Last updated: 08-Apr-19
By Steve Diederich
ON is a Swiss shoe manufacturer, known for their unorthodox and innovative approach to running shoe design, who have been making small steps into the trail running market. Built around a classic chassis with a sole comprising 11 separate cloud “pods”, the idea is similar to the idea of compartment sprung mattresses, with the objective of giving you independent suspension for greater grip and comfort.
UPDATE: A brief post-script to my review – I have enjoyed my time in these shoes, however the wear and more recently the tear in the front pods has rendered them unusable – admittedly over rocky terrain, however they haven’t lasted the length of time I would have hoped for an adventure shoe. Lets hope the next version of these will address this issue
- 295gm (Mens US size 8.5) -manufacturer claim
- Offset – 26/20mm Heel / Toe drop (6mm)
- Neutral pronation
- Medium-depth sole
- Designed for: Medium Trail
- RRP £125
ON description: “For runners looking for a lightweight trail shoe with full cushioning protection”.
Pros: what’s good about ON Cloudventure shoes
Let me come right out and say it, I don’t like gimmicks. Whilst I love innovation, the idea of someone doing something different to capitalise on an established, lucrative market is not what I believe is good for the sport. So, I prised the box open with a more than healthy degree of scepticism and wasn’t disappointed by the odd-looking soles pointing up at me. Something in my head was asking why a Swiss company felt the need to prise open the trail running market – a market for purists and those who have a passionate love of the outdoors – with an idea that looks like it had been conceived by a child. Sliding my feet into the shoes and lacing them up with the thin laces was really easy. The wider footbed and toe box fitted my feet really well, whilst the toebumper looked substantial enough to protect against most clumsy rock impacts.
Out in the trail, I started to feel more than a little stupid that I had misjudged the Cloudadventures. These pods offer a huge amount of grip in softer and loser conditions, right up there with some of the more technical shoes on the market, I kept turning round to examine the sole imprint to understand why these were so effective in the soft stuff. It is down to the huge contact area they have. Even in sandy and muddy conditions, where I expected the “pods” to clag up and become like running in clogs, I was mistaken. The pods cleared really well and performed as well as they did on firmer ground.
The uppers were surprisingly breathable and flexible. They flexed well to allow toe movement and provided great ventilation and water clearance in the vagaries of UK summer weather.
I am not an aggressive runner, nor a racer, so I can’t testify to how the pods will stand up to serious sustained power going through them. However, in my time with them, on several runs over different terrains they have lasted well.
Cons: What’s not so good about ON Cloudventure shoes
There are some drawbacks for me. The sole is a little stiff for a lightweight (wanabee) trail shoe, and the forefoot struggles to flex as I would like on steeper trails. This is not to a level that it is problematic, but it is noticeable.
Secondly, the name and marketing of Cloudventure implies that these are plush shoes … they aren’t. The pods do offer a softer ride (noticeably more on hotter terrain) however they are a long way off Hokas offerings in this department. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a bad thing as I am not a fan of the marshmallow sole, however in this instance, especially when cold, I found the soles to have a slightly dead feel to them. Again this isn’t critical, it was more of a surprise given the construction. I am guessing that the need to offer a tough endurance sole has had to compromise the flex and bounce of their road-based cousins.
Lastly, these are not cheap. As you would expect of a Swiss-designed, avant garde shoe, the price point is towards the top of its class.
A real surprise. I like these shoes – actually, I really like these shoes. They offer great grip and comfort over varied terrain. Whilst they may not be a high-performance, mountain trail shoe, and may not match the hype, they continue to impress me and now feature as a regular choice for soft trail outings.
Other shoes you may want to consider:
Salomon Speedcross 4
La Sportiva Helios
Saucony Peregrine 7
Have you used the ON Cloudventure running shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
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