Why On’s Cloudsurfer Is Our Favorite Running Shoe Yet

Swiss engineering has never been so smooth. It's worth every penny.

On Cloudsurfer Review
We were supposed to run three miles the first day we tried these on. We ran eight instead.
On

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Over 15 years of running, I’ve logged serious miles with just about every major shoe brand on the market. In their alphabetical glory: Adidas, Asics, Brooks, Hoka, New Balance, Nike, Puma, Saucony.

My brand loyalty has blown back and forth, sometimes landing on specialization. In the summer of 2021, for instance, I couldn’t imagine race day without a pair of carbon-plated Nikes.

These days, I’m an On man. The brand’s latest everyday runner, the Cloudsurfer, is a flawless heap of cushion that’s ready for a Sunday long run. Since its inception, On has slapped the phrase “Swiss Engineered” on the side of all its shoes. I’ve never blamed them for the invocation. If you’re associated with the world’s best watchmaking, you might as well.

But that phrase now firmly means something in the running sphere, too, as On has solidified itself as the leader of a very crowded pack. We delve into what makes the Cloudsurfer special, at an approachably-priced $159.

Out-of-box

Heading into a week of running, I usually have an idea of how long/intense I want to run on each given day. (Even when I’m not training for a race.) On the day I unboxed the Cloudsurfers, I was supposed to run three miles. But I ended up running eight instead. I was buzzing. These are day-one long-haulers. Blisters need not apply.

The deluxe feel is owed to On’s CloudTec Phase technology. Running shoes tend to come with nauseating glossaries these days, so I’ll spare you any more buzzwords, but know that the Cloudsurfer is heavily cushioned, and the heel-to-toe transition built into the shoe is delightful. As the cushioning collapses on each strikes, the shoe just glides right along. I understood how it earned its name within the first half mile.

How we use them

I use the Cloudsurfer as an everyday training shoe on pavement: long runs, recovery days, tempo sessions, etc. They’re definitely not built for trails — they’d be too wobbly even for a gravel or woodchip path — but they can perform pretty well at the track. I favor them for longer-distance track workouts (1200 meters and up), as they’re not lightning fast, but still lightweight and energetic.

One thing to keep in mind? This is a neutral shoe designed to vault you forward. If your feet have a habit of teetering inward (“pronating,” as the experts say) this shoe isn’t for you. So while it may be my favorite, you might want to try On’s Cloudmonster instead, a stability-minded shoe. Plus: take note that the forefoot of the Cloudsurfer is on the narrower side.

The vibe

If you’re comfortable with the On’s rocker cushioning and narrower shell, I feel comfortable predicting you’ll love this shoe. Expect more colorways to drop in the coming months, but for now, you’ve got two “loud” options (Creek, Flame), and two muted options (White, Black). It’s a handsome shoe whatever shade you buy it in. And an added bonus: 30% of its materials are recycled.

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