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On Cloudsurfer 7 Review

A soft and remarkably comfortable trainer, perfect for easy days and the occasional workout
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On Cloudsurfer 7 Review
Price:  $160 List
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Manufacturer:   On
By Nathaniel Bailey ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 9, 2023
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 19
  • Cushioning and Landing Comfort - 25% 8.5
  • Responsiveness - 25% 6.5
  • Stability - 20% 4.0
  • Upper Comfort - 15% 8.5
  • Weight - 15% 7.3

Our Verdict

On Running doesn't just make fashionable shoes. The Cloudsurfer 7 is a smooth rolling and good-looking cushioned trainer. It manages to pack a lot of cushioning in a relatively light package and sports a very comfortable upper. The midsole may look like a gimmick, but the CloudTecPhase design feels remarkably smooth, dare we say surfy, while cruising along. We think this shoe is best for easy running, but it can handle some speed work as well. The icing on the cake is that it even looks decent when you're done running and want to meet up with friends. To see how it measures up to other top options, check out our full article on the top-ranked men's running shoes.
REASONS TO BUY
Soft cushioning
Decent responsiveness
Excellent upper
REASONS TO AVOID
Not great at fast paces
Exposed foam outsole
Poor stability

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Bottom Line Comfortable and plush cushioning meets adequate responsiveness for a shoe we love for easy runsA daily trainer that can handle most runs, the Novablast 4 is fun and extremely comfortableAn extremely versatile daily trainerA daily trainer that blends comfort and versatility at a reasonable priceFun and plush cushioning for all-day comfort if you're okay carrying some extra weight
Rating Categories On Cloudsurfer 7 Asics Novablast 4 Adidas Adizero Bost... Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Saucony Triumph 21
Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)
8.5
8.3
8.0
8.0
9.0
Responsiveness (25%)
6.5
7.5
8.0
7.0
6.0
Stability (20%)
4.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Upper Comfort (15%)
8.5
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
7.3
6.4
6.1
5.8
5.5
Specs On Cloudsurfer 7 Asics Novablast 4 Adidas Adizero Bost... Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Saucony Triumph 21
Weight (per shoe, size 10.5) 9.15 oz 9.76 oz 9.95 oz 10.07 oz 10.37 oz
Style Cushioning Daily/cushioning Daily Daily Cushioning
Sizes Available 7 - 14 US 6 - 15 US 4 - 15 US 7 - 14 US 7 - 15 US
Measured Heel-to-Toe Drop 15 mm 7 mm 6 mm 10 mm 11 mm
Measured Heel Stack Height 40 mm 43 mm 35 mm 39 mm 38 mm
Measured Forefoot Stack Height 25 mm 36 mm 29 mm 29 mm 27 mm
Claimed Heel-to-Toe Drop 10 mm 8 mm 7 mm 8 mm 10 mm
Claimed Heel Stack Height Not stated 41.5 mm 38.0 mm Not stated 37.0 mm
Claimed Forefoot Stack Height Not stated 33.5 mm 31.0 mm Not stated 27.0 mm
Measured Outsole Length 12.1 in 12.6 in 12.3 in 12.3 in 12.3 in
Measured Outsole Width 4.5 in 4.8 in 4.8 in 4.4 in 4.7 in
Upper Engineered knit Engineered woven/knit Engineered mesh Engineered knit Engineered knit
Midsole Helion FF Blast + Eco Lightstrike 2.0/Lightstrike Pro Profoam PWRRUN+
Outsole Rubber/Exposed foam AHAR Lo Continental Rubber PumaGrip Rubber
Measured Outsole Hardness Heel: 68
Forefoot: 68
Rest of shoe: 33
64 Heel: 62
Arch: 30
Forefoot: 62
Heel: 55
Arch: 55
Forefoot: 55
75
Heel Tab Type None Finger loop Flap None Finger loop
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular, wide
Heel Compression Stiffness 42 lbs 44 lbs 50.5 lbs 41 lbs 41 lbs
Toe Compression Stiffness 43 lbs 44 lbs 56 lbs 48 lbs 49 lbs
Toe Box Volume 10.2 in cu 7.6 in cu 8.1 in cu 8.4 in cu 9.7 in cu
Rocker Angle 17.5 degrees 22.5 degrees 18.5 degrees 18.0 degrees 19.0 degrees

Our Analysis and Test Results

In the past, we haven't been particularly impressed with On CloudTec cushioning. That changes for us with the Cloudsurfer. It provides a thick stack of smooth cushioning and an almost luxurious upper that was among our favorites in the test.

Performance Comparison


The On Cloudsurfer is plush and lightweight.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Cushioning and Landing Comfort


The last time we tested an On shoe, we noted that the CloudTec just didn't feel like anything special. It wasn't particularly soft and wasn't that different from other shoes on the market. That isn't true for the Cloudsurfer. The thick, 40mm slab of Helion foam in the heel area compresses under weight and rolls you forward, almost like dominoes. It's a pleasant and plush sensation, one we thought was among the best in our testing. This shoe has a soft bed of cushioning that makes landing feel almost pillowy with a bit of bounce.


