On Cloudvista Review: Surprisingly Fast and Fun
RYAN: If you’ve been around for even a little while, you know our relationship with On. The Swiss styling is always on point, but like Anakin at the Jedi Temple, we’ve left shoe after shoe crumpled in our wake. On’s CloudTec just hasn’t been our Cloud City, if you know what I mean. Then, the On Cloudvista arrived.
I went into the review expecting a Revenge of the Sith style showdown. I was ready to take the part of Obi-Wan, restoring balance against the evil On-pire. Instead, I found myself like Anakin, drawn to the power of the CloudTec and the Helion foam. I don’t know that I’d build a Death Star and destroy planets for the shoe, but it did more than enough to change my perception of On as a whole.
Robbe and Matt will probably have more relatable intros for you, so let’s get to it.
ROBBE: For those of you who didn’t understand Ryan’s nerd-speak, I *think* I agree with him. I’ve not had the best history with On running shoes (see: the worst history), and had mostly written them and their Cloudpods off as a gimmick gone wrong. This, despite the fact that they’ve clearly wrangled up some of the best designers in all of central Europe and beyond. Translation: On shoes have always looked great, but performed poorly. And then we got the spring 2022 lineup, consisting of the Cloudmonster, the Cloudivsta, and the Cloudrunner (coming soon). The Cloudmonster was a surprisingly great shoe, offering a max cushion sensation that you can’t really find in any other shoes right now. It was really, really fun.
I still had my doubts coming into this shoe, as past trail models have felt clunky, overbuilt, and heavy (because they were). Models like the Cloudace and Cloudventure almost bordered on hiking shoes more than running shoes. But this shoe right here, it’s definitely not that. It’s lightweight, it’s breathable, it’s fairly simple, and most importantly– it’s fun. I won’t give away any more right now, but suffice it to say that On is starting off 2022 on a pretty good note.
MATT: On Running has been a bit of an enigma to me when balancing the brand’s popularity with my own experiences in the shoes. Its offerings have exploded in popularity, and I feel like I see them on feet everywhere, from the grocery store to the local 5K, spanning a spectrum of non-runners to competitive athletes.
I’ve always admired the aesthetics of the shoes, but the models that I’ve had the chance to test have consistently fallen short on the performance front.
Enter the Cloudvista. Once again, the shoe looks stunning, but I had little hope for peak performance given the minimal, road-to-trail formula. I was intrigued, however, to learn that there were some significant changes to classic On components in hopes of a more comfortable ride. On calls the Cloudvista a trail shoe, but it’s styled more like a hybrid.
If the performance can come even somewhat close to the styling, then the Cloudvista would be a big winner.
RYAN: I’ll be frank, I have no idea why this shoe works. There’s not much stack to it, and we haven’t historically enjoyed Helion foam all that much. However, the Cloudvista seems to get things right. I found myself rolling nicely through each stride, and I had no problems heading out for runs up to 8 miles. You could probably push the shoe for more miles, but that’s where I switch to something with a bit more cushion.
I’m also a big fan of the Cloudvista’s style. It’s clean and simple, and the blue and white colorway works well together. Of course, we’re always on board with On’s designs — it’s just the function that usually lets us down. I’ve probably worn the On Cloudvista casually as much as I’ve run in it. I refuse to wear it on a muddy day, though, which perhaps isn’t a huge selling point.
My US M8 didn’t give me any weight issues, coming in just over 9 oz. It’s not the lightest for a road shoe, but it’s pretty feathery for a trail offering, and it pretty much disappeared on foot after a while. I know Robbe had some sizing issues, but this was like my Jedi Kyber crystal, it just called to me and fit perfectly.
ROBBE: Look at the shoe and tell me your heart doesn’t break a little bit knowing that the white upper will soon be destroyed. It’s a really pretty shoe. The simple aesthetic with just slight color accents makes this a therapy session for the feet.
