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On Cloudsurfer Review: A New Phase
By Nathan Brown and Matthew Klein

On Running is a company that for many years was a conundrum. We are not the first to mention this, but previously, the company that claimed its shoes were akin to running on clouds felt more like running directly on pavement. The rides were generally firm, but were often quite rockered and quick to transition. This made them excellent walking shoes, which is why none of us are surprised to see huge volumes of people wearing them casually (like the On Cloud series) in all manner of places. This has changed recently, with the On Cloudmonster being the first to catch our attention with its design, and the Cloudgo and Cloudrunner continuing a new phase of running for On. The On Cloudsurfer continues this dramatic move forward with the removal of their speed board plate and redo of their cloud design. This has created the softest On shoe we have experienced thus far.

On Cloudsurfer
Price: $159.95
Weight: 8.6 oz, 245 g (men's size 9), 7.2 oz, 205 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Lightweight Cushioned Daily Trainer


Matt: The On Cloudsurfer is a soft lightweight daily training shoe for those who want a comfortable fit with a highly cushioned ride. The upper is light and comfortable, providing a relaxed but secure fit. The underfoot feel is unique to On, featuring a soft ride, especially in the heel. The latest Cloudsurfer introduces the CloudTec Phase, which provides a redesign of the way On sets up their midsole. The lightweight and bouncy cushioning makes the On Cloudsurfer an excellent daily training option for those who do not need stability while providing some versatility to pick up the pace for uptempo workouts. 

Nathan: The On Cloudsurfer is part of a major change for On, moving to a slightly more traditionally formed midsole, a full contact outsole, and simply a very soft ride. The soft ride also operates on a moderately flexible rocker, has a notable toe spring, and does not have any major structure or stability and can be a bit unstable given the softness of the foam. All of this results in an easy cruising option, for me was reserved for easy runs and daily runs, while feeling a bit too mushy at faster paces.

SIMILAR SHOES: Skechers GOrun Maxroad 5, Topo Specter


Matt: The On Cloudsurfer fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The volume is slightly above normal and the width is wider in the forefoot. The midfoot and heel is more normal to slightly snug with a secure fit. The forefoot mesh is slightly thicker but does provide some wiggle room. The midfoot features a slightly thicker, gusseted and secure tongue. The heel is normal to slightly snug with a decent amount of heel collar padding. There is a flexible heel counter that combined with the heel collar padding has not irritated my heel at all. I have had no security issues and have not had to lace lock the upper. The fit and upper are extremely comfortable, both while running and walking. The inner material is comfortable against bare skin, although I have not worn this shoe sockless much due to the toe guard. It is not irritating, but did make me a bit nervous (and also I like this shoe and don't want to stink it up). The upper as a whole is comfortable, providing a little extra room without losing any security. 

Nathan: The On Cloudsurfer follows suit for On in that it has a high-quality upper. The fit is a bit more accommodating and wider in the forefoot, but locks down well in the midfoot and heel. For those with narrow feet, you may notice just a bit too much room. For most, it will hit the sweet spot in terms of width. The heel has a semi-flexible heel counter with some additional external structure at the lower portion. Both the heel and tongue have thicker padding, giving it a plush on-foot feel. Despite that, the upper feels lightweight and breathable and provides protection to the top of the foot from lacing things down tight if you need to. The lacing system is a combination of eyelets and stitched-down straps. I haven't noticed a major advantage to this lacing system but could see durability come into play if any of the stitching came loose. Overall, I think On nailed the fit and overall comfort for a daily trainer, giving a good lock-down and some roominess in the toe box.

Extra Fit Thoughts + Walking

Bach: The Cloudsurfer is one of the best fitting models in the On line I've tried. It has a roomy upper that is accommodating, yet locks down well once laced. Standard feet will enjoy this model, and it likely will fit snug for wider feet. I've used this both for runs and all-day wear and it's been one of the more comfortable models in my running shoe line-up. The shoe breathes well and has felt comfortable with rising temperatures. For those who want to double the Cloudsurfer as a walking shoe, it is quite neutral leaning as a fairly straight last. If you need a little bit more rigidity underfoot, you may want to try some of their prior models first. If you just want a softer, more compressive midsole, then this is a nice option for all-day wear along with running.


