A specially engineered road running shoe with interesting cushioning. With a heavy price tag, I question the durability but am intrigued by the thought behind the design and supportive of their commitment to traceability and sustainability.
Posted Apr 25, 2023

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  • Cushion
  • Heel Lock
  • Neutral Colors
  • Specialized Cushion Technology
  • Expensive
  • Questionable Durability
  • Not Reactive
  • 10mm Heel Drop

On Cloudsurfer Review

In the days leading up to Ironman Oceanside 70.3, I was able to visit Southern California for a few days prior to the race to soak up the SoCal sun and connect with other triathletes that I met through social media. Oceanside is one of the largest races that Ironman puts on and the triathlon culture in Southern California is booming– if you are considering a 70.3 Ironman, I would highly suggest this race! The town lights up with events by triathlon clubs and free swim clinics. One event in particular, a shake-out run, caught my eye not only because it was hosted by one of my favorite triathlon podcasts, That Triathlon Life, but it also had support from the running shoe company On, which sponsors one of the hosts of the podcast, Paula Findlay.  The Swiss company’s shoes have been sweeping retail stores and teaming up with many elite athletes showing their shoes have entered the running game and are here to stay. The event was hosted at a local coffee shop and seemed like a great way to meet other podcast listeners while trying out a new shoe. 

At first glance, these shoes are far from ordinary, the boxed sole reminds me of my middle-school days when the Nike Shox was trending (what happened to that shoe?)  Alas, I signed up for the event and promptly arrived early in an effort to secure a women’s size 11– I was in luck, they had one pair of size 11 Cloudsurfers and they had never been used before! The Cloudsurfer is a staple shoe for On but it was recently redesigned and they were excited to show off the new product. It was super fun interacting with the marketing team from On, they were knowledgeable about their products and brimming with enthusiasm to have so many triathletes checking out their shoes. 


Before trialing these shoes, I did a bit of research on On, since I did not have a lot of background on the company, so here is a small summary. The company has roots in Switzerland, where it was founded in 2010 by a Swiss professional triathlete, a dedicated runner, and an athletic shoe enthusiast. They released their first shoe, the Cloudracer in 2012. The shoe design is unique as the cushioning for the shoe uses silhouettes that lock together to create a softer landing that still supplies a firm reaction when it is compressed. A photo of these interlocking silhouettes is below. The company went public in 2021 and has slowly been expanding in the USA. I fully support new shoe designs and the ‘CloudTec’ behind the silhouetted cushioning is breaking into the ultra-competitive shoe market!

On boasts 20 different shoe models on its website, with 4 models distinctly dedicated to stylish streetwear. I was able to trial the newly designed Cloudsurfer, a shoe created for training and road running. The website is very informative and highlights their commitment to sustainability and traceability. I hope to see more companies being transparent about where their products are made and the working conditions they support. On does a great job highlighting this and I recommend looking through their website to see what other neat things they are doing. One of which is a shoe subscription program! (+100 points for caring about sustainability)

If you don’t know where to start when searching for a road running shoe, I suggest checking out this article that outlines what to look for in road running shoes. It will also help you understand some of the jargon used in shoe reviews! 

Design and Features

CloudTec on the Cloudflyer
CloudTec on the Cloudsurfer
CloudTec on the Cloudmonster

There are literal holes running through the bottoms of the shoes making them far from your basic shoe design. This silhouetted sole design known as CloudTec is patented by ON and seen throughout their shoe line. The CloudTec cushioning of these shoes is what gives them their pizazz. 

The Cloudsurfer weighs in at 205g for women and 245g for men. The style of the shoe is listed as neutral with plush cushioning. Chalk these shoes up as another pair that increases my height as they possess 32mm stack height with a 10mm drop. There is a rocker shape to them that influences a more efficient step. When it comes to lacing the shoes, they have stitched-in eyelets and a piece of fabric running down the center that I presumed to help with keeping your laces tied, although I can’t find any confirmation of that on their website. They do not have any adjustable eyelet options, which is a bummer if you have more narrow feet or prefer a tighter fit. There are four different color options for men’s and women’s, both including an all-black option if you really want to feel stealthy! I find the color schemes very calming and full of muted tones that must have some connection to that renowned Swiss neutrality. The pair I trialed were the color labeled ‘creek’ that included sea foam green and orange accents. If I were to purchase these shoes this would most likely be my color of choice, although the lighter shades are just begging to get dirty. 

Fit and Comfort

Feeling the Cloudsurfer for the first time brings an awareness of how different the CloudTec cushioning feels compared to other trainers. There is a significant feeling of the ‘squish’ of those holes that line the shoes. It makes for a very large amount of shock absorption and feels very plushy. Their technologically advanced design of the carved holes compresses with your steps which is apparent while just walking, I would not be surprised if they advertise this feeling as a type of ‘moonwalking’ in future marketing tailored around the sky. I ran in a woman’s size 11 and they were true to size. While my long runs have been with Altra, known for their wide toe boxes, I still felt a good amount of space in the toe box of the Cloudsurfer. My toes had enough room and when viewing them from above the width looks to accommodate if you have wider feet. In addition to a wider toe box, On also makes four models with wide sizing. Another feature that instantly stood out to me when I tried these on was the extreme cushioning around the ankle, I felt support wrap around the entire heel portion. This makes for a great foot lock that increases stability. Overall, the stability is apparent and comfortable.


Since I only trialed these shoes, I can only write about their performance for a three-mile shake-out run. If anyone has a pair they have trained in for a while now, please share below in the comments how you like or dislike them so far!!

During the road run, we navigated the slightly sandy beach path of Oceanside with a small descent but mostly flat. The bottom of the shoes have a shallow grip and definitely are designed for road running, any quick movements with a bit of sand below my feet and my foot would have skidded. While I always feel tall, with the high stack height I yet again get to breathe a bit fresher air while wearing the Cloudsurfers. The compression and shock absorption of the sole while running are comfortable and cushioned.  There is a slight rocker to the shoe but it is not aggressive and feels to be best suited for a slower-paced jog than race day. Lacking their signature ‘Cloudpods’ that are found on their shoes geared towards faster paces and racing, the reactivity from the Cloudsurfer is a bit dim. If these were to be added to my shoe collection, I would designate them for zone 2 runs. 

In regards to durability, I hypothesize that the very light and ‘holey’ sole may not last as long as a sole without holes, but this is only my opinion, other WeeViewers please chime in! The shoe body feels very durable and very warm, so beware with the summer months upon us that your feet might be toasty wearing these!


Personally, for a hefty price tag of $160 these would not be the shoes I would spend that amount on. I am intrigued by the technology and engineering that goes into their CloudTec and I do think the foam is great quality but the larger heel drop is not my preferred type of trainer. If you are looking to try out a new cushioning design and want to add a pair of neutral 10mm drop trainers to your shoe quiver, then they are worth checking out. In the future, I hope to check out their lower drop models like Cloudmonster (6mm drop) which also boasts higher reactivity. The company is very promising and I am keeping them on my radar and will be looking out for runners training in them to get some more insights!


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Natalie Rizzo
Davis, CA
0 Following

Gear and data-obsessed marine biologist enthused about all things endurance/adventure racing

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