On Cloudsurfer–Another Perspective

 Eric reviewed this shoe here, but here’s another perspective. 

“That’s a weird looking shoe.”

                        “What are you wearing?”

                                    “What’s on the bottom of that shoe?”

These are just a sample of the questions I have heard since I started running in the Cloudsurfer by On. Admittedly, they are different, even odd.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to shopping for new running shoes, annoying my husband endlessly with my problems with seemingly benign shoe details, so I figure this characteristic will either make me the best shoe-tester…… or the worst. It was my goal to determine if this company was introducing an awesome, innovative, good kind of odd shoe, or if it was just another gimmick.

 *Full disclosure: On provided me with these Cloudsurfer shoes for review. My opinion is my own and I was under no obligation to provide a positive review 

After running in them for 91 miles, here is my initial impression.

Image 5The look: I know, I know. It’s a running shoe, not a fashion show, so who cares. I’m just going to get it muddy, right? Well, since running shoes are the most expensive shoes I have ever purchased, its kind of fun to get to pull something pretty out of a shoebox. I like the sleek design and aqua/coral color combination of my shoe. The website shows their entire line and the colors are bright, but not obnoxious-a plus for me. I never want to have Ronald McDonald feet, or some alien-looking things. The weirdest part of these shoes is definitely the CloudTec bubble-tube-looking things on the bottom.

The fit: I wear a size 8 in every running shoe except Saucony (where I need an 8.5), and the ImageCloudsurfer size 8 fits me perfectly. I experienced no heel slip at all, and my foot didn’t slide forward when running down hill. Actually, for a just-out-of-the-box pair of shoes, the laces needed very little adjusting. And another plus for the laces: they never once came untied. I was very happy with the light, airy feeling and quality of the mesh upper.

Walking: I wore these shoes around the house one evening just to get the feel of them before taking them outside. I didn’t love the little rubber cushions on the bottom at first because it made me feel like I had to roll forward quickly from my heel. When walking for a short time on a run this actually didn’t bother me and it felt like a little boost.

Image 1Running: The website recommends their four different shoes based on estimated pace. Yeah, pace. For example, these shoes are recommended for 4-5 min/km (that’s 6:25-8:00 min/mile for us Yankees).

Right after my walking-around-the-house trial I took these shoes on an 8 mile run on a bike path. For the first mile I was trying to pay close attention to the feel of the shoe, and it felt hard. It’s kind of difficult to describe; I didn’t feel jarred at all, but the bottom of my feet just felt very firm. The forefoot was flexible, and I experienced no pain.

I discovered that the shoe was designed to provide a “cushioned landing and barefoot takeoff.” I’d say that this description makes sense. Their goal was to provide cushioning when we need it (landing), but to have that cushion disappear when we would be better off without it (taking off).

For the rest of the run I was busy chit-chatting and didn’t notice my shoes one bit. I think that is one of the best things you could say about a running shoe.  Since then I have logged miles of various distances on bike paths, sidewalks, trails, and on the treadmill in my garage. I experienced no aches or pains in these shoes. (side note: my typical trail and road shoes have a 4mm heel to toe drop, so I was not transitioning down to a smaller drop).  These shoes did not change my natural footstrike or gait. So far I haven’t had any rocks or other souvenirs get lodged in the bottom of the shoe.

The numbers:  

Weight: women’s size 7: 9.2 oz; men’s size 8.5: 10 oz

Heel to toe drop: 7 mm

Price: $129

Other random facts:

  • The shoes were designed by an impressive duo. One a renowned engineer, the other a successful Ironman competitor driven by chronic Achilles tendon problems to design a shoe to alleviate that problem.
  • The shoes are finding popularity among select elites including marathoner Tegla Loroupe, French Olympic triathlete David Hauss, Xterra and Ironman champion Lesley Paterson, and Swedish Ironman triathlete Caroline Steffen.
  • The website is pretty cool. It does a good job of showcasing the shoes and describing the features.

What I still want to know: 

Distance: How will these feel after 50k or 50 miles? Personal testimonials on the website indicate they will hold up just fine.

Durability.  How will these shoes hold up after a couple hundred miles? Can I get 500-600 miles out of them? So far mine look and feel like brand new.

Water. I haven’t gotten these shoes wet, and I am curious how well they will drain.

The science: The website indicates that a study conducted by Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology demonstrated that runners wearing On shoes with CloudTec technology saved an average of 2 heartbeats per minute, and that wearing these shoes decreased the amount of lactic acid build up in the body. I love science and physiology, and these are big claims that I would love to benefit from. I searched for the original research article, but was unable to find it. I am interested and will be looking for this information.

Trail: I haven’t taken this shoe on the trail for more than a few miles at a stretch. Some shoes can’t handle the wear and tear of the trail. How will these hold up?

Overall: I am impressed with this shoe. I do not believe these shoes are just a fleeting gimmick.  I like the feel of it, I like the look, and I like that this company was started by a runner to help solve his own chronic issues. The price is comparable to running shoes in the same class.

I fully intend to continue training in this shoe.  Will I purchase another pair? Depends on how
these hold up after more miles

Want to know where you can get your hands on these innovative shoes? You can order them online at www.on-running.com where shipping is free, or you can check them out at authorized dealers, including Roadrunner Sports.


Review by URP Enduro Team member Tara Barragan. We’ll check back with Tara in a month to see how the shoes are doing.  

Questions about the shoes? Ask Tara below.

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