We have talked about shoes from On before but let’s be honest and say these folks are taking the US by storm. This Swiss-based running shoe brand has brought an interesting blend of aesthetics and technology into the US market and impressed so many people so quickly. The initial shoes felt a lot like European clothing meaning everything ran a little narrow, but over time they have rounded out the offering and are now producing shoes for all types of runners. The Cloudflyer is a perfect example of this as it still stays true to everything On has built including their patented midsole technology but provides stability and a bit more roominess than ever before.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- The Swiss giant brings stability and roominess with relatively minimal weight gains.
- Weighs in at 9.88oz or 280g for a US Men’s 9, 7.41oz or 210g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 28mm of cushion and has a 7mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $159.99 USD and comes in 3 colors for Men and Women.
The first pair of On shoes we ever tested were actually from a scavenger hunt that one of our testers won in Portland a few years back. The shoe was awesome, but it was narrow and unforgiving in those early days On but the lineup has become so diverse. When the Cloudflyer arrived, hopes were high that things have changed and they definitely have. First Off, the packaging and even their store branding are all on the high end, think Apple stores or Design Within Reach. These are just top-notch from an experience perspective. The shoe itself definitely carries that through in that it just looks so different from what you might have tried before.
The first time on your foot, the Cloudflyer upper really opens up and gives you ample room to move around, and it doesn’t go away no matter how you lace down. So if you have a narrower foot, then this shoe may not be the best option because while you can lace it down, that roominess just never goes away. Next thing you will feel those Helion midsole cells underneath your foot, but subtly, almost like a massage, and it does a really good job of balancing firmness with cushion. These are stability shoes, but we would never market them that way because these are great for all types of runners and there are no real definitive stability elements that might interfere with normal runners’ use. They have a bit wider midsole maybe, but that just means a broader landing pad.
Out in your run, heel strikers will rejoice and those who even land mid-foot will feel very well supported. Note this is really an easy everyday shoe that you can wear for varying distances. It is not a speed shoe or a tempo shoe, it is just something you can throw on and knock down some miles. If you are a toe runner, then it will be less forgiving because while there is padding there, it just isn’t designed to accommodate this. Note the shoe will actually seem kind of bulky on your foot given the amount of material, but it runs a lot lighter than it looks. In fact, it actually runs a lot lighter than many other stability shoes we have tested which is great.
If we have to nitpick a few things, then it would be the following. First, the upper is very roomy and that is not going to work for a lot of people. We used to complain On shoes were too narrow, but this one almost feels like it has too much room. If you sit on the wider side of normal, then it’s fantastic, and if you like a roomy inside then perfect as well. Second, the laces on the shoe just aren’t great and by this we mean they want to back off throughout a run. We actually switched to a heel lock lacing in order to prevent the laces from backing off and some of this goes back to number one which is the roominess. It can start to feel a little sloppy unless you can find that point where you get it down nice and tight. Lastly, and while we did just say it’s not a running issue, but this shoe can feel a little bulky. Note it is not a weight problem at all, but really the actual physical size of the shoe, it just feels a little off…
As a road shoe, the Cloudflyer is fairly complex in the upper. At the front of the foot, we see an actual welding overlay to protect the toe. From there, we move back into this cell-shaped breathable mesh that allows for maximum airflow and flexibility across the forefoot. That ends with another overlay that immediately transitions into the denser mid-foot material which helps control side to side movement and increases support. Here we meet the angled collar which is well-padded and carries through even to the gusseted tongue. The lacing system seems normal until you get down to the front of the foot or they have a really interesting lacing pattern that helps you really cinch it down. Some might say the upper is over-engineered, but it all works really well together.
Obviously, the midsole is really what draws people to On just from a visual perspective, It starts at the rear with that external heel counter which molds right back into the midsole frame. That counter is quite substantial and really locks you in place. On the Cloudflyer, they make use of a wider version of their Helion super foam for the shoe and then also have included a Speedboard across the bottom to help increase responsiveness. The cell shape design of all On shoes is what makes them stand out and it’s actually what helps them keep weight down. By removing sections of foam throughout, it allows them to work with a denser heavier foam, but still stay under 10 ounces overall for the shoes. Note there is plenty of flex in the forefoot while mid to heel is very rigid. The shoe just strikes a nice balance between firmness and cushioning.
The outsole is relatively anti-climactic compared to the rest of the shoe in that it is just small pieces of rubber laid on top of those midsole cells to help increase traction and durability. The majority of the front foot features this rubber, with only a few pieces placed on the heel.
Style & Aesthetics
Aesthetically, we have always felt like On shoes look like you’re running in something from the future. There is literally nothing like them in the market and they sit somewhere firmly between performance and streetwear. Some of their shoes literally look just as good for work as they do for play. It will obviously also be the most controversial area because people have an idea of what a running shoe should look like. We love it and think the fact they have pushed the envelope just helps the entire market move forward.
The On Cloudflyer is a much more accessible shoe than what we have seen from them in the past. Many of the prior models have been built too narrow and were too performance-oriented for the general US market, but the Cloudflyer is a whole new beast. The amount of engineering that has gone into this shoe is pretty astonishing and the blend of materials is just so well thought out. Style-wise, we think they’re cool, but obviously to each their own. Their shoes always carry a premium so that is always our big watch out, however, if you wanted to give them a try the Cloudflyer is a great place to start and will make runs of really any length pretty tolerable. While they target this at runners who need support, it is just as solid for a neutral runner who just wants an easy day shoe. Definitely take a look, it is a whole new running experience.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.