The Swiss running behemoth that is On Running has clearly taken the American market by storm over this last year. It is one of the fastest-growing running brands out there and a lot of it has to do with their aesthetic and interesting midsole/outsole design. In this review, we take a look at the 2021 version of the Cloudswift which as it turns out is a fairly sizable upgrade from the prior version. Their shoes have always been solid in the past, but there always seem to be a few gotchas to be aware of and the Cloudswift is no exception.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- 2021 version features a redesigned more supportive upper and more underfoot cushion.
- Wider feet need not apply… sorry folks.
- Weighs in at 9.95oz or 282g for a US Men’s 9, 7.76oz or 220g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features a 7mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $149.99 USD and comes in 4 colors for Men and Women.
When you show someone a pair of On shoes, the response typically falls in one of two camps. One, they find it off-putting and a little odd and are perplexed by that midsole design or two, they love the modern aesthetic and innovation and are desperate to try it. You’re either on one side of the fence or the other. The Cloudswift, like the Cloudflyer, is doing a better job bridging that Gap by delivering on a shoe that is a bit more accessible for a broader audience than ever before. The big indication of this comes with the fact that the entire shoe is starting to widen up a bit. Prior On shoes always tend to run a bit narrow, more in line with European design, but widening the base and forefoot definitely expands the market.
The updates in the 2021 Cloudswift are actually quite extensive. The upper material usage has been fully rethought and features of more breathable mesh. They have added a mid-foot lockdown that integrates directly into the lacing system and this provides substantial side-to-side stability support. Next, the entire upper is actually a booty, but not one that sucks your foot in and holds it like a sock, but something with a little more roominess that just makes for an easier on/off. This allows for a bit wider feet to feel comfortable in the shoe whereas most bootie fits do just the opposite. It has a nice rigid heel counter that extends upward to protect the Achilles quite effectively. The midsole has been updated as well allowing for increase cushioning in the heel and then a bit more flex in the forefoot. They have also re-engineered their Speedboard which helps with that roll from heel to toe as your foot turns over.
NOTE from our female tester on that upper. She sits on the regular to wide side for most shoes and the Cloudswift really just didn’t work for her at all. That step in upper was still too narrow to allow for a wider foot, so while they have done things to improve it, clearly it will favor regular too narrow put shape.
On the foot and in a run, the upper fits really well and while that bootie will still favor those regular to narrow foot profiles, On has been a good job providing a roomier overall experience, so if you found prior iterations didn’t work, this might be one to try. We would never tag this necessarily as a stability shoe, but support elements here are very very high especially in that upper and its ability to hold your foot side to side as well as to lock you into the heel. The underfoot feel is typically what gets people, getting used to that Cloudtech midsole can’t take a minute and it does tend to feel a bit firm in the Cloudswift. Yes, the heel does feel a bit more cushioned, but definitely not soft in any way it actually feels more performance enteric if anything. So you definitely need to be okay with a bit of a firmer ride.
The Cloudswift has two really great things going for it. First, the design is bulletproof and most of their shoes seem to hold up quite well for a lot of miles without any sort of breakdown. Second, it is a good-looking shoe that also looks great casually as well. It is definitely targeted to those who value aesthetics and modern lines and for those that are tired of what running shoes have looked like for the last 10 to 15 years.
The upper uses a new recycle engineered mesh and the entire upper has been stitched together to form a bootie. This makes on and off and off really simple and they did a good job providing a bit more roominess to allow for greater diversity in foot shape. It is not your standard sock-like bootie, just a deviation on the standard design where they have stitched the tongue into the upper and into the forefoot to create a single shell. Additionally, that quarter cage locks into the lace column and provides tremendous side-to-side stability and that sizable rigid heel counter all contribute to holding you in place well.
In the 2021 version, On has enlarged the “clouds” in the heel, which should make heel strikers more comfortable in the shoe. They also added additional forefoot cushioning and re-engineered their Speedboard which helps with overall rocker and helps propel you forward. Despite the addition of increased cushioning, you should still expect a firmer overall feel from the Cloudtech.
The majority of the outsole is that Cloudtech, but they have added rubber pads on the forefoot and the heel to provide additional durability and traction.
Style & Aesthetics
Styling is highly subjective when it comes to On shoes. We actually love the clean lines, the modern aesthetic, and the four color options are all really well curated and thought out. There’s definitely a brand feel with On that feels premium maybe more so than any other brand right now.
The On Running platform is a highly debated one. Does Cloudtech really provide a different experience from other midsoles in the market? The answer is definitely yes. Whether it is for you is going to be a very personal call, but we would be remiss to not tell you to give it a shot if you’ve been eyeing them. You really need to sit on the regular to the narrow side and prefer a bit of a firmer ride that is a bit more up-tempo. If that is all true, then the new Cloudswift for 2021 is a great option. On has done a lot to improve the roominess of the upper while still providing ample control and cushioning underfoot. The shoes are very well built and truly can be worn anywhere given their clean aesthetic.