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On Cloudmonster Review: Finally Running on Clouds
By Chief Editor Matt Klein and Senior Taco Contributor David Salas

On running shoes are typically known to be firm despite the "Cloud" cushioning marketing. Their rockered and "cloud tec" based footwear has seen a dramatic rise in popularity, especially among those looking for casual or daily wear shoes. The On Cloudmonster is one of their first shoes that deviates from this stereotype. Featuring larger clouds and a more maximal stack height, On finally delivers a softer, max cushioned running shoe that deserves the "Cloud" cushioning title.  The On Cloudmonster joins the recent footwear from On demonstrating significant leaps forward in design from the company, which makes us extremely excited to review this shoe and prepare for what they have coming soon.

Price: $170 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.7 oz, 275 g (men's size 8.5), 8.1 oz, 230 g  (women's size 7)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 6 mm
Classification: Maximal Daily Training Shoe


Find Matt's Sub 2 video of the On Cloudmonster here.

RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The On Cloudmonster is the brand's first truly maximal and highly cushioned road running shoe. Larger cloud pods provide a high level of cushioning in the rearfoot, while a highly rockered ride rolls you forward. Mild flexibility throughout the length of the shoe keeps the ride smooth but makes this shoe excel at longer, easy, and recovery efforts. A surprisingly higher volume fit in the heel and midfoot transitions to a lower volume forefoot,  providing plenty of room for swelling in the rear for long mileage. A truly cushioned shoe, the On Cloudmonster is something different from this brand. 

David: The On Cloudmonster is a maximum stack height shoe that features a well-designed rockered ride. The shoe does have some mild flexibility due to the large grooves that most On shoes have and this does seem to help offset some of the major rocker. With good sidewall integration and geometry, the On Cloudmonster is a highly cushioned rockered shoe that provides a very fun and versatile ride for the category. 


FIT 

Matt: The On Cloudmonster fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The width is normal to slightly wide, providing more room than I expected. The volume is also higher in the heel and midfoot, while the upper rides low in the toebox. I did have to tie down the laces to get a secure fit but did not have to lace lock the shoe as there was no heel slippage. The tongue helps with this as it is slightly thicker, protecting my foot from tightening the laces. There is a heel counter that I did not notice at first. After 40 miles, the padding began to compress and I began to notice it more with some mild irritation on my right calcaneus. Those looking for a moderate stiffness heel counter will do well in this shoe, while those who are sensitive to them may want to be cautious. The forefoot has plenty of width, but the upper sits low. I occasionally felt pressure on the top of my big toenail but did not have any blisters or bruises. The On Cloudmonster has a comfortable upper with socks, but is not one I would suggest trying sockless. The inner liner is a bit scratchy and the higher volume makes the fit feel sloppy going barefoot. Overall, the On Cloudmonster has a higher volume fit that should work well for those who need a little extra room as long as they don't mind less height in the forefoot.

David: The On Cloudmonster fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5. The width throughout the shoe is certainly normal through the heel, midfoot, and forefoot. No area is particularly narrow or wide, but one could argue the midfoot slightly wide. The material throughout the shoe is comfortable and breathable but does have some reinforcement throughout with overlays. There is a counter present but it is padded well and does not give any irritation. The lacing system appears to lock down well throughout without giving any foot slippage medially or laterally. I did not feel any heel slippage either. I think this may be due to the platform itself and upper integration but there is quite a bit of volume throughout the length of the shoe vertically as well. The fit throughout is done quite well, but probably could still lock down the midfoot region a little better, though the sidewalls in the midsole really help with any fit issues there. 




