By Austin Bonds
Swiss Engineering. This is the phrase inscribed on the Cloudventure ($149.99), a trail running shoe by On. Three times on the right shoe and two times on the left I might add. This is my first experience with a running shoe by On, and the repetition of this phrase indicates – at least to me – that the company is passionate about their footwear line. Trails are no exception. Thomas and Meaghan have reviewed Cloudsurfer 4 and Cloudflyer On models, but I refrained from perusing their thoughts until I completed this article to avoid any initial perceptions of the brand that might skew my outlook.
Favoring the trails more so than the road this year, the Pearl Izumi Trail N2 and the Mizuno Wave Hayate 2 are the two models that I have consistently rotated on a regular basis. I’d give the Pearl an edge as it has a rock plate in the forefoot and more cushioning. Though the Hayate 2 is devoid of the rock plate, I will add that it has the look and feel of a race shoe from a weight and fit standpoint. The aim of this article is to discover where the Cloudventure fits into this dirt ready lineup. So without further delay, here’s the dirt (my apologies for the pun).
I’ve completed roughly thirty miles in the Cloudventure so far; therefore, I’ll begin with a few remarks on the traction of this shoe. The grip is simply stellar. I repeatedly visit a park five miles from my home and encounter many rocks in the woods and the path along the power lines. Though I didn’t intentionally seek out the rocks for review purposes, they were scattered everywhere – but the Cloudventure held up well. The outsole is comprised of four “unique micro-engineered grip rubber surfaces” that hold up to any type of terrain. I can attest to this, and I do believe that developing and testing a shoe in the Swiss Alps makes for good research. My feet felt good after a recent twelve mile run in the Cloudventure; as a point of comparison, my feet felt sore and banged up after six miles during some trail races this year in the Hayate 2.
I will backpedal now and return to the composition of the Cloudventure. The upper consists of two layers: the inside layer is intended to accommodate foot characteristics (e.g. provide a comfortable ride), while the top layer, which breaths well on the trails, is water resistant (though I didn’t encounter any rain storms). The Cloudventure, like other On models, is equipped with Cloud Tec cushioning to protect the body from impact forces and facilitate a more natural run. The Cloudventure has 11 distinct pods to offer adequate cushioning for the feet, and the heel offset of 6 millimeters. I wondered if trail debris might lodge inside the clouds, but I haven’t noticed any incursions yet.
Speaking of clouds, the idea behind the use of this word is to “cushion both vertical and horizontal forces for a soft landing.” In my runs, I discovered the Cloudventure is on the firmer side, though I tend to prefer shoes like this. And regarding looks, I’d be remiss not to point out the subtle but noteworthy text and design inclusions on the Cloudventure. I noted Swiss Engineering in the first paragraph. A small, Swiss flag is on the right shoe. The ends of the shoe laces have this text: “Put Me On.” The sock liner says this: “Reach Places Others Cannot.” In short, the motivation to go for a run is not lacking, nor the sharp design qualities.
Though many runners would say otherwise, I believe that no running shoe is perfect (though some come close). When I slipped on the Cloudventure, I discovered the midfoot to be on the wider side. The laces are thin, and the shoe didn’t feel as secure (e.g. snug) as I would have preferred. I donned a short sock on my first run, and the tongue felt strange against the top of my foot; however, a mini crew sock alleviated this issue. Speaking of which, remember to experiment with socks as the length and the thickness can enhance (or detract) the fit of any given shoe. This seems strange, but it is undoubtedly true.
My feet moved a bit in the Cloudventure, but I didn’t have any blisters or hot spots though. This is likely due to feet that are more narrow than most runners. The tongue slipped to the side too, but this didn’t impact my runs in a negative way.
To my original question: where does the Cloudventure fit into my current trail shoe array? I’d say that it is sandwiched in the middle. The Hayate 2 is excellent for short races as it is light and firm and ready for fast; the Trail N2 is softer and ready for distance; the Cloudventure can manage longer distance and a fast pace well. As to outsole, the On shoe occupies the top spot. No trail is off limits from this shoe. Or as On puts it: “Find Your Venture.”
NOTE: I’d like to say thanks to On for providing me this shoe to review.