on uneven terrain. The traction on the outsole seems solid and well-designed for all surfaces. I found the pod technology to give me a little more stability than I expected, and a bit more confidence on fast downhill turns.

Because of the over-engineered design of the upper on this shoe, I believe it will hold up over the long haul. I did a fair amount of bushwhacking and gnarly rocky runs with it, and the upper looks almost perfectly intact. On another positive note— as a wear tester, I don’t ever initially seek to test out the toe area, but unfortunately, I tested this one multiple times. My toes came out safe, and the bumper did its job.

One of my favorite things about On is not unique to the Cloudventure, but rather something they do across their line. With every pair of shoes, you get a membership type card where you can register your shoes. As a community builder, I love this, and it’s a really cool way to connect with a brand. If you buy a pair of On shoes, you can become a card-carrying member of their family. Love it.

Robbe: While my runs weren’t as gnarly as Don’s, I did find the positives to be the same. First off, this is a beautiful looking shoe. While this shoe certainly has its detractions for me, the design is not one of them. In short, it’s a shoe that screams Bavarian engineering.

Initial step-in felt nice and secure, in a perfect balance between firm and flexible. It’s obvious from the start that the upper was built to last. I did feel that it runs about a half-size too big (maybe a quarter size?); I felt this way about their Cloudace as well.

I thought the shoe handled fine on trails; stability-wise they were above average. The pod technology On uses for the outsole does allow for adjustments on uneven terrain and downhills. They handled that well, and I had no issues regarding comfort. I did a 19-mile long run through mostly city sidewalks and some trails and found that my legs felt better than normal the next day.

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On Cloudventure UpperThe Bad

Don: While the over-engineered nature of the upper might have made it more durable, it does have a downside, or two. First, the shoe got very warm. They got downright hot on the exposed trail. I am usually not someone who pays a ton of attention to the temperature of my feet, but I noticed rather quickly that these were warmer than usually on a hot day. Even going back in a lighter sock still left my feet uncomfortably hot during a hard run.

The second aspect of over-engineering is weight. These are not lightweight shoes. You will not want to race your buddy or go after that Strava record while wearing these.

What is with running brands shipping shoes with egregiously long shoe laces? Seriously, I don’t get it. These suckers are lonnnnng. For a trail shoe, that’s just annoying and something that will undoubtedly get caught on rocks, branches, squirrels, etc.

I mentioned this in the intro, but I don’t feel like this is an actual trail running shoe. I wouldn’t want to run a long run in them, and a certainly wouldn’t want to race in them. I think they need to brand this as an adventure shoe (Ahh, it’s called the CloudVenture… seems like they were already onto the adventure thing!) rather than “The Ultimate Trail Running Shoe.”

One more thing— the price. These are listed at $150, which puts it equal or more expensive than some of the most successful trail running shoes of the last few years. That’s a big price tag for a trail running shoe, even if it does end up lasting all summer.

Robbe: I can’t get over the weight of these shoes, primarily as they’re marketed by On as a lightweight trail shoe. Straight-up, they are not only average for trail shoes (10.8 oz. for a size 9), but I swear the pods make them all sorts of bottom heavy that just makes it a slog to run in them. I quickly added 30 seconds to my comfortable pace running in these compared to my normal running shoes. I had the same issues with the Cloudace model.

And god forbid you get these wet— they don’t drain well or quickly, which ratchets up the weight to cumbersome levels. Long after I had been in water, I could still squeeze out water into a small puddle in the heel cup, just from the collar.

Supposedly, this particular make of the Cloudventure is the summer version, specifically designed to be cooler by their admission. It’s clear that summer in the Alps is not summer in the States. The shoes kept me toasty just walking around in them on an 80-degree day.

I also agree that the lace length is ridiculous.

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On Cloudventure Laces

Crazy Long Laces on the Cloudventure


Don: All right, so I made this category up because the longevity of the pods on trails is a total unknown to me. At the time of writing this, I’ve run about 50 miles and hiked about 25 more in these shoes, and everything seems to be holding up well. However, I have a hard time trusting that technology over the long haul. I will keep running in them for another few months and update this section once I’ve hit 200 miles.

On Cloudventure OutsoleOn Cloudventure Conclusion

Don: While they might have gone a bit overboard on that “Ultimate Trail Running Shoe” statement, I did find this shoe to be one of the best all-around mountain shoes I’ve tried in a while. That being said, I would not consider it a true trail runner as On claims, but rather a solid blend of all types of mountain shoes, delivering what I think is a seriously great jack of all trades trail/adventure/hiking/vacationing/lounging shoe.

While I wouldn’t wear this show for anything over 10 miles and not for really serious running, I loved wearing it to crew a mountain race, to hike, to race direct a trail run, and to just hang out in the mountains. Honestly, if they branded this as an all-around mountain adventure shoe good for whatever you throw at it, I’d love it even more. But because this is branded as “The Ultimate Trail Running Shoe” I have to knock it down a few pegs. I’ll keep this in my car for days I just want to get out and play in the mud, but doubt I’ll ever seriously consider it when I have a real trail run or workout coming up.

Robbe: I wanted to love this shoe. The design, the theory behind it— it all appeals to me. But the weight, compounded by the lack of ventilation and drainage, made it an average trail shoe for what I’m looking for. Like Don, I think this is an excellent shoe for all-around adventure— hiking, running, walking, camping— it’s an incredibly comfortable shoe and seems super durable.

If you’re looking to pick up the shoe, you can get it at Running Warehouse for $149.99 (free 2-day shipping and free returns).

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Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. piegirl says:

    Did you get your 200 miles in? How did they last?

    1. Zach says:

      Looking for the 200 mile, or longer, update. Were the trails you ran in mostly forested? They work great down here in west Texas, southeastern New Mexico, and Arizona. Have you wear tested the latest version of the shoe or tried the Cloudventure Peak? 🙋🏻‍♂️

      1. Robbe Reddinger says:

        Hey Zach- the trails I ran on were definitely technical (that’s pretty much all Mid-Atlantic trails). Tbh I don’t even know if I did any more miles with them, I was onto reviewing more shoes. I mean, they are heavy for a trail shoe. The upper is great and drains well, but the outsole is a no-go for me. I just used these as an easy hiking shoe after the review. That said, I still think they’re the best shoe out of any On shoe I’ve reviewed. The price is absurd though, there are so many better options out there for that price or far less.

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