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Dream On - Our guide to the On running collection

Is it QC, OC, nO or On? This may look like a list of Canadian provinces, but it’s actually the Swiss athletic brand – On Running (pronounced on),  taking the athletic world by storm. The name On comes from “on cloud” made to feel like you're walking on clouds.
Dream On - Our guide to the On running collection Featured Image

You’d find it hard not to see someone wearing these unique-looking shoes on race day, in the gym, or even at the supermarket.


But with an ever-growing lineup of styles, how to choose which pair is right for you? 

In most On shoes, you will see 3 components, beginning with the Cloudtec Cushion, which compresses, absorbs shock, locks, then explodes along your running cycle for a more balanced, propulsive ride. Each On model has varying levels of these components that will change the stiffness, comfort, workout and ride.  

Cloud 5 

The Cloud 5 in 5 words is convenience, comfort, versatility, style, and breathability. And It certainly delivers. The flagship shoe features all the fundamentals of an On shoe - CloudTec midsole, speedboard and helion foam, and a great look, but in a stripped down, sleeker form. 

The fit is standard for an On shoe, but with less volume throughout, and it moulded and stretched to my foot after a few weeks of wear. It’s incredibly light and the cushion is on the firmer side, but does a nice job of feeling springy and comfortable. It breathes well under most conditions, and also comes in a waterproof version, so it is excellent for wet and windy commutes or walks.

Two things, in particular, separate it from other models in the line-up. 

First, convenience. The speed laces require no tying and untying. On holiday, for any spontaneous coffee shop, dinner, or beach walk, it's the On shoe that can do it all. Secondly, they have a large range of colourways that match almost any outfit, from smart casual to active wear. 

The Cloud 5 isn't intended for long strenuous efforts - the guidance or support along your gait cycle just isn't there, so if you're looking for something to plug away long miles, On Running does have better options. Additionally, due to its weight and slender frame, people suffering from pronation issues may want to look elsewhere in the line-up; the Cloudrunner, in particular, has much more support. But if you're looking for a shoe to make day-to-day activities easier, take to the gym, or lighten the bag for a weekend away, the Cloud 5 is the shoe for you.

$159.98
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Cloudrunner

The Cloudrunner's wider fit is what makes it such a popular model amongst the Rackets & Runners staff. It's narrow in the heel but wide in the mid to forefoot, so people with wider feet or a bunion, please rejoice. 

This width not only provides a roomy toe box but a more stable ride. Light overlays on the mesh upper, a stiffer heel counter that’s comfortably padded, and a wider base provide mild stability for someone with slight balance issues or beginner runners. 

Some brands (cough, cough Nike) like to chop and change their lacing systems, hoping to improve fit and lockdown, but that's usually hit or miss. The Cloudrunner keeps it simple yet effective with a traditional lacing system that achieves excellent lockdown and support. 

Like with most Ons, if you’re looking for a soft ride, this isn't it. It does, however, absorb the shock nicely. Think of it as forgiving but still firm.

For a shoe this versatile, it comes in at a great price point. If you’re a beginner runner looking for mild stability, an active person with a wider foot, a regular walker, or a Ghost or 880 loyalists looking to spice up your next running shoe, the Cloudrunner is worth a try.

Cloudmonster 

With the age of max cushion and high stack heights in full swing, On shoes were late to the party. But they have come out swinging. 

For shoes branded as ‘clouds’, they don't always have that cloud-like feel and are generally firmer than the competition. If you're looking for that classic grounded On feel, there are plenty of options for you, but not the Cloudmonster.

The Monster is their first shoe that truly feels like you're running on clouds.

The outsole's speedboard and stiff plate along the length of the shoe provides a rockered, cushioned, and supportive ride. Unlike the Surfer (below), which feels smooth, the Monster feels snappier; each stride feels efficient and aggressive. 

At Rackets and Runners, we try not to be swayed by the look of a shoe. ‘Fit is first’ is a phrase you'll often hear in the store; however, if you're looking to stamp your authority on your next race or training group, the Cloudmonster will definitely turn some heads. The combination of aesthetics and a stiff rocker are really special – just make sure the fit is still spot on. 

Plantar fasciitis and metatarsal issues are common areas of concern for many of our customers, and for the most part, we'll start with a healthy amount of cushion and a stiff rocker. A stiff rockered running shoe can be effective in dispersing pressure under the ball of your foot or metatarsal bone. If you're looking for that sort of relief, the Cloudmonster could be perfect, but please be advised – treatments and a discussion with podiatrists will always be the priority in dealing with any such issues. 

The Cloudmonster is what we believe "running on clouds" should feel like. It is designed for neutral runners, looking for a fun, snappy, and responsive daily trainer, as well as for tempo workouts that still provide a cushioned ride along the way. 

   

Cloudgo 

The Cloudgo might be On’s ‘budget’ model, but they’ve made significant changes to amplify comfort. The stiff plastic speedboard is more flexible, so combined with the foam, it makes for a more pleasant, plush feel. A big win for casual wearers and beginner runners looking for comfort in the first few months of training. 

The upper also feels padded and soft – something I appreciate after a short run and a few hours of work. If you’re needing that stiffness to alleviate stress on the balls of your foot or for quicker efforts, the Cloudmonster would be a better choice. 

A lot of athletic brands have wisened up to the climate crisis in recent years, and On is no different; the Cloudgo is made from 30% recycled materials. It's a move in the right direction and has had no adverse effect on its build quality or performance. Hopefully, brands keep pushing for more sustainable products, and we get that number up to 100% in the future.

