On Cloudventure Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The On Cloudventure brings a unique outsole to the table, opting for springy, open plastic pods over traditional EVA foam. The results are mixed, but overall, our testers aren't won over by the novel Swiss engineering, as it makes for a less sensitive, stiff, and heavy shoe more suited to mellow hikes and walking around town than racking up miles in the backcountry.
The Cloudventure is a protective shoe. The stiff midsole, rock plate, and CloudTec pods combine to make a formidable protective barrier between your foot and the ground. The pods in the front of the shoe are solid and very protective, while the midfoot and rear of the shoe are hollow, so they can compress to absorb the shock of heel strikes that often occur when charging downhill. Up top, the upper is a very tightly woven mesh, and while it's not remarkably breathable, it's tear-resistant, and the thick rubber toe bumper is very effective at keeping you from stubbing your toes. The seams on the upper are welded, making them very durable.
On some surfaces — like sand, gravel, and mud — the Cloudventure provides decent traction. Here, the shoe's big lugs can dig in and propel you forward. On more compact surfaces, we noticed that the Missiongrip rubber didn't stick as well as Vibram rubbers found on models from La Sportiva. If your trail running takes you through a rolling single track in the forest, the traction will be adequate, but these are not the shoes you want for mountain scrambling or ridge traverses. Finally, when we ran in gravel, marble-sized rocks often got stuck in between the lugs, which is pretty annoying.
With the EVA foam midsole and the CloudtTec pods protecting the foot, this shoe isn't very sensitive. It honestly feels clunky compared to lighter-weight, lower-riding shoes, especially the zero-drop designs from Altra.
Since some of the CloudTec pods are solid while others are hollow, they don't compress uniformly. It is part of a design strategy to produce a "spring forward" effect. However, it also makes the shoe feel less stable, especially when running over uneven, cobbled terrain. After a few runs, we started to get used to the lack of uniformity, but we still prefer a shoe with more predictable compression, like the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270.
Comfort is very much tied to how a shoe fits. The Cloudventure is a high-volume shoe that's narrower than several models we tested from Salomon and Altra and a little wider than the La Sportiva Bushido II. It feels very secure in the midfoot and a touch snug in the front to our wider footed testers. These shoes are very well-constructed, and we didn't experience any uncomfortable rubbing or hot spots. However, we ended up with some small gravel coming in around the ankle on more than one occasion, prompting us to consider using gaiters.
These shoes may be advertised as "lightweight," but our scoring is relative to other shoes in our testing lineup, so comparatively, they aren't exceptionally light. Our size 9.5 test pair weighs 21.8 ounces, whereas the most lightweight shoes we tested are around 17 ounces, and the heaviest options are close to 25 ounces. Our testers didn't find the Cloudventure noticeably heavy, and unless weight savings is a top priority for your running shoe selection, their weight shouldn't steer you away.
Should You Buy the On Cloudventure?
These shoes may appeal to folks who are looking for the best running shoes for pavement or other hard-packed, even surfaces. They may even be attractive shoes for non-runners, thanks to the sleek style and comfort elements that blend in with casual athleisure wear. However, there are plenty of other options with better traction and more sensitivity for those who take their runs into the mountains.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
Welded seams and compression pods come at a price, and these shoes are on the upper end of the spectrum. They look great, and we see them on plenty of folks around town, but as a trail shoe, their lackluster performance isn't earning them any accolades when it comes to heavy use. If you are a dedicated trail runner, we recommend looking at the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 or the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 instead.
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