The Cloudsurfer has an extremely large drop — we measured it at 15mm in our lab, despite On claiming it's only 10mm. When you're walking around or standing in the shoe, it absolutely feels like 15mm. But once you get running, it actually feels closer to the claimed 10mm. We suspect this is the result of the soft foam compressing under impact. We think that runners who tend to land towards the rear of the foot will enjoy this shoe more, but we also found it to be comfortable while landing mid/forefoot. While the ride is extremely soft, there is enough bounce to the cushioning to keep the shoe feeling lively.

On opted for an exposed foam outsole on the Cloudsurefer, which typically results in premature wear, particularly on abrasive surfaces. We have been pleasantly surprised with how well it has held up so far, even when landing on loose and rough terrain.

on cloudsurfer 7 - the on cloudsurfer 7 feels great at easy paces on pavement.
The On Cloudsurfer 7 feels great at easy paces on pavement.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Responsiveness


This is a soft shoe, first and foremost. It's comfortable, and we think it's best thought of as a cruiser. That doesn't mean it can't do a bit of faster work. The Cloudsurfer has a mild rocker that gives a reasonably quick toe-off. It's not winning any responsiveness contests, but for a non-plated shoe this plush, it's not bad at all.


There's enough pop and bounce to this shoe to make threshold efforts comfortable. Moving much faster than that, and we think it feels too mushy as we push off. We strongly dislike the Cloudsurfer for mile pace strides — the combination of high drop and soft foam feels unnatural. We enjoyed the Cloudsurfer during pickups and threshold efforts during our long runs, where the soft foam felt good on our legs, and the responsiveness kept us rolling along well.

When compared to other highly cushioned daily trainers, we actually think the Cloudsurfer does better than most. The tradeoff between cushioning and responsiveness is apparent here, but we don't think it's outsized. This is a great shoe for easy miles and the occasional tempo.

on cloudsurfer 7 - there's enough pop in this shoe to get moving, we just prefer it as...
There's enough pop in this shoe to get moving, we just prefer it as a cruiser.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Stability


If the upper is one of the best in the test, the stability is one of the worst. The soft foam doesn't provide much lateral support. Just standing in the Cloudsurfer takes some engagement of the lower legs to remain stable. The upper does a good job of keeping your foot locked to the base, but the base doesn't remain solid.


This shoe is terrible to run in on uneven surfaces. Even washboard roads felt a little risky. It makes sense, given the high stack and soft foam, but is a little disappointing. Similarly, this is not a shoe for track sessions. Taking turns at high speed is not something we would recommend in the Cloudsurfer. For the most part, this is par for the course with a highly cushioned, high-stack shoe. We had similar issues in the Saucony Triumph 21, a good competitor to the Cloudsurfer.

on cloudsurfer 7 - when the shoe is cut in half, it's easy to see why we felt unstable...
When the shoe is cut in half, it's easy to see why we felt unstable in this shoe, There is fairly minimal contact with the ground, and a large change in foam thickness.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Upper Comfort


This is one of the most comfortable uppers in our lineup. It combines plush cushioning and soft padding with breathability, an uncommon combination that can be hard to pull off. The forefoot utilizes a finer, soft mesh to allow for comfort and breathability and a looser mesh overtop that aids durability.


The tongue is thick and well-padded, with a soft underside. The lacing system is good and allows the comfortable upper to hug the foot. There is a mild heel cup with a thickly padded collar to prevent slippage. We didn't experience any issues with the upper during our entire test period.

As a final note, it's not often that running shoes look nice enough for us to be willing to wear them in social settings. But the Cloudsurfer is visually appealing, and we love some of the available colorways. This might be the ultimate brewrun shoe.

on cloudsurfer 7 - the upper is luxurious and lightweight
The upper is luxurious and lightweight
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Weight


Thanks largely to that comfortable upper, this isn't a heavy shoe, even with 40mm of foam in the heel.


Impressive numbers on the scale aside, one area where we would like to see added weight is the outsole. As we mentioned earlier, the durability of the Cloudsurfer has been a pleasant surprise, but better grip would be appreciated.

on cloudsurfer 7 - we were surprised by how well the exposed foam outsole performed...
We were surprised by how well the exposed foam outsole performed over the course of testing.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Should You Buy the On Cloudsurfer 7?


There are obviously some drawbacks to this shoe — mostly related to what it does best. The super plush ride means it isn't the best at faster paces, and it is unstable. But the plush ride is also fantastic on easy runs and even surfaces. We think the Cloudsurfer is best as part of a rotation. If you only run on smooth surfaces and mostly threshold paces or slower, it could work well as your only shoe. It could also make a decent travel shoe — one we'd be willing to wear for both runs and social settings. We'd recommend the Cloudsurfer to those looking for a very pleasant and smooth shoe that does best at easy paces.

What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?


If you want similarly plush cushioning to the Cloudsurfer, check out the Saucony Triumph 21 or the Hoka Mach 5. If you want cushioning and a bit of stability, it's hard to beat the Asics Gel-Kayano 30. We also love the Nike Vaporfly 3 if you're looking for a racing shoe, and the Asics Novablast 4 is our top recommendation for the best all-around.

Nathaniel Bailey