On Cloudsurfer Shoes

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Manufacturer Description

The Cloudsurfer is designed to unleash the runner’s speed. Equipped with On’s patented CloudTec system, the Cloudsurfer is light, agile and excellent at transforming running energy into forward momentum. The active sole balances every step and trains the running muscles, too.

Features

  • 3D Air Mesh Upper
  • Liner mesh with smart foam adapts to the foot
  • Heal strap of nylon webbing with reflective elements
  • Pressed EVA midsole
  • “Flight-Control-Pad” on insole
  • CloudTec Rubber Compound features high durability
  • Diamond-Slip-Pattern provides grip
  • The CloudTec system absorbs vertical and horizontal impacts
  • The Integrated Transition Bridge transfers impact force into forward momentum
  • Once fully compressed, the CloudTec elements allow for a firm push-off
  • Designed for neutral runners and mild to moderate overpronaters
  • 13 Raised Lugs (Clouds)
  • Available in 3 colors
  • Measured size 9 (43)
    • Weight – 319 g (11.2 oz) w/o Insole
    • Insole Weight – 17 g (0.6 oz)
    • Stack Height – 18.4 mm (Heel), 10.5 mm (Toe), 7.9 mm (Drop) w/o Pods
    • Pod Height – 13.9 mm (Back), 11.9 mm (Front)
    • Forefoot Width – 101.4 mm (4.0 in)
  • Retail – $129

YMMV Review

On is a newer company out of Switzerland. They were started by a Swiss engineer who wanted to make running less painful and more fun. He did some research and found that most damage done when running is from horizontal shock. In order to combat this horizontal shock and still provide vertical shock protection the engineer came up with the CloudTec technology. Take a look at their story here in this video:

I was intrigued by these shoes as they are like nothing I have ever run in. After talking with them for a while, I was able to set up a test of the Cloudsurfer Shoes.

Angled view of the Side

Testing

I tested these shoes on runs from 3 to 25 miles. Almost all my runs were on the road with a couple packed gravel trails thrown into the mix. I tested the Cloudsurfer’s this spring, so I did not have any hot weather to test them in.

Design ★★★½☆

Appearance (15%) ★★★★☆

Construction (25%) ★★★½☆

Features (25%) ★★★★½

Lacing (10%) ★★★☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ☆☆☆☆☆

Weight (15%) ★★½☆☆

The On Cloudsurfer’s are different than any other shoes I have tested. This difference is all contained in the outsole, so I will save that for last. The upper of the Cloudsurfer’s are made of Air Mesh, which helps the foot breathe. The upper is reinforced by Nubuck PU overlays to keep your foot stable and over the midsole/outsole. The lacing on the Cloudsurfer’s are similar to other running shoes with an extra eyelet at the top if you like to use a lace-lock lacing technique. On the tongue, there is also a loop to help keep it in place better while running. The upper has a little branding, but it is not over the top. In the back, they have added a nylon webbing strap to help with getting the shoes on and off.

Sole from the Bottom

The inside of the shoes has smart foam, which adapts to your foot for optimum comfort. The insole is made to give more proprioception when running. To do this On has a raised Flight-Control-Pad on the top and small craters on the underside. The midsole is made of pressed EVA foam. This EVA provides cushioning and protection while also being lightweight and making up part of the outsole. If you look at the picture of the sole, all the black is the pressed EVA midsole.

The true technology of the Cloudsurfer’s lies in the outsole. The Cloudsurfer’s feature ON’s CloudTec Technology. This technology is a piece of circular rubber, which absorbs both the vertical and horizontal impact. As the foot hits the ground with forward momentum, the CloudTec element folds back, effectively allowing the foot to glide to a softer halt. After landing, the element is compressed by the weight of the runner, locks together and is fully firm for the push-off. This technology is made to allow a runner to run faster, long, and with less impact to the body. Testing in Swiss Federal Laboratories concluded that the CloudTec pods reduce the impact by 25-30 percent while being more active in the push-off stage.