Matt: The On Cloudsurfer is a lightweight trainer with a highly cushioned ride. On removed the Speedboard and changed the geometry of the clouds, which has made the ride extremely soft, bouncy and flexible. While we do not have stack height measurements, it feels like it has a large amount of foam underfoot. There is a 10mm drop listed and that is what it feels like. The heel is quite prominent but is highly compressive. There is large heel bevel that is angled slightly posterior lateral. This makes for a smooth transition with rearfoot landings, but those who want a higher heel drop will like this shoe. The midfoot transition is quite quick, which transfers to a flexible and smooth forefoot. The forefoot is rockered, yet moderately flexible. Combined with the bouncy cushioning and lighter weight (8.6 oz men's size 9), the flexibility gives the shoe the ability to pick up the pace.

While I have enjoyed this shoe for daily training miles up to moderate distances (7-9 miles), I have also found it a great option when I decide to do a workout. I have done a tempo run and a fartlek and while this isn't the lightest or fastest shoe, it transitions into uptempo work extremely well. The cushioning is a little soft for extremely fast intervals and track work, but those wanting a soft uptempo-capable shoe will enjoy the On Cloudsurfer. Many will like it as a lightweight trainer, while others may be able to use it as a protective and less aggressive faster shoe for half marathon to full marathon distances if you don't need something stable.

The durability and traction have been decent. I have used this shoe on a variety of surfaces and found that it does best on road. Trails tend to cause rocks to get stuck in the guidance line. The outsole has remained intact despite 35 miles of hard use. I am seeing some slight wear at my usual spot (posterior-lateral heel) but it is fairly average for most shoes. Thus I expect an average number of miles out of these lightweight trainers. While I personally cannot use this for longer distances due to the mild instability from the softness and flexibility, those who want a moderately versatile cushioned shoe that is flexible and can handle uptempo work may want to check out the On Cloudsurfer. 

Nathan: The On Cloudsurfer is part of some major changes for the On running line. Two major components of the shift are ditching their Speedboard, which typically is a thinner plastic plate throughout the length of the shoe, and the alteration of the midsole design. They have shifted from the rectangular shaping of the pods to an angular design called CloudTec Phase. The new design does a few things, but surely the most significant is increased softness. The ride of this shoe is as soft as any other EVA-based foam out there like Fresh Foam X. The pod shape increases the softness given the way that they compress, but also seems to add some bounciness with how they regain their shape. The platform is also quite rockered and you can feel it as you progress forward on the shoe. It also makes the 10mm drop feel more like 6-8 (which also might be related to the softer foam). The overall result is very pleasant and fun for daily running and easy paces. However, I've found that when trying to pick up the pace the softness feels a bit mushy and boggy. This mushiness was most notable during a fartlek where I was dipping down to my 10K pace, so it still performed well for all daily mileage paces as well as some mild tempo work.

Finally, I'm so thankful for the new outsole design. It is no longer a rock catcher and I'll be able to use it on our local crushed granite. This is definitely the best On shoe I've run in. What I cannot speak to yet is the durability of the cushioning system. Everything feels good so far, but we will see if that holds true after a couple hundred miles.


Matt: The On Cloudsurfer is a neutral shoe with little that impedes the foot. As with most On shoes, the ride is rockered and rolling. With the removal of the speed board, the ride is more flexible and less obtrusive. There are small sidewalls in the medial and lateral heel, but these are small and unobtrusive. The midfoot narrows and with the tall platform, the sole flare is only mild. The softer sole makes the ride less stable, although the significant guideline through the heel and midfoot may help provide some mild forward guidance for those who land back there. The rolling ride and guidance line tend to feel better the faster you go with this shoe. At normal paces, it is a neutral shoe with no major or traditional forms of stability, making it best for those who do not need or want that.  

Nathan: The On Cloudsurfer is a neutral shoe. The consequence of the Speedboard being removed is sacrificing some stability from side to side. For those who don't need much structure, you'll be fine and be able to enjoy everything this shoe has to offer, which was the case for me. However, if you need some guidance, particularly in the heel, this probably isn't the shoe for you. As Matt said, there is some improved stability the faster you go since you are transitioning over the soft foam more quickly with less time to deviate from the forward direction.