Moving on from the looks, the upper is really well done, which is something On has always excelled at. A simple upper made of 70% recycled polyester is breathable, fairly comfortable, with a perforated tongue and TPU mudguard. The thin laces provide a tight and secure lockdown over the middle of the foot, which is exactly what this shoe needs to go fast. It’s not ultralight, but it’s light for a trail shoe and it feels fast on the feet.
It’s definitely in the road to trail range and its minimal stack height of Helion foam gives it an agile feel, though I wouldn’t use this for ultras (more on that later). I actually took this on a super muddy 7-mile run on fairly technical terrain and found it to be surprisingly great. I love a nimble shoe, and this is that, comparable to shoes like the Skechers Razor TRL. It was easy to pick around roots and rocks and felt racing-flat-ish while bombing downhills. It’s not a huge stack, which was reassuring for someone like me with floppy ankles. On road sections, it works like a firmer road shoe, though not as firm as other On models like the Cloudflow.
One thing that really surprised me was the Missiongrip outsole. I had low expectations for it, but it dug nicely into everything and held well. I even tested it on one of those 45-degree wet rocks while crossing a creek, fully expecting to slip off, but lo and behold– the outsole stuck right to it.
Overall, I had a really nice experience in this shoe and would definitely take it out on runs under 10 miles, except for… well, let’s go to ‘The Bad.’
MATT: It’s not ironic that the Swiss company introduced the Cloudvista as a swiss army knife of shoes. The shoe is versatile enough to use strictly on roads if desired while also nimble enough to navigate trails.
The road-to-trail niche has come on strong as of late with great shoes like the Norda 001 and the Hoka Tecton X delivering rides that you can take from the front door to the trailhead and back without compromising comfort or performance. The Cloudvista fits squarely in that group for me and looks damn good while doing it.
I mentioned it was light, with my US M10 coming in just a hair under 10 oz, which seems to be the marker of a truly light trail shoe. It feels light and minimal on foot, enough that it feels right at home as a strictly road shoe. The Cloudvista has a 7mm drop, but it doesn’t feel noticeably different from those with a 5mm drop that I’ve tested lately.
The upper is a breathable mesh that is comprised of recycled polyester. It isn’t necessarily a soft or sock-like fit like so many other models, but it provides a tight and secure fit. One interesting feature is that portions of the upper are topped off with a TPU mudguard that keeps the shoe’s good looks intact and makes cleanup a little easier. The tongue is racer style, thin and gusseted, and it rests nice and flat and provides protection from the laces.
The midsole was where I had my concerns, as the traditional Cloud Pod technology didn’t work for me, often providing a harsh and muted ride. That’s NOT the case with the Cloudvista. The ride, especially on the road or harder surfaces, is still on the firmer side, but it’s way better than expected. The midsole combines CloudTec and Helion super foam, which work in unison to provide a ride somewhere in the middle between soft and firm, essentially a happy medium that should work for most runners.
The midsole tech translates to two different rides depending on how rigid the running surface is. The shoe has some spring and snap to it, leaning more to the firm side on blacktop, rec paths, or even hard-packed trails. When hitting softer ground on the trails, the ride feels plusher and cushioned, but not to the point where the ground feel is muted. On has even included a rock plate, which may contribute to the firmer ride on the roads but helps with added protection and flexibility when navigating the trails.
Capping off the shoe construction is the MissionGrip outsole. On’s proprietary rubber compound impressed me across various terrain and conditions. While I wouldn’t put it in the same category as Vibram MegaGrip, it was secure, stable, and shed debris quite well. The added traction also came in handy when using the shoe on roads in rainy wet weather. On’s lugs are pretty slim, but with the combination of multidirectional patterns and various shapes, they were more than capable on the single track without being a hindrance on the roads.Shop On Cloudvista – Men Shop On Cloudvista – Women
RYAN: We’ve seen it before, and we’re bound to see it again, but what’s the deal with white trail shoes? Everyone knows that it’s only going to stay white for about a minute before it gets painted with all kinds of mud. Maybe that’s what On is going for, but I still feel the sleek Swiss style deserves to stay clean rather than muddy.
