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On Cloud X Review

A fast, high performance shoe best suited to mid-distance
On Footwear Cloud X
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Price:  $140 List | $130.77 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Responsive, supportive fit, roomy toebox, flashy, lightweight, springy
Cons:  Outsole picks up rocks and gravel, toebox can be too flexible, tongue can rub
Manufacturer:   On Footwear
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 19, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Responsiveness - 25% 6
  • Landing Comfort - 25% 9
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Upper Comfort - 10% 8
  • Breathability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

On is a relatively new company out of Switzerland that has been quickly breaking into the international running scene. Incorporated in Zurich, they were only born in 2010, but already they have opened a second headquarters in Portland, Oregon. It's no wonder they have seen such expansion: On is the project of retired running champions and engineers looking to create the ultimate running experience. It's true that all companies seek to do this, but the Cloud X is a truly unique product, delivering a lighter, sexier, and more natural ride than other top competitors. These kicks kicked so hard that they landed themselves at the very top of our cohort, earning a high score overall.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Speedy and fly, the Cloud X is among the latest offerings from On's Performance selection. On notes in its description of the model that the comfort is not apparent on first look, but they're right in asserting that it can be felt. It's all in the sculpted form-fit, smooth lining, and firm foam padding along the collar. Their new tongue is seamless, drastically improving on the models from its popular active selection. The sockliner covers the entirety of the shoe, offering a layer of cushion throughout, making for a much more comfortable ride. They combine a narrow neck and low profile to cradle the foot for support and control without sacrificing speed and agility. Read on to see how they do against other top models in each of our measures.

Performance Comparison


A broad landing platform and individualized EVA pods cushion and accommodate any gait.
A broad landing platform and individualized EVA pods cushion and accommodate any gait.

Responsiveness


On hit upon a solution to racing flat responsiveness that is unique in the running shoe industry. Responsiveness typically requires a good deal of foam or another firm, springy material. However, this can compromise the flexibility and quick feel characteristic of racing flats, not to mention add weight and bulk. To balance this out, On developed their CloudTec midsole, made up of hollow EVA cuboids, which are called Cloud Elements.

The rigid plastic speedboard adds a solid backbone to give the Cloud Elements that extra pop.
The rigid plastic speedboard adds a solid backbone to give the Cloud Elements that extra pop.

The Cloud X uses a stronger speed board in its sole, which peps up its responsiveness enough to noticeably reduce the sink on strike and add a little more return at toe-off. This excellent give and return tops the baseline Cloud model whose Cloud Element midsole also delivered excellent response, but didn't quite have the same stiffness to charge as hard as the X. The X's innovative Cloud Element midsole, stiff speed board, and gripping fit turn out a racing flat with superior responsiveness.

Landing Comfort


Landing comfort is an area where these shoes perform really well, at the very top of our fleet. This is due, in large part, to the CloudTec midsole with its EVA Cloud Elements. At first, the articulation of the pods under the forefoot and toes of the Cloud X can distract or feel unstable, but after a few minutes, that dissipates, and you adjust to the unique landing and come to appreciate what it's doing for your stride. What's remarkable about these trainers is that they don't sacrifice responsiveness by offering their high degree of landing comfort. That's largely owed to their use of a new, more rigid speed board that helps provide the return and the tough, reflexive pods whose hollowness allows for a natural-feeling compression and kick-back.

Weight


These come in at 17.8 ounces in men's 11, slightly more than their Cloud cousins in the Active lineup. This is owed to a little more padding in the upper, the added speed board, and a full-length sockliner. Despite the extra weight, they are still objectively very light, and on a slightly less objective note, they still feel fast. This is another area where their crazy design is also surprisingly functional. The sole kicks out a good deal of responsiveness and lays out perfect cushion without needing to throw in slabs of foam.

Modest padding  unique design  and high-quality materials allow this pair to come in at just 17.8 ounces.
Modest padding, unique design, and high-quality materials allow this pair to come in at just 17.8 ounces.

Durability


The high performance X improves on some of the other popular On models by removing damage liabilities like the decorative heel strap and narrowing the openings around its Cloud Elements, improving the longevity of the shoe. It still has the vulnerabilities you would expect in any lightweight, high-performance racing flat; its mesh is thin and might wear down faster than clunkier models, its light outsole might wear faster with its accurate placement of tough carbon rubber, and its finer features like the smooth sockliner and padding could break down faster than is desirable.

Smaller openings in the Cloud Elements  targetted carbon rubber in high-wear areas  and coarse mesh along the upper improve the life of the Cloud X.
Smaller openings in the Cloud Elements, targetted carbon rubber in high-wear areas, and coarse mesh along the upper improve the life of the Cloud X.

Durability isn't typically a category dominated by lightweight racing flats, so the X didn't score particularly high here. The models that excel in this metric are the tank-like designs with tons of tough rubber on their outsole, coarse upper mesh, and reinforced superstructures. They top out the measure and might last for years and withstand all sorts of physical abuse, but they aren't going to be speedy or flashy.

Upper Comfort


Our favorite feature of the Cloud X is the smooth, seamless sockliner throughout the upper. This makes a huge difference after the endorphins wear off from the first few miles, and the rubbing and chafe starts to set in. The toe box is nice and roomy, but the laces also lockdown for a snug ride if so desired. The sleek vamp (front and sides) and streamlined quarter (heel cup area) feel more like a velvety, reinforced canvas, allowing more freedom of movement than might be seen in sturdier models.

A smooth sock liner throughout the upper and well-placed foam padding help make the Cloud X one of the most naturally comfortable uppers in our lineup.
A smooth sock liner throughout the upper and well-placed foam padding help make the Cloud X one of the most naturally comfortable uppers in our lineup.

Breathability


Balancing comfort with breathability can be difficult, but this shoe navigates it well. Comfort often comes in the form of padding and sockliners, and breathability often comes in the form of limited padding and thinner sockliners with less coverage. The Cloud X uses firm foam padding that allows the heel to air out without hugging too tightly and overheating or holding moisture. The liner along the vamp tends to hold a bit more moisture than is ideal, but the wide gauged upper mesh does help wick away some of the excess heat and damp collected by the felt-like liner.

These awesome kicks are really meant for the mid-distance runner to shoe off at the local 10K and pub run  but don't mistake that for underperformance.
These awesome kicks are really meant for the mid-distance runner to shoe off at the local 10K and pub run, but don't mistake that for underperformance.

Value


These come at a bit of a premium, but we think their price is a fair ask. They superbly balance response, comfort, and weight to create a fantastically unique product that many runners will be delighted to own.

Conclusion


The Cloud X earns one of the highest scores for a reason. The theme we have to keep returning to is balance. The X is a masterpiece of balance. It offers the right mix of cushioning, breathability, style, weight, stability, and speedy-feel to keep us reaching for them when it came time to go out for the elective runs. Keep in mind this is a high-performance model, and you're paying for that quality. If you're looking for something to beat up and take out in the rain and mixed terrain, you might want to move down the spectrum a bit and keep these on the top shelf for race day and lead-up training.

The Cloud X is suited to everything from social trots around the block to blazing 10Ks and beyond.
The Cloud X is suited to everything from social trots around the block to blazing 10Ks and beyond.

Ryan Baham