Matt invited me to the Shake Shack Burger Run on April 26th, 2016 at the Highland Running Company, in Atlanta, Georgia. We arrived early to check out the merch. We were pleasantly surprised by the delicious beverages from SUJA Juice and the On shoes representative on site. We went directly to SUJA to get a beverage (well, more like five; we had to try all the flavors!) and then over to On Shoes to try on shoes and don their ridiculous leis and hula skirts. I took off my Nike Frees 5.0 and slipped into a pair of 10.5 On Cloudsurfers. I felt perches up about an inch off the ground from my minimalist Nike Frees. We had a choice of running a 5K or a 10K. We went for the 10K. We ran from the heart of the west end of the Virginia Highlands to the Eastside Beltline trail and back. The shoes felt great during the run, however, during the butt kicking I had handed to me because of my lack of shape, my feet were killing me by the time we made it back to the Highland Running Company to get our free burger. Well, the real reason my feet hurt so bad was because my feet swelled and my toes started cramming into the toe box of the shoe. I should have got a size 11 instead of a 10.5.
Matt got contact info from the On Running representative and asked me if I wanted to review some On shoes. I was stoked. I really like minimalist shoes, so I tried to find On shoes with the most minimalist approach. The On Cloud was just released this year and was the one I found and wanted to test, so I was super ready to give them a test run. Once Matt emailed Olivia over at On Running in Portland, I sent her the shoe size and model I wanted most, and luckily it was sent overnight. I was so excited to see my own size of 11 On Cloud shoes on my kitchen table. I opened them and was surprised by their Scuba blue and lime color. What a combination! Also, what I noticed right off the bat was how lightweight they were. Wow! One of the lightest running shoes out there. I was looking forward to running in the clouds with these shoes.
On Cloud Features
Lightweight – What stuck out to me the most was that these shoes were very lightweight, and that they have really cool holy soles. I ran around my neighborhood in west Atlanta for my first run. I don’t run real fast because for one I am slow, and two, there are lots of steep hills in Atlanta. Running on the steep hills in my hood, it really did feel like I was running on clouds. I was on my toes and could barely feel the shoes on my feet. My dog Seven was dying, huffing and puffing, and I was breathing easy and calm, cool, and collected in the Georgia heat. I like hills and do well on them, especially going up hill.
Fast and comfortable – The shoes are, because they are very light, very fast and comfortable. I feel like I ran around Sweetwater Creek State Park, which was my second run in the shoes, in half the time it usually takes. This was not true, however, I did feel the urge to sprint in these shoes a lot more than on my usual runs. If I was training to go very fast, I would want these shoes on my feet. Being light and fast seems to make a shoe be very comfortable. You can barely feel the shoes on your feet. They fit like a glove almost like a slipper with a small attached tongue. If you lost your laces on a run with these shoes or were stranded in the wild and needed to use the laces as fishing line, the shoes would just as easily stay on your feet.
Beauty – Lastly, when I first saw these shoes, I was amazed by their beauty. The color scheme scuba blue and lime was bright and flashy. I like it. I wanted black and white, but you can’t always get what you want. The mesh and lattice work on the uppers and lowers look really good. They are so pretty that I don’t want to even get them dirty. This is another reason why I only want to run with them on roads. I have tested them on the trail however just to see how they would perform.
On Cloud Usage
From the start and from first observation, I knew they would really be best utilized for road running. Looking at the raised souls and light mesh foreshadowed the shoes getting really dirty and roughed up as well as getting rocks stuck in the raised soles. I have run with them on asphalt, concrete, trail, and a gravel road. My first observation was right. They performed excellent, one of the best runs I have had on the asphalt, concrete, and trail. However, once I got on a gravel road, I had to stop every half mile or so to take rocks out of the soles. For me, these are all around great running shoes to train for whatever endurance event I am working towards, whether it is just staying fit and in shape for life or training for tennis, a Spartan race, or an ultramarathon.
On Cloud Durability
The shoes are super comfortable, however, I am a little nervous on how long they will last. The mesh material and the suede on the toe box looks like it might disintegrate and/or get roughed up if they get muddy, scraped on rocks, or when they are ran in the rain a bunch of times. Only time will tell how long they will last. I am a bit thrifty and low on money, so I don’t know if I would spend $120 on a pair of these Clouds. I would definitely buy them if money was not a concern. I would have a pair of these, a pair of Nike Frees 5.0, and a pair of New Balance Minimalists. It would be On Clouds for road, Nike Free’s for trail, and New Minimalists for obstacle racing.
On Cloud Pros and Cons
- Great fit for high arches and narrow feet
- Very lightweight, fast, and comfortable
- Snug fit and breathable
- Questionable durability
- Rocks get stuck in soles
The only product I would compare to the On Cloud is the Nike Free model. They are both very minimalist shoes that are very lightweight, fast, and comfortable. They both have a very snug fit that are good for narrow feet with high arches. I have trouble finding a good fit with other running companies I have tried including Adidas, Brooks, Saucony, and Mizuno. Nike Frees have been a better shoe for me to off road running because rocks do not get stuck in the shoes. I think that the On Cloud would be my preferred running shoe for asphalt because of the semi raised and air filled sole. It can get so hot in Georgia that rubber can burn from the burning asphalt, so I believe the soles of the On Clouds will do a better job at deflecting heat than the Nike Frees.
On Cloud Conclusion
In conclusion, I love the On Cloud. I love their beauty, their lightweight and fast design, and the feel of the foot in the shoe. However, they could not be an all around go to running shoe for me. They would have to be only used for road running. Although I should have a shoe budget, I would need multiple pairs of running shoes from different companies, just in order to run on different surfaces. Money can be an issue, however, I love shoes. And, sometimes you just can’t resist. You have to have more than one pair of running shoes. I’m just lucky I got to review these. So, after all is said and done, the On Cloud shoe makes the cut for my recommendations for running shoes, and I think I like them more than my Nike Frees! Happy running!