I’m also not sure about the choice of laces on the Cloudvista. They’re about as thin as angel hair pasta, so it’s not always easy to get a good grip. I found myself taking advantage of the top lace hole, as there was some heel slippage otherwise.
This is less of a dig at On and more of an issue with road-to-trail shoes in general. I don’t usually see the point of them. I’ll probably reach for road shoes if I’m running on a rail trail or a well-defined dirt road. If I’m on something more technical, I’ll grab trail shoes with more aggression to them. The Cloudvista’s Mission Grip rubber works fine, but the flat lugs don’t inspire me to be too adventurous.
ROBBE: Something is crazy off on the fit of this shoe. I used to wear a half-size down in On shoes because they ran long, so I went to my normal sizing after I sent back both the Cloudmonster and my original shipment of the Cloudvista. But when I got my new pair in my normal size, they were still cramping my toes. At that point I wasn’t sending back another pair so I just took them out. And while yes, they were tight, I could manage them. Except the toe box was just super cramped and that night my big toe was aching in the middle of the night from slamming it against the front. So make sure you go a half size up from your normal shoe size.
Overall, it’s a narrow shoe for narrow-footed people with a shallow toe box. So beware of that.
Maybe not a bad, but don’t take this for anything longer or your legs will get toasted. This is a short distance trail/road-to-trail shoe, so use it for that. As On shoes tend to go, this is a firm shoe, though it’s not debilitating.
Lastly, while I love the white look of these… it doesn’t stay white for long.
MATT: So, On might label the Coludvista as a trail shoe, but I’d say that there are some limitations to that classification. I don’t think I’d want to be running in this shoe for more than 10 or 15 miles. The rigid nature of the ride and the somewhat minimal shoe construction mean it should be kept to shorter distances.
I wouldn’t pick the On Cloudvista if you’re planning to run any overly technical or sloppy terrain. While the shoe is quite agile, it doesn’t have any of the aggressive traits you’d want for those runs. It’s a road-to-trail shoe that excels on milder trails, recreational or gravel paths, and clay-packed roads.
I also found the fit through the toebox to be pretty tight. I have relatively narrow feet, yet I felt some pressure and rubbing on the outside of my pinky toes. It wasn’t extreme, and it seemed to lessen once I was moving, but if you have wider feet, you might run into some hotspots.Shop On Cloudvista – Men Shop On Cloudvista – Women
RYAN: If this is what life is like under the galactic empire, I’m cool with it. The On Cloudvista feels like a good sign that On shoes are turning a corner. There’s almost no reason that the Helion foam midsole and CloudTec pods should work as well as they do, yet they do. It’s tough to compare the Cloudvista to any other road-to-trail shoes, but I had no problem taking it from sidewalks to crushed gravel rail trails.
If On drops the Cloudvista in a colorway other than white, it’s certainly worth a look. Perhaps there’s still hope for a return to the light, a chance to restore balance to the Force.
ROBBE: While I didn’t have high expectations for this shoe, I think this is my second-favorite On shoe to date behind the Cloudmonster. If my toes had some more room I could see myself taking this out for a lot of fast and fun summer trail runs. Hell, if you just buy this as an everyday shoe, that white colorway will pop in the summertime. Wear it running, or don’t. Wear it on roads, or trails, or neither. You have a do-anything shoe in a nice little package. And at $140, they’re not asking you to give away the farm.
Can’t believe I’m saying this, but we have another winner from On.
MATT: On seems to have taken the past criticism to heart and made some impressive performance improvements if the Cloudvista is any indicator.
This shoe is a really nice do-it-all offering. Honestly, if you hate packing and clutter as I do, the Cloudvista would be the perfect travel shoe. It’s stylish enough to wear to dinner or the bar, you can turn around and use it to get your morning run in, and if you’re lucky enough to have trails nearby your destination, this will do the trick there as well.
You can pick up the On Cloudvista for $139 at REI using the shop link below.Shop On Cloudvista – Men Shop On Cloudvista – Women
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