Top of the Insole

There is a total of 13 pods on the outsole: 4 in the heel and 9 in the forefoot. The pods are also supposed to help strengthen the stability muscles in the legs and feet. According to On, the subtle, subliminal instability stimulates the postural muscles, regulates muscle tone, improves posture, and activates the metabolism.

One drawback to On and the shoe is I could not find any evidence of renewable or green materials. Furthermore, combing the website, there were no corporate initiatives in place in regard to sustainability either. This led me to give them a zero rating for sustainability. Hopefully, as the company grows and develops they can find some sustainable options.

Fit ★★★☆☆

Comfort Next to Skin (15%) ★★★☆☆

Foot Length (20%) ★★☆☆☆

Foot Volume (20%) ★★★½☆

Heel Width (15%) ★★★☆☆

Midfoot Width (15%) ★★★☆☆

Toe Box Width (15%) ★★★½☆

The Cloudsurfer’s are quite roomy. I am normally a size 9, and I tested the size 43. On suggests that you measure the actual size of your foot to get the proper size. To do this you need a piece of paper, some tape, a pen or pencil, and a ruler. Tape the paper to the floor and place your foot on the paper with running socks on. Trace around your foot leaving an outline on the paper. Measure from the heel to the tip of your longest toe the length of your foot. Using their chart you can then figure out what size shoes you need. The size 9 for me was a bit on the large side. I measured my foot, and I was in between the 42.5 and 43. I opted for the 43, but I would suggest going down half a size. They are available in retail stores as well to try on before buying.  Here is the list of stores: On Retail Stores.

Bottom of the Insole

While there was a lot of room inside the shoe for me, I felt like the upper was comfortable to the skin. I wore socks for almost all my runs but the one short run I did without socks did not give me any blisters, which is rare for me. The heel felt a bit on the wider side, but I did not have any heel slippage. The midfoot was nice and secure while the forefoot was plenty wide. I had more than enough room for the toes to spread out my foot. Even with the extra room I did not have any issues with my foot moving around. They stayed secure, and I blister free for all my miles. I even did a couple 20+ mile runs in these without issue. I would have no hesitation tackling some long distances in these shoes; they were very comfortable.

Performance ★★★½☆

Breathability (15%) ★★★☆☆

Cushioning (25%) ★★★★½

Durability (25%) ★★★☆☆

Flexibility (15%) ★★☆☆☆

Protection (10%) ★★★★☆

Traction (10%) ★★½☆☆

When you first put the Cloudsurfer’s on you can definitely feel the cushioning pods work. They feel like they have a good spring to them and are nice and cushy. When putting on the shoes, they are comfortable and wrap the foot well. The lacing allows you to tighten them up to your preference and use a heel lock if you so desire. The tongue is nice and padded to keep the pressure off the top of the foot. The upper is made of Air Mesh, which breathes well. I did not have any issues with my feet getting too warm on any of my runs. I also tested these in the winter and early spring so it was not very warm out either.

CloudTec Pod Up Close

The insoles are a little different. On the underside, there are a bunch of little craters, bigger ones in the heel and smaller ones in the toes. Underneath the toes, there are also some flex points to help the shoes flex more. On the top of the insole, there is a small raised oval section that On calls the Flight-Control-Pad. These sections along with the craters are there to increase proprioception. When wearing the shoes the raised section is noticeable. I did not notice any increased feel however.

The CloudTec technology definitely cushions the foot fall when running. I especially noticed it at the beginning of my runs and then after a while I could not tell much difference, but I am sure it was still working; I just could not feel much after a while. It was hard to tell any decreased soreness or fatigue due to the pods. If they did, in fact, save a couple of percent over a long run, I doubt I would be able to notice that little of a difference. That does not mean that I do not appreciate every little bit of help I get. When running in the Cloudsurfer’s, I found that I transitioned into more of a heel strike then I normally run. I try to run as a midfoot striker but looking at the sole of the Cloudsurfer’s after my testing you can see a pronounced wear pattern to the outside and back of the shoes.

