On Running Shoes: An Insider's Top 5 Picks for Performance

Ever heard of On Running shoes?

The On brand stepped into the running shoe market about 12 years ago, after TWO things paved the way to an unlikely path for development.

1. The need to find a better running shoe. Ironman competitor and endurance athlete Olivier Bernhard wanted a better running shoe to train in the Swiss Alps...

2. A lifetime quest to improve running performance. One with a soft landing and firm push-off. The only problem... a running shoe like this didn't really exist.

When you're used to running up mountains, winning races, and chasing finish lines against world-class athletes, waiting around for the perfect running shoe wasn't something Olivier wanted to do.

He just needed a little inspiration.

And then it happened...

The garden-hose discovery of On Running shoes

"He stepped on a garden hose," says On running shoe rep Jason Shaver. "His foot rolled over the hose, and he liked the sensation. So he cut up a garden hose, fixed it to a running shoe, and took it out on a run."

  • What if you could build a running shoe that felt like that?

Yep... that's the origin-story of On running shoes.

More than a decade later, seven-million-plus runners are wearing On running shoes from the brand's growing line-up to go the distance, including ultrarunner David Kilgore.

While a lot goes into choosing your perfect pair of running shoes, it helps to know what options are out there. We caught up with Jason to learn more about On running shoes and get his top 5 picks to help you go the distance. 

The running shoe company On was founded in 2010 by Olivier Bernhard and his friends David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti.

What's it like to be a rep for On running shoes?

Meet Jason Shaver. He's the On running sales representative for the Rockies Region based in Colorado.

And he's been a fan of the brand ever since he started working at Runner's Roost.

There's a new running shoe in town...

"Runner's Roost started carrying the On brand pretty early," says Jason. "It didn't take long for it to start selling really well."

"Here's this company coming in with a running shoe that looks a little different, doesn't have a massive stack height, and feels a lot different than other running shoes. And we'd just introduce runners to On."

Jason even shared On's garden-hose origin story with runners. Then they'd slip on the shoes, feel the sensation that inspired the brand, and fall in love.

Jason Shaver is the On running sales representative for the Rockies Region based in Colorado.

The On Running evolution

When Shaver joined On as a shoe rep about five years ago, he was part of global team of 100 employees.

Today, On is staffed by an international team of 1,100+ employees who share the company's vision to revolutionize the sensation of running.

"It's all based on one radical idea," according to the company's website. "Soft landings followed up explosive take-offs. Or, as we call it, running on clouds."

Running-shoe rep adventures

With Jason's extensive knowledge of On running shoes, it was easy to step into his role.

"I spent the first few years traveling all over the west and going back and forth to Switzerland," says Jason. 

"I've also spent a lot of time visiting running, outdoor, and lifestyle stores in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. It's a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the running shoe industry, see what's out there, check on business, and keep driving things forward for On."

On running shoe basics

Before Jason drops his top 5 On running shoe picks to boost performance from the 5K to the marathon and beyond, here's a short lesson on the Cloud technology On running shoes are built on...

CloudTec©

"This is our proprietary cushioning system," says Jason. "It's easily recognized by the loops on the bottom of the shoe. This allows for a couple of really cool things to happen when you run."

Cushioned landing

"The loops will collapse when you land, providing a soft-cushioned landing. It's where the idea of running on clouds came from."

Firm push-off

"After the loops collapse when you land, their responsive design will give you a firm push-off to propel you forward."

Transitions

"The cushioning system and channel down the middle of On shoes also helps absorb impact vertically and horizontally. With each transition, the pods collapse and respond to keep you moving forward."

"We've been able to create highly-cushioned and responsive running shoes that are lightweight without adding more material. It's a very different look and feel for a running shoe that's also very efficient."

Jason's top 5 On running-shoe picks...

After selling On running shoes at Runner's Roost and connecting with runners and store managers as an On running shoe rep, Jason knows these shoes better than most.

If you want to run a 5K, train for a half or full marathon, run an ultra, or mix up your training with gym workouts, hiking and everything in between, here's Jason's top 5 On running shoe picks...

1. On Cloudflyer
  • Designed for: Road running + everyday training
  • Heel stack height: 36 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 29 mm
  • Drop: 7 mm
  • Price: $159.99

Jason: This is On's support/stability shoe. It's got such an incredible step-in feeling that really lets you feel the sensation of the Cloud elements. It feels very secure and nimble. It's great for any distance from the mile to the marathon and beyond.

