I put the On Cloudflow running shoe through their paces, and it really is like running on clouds
The On Cloudflow shoes look unique but I wanted to test if the Swiss brand has actually made a revolutionary running sneaker
The On Cloudflow running shoe is an excellent option for those runners who want it all: comfort, speed, responsiveness, and support. With helion foam and Speedboard technology, you will want to go fast in these for your speed sessions and shorter runs. But the light design of the Cloudflow means it can also carry you through halves and full marathons too. Oh, and if you want to know what it feels like to run on clouds, this shoe offers a good demo.
Light and cushioned
Fit like a glove
The soles collect dirt & stones between the pods
Before the testing, for our On Cloudflow review, I knew this shoe was a standout name amongst running shoes. For a while, I wondered if the shoe was more of a style statement, as the Swiss-engineered brand assigns quite an individualistic design to its shoes. However, after lacing up in pair and raking up a substantial whack of mileage in these, I soon realized why there’s a hype around the Cloudflow’s.
Multiple Ironman champion, Oliver Bernhard, and three-time world duathlon champion, Casper Coppetti, founded the running shoe brand On in 2010 with a mission to fill evident gaps in the running shoe market. They wanted to build shoes that could equally provide cushioning and a soft landing, as well as being a shoe with a responsive and lightweight feel.
I jumped into this pair of Cloudflow’s excited to see how these shoes would fare up in comparison to our usual favorites and very quickly warmed to the shoe and I’m now confident that they deserve a place in our guide to the best running shoes for women. Just to be clear, as this is one thing On isn’t so obvious about, we tested the Cloudflow 2.0. On doesn’t add numbers to their iterations as they go forward with designs but it was the second generation we took out for a spin.
The biggest update to the shoe is the helion midsole, this is the foam technology added to the bottom of the shoe. On isn’t messing around when it comes to creating a trusty neutral running shoe. We completed a challenge while testing these shoes out, which involved running everywhere instead of walking, and no matter the distance we had to cover to get from A to B, the Cloudflow didn’t let us down. These guys make you want to run fast and ride with ease for 5Ks, and 10Ks, but also offer a nice minimal marathon running shoe with their lightweight and supportive build.
On Cloudflow: Price & features
While the price of the Cloudflows may be a little eye-watering for some at $140/£130 you are getting a high-performing training and race shoe in one. If you’re a keen runner but can’t afford to buy more than one pair of sneakers for different types of races and training, then investing in a pair of Cloudflows isn’t a bad idea, in our opinion.
I’ll delve deeper into the key features of this running shoe further down but just so you know what to expect, I’ll run over now what’s new to the updated Cloudflow. According to On, the Cloudflow was made with ‘elite athletes’ in mind and has been ‘refined with their feedback’.
What was already a well-received responsive ride has increased in comfort and bounce with the addition of helion super foam to the sole. The ‘cloud elements’ still exist on the shoe, all 18 of them, and have been mixed in with the On’s trademark Speedboard to give you a boost as you take your strides.
After a common complaint from runners that the laces are too long on this shoe, On responded by introducing a new eyelet configuration to support you as you ramp up the speed. This new addition also helps to avoid any distraction from flapping laces.
On Cloudflow: Design & technology
I tested out the Coudflows in the shade Aloe White and thought the sage green color mixed with the white gave these shoes a very classy look.
I like the petite Swiss flag that features on the back, it’s a very subtle yet nice finishing touch to an impressive shoe made by the Swiss brand. The inner material of the heel and tongue features a tan color, which is unusual for a sports shoe but On certainly carves its own norms.
This leads us nicely onto the Helion foam and unique pods that form the bottom of the shoe, making it so recognizable as an On pair of sneakers. I can vouch for On and say that this Helion foam made the shoe lightweight (it weighs in at 0.4lbs/198g) to run in during daily training and can easily transition into a speedier pace for a race or faster sessions.
The foamy, hollow pods provide support for your feet while ensuring you gain response and cushioning as you run. I didn’t know if it was possible to conquer all of this in one but during testing, I never had to question this with the Cloudflow on our feet. This unique construction prompts the natural running gait and foot roll and was an element that we found makes this shoe suitable for tempo sessions and faster runs.
The trademark Speedboard technology that features on the On Cloudflows increases the cushioning on the shoe and again encourages that natural rolling gait cycle as well as accelerates energy coming from your feet. There were some complaints about the grip of the first generation Cloudflow on wetter surfaces, however, the Cloudflow 2.0’s kept us on our feet no matter the weather. The abrasion pads underneath the foot on the shoe have a new rubber-grip innovation and are meant to enhance grip and agility.
