On’s New Cloudmonster Is a Flawless Everyday Running Shoe
It's our favorite offering from the popular Swiss brand yet
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A common refrain permeates the first few reviews of On’s brand-new running shoe, the Cloudmonster — they run well right out of the box. I had the same exact thought when I took mine out for a hilly six-miler last week. There’s a comfort and reliability built into the shoe that usually has to be earned over many months and many miles.
It’s a nice blue-collar characteristic to have, considering that when the Swiss brand first set out to design the sneaker, they wanted to design what they called a “CloudTec concept car.”
In other words: lean on the same mechanics that’s gotten On this far, but reimagine them for an era of maximalist running shoes. The Cloudmonster is On on steroids; there are more of those recognizable “gaps” in the foam bed, the stack height is at an all-time high and the rocker shape is extremely pronounced. (Place the shoe on the ground, and the forefoot comes nowhere close to touching the floor. Check out what I mean here.)
It’s difficult to get so in the weeds of performance tech, and yet still produce a shoe that yields a natural, effortless ride. Credit the designers (and many testers) of the Cloudmonster. In a promotional video, one product manager confirms: “These are the biggest clouds we’ve ever [put] in a shoe.” Their goal was basically to economize the consistent “collapse” that a running shoe must weather while in motion, by providing soft landings and energy return.
If you bounce up and down while wearing the shoes, you can sense the designers’ intentions at play. They feel like moon shoes (one runner compared them to a “bouncy castle”), except there’s actually some excellent structural support throughout the sneaker.
Like most brands, On seems utterly convinced that its shoe is the revolution running’s been waiting for (until it releases a new shoe, this time next year), but it’s difficult to nitpick any holes in the holey design. One inclusion that really stands out? The commitment to cushioning at the very front of the shoe. It’s rare to see a brand put so much foam up by the toes; the aim was clearly to make push-offs as explosive as possible.
There isn’t a carbon plate in this one — it isn’t a racing shoe. But that’s a good thing. The lion’s share of elite design attention has gone to carbon-plated running shoes over the last few years. (No wonder: they steal the headlines, and cost $250 a pop.) This is an everyman’s everyday shoe. It’s built for longer distances, at whatever pace suits you best. I feel supremely confident recommending it to any level of runner. In fact, a couple friends asked me for running shoe recs a month back. I wish I’d been able to send a Cloudmonster link their way at the time.
Extra credit: this is one of the more environmentally friendly running shoes out there, with 80% of the polyester coming from recycled sources. (On’s actually a leader in climate governance, in case you wanted to learn more about that here.) As of now, there are two colorways — frost/surf and acai/aloe. I went with the former, but you really can’t go wrong. I’m happy to see On lean into its own weirdness with a purple sneaker. Concept car indeed.
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