The slightly unusual-looking Cloud X shoes are a unique product that manage to balance a great mix of features, making them ideal for use in all kinds of fitness activities, especially those who are constantly mixing up their workouts.
Extremely lightweight and flexible
Durable upper mesh
Cushioned, flexible design won’t suit everyone
Design won’t be to everyone’s tastes
By Lee Bell
Hello and welcome to this, my review of the On Cloud X workout shoes for Fit&Well.
Relatively new Swiss sneaker brand On may not have the legacy of shoe making that the likes of Nike and Adidas have but, by heck, it’s got what it takes to deliver an impressive and innovative pair of sports shoes. And the Cloud X, the firm’s latest all-round workout shoes, are no exception.
The Zurich-based company usually focuses on shoes made for runners, but Cloud X is a surprising exception in the company's ever-growing line-up of training shoes. Taking the same tech found in On’s race shoes and putting it to work in footwear designed for all workout types, these kicks are geared more towards general training - handling everything from weightlifting and HIIT to CrossFit and short sprints.
After testing them over the course of a few months, my conclusion is that the On Cloud X shoes are more than worthy of a spot in Fit&Well's best cross training shoes buying guide - below I'll explain why.
On Cloud X shoes: price and features
They arrived on the market in 2020 with a rather eye-watering recommended retail price of $140/£130. However, as is usually the case, they can occasionally be picked up for less than the RRP - the handy shopping widget below will always display today's lowest prices, so you can be sure you're getting a good deal.
The Cloud X can be purchased in both male and female sizings, and come in six different colors for each gender. There's classic black (which I tried) or white options, whilst for men there's also a cool grey and olive-green combo or a punchy orange option. Over in the women's collection, options include a muted beige and peach colored pair, and a zingy lemon shade.
All pairs come with On's trademarked CloudTec outsole with Helion superfoam, which is designed to make the shoes reactive and dynamic - essential for explosive, multi-direction workouts. There's also molded cushion pads in the heel and raised sideways, which bring a sense of added security and stability. More on all of this below.
On Cloud X shoes: design
There’s no denying that On knows what it’s doing when it comes to unconventional yet innovative design. It’s for this reason that the company has managed to stand out in a crowded market. Accordingly, the Cloud X shoes follow suit. Materials used are of high quality, especially in the tongue and heel counter design
However, it’s the special CloudTec sole which really shines here. Made of a Zero-Gravity foam, this sole has been innovatively designed especially for explosive movement in all directions. Its unique foam construction also means that the shoes’ weight is kept to an absolute minimum while offering a great range of mobility.
However, my favorite design feature in the Cloud X shoes is the smooth, seamless sockliner throughout the upper. Designed mostly for comfort during mixed-sports workouts, this makes a big difference to the comfort levels during longer workout sessions - especially runs - when you’d normally start to feel rubbing and chafing.
The sockliner is complemented by a roomy toe box which can be easily made to fit more snug with the laces, if required. However, the heel cup area - while allowing for more freedom of movement - doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as you’d find in other brands gym shoes. As such, I did feel the Cloud X might not be able to deliver the support you’d need in the ankle if you’re planning to do more workouts that require heavy-lifting, such as CrossFit.
Still, what makes these shoes so great is that they have that lovely lightweight yet firm construction that On is renowned for, with each shoe weighing in at just under 8.47oz / 240g each, which is very light for this type of shoe.
This lightweight design is thanks to the knit-weave upper, which makes the entire shoe feel light and breathable, with a decent level of cushioning throughout - especially on the outsole. This ensures they are exceptionally comfortable and agile, while I found the firm foam padding along the collar means they are able to handle high impact moves such as box jumps.
I should also mention that these shoes have been designed with an added plastic speed board between the outsole and the midsole, which offers much better responsiveness during use compared to other models.
On Cloud X shoes: performance
When it comes to lacing up these babies and getting down and dirty with your workout, the Cloud X shoes know exactly how to deliver. And it’s their responsiveness, especially while running, that brings us this high-level performance.
Thanks to the Cloud X using a stronger speed board in its sole, the shoes reduce sink on strike and thus add more return at toe-off. It’s this continuous give and return action that gives the Cloud X its impressive responsiveness.
Landing comfort is another area where I found that these shoes perform exceptionally well in testing. This is due to the CloudTec midsole that I mentioned earlier, an impressive bit of tech which adds the right amount of padding for a soft yet firm feeling on impact when landing to each and every stride.
Overall, this balanced performance is exactly what you want from a diverse workout shoe that’s not been constructed specifically for one kind of workout.
On Cloud X shoes: verdict
The Cloud X shoes are a unique product, delivering a versatile offering of features for those types of people that like to do all kinds of exercise and so are looking for a pair of kicks that can support them on their fitness journey.
Despite not having the same robust fit that a shoe like the Nike Metcon range has, these trainers excel in the fact they are light, sexy and feel extremely natural to move around in.
However, what really makes them a true contender in the ‘best gym shoe’ list is their ability to offer a good balance of features, such as cushioning and breathability; something that I believe everyone is looking for when it comes to general sports footwear.
Nike Metcon 5
The sixth iteration of Nike’s ever-popular Metcon series, the Nike Metcon 6 is still one of the best all-round gym shoes.
With a special abrasion-resistant material on the upper for gripping ropes during cross training-type workouts, these shoes offer much more support than the On Cloud X, however they’re not as flexible, so lack the same versatility.
However, this makes the Metcon 6 much more weightlifting-friendly and thus performs well in more standard high-intensity interval training workouts filled with jumps and sprints.
Reebok Nano 9
Despite dropping its CrossFit associations last year, Reebok still knows how to make a quality workout shoe. The firm’s latest Nano 9 shoes pack a whole host of tech into a slim, lightweight frame, which is just one of the reasons why they’re loved by burpee addicts and gym bunnies alike.
Another reason is the fresh heel bootie construction that works alongside a molded midsole and sockliner for greater ankle support. This provides all the tools a super-active fitness obsessive needs to protect them in the tire-flipping trenches of a high-intensity workout or weights sesh.
As a cheaper option to the Cloud X, this is an amazing, feature-packed shoe for the price.
Lee Bell is a London-based journalist, copywriter, specializing in all things tech and lifestyle. He is also a qualified personal trainer. He started his journalism career a decade ago as a reporter covering the latest gadgets and innovations at tech tabloid The Inquirer. Lee went freelance in 2016 to broaden his expertise, moving into news, reviews and feature writing for a host of national print and online lifestyle titles such as GQ, Forbes, Esquire, Men’s Health, Wired, The Metro, and The Mirror. He has an insatiable appetite for travel, Dharma yoga, and the odd outdoor challenge.
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