On Running Cloudrock - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, lackluster traction
Manufacturer: ON Running
Our Analysis and Test Results
Though they are hard to get on initially, the Cloudrock is an extremely comfortable boot. The reason they are challenging to get into is their inner liner, which provides a barrier from water, but makes for a tight fit initially.
That aside, the Cloudrocks are a seriously comfortable shoe. They are, like many modern hiking boots, inspired by running shoes and meant to provide the same lightweight comfort, plus extra support. The ankle is extremely well padded while remaining sleek and low profile. The same can be said for the padded tongue. We experienced no pinching or tightness in the ankle or the tongue, even when breaking these boots in. The best part about these high-tech speed hikers in terms of comfort is the super-cushioned, Zero-Gravity CloudTec midsole. This provides a smooth, cushioned base for every step — something we noticed especially when going downhill for long periods. Comfort and padding within a sleek profile are where these boots shine. We also like the lacing system, which has lace locks to help secure desired snugness on the lower half while tying the upper part.
Rather than having an aggressive flex in the forefoot (under the ball of the foot), the Cloudrock's shape is rockered, which provides stability and cushion throughout the entire stride. They don't flex very much when the ball of the foot is weighted, which disperses the impact across the entire base of the foot — providing long-term comfort.
Though these boots are super lightweight and have tons of cushion, they are also surprisingly stiff. When testing torsional stability, they hardly twist at all along the midsole, demonstrating impressive stability and support underfoot. After long days in these boots, we were impressed by how fresh our feet felt, which we attribute to the extra cushion and intentionally designed midsole.
The tread pattern on these boots is designed to provide stability and traction on loose gravel and rock. The MissionGrip outsole — though not made from Vibram rubber, which we are used to, impressed us on mud and loose terrain. That said, these are still not our go-to's for talus walking and peak-bagging. The thick cushioned sole is great for long days but doesn't quite provide the confidence needed for scrambling on rock. We didn't trust our feet on talus in these shoes. This could be because the lug pattern is more focused on cushioning than traction, and the lugs are not as aggressive as some of the stickier boots in this review. It should also be noted that the holes along the outside of these soles tend to fill with mud and debris on soggy spring trails.
On Running does not disclose the exact type of waterproof membrane it employs with this boot, but there's certainly one there, and it works for the portion of the foot it protects. It doesn't come up as high as most other waterproof boots we reviewed. And as mentioned, the smaller opening the liner creates makes it tougher to get this boot on foot. If you're looking for a boot for wet weather, this isn't our first recommendation.
Just a few years ago, it would have been remarkable to pack so much comfort and support into a sub-2-pound boot. Today's standard, though, shows this to be the new average. While the 1.77 lb weight (US Women's 7.5) is impressive, it lands just slightly above-average compared to other boots we tested. We like that this boot feels very light on the feet without losing necessary foot protection and comfort, even after a long day of hiking. Their design is running shoe-inspired, which means that weight was a major focus. They provide some of the best aspects of a hiking boot in an impressively lightweight package.
With a reinforced lacing system, durable materials, and a big price tag, the Cloudrock had better be built to last. We didn't see any significant signs of wear after a few months of testing, and the quality of craft and design here inspire us with confidence. Still, the price is high for a boot with a synthetic upper, which inherently doesn't have the longevity of leather uppers. The rockered design, though, should reduce forefoot flexion. This is a frequent point of wear in hiking footwear, so reducing stress in this area might help prolong the upper's lifespan in this section.
Should You Buy the On Running Cloudrock?
These boots are comfortable and stable, but in a fleet of so many other great boots, their traction and water resistance leaves a bit to be desired. Still, we love the cushioned sole, the well-padded and supportive ankle, and the rockered shape that propels you forward. All in all, the Cloudrocks are a great option for folks ready to take support and comfort to the next level.
What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?
For another boot that offers cloud-like comfort, check out the Hoka One One Kaha. We'd also recommend Salomon's Ultra 4 Mid, which scores higher than the Cloudrock across most metrics and is more affordable.
— Jane Jackson
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