PERFORMANCE 

Matt: The ON Cloudmonster is a highly cushioned long run and daily training shoe. The Cloud cushioning units are significantly bigger than any other On shoe I have tried. These compress notably under the heel and midfoot, providing a cushioned landing at the rearfoot. The sensation is different than other shoes that use full foam midsoles. The sensation isn't soft, but it is extremely cushioned and protective. The forefoot pods compress less and provide a more firm ride upfront. The pods compress more with a forefoot strike, but are firmer when you transition over them to toe-off from a heel/midfoot strike. There is a 6mm drop listed, but it feels different depending on where you land. As the shoe breaks in, the heel pods compress more for me, making the shoe feel more like a 0-4mm drop shoe depending on how hard I hit the ground as a heel striker. The rocker somewhat offsets this during normal paces, but it became more apparent to me with slower speeds with my gait. There is a large Speedboard that travels the length of the shoe. This adds some torsional rigidity, but thanks to the flex grooves, there is still some flexibility. Combined with the significant heel bevel and toe spring, the ride is quite rockered and smooth. The large rocker provides a rolling ride rather than a bouncing one as the pods tend to provide a cushioned landing and not a responsive one. This makes the On Cloudmonster best for long runs and easy runs where cushioning and protection are the focus. The shoe is quite large and does not respond well to pace increases. Instead, the On Cloudmonster is best for consistent efforts where mileage is the goal. I have 52 miles on my pair and I have ripped through the outsole rubber in my normal spot. There appears to still be plenty of midsole material before I puncture the cloud in that area, but would put the durability as average for a training shoe unless you are lighter on your feet than myself. 

David: The On Cloudmonster is a very fun shoe to run in. The shoe certainly belongs in the maximalist category and provides plenty of protection underfoot. Similar to other On models, the Helion midsole itself isn't overly soft.  However, there is so much foam you get a sensation of softness and bounciness from it. The shoe is centrally beveled well through the heel and does have a nice fluid toe spring through the forefoot. The ride reminds me to something like the HOKA Bondi but with some deeper flex grooves and a little more responsiveness. The combination of the Speedboard and slight flexibility in the forefoot give the On Cloudmonster a little bit of pop at toe off which is unique for a lot of maximalist shoes. I like that this shoe gives the feeling of a high rocker but also provides good responsiveness and mild flexibility up front. The shoe rides best at daily efforts but because of the responsiveness, I have been able to take it on strides and longer slight uptempo efforts without any problems. This could easily be a good daily trainer/long-run shoe. 



STABILITY 

Matt: The On Cloudmonster is a stable neutral shoe. It does not have traditional methods of stability, but there are a few elements traditional to maximalist shoes that help somewhat. Bilateral sidewalls are present in the midfoot/heel that provide a low level of guidance forward. The deep longitudinal midsole groove is technically a guideline in the outsole, which combined with the other flex grooves further facilitates forward motion. The full-length Speedboard adds some ridigity under the foot, working with the rocker to keep momentum in the right direction. While the foot is locked in, the high compression rate of the pods, particularly in the heel, can be a little challenging for hip muscles. The two separate rows do not always compress evenly, which will challenge muscles further up the chain to stabilize. There is no outsole flare common with maximalist shoes, so nothing resists that uneven compression. Those with hip instabilities should approach cautiously for that reason, as the highly cushioned ride will require more stability and work from that area. This however is common in highly cushioned maximalist shoes.

David: The On Cloudmonster has good stability throughout for the maximalist category. The shoe uses good geometry throughout with a very well-designed heel bevel and forefoot toe spring. The shoe also has great sidewall integration from the midsole that almost serves as a guiderail both medially and laterally when the shoe is laced down. The upper fits well throughout and does not provide any fit or instability concerns. The deep midline groove longitudinally coupled with the larger horizontal grooves also does a great job of keeping movement linear and providing a familiar ride even for the high stack height. The Cloudmonster delivers a great example of stability in a non stability model, especially for the category. The ride and feel certainly feel like the shoe helps you move in the forward direction. 




THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

The On Cloudmonster is a great example of a shoe where the static drop measurement is relative. Heel-toe drop or just heel drop is the difference in height between the heel and forefoot. In the past, 10-12mm was fairly normal. The minimalist movement came and made lower drops more common, particularly those in the 0-6 mm drop range. The norm now appears to be 6-10mm, with a far larger number of 0-4mm drop shoes than 12mm. What most people don't take into account is that these measurements are taken statically and unloaded. Midsole cushioning technologies change as they are loaded, ie when a person is wearing them and puts pressure through them, making static measurement almost irrelevant and not fully accurate. When a shoe is loaded during the stance phase of gait, different parts of the sole will compress at different times and in different areas with different footstrikes. A heel striker is going to create a lower relative drop when they land on their heel due to the compression there relative to the forefoot. As they transition forward and compress different parts of the foam, that drop will level out, then increase as more force is placed through the forefoot and less through the heel. Forefoot strikers will create a higher relative drop as their landing compresses the front of the shoe, with little impact on the heel. This only addresses movement in the sagittal plane (front to back) and not the frontal plane (side to side) as people will compress different sides of the shoe depending on their own unique movement path. Different foams and midsole components will also compress at different rates, further adding variability to this equation. This is exactly why we try to describe if the drop feels the same as it is listed because the number provided is static and the actual experienced drop can be far different. - Chief Editor Matt Klein


RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: I have enjoyed the On Cloudmonster immensely despite a mild calcaneus/Achilles insertion flare up from the lower drop mentioned above. My major suggestions based on that are to lock down the midfoot better and figure out how to make the forefoot clouds compress at a similar rate to the heel. The upper can be locked down but will be problematic for those with narrow feet. Adding a bit less volume here and more in the forefoot may be helpful to even out the slightly uneven volume. Letting the forefoot pods compress at the same rate at the heel and midfoot will make what almost feels like a zero drop shoe even out a little more. Additionally, this will increase forefoot cushioning for those who need it. 

David: I think there is a lot of potential for the Cloudmonster. The shoe has unique responsiveness for the category and I think with some weight reduction could be a serious competitor in the ultramarathon scene. For training purposes, the shoe certainly checks its boxes but I do believe a weight reduction would work in its favor. 

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR 

Matt: The On Cloudmonster is a maximalist daily trainer/ultramarathon shoe for those who want a rockered, protective and uniquely cushioned shoe for long miles. The Speedboard, flex grooves and larger pods provide a high level of cushioning that rolls you efficiently along. The upper provides a little extra room in the heel and midfoot, adjusting for some of the swelling you may experience with longer time spent on your feet. The On Cloudmonster will be best for those used to rockered rides, a lower heel drop (depending on where you land) wanting a little extra volume, and a ton of cushioning.

David: The On Cloudmonster is a maximalist daily trainer for those looking to have a high stack rockered shoe with a decent amount of pop at the forefoot. The geometry and sidewall integration do a great job of integrating stability into a model that normally wouldn't feel the most stable. The Speedboard and flex grooves give the shoe a surprising amount of responsiveness at toe off as well. The Cloudmonster is very versatile for the maximalist category and could easily serve as a daily trainer or long run shoe for those that like a lot of cushion and protection underfoot.


GRADING 

Matt
Fit: B+ (Comfortable upper with a little extra volume in the heel/midfoot for longer miles. Requires tightening down the laces at the midfoot to get a good lockdown. Heel counter noticeable after some miles)
Performance: B+/A-
 (Rockered ride with tons of unique cushioning making it best for long miles and daily training)
Stability: B/B+ [Stable Neutral] (Maximalist design and flex grooves create inherent guidance forward, particularly at the foot. Uneven pod compression creates a challenge for those with hip instabilities. )
DPT/Footwear Science: B+/A- (Uniquely designed cushioning system that finally gets the pods right. Need to be cautious however of heel that compresses more than the forefoot, creating more of a zero drop)
Personal: A- (A fun shoe for long runs and longer miles. A little baggy fit in the midfoot, but able to secure with the laces)
Overall: B+/A- (An excellent forward move from On, debuting a shoe that actually feels closer to running on clouds)

David
Fit: B+ (The upper is still a tad wide through the midfoot with rather large volume throughout. Build and lockdown do help clean this up a lot though.)
Performance: 
A- (Very fun and responsive ride for the maximalist category. The weight just holds it back a tad.)
Stability: A (Excellent integration of sidewalls and rocker for this platform profile. Good traction and natural transitions as well.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Great integration of softness and rigidity through midsole. Stability elements very well done for a geometry with this high of a stack height.)
Personal: A- (I really enjoyed the Cloudmonster. Very fun rockered ride with a little bit of pop at toe off. This is rare for the category and I had a blast running in it. The weight still lingers slightly though.)
Overall: A- (A very well done maximalist training shoe that provides great stability throughout and a surprisingly fun and responsive ride.)

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Price: $170 at Running Warehouse

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FURTHER READING

New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail v2 - A very high stack trail runner for long distances
The Truth about Midsoles (ft. Geoff Burns) - DOR Podcast
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 - A well-fitting workhorse for your daily training needs
Xero Shoes HFS - A ultra minimal shoe, one of the few for 2022
Skechers Razor Excess 2 - A higher stacked shoe that now features a forefoot plate
Reebok Floatride Energy X
- A brand new long distance trainer from Reebok with a forefoot plate

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at On Running for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12

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