The shoe has a 6mm heel-toe drop which is slightly lower than other running shoes like the Asics Gel Nimbus 24s, which feature a 10mm drop. A higher drop is better suited to runners who land heel first, while a lower drop like on the Cloudflow is more likely to encourage a midfoot or forefoot strike. This leads to a more stable landing surface and improved muscle engagement.
The upper of the shoe is kitted out with fully ventilated mesh uppers with strategically placed overlays to assist in keeping your foot locked down without causing your foot to overheat which would be the case, had On applied a heavier material here. The tongue also features an elastic loop for storing your laces once tied up and prevents them from flapping when you are on the move.
On Cloudflow: Fit, feel and comfort
First off, the Cloudflow fit perfectly on me. They were neither too narrow nor too wide and the strategically placed overlays featuring on the upper alongside the new lace design, meant we felt both stable and comfortable once laced in. The lining inside the shoe also feels quite plush as you step inside and there is ample flexibility in the arch of the shoe too. We got our hands on these at the start of summer, right as a heatwave hit London, so it was a bonus having the Cloudflow’s to hand. The shoe consistently felt well ventilated on hot days plus, they don’t retain water so they’re safe to wear on rainy days.
I most enjoyed wearing this shoe best for speedwork training and runs up to 10K but the feel of the helion foam and cushioning inside this trainer makes it a suitable match for half-marathons and even marathons.
On Cloudflow: Support
The heel counter is an element often discussed around running shoes and all it refers to is the material placed at the back of the shoe that is supposed to stabilize the back of your heel. We found the heel counter was pleasantly sturdy on the Cloudflow and I had no signs or feelings of rubbing or blisters developing while training in this shoe.
Whether I took these sneakers on a speedy tempo session or out on a 10K with us, at times I forgot I had shoes on our feet. Obviously, I can’t say for sure what running on a cloud actually feels like but if I were to describe how I imagine it to feel, I’d tell someone to take the Cloudflow 2.0’s out for a ride.
Although you are getting a springy ride in the Cloudflow’s, On has baked in a solid level of firmness into the recipe of this shoe too. This is what gives the trainer a real feel for speed buts may also be why some marathon goers or heavier runners might want a shoe that's a little softer like the Brooks Glycerin 19.
On Clouflow: User reviews
The Cloudflow running shoes get an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars via the On website, with lots of users sharing positive experiences with training and racing in this running shoe. One user said the shoe lived up to the name and the ride is indeed like a “run on clouds”.
Similarly, the majority of users agree that this is a great quality pair of shoes for running in, offering comfort and style. Various users brought up how this was the ideal shoe for returning to running in after an injury. One person said, “I needed a shoe that would give me good energy transfer for my build-back, and now I'll never run in another sneaker”.
There were, however, a few users who reported on the fast wearing of these shoes.
On Cloudflow: Verdict
The cloud-like CloudFlow 2.0 is a high-performing running shoe well worth the price tag. On has managed to master what a lot of distance running shoes miss: a shoe that combines a padded soft landing with a firm, responsive take-off and at the same time is superbly lightweight. Most of the time, running sneakers deliver on one or the other, but On has created something quite magical with the CloudFlow.
With the new updates to the helion foam sole, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing trainers during both long and short runs in this shoe. The ventilated uppers add to the many reasons why you would want to lace yourself into these shoes for whatever run you have planned. The standout design perhaps might not be as durable as other running shoes out there with stones and dirt easily gathering in between the cloud pods but they are a great road and track shoe with heaps of potential.
Do you prefer shorter runs and just need something to spring through your tempo sessions and 5K’s with? The Hoka Kawana is a great option and features the signature Hoka meta-rocker design, helping you find your natural stride as you run. With a high stack height of 30mm, you do notice feeling higher off the ground in these and they are slightly heavier as a result, but you’re still getting a great response rate from the shoe as it boasts a lively CMEVA sole.
Asics Gel Nimbus 24
A very reliable daily trainer to get your hands on is the Asics Gel Nimbus 24, it's the kind of shoe you step into and want to keep on running for miles. It features what the Japanese running shoe designers call its ‘Flytefoam Blast+’ technology. This means the midsole offers a soft and bouncy ride, while the upgraded upper has been made with engineered mesh making the shoe breathable. Plus the super stretchy, knitted tongue is both flexible and ensures the foot is securely locked down.
Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition.
When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.
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