If you have previously worn the Nike Pegasus, Mizuno Wave Rider, or Asics Gel Cumulus and are looking for an efficient, comfortable and stable alternative, the Cloudgo is a great place to begin the On journey. 

 
$169.98
 

Cloudventure 

Protection is king here. On shoes are generally minimal and lightweight and don’t always stand up to the worst weather. Cloudventure breaks that mould and gives real protection against all the unpredictability of the trail floor. 

The Cloudventure will be most comfortable if you have a medium to narrow foot. The combination of the stiff plate and protective detailing makes it a firm but responsive ride. If you prefer something softer, the New Balance More Trail v3 is a great option. However, for that responsive, low-to-the-ground feel that drives through rough terrain, the Cloudventure will work wonders. 

On have used their own waterproof material on the Cloudventure, and they hold up well with no leakage problems up until now. As with any waterproof shoe. breathability is an issue, and they can get warm during the summer months, but it's great to see On come out with a shoe that delivers a no-frills, durable and responsive performance alongside a classy look that can eat up a variety of terrain. 

 
$169.98
 

 

Cloudrock

The Cloudrock defines the lifestyle category as a true eye-catcher; it's a shoe that looks as slick as they come in the hiking boot category. 

It's waterproof, rides higher than their trail runners, and ensures a snug, secure fit around the ankle for great support. Staying true to On running fashion, it's still very light and feels incredibly easy over long distances. 

While it is a hiking boot, it does include the plastic plate and firm, propulsive foam featured in most other On shoes meaning you can really pick up the pace. For such a lightweight shoe, the Cloudrock's waterproof material and upper are very durable; however, if you're going through gnarly terrain, the outsole rubber may struggle long-term. The shoe is designed for comfort and support for the casual hiker or wet weekend away and delivers that performance with a smart refined look. 

Cloud X 3

The Cloud X 3 is designed for efficient performance in the gym; it bridges an important gap in the market as a cross trainer. Gone are the days of the ‘do it all shoe’, but the Cloud X 3, is as close as it gets. 

It shares a similar structure to the On Cloud 5 – low to the ground, lightweight, breathable, firm and springy, but it adds support and a wider platform to remain stable while digging deep in CrossFit workouts, pilates or short, fast tempo runs.

If you’re looking for plush comfort for longer miles and general lifestyle wear, look to On’s other runners; the upper material feels more rugged, and the cushion is minimal. However, with brands bringing out shoes with more and more cushion and higher stack heights, it’s good to see that we haven't left nimble, lower-stacked shoes completely behind. 

If you want to feel stable, and have a responsive, versatile workout partner, the Cloud X 3 delivers with aplomb. 

 
$179.98
$179.98
 

The Roger Advantage

Hopefully, this review shows that the versatility and performance of On shoes is the primary factor for their success in recent years, but the Swiss brand certainly has some credit to give to my tennis ‘GOAT’, Roger Federer.

With his endorsement and investment – like the Michael Jordan effect on Nike – we were bound to see Roger’s shoe soon enough: enter the Roger Advantage! Just a quick scan of the Avantage's silhouette, and you'll see a resemblance to the original tennis/casual runner, the Adidas Stan Smith. 

The Stan Smith sneaker was, and still is, understated, versatile, and comfortable. The Roger Advantage delivers similar versatility and comfort, with clean lines, minimal stitching and a tennis-inspired chic look. Keep in mind even though it's inspired by tennis, it is not designed to take on the court. The On Roger Advantage has minimal support for lateral movement; it's really made for those of you looking for a white sneaker with multiple options for subtle colour changes around the ankle for casual wear and smarter evenings out.


Cloudsurfer 

You've probably seen the Cloudsurfer floating around social media platforms. With the Surfer, On is making big strides away from its traditional technology, and with the immediate success that has followed, this is likely to continue. On focused a lot of R&D to develop a platform that matches big foot-strikers with a softer ride.

The Surfer features a brand new CloudTec Phase midsole that compresses each of the pods in a domino-like fashion for super-smooth runs. Rather than a more rigid pod geometry, they have removed the speedboard , allowing for a natural rolling motion and softer underfoot cushioning.

The fit is pretty medium so it should work for a wide variety of foot types; but it does have a slightly narrower toe box that can take a few miles to mould to your forefoot. It wraps nicely around the heel, and feels padded, natural, and comfortable above your foot.  

The ride is incredibly soft and bouncy without making you feel like you're standing two inches taller (unlike other brands' max cushion shoes). It is the most natural-feeling shoe in their lineup and is super smooth from heel to toe. 

The cloudsurfer is a neutral shoe, meaning it does not have any inherent guidance around the arches for pronation correction. This, along with the midsole's soft and rockered shape, could cause issues for people needing more stability, balance support and structure. And due to the softness, and more buttery rolling motion, runners who are looking to snip seconds of their 5km runs, or do track repeats, may find they aren't getting that snappy toe-off, and there may be better options elsewhere, such as the Cloudmonster. 

We recommend trying the Cloudsurfer to anyone who is a regular neutral runner, looking for more comfortable miles at a steady pace, or someone standing on their feet for long hours at a time. It's a lot of fun and an exciting development in On running shoes; we really can’t wait to see more of it. 


On running have deservedly made their way to the top tier of running, activewear and lifestyle brands in 2023.

They have modernized the look of running shoes and haven't skimped on performance to get there. They may be trendy, and they have had some hits and misses along the way, but all in all, they deliver a shoe for everyone and they do it well. It all depends on your needs and activity of choice.

Come into our Oak St store to try a pair of Ons – our footwear specialists are happy to help, or you can buy them online.

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