Thoughts as a DPT: Variations in Experiences Between Runners
By Matthew Klein

One of the reasons we try to have multiple reviewers on as many reviews as possible is that different people will respond differently to the same shoe. As an example, Nathan found the Cloudsurfer to be a soft daily training shoe that was difficult for him to pick up the pace in. I on the other hand found the Cloudsurfer to be a lightweight daily training shoe that easily allowed me to pick up the pace. This may be occurring for a variety of reasons. We know that different people respond differently to the flexibility or stiffness of shoes (Mcleod et al., 2020). I tend to do better and move faster in shoes that are a little more flexible, whereas this may not be the case for Nathan. Different runners tend to respond differently to different levels of cushioning. Runners naturally tune their muscles for shock absorption and propulsion and this can be altered with different midsole hardness/softness levels (Nigg et al., 2017). The musculoskeletal systems of both Nathan and myself are reacting quite differently to this shoe and it may be due to how we activate our lower extremity muscles. Both of us are describing this shoe as soft, yet how that softness translates into pace changes varies. This is exactly why we recommend tools such as the RUN-CAT to determine individual comfort perception of shoes (Bishop et al., 2020).

While there may be biomechanical factors associated with a shoe, how each person will react and how they will perceive the shoe (which will also influence how they react to it) will vary greatly. Whether this is happening due to the sensory system, motor system, our brains, other factors or a combination (most likely) is not completely known. Right now, we encourage you to use this website as part of your journey in learning what works for you as an individual and find which of our reviewers best matches you. We are here to facilitate your learning of the unique body you have and how it may respond to certain shoes. 


Bishop, C., Buckley, J. D., Esterman, A. E., & Arnold, J. B. (2020). The running shoe comfort assessment tool (RUN-CAT): Development and evaluation of a new multi-item assessment tool for evaluating the comfort of running footwear. Journal of Sports Sciences38(18), 2100-2107.

McLeod, A. R., Bruening, D., Johnson, A. W., Ward, J., & Hunter, I. (2020). Improving running economy through altered shoe bending stiffness across speeds. Footwear Science12(2), 79-89.

Nigg, B. M., Mohr, M., & Nigg, S. R. (2017). Muscle tuning and preferred movement path–a paradigm shift. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS)2, 007-007.


Matt: I have really enjoyed this shoe but have been limited from using it for longer miles due to some of the mild instability. My major feedback would be to offset instability from the increased softness and flexibility. To do so, I would widen the midfoot. On has finally taken advantage of the "clouds" and has actually used them to make a lighter shoe. This shoe is incredibly light for a training shoe at 8.6 oz. A little more width at the midfoot would be worth a slight weight increase.

Nathan: Thank you, On, for designing a shoe I can finally take on the casual trails around here without coming home with a shoe full of rocks. I think a shoe like this could use a bit more sole flaring to possibly stabilize the platform just a touch. Additionally, I'd prefer a more traditional lacing system to avoid any unnecessary quirks. 


Matt: The On Cloudsurfer is for the runner that wants a highly cushioned, soft, bouncy, and flexible forefoot shoe for daily training, uptempo work and recovery runs. It has a higher heel drop than many shoes, so those wanting that will enjoy it. The lighter weight and forefoot flexibility allow for easy transitions between daily training and uptempo paces. While it isn't the fastest shoe, it is great at consistent paces. Thus, those who want a cushioned lightweight trainer for daily training and maybe some faster stuff that FINALLY feels like running on clouds may want to check out the On Cloudsurfer. 

Nathan: The On Cloudsurfer is for a runner who is looking for a soft and slightly bouncy shoe for daily training and recovery runs. It is not best for those who need some guidance, but for runners who are fine without stability will be able to enjoy the rockered, soft, and bouncy sensation that this shoe gives. 


Fit: A- (Unobtrusive, comfortable fit. Soft upper that fits normally throughout)
A- (Soft, cushioned, bouncy ride with moderately flexible forefoot. Can handle daily training and uptempo work)
Stability: B- [Neutral] (No major guidance methods outside of rockered ride and guidance line in heel. Removal of plate provides more flexibility and softer ride provides a neutral ride)
DPT/Footwear Science: B/B+ (Far more comfortable than prior On shoes. Need to consider stabilizing the now softer ride). 
Personal: B+/A- (A comfortable cushioned shoe I continue to reach for, but cannot take for longer distances due to some mild instability)
Overall: B+/A-


Fit: (Very comfortable, nice toe box)
A- (Much more cushioned ride than previous On models, more pop from the new CloudTec Phase)
Stability: C+/B- (No real stable neutral elements and a softer platform)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+/A- (Nice to see a revamp of the midsole design. I do think it will be more durable than previous as well)
Personal: A (A shoe I like to reach for)
Overall: A- 


On Cloudsurfer
Price: $159.95

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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.

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