Marks in the EVA from Rocks

On states that the shoes should help propel you forward as you run making them faster than other shoes. I was not able to tell and discernible difference myself. They did run similar to other shoes I have tested while being a bit on the heavier side. On my scale, the shoes came in at 336g (11.8 oz) which was more than I typically use. The extra weight was to be expected with the extra rubber needed for the pods. After about 75 miles of testing the shoes are showing some wear. The back outside pods are showing the most wear. This does not affect the shoes at all and think they will get a good amount of life. The midsole is made of pressed EVA foam, which makes it firmer than normal EVA. This still provides some cushion, especially from rocks and debris that hit in between the pods. In one of my pictures, you can see where the rocks have torn up the EVA slightly. The EVA also will catch rocks on occasion. Running on the winter roads here in bend there tends to be a lot of lava rock on the roads for winter driving. This pressed EVA makes the shoe pretty stiff. One thing I noticed about these shoes is the lack of flexibility. I believe this was done to help the transition from heel to toe.

The Cloudsurfer’s are made for primarily road running. I did run the occasional gravel trail and had a rock get stuck between the pods on occasion. The shoes do not have a whole lot of traction, but if you stay on the roads, you will not need any more than they have.  Even though the shoes have these pods, the teeth on the inside seemed to lock up well for the push off so I did not notice any loss of power. The CloudTec gives a different sensation when running. On some of my longer runs, I would feel a little increased pressure under the middle of my forefoot from time to time. I would check to see if it was a rock that got stuck but never found anything. This seemed to happen only occasionally so I am not sure what was going on. The technology seemed to work as advertised, which was a pleasant surprise.

Wear on the Back Pods

Overall ★★★½☆

Overall, the Cloudsurfer’s were a comfortable shoe to run in. They are definitely a far cry from some of the more minimalist offerings I have been wearing. With all the cushioning from the ground, it truly did feel like running on clouds compared to some of my non cushioned shoes. The one drawback was the shoes also caused me to slightly change my running gait with the increased cushioning, heel-toe drop, and lack of ground feel. The upper was very comfortable, and I had not issues with the upper. I do wish the shoes were a little lighter weight and had a little less drop to promote a more forefoot or midfoot foot strike. They just released a Cloudracer model which might be more up my alley. One thing that you cannot fault On for is trying something different. I am impressed by the idea to try to make a shoe that addresses the issue of impact while running. I do think these are good shoes and will work for many runners out there. I would suggest them for longer runs where you’re your form may suffer towards the end, or you just need the extra protection. I have run up to 20 miles in my low to the ground minimalist shoes, but I am normally pretty sore afterward.

With the Cloudsurfer’s makes sure to measure your foot and purchase the right size. I felt like they ran slightly large if you were to base it on your normal size. If you have not seen these shoes before I would suggest taking a look at them. They are trying something different and I have to applaud them for that. On says they will make you faster and I was not able to notice a difference. My runs vary from day to day so that may also cause me not to notice. The Cloudsurfer’s retail for $129 which is on the higher side but if they take away the pain of running it may be worth it. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Pods cushion vertical and horizontal forces
  • Upper is comfortable and breathable
  • Trying something different

Cons

  • Heavier than I like
  • More Heel/Toe Drop than I prefer

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About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

2 Responses to “On Cloudsurfer Shoes”

  1. I have the exact same pair.
    I got it last October 2014 and used it for walking (exercise) for an hour everyday since January 2015 and the cloudtec rings TORE up!!

    So disappointed.

    I wrote to their customer service but was told that it wasn’t a defect.

    It would have been alright had I used it heavily for running for 6 months but I walked on them!!

    So sad.

    • Bummer. To be honest I have not seen any that I torn. I wonder if it had something to do with the surface. If you are looking for another shoe with lots of cushioning, I would suggest Hoka One One. Thanks for commenting.

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