Version 3 redesign

Jason: The Cloudflyer came out almost five years ago. Last year, we did a third-version update. We updated the Cloudflyer with our Helion midsole foam. It's a lighter-weight foam than most in the industry with more cushion. It's also more resilient to breaking down.

2. On Cloudultra
  • Designed for: Trail running
  • Heel stack height: 36 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 28 mm
  • Drop: 8 mm
  • Price: $179.99

Jason: The On Cloudultra came out about a year ago. It's my personal favorite for running trails right outside my front door in Colorado. We launched this shoe in a big way, and partnering with REI really helped put it on the map.

Feet swell during a long run? Check this out...

Jason: This shoe has a great amount of cushioning. It's perfect for the ultramarathon and trail running. One of the unique things about this shoe is the engineering of the upper and lacing system. There's a funky flip-release. If your foot swells when you're running, you just flip this release that looks kind of like a paperclip. And it loosens the shoe by giving the laces about an extra inch of length.

Ultrarunner Karel Sabbe's perfect shoe

Jason: We developed the Cloudultra with ultrarunner Karel Sabbe. He was instrumental in giving tons of feedback, choosing the upper, and letting us know we had to do better than a bungee lacing system. It was really cool to have him lead the way on the development of this shoe, and work with our engineering team to create it.

3. On Cloudboom Echo
  • Designed for: Road racing
  • Heel stack height: 35 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 27 mm
  • Drop: 8 mm
  • Price: $269.99

Jason: The Cloudboom Echo is On's carbon-plated racing shoe. It's an incredible mix of cushioning and CloudTec that really helps prevent fatigue as you run. The carbon-fiber plate (Speedboard) gives the midsole flexibility and spring designed to help propel you forward.

It's the perfect running shoe for the half marathon, full marathon, and professional athletes. If you're looking for a shoe that can help you run faster and cover longer distances, you should try this shoe.

4. On CloudX
  • Designed for: Short runs and mixed training
  • Heel stack height: 24 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 15 mm
  • Drop: 9 mm
  • Price: $139.99

Jason: The CloudX evolved from the the Cloud, which has elastic bungee laces. It's a lightweight, simple shoe. It's designed for a faster tempo-paced run or workout. And it's engineered to be responsive for any kind of workout. Think Zumba, HIIT class, Orange Theory fitness kind of workouts.

It's a great shoe for short runs, gym workouts, and anything else. And It's one of our top sellers.

5. On Cloudrock Waterproof
  • Designed for: Hiking & fast-packing
  • Heel stack height: 25 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 17 mm
  • Drop: 7 mm
  • Price: $229.99

Jason: The Swiss Alps have been a great proving ground for our products. Over the last few years, we've been developing more trail shoes and gear, including the Cloudrock Waterproof.

The goal was to make a hiking boot that's a lighter weight than anything on the market.

  • It has a really cool fit and function. 
  • It's perfect for a long-distance hike or something shorter. 
  • It's a great all-day hiking boot that looks really good and feels great. 
  • We've proven that a good hiking boot doesn't have to be super heavy or clunky.

Discover On running shoes

If you're new to On running shoes, do you think you'll give this brand a try?

It's a question you've probably asked yourself when you're shopping for a new pair of running shoes.

"There's nothing wrong with sticking with what you know," says Jason. "But just about anywhere you can buy running shoes, you'll find there's very little risk to try something new. You know...you can try it and take it back or get a refund."

If you're thinking about trying On, or any other running shoes, don't count on trying it on at the store to decide if it will work for you.

"You're not going to appreciate any running shoe enough by putting it on and walking around the store," says Jason. "You need to get the feel of the shoe through movement. Go walking or running. Or go for a hike."

"A lot of people who try On running shoes this way, feel the sensation of the soft landing and firm push-off and fall in love with it."

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Evan Jensen
Ambassador
SANDY, Oregon

I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM-certified personal trainer, and hold the record for the most finishes at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra in Oregon.

Comments

David Moore Thanks for sharing your picks Jason! I've had two pair of the Cloud Waterproof now. Great all weather shoes that I've used on road and trail. I'll also say from all my running shoes, I found myself wearing these just out and about more than the others. Good looking shoes!

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