Fitness

We Tested Dozens of On Running Shoes. These Are the Best

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It’s laborious to consider, given how widespread its sneakers are, that On was solely based in 2010. Nowadays the Swiss firm’s trademark pod-soled sneakers are noticed on jogging paths and podiums alike—most just lately at the 2023 Boston and New York City marathons, each gained by Hellen Obiri sporting a pair of On Cloudboom Echo 3s.

The firm’s speedy propulsion is finest attributed to CloudTec, the design function that provides On sneakers their signature appear and feel. CloudTec’s and the firm’s origins return to when triathlete Olivier Bernhard minimize up a backyard hose and used it to create his first prototype. Although the thought was rejected by Bernhard’s then-sponsor Nike, On has since earned the backing of Roger Federer and the Swiss Olympic staff—and racked up almost $2 billion in income.

What issues extra to runners is how On sneakers have developed over the years. Recently, the model has confirmed that it is prepared to tinker with CloudTec, which stays the core function that each pair is constructed upon, by introducing a brand new model referred to as CloudTec Phase. The result’s the finest batch of On running sneakers so far, which incorporates our choose for the model’s finest, the Cloudsurfer.

Related: The Best Marathon Shoes to Run Your Next PR

Best Overall On Running Shoe: Cloudsurfer

Cloudsurfer

Tanner Bowden

The Cloudsurfer is On’s anti-specialist. It’s for brief runs, lengthy runs, restoration runs, and tempo runs. If you are a one-shoe runner who enjoys a spread of workouts, the Cloudsurfer is what you need to pull from On’s shelf. If you are conversant in previous iterations of this shoe, know that the present model is a complete overhaul that options CloudTec Phase, On’s newest Speedboard-free shoe platform. It offers the Cloudsurfer a extra conventional really feel (significantly with that 10 mm drop), however it’s positively nonetheless an On with a midsole that feels concurrently gentle and responsive.

Pros:

  • Versatile.
  • Comfortable match.

Cons:

  • Slightly stiff to start.

WEIGHT: 8.64 oz

HEEL-TOE DROP: 10 mm

$160 Road Runner Sports
$160 at On Running

Best On Running Shoe for Beginners: Cloudrunner

Cloudrunner

Tanner Bowden

On has by no means aimed to be a standard running firm, however the Cloudrunner is about as conventional as a shoe will get. With a 9mm heel-toe drop and reasonable stability-encouraging options, it is a strong alternative for runners who’re nonetheless getting a really feel for type. The shoe would not go overkill on the stability aspect however its design does provide additional help and we present in testing that it appears to need to transfer ahead due to a bit of bit of rocker and the Speedboard plus CloudTec midsole stack. The present model of the Cloudrunner nonetheless has On’s older Zero Gravity foam and would not really feel tremendous gentle, so we would put it aside for shorter distances (another excuse why it is suited to newbie or rare runners). It’ll make an amazing strolling shoe, too.

Pros: 

  • Encourages ahead momentum.
  • Doesn’t go overkill on stability options.

Cons: 

  • Not nice for lengthy runs.

WEIGHT: 10.58 oz

HEEL-TOE DROP: 9 mm

$150 at Zappos
$150 at On Running

Best On Racing Shoe: Cloudboom Echo 3

Cloudboom Echo 3

Tanner Bowden

The Cloudboom Echo 3 is On’s race-ready tremendous shoe. Like others on this class, it is stacked with a carbon fiber plate for pop and many of foam (Helion Hyper Foam, on this case) for cushioned help. Plus, it has a brilliant mild and minimalist higher. On made it for quick marathons—its field proclaims a four-marathon lifespan—and Hellen Obiri proved it really works with wins at the 2023 Boston and New York City Marathons. Some have famous its comparatively slim platform as a possible con, however throughout our race tempo testing, we did not word any precarious wobbling. In reality, it is one of the finest tremendous sneakers we have tried.

Pros:

  • Snappy.
  • Very secure.

Cons:

  • Expensive.

WEIGHT: 7.58 oz (dimension 8.5)

HEEL-TOE DROP: 9 mm

$290 at On Running

More On Running Shoes We Love

Best On Running Shoe for Long Runs: Cloudmonster

Tanner Bowden

Even although maximalist running sneakers are customary fare lately, the Cloudmonster nonetheless appears massive, with the largest model of CloudTec On has cooked up but. It would not really feel so massive on the run although—the type issue gives ample cushion however no awkward wobble. We have been happy to find that the foam would not dampen this shoe’s responsive really feel too, and it would not really feel overly squishy in any respect. This impact is vastly aided by an exaggerated rocker profile that propels you thru your tempo, making a max-cushion shoe that may deal with a spread of sorts of runs—significantly lengthy runs. Thanks to all that cushion, my ft and ankles nonetheless felt good after the 10-mile mark and made restoration extra nice.

Pros:

  • Very snug.
  • Rocking profile propels your runs.

Cons:

  • Could use a thicker tongue to forestall lace pressure.

WEIGHT: 9.7 oz (dimension 8.5)

HEEL-TOE DROP: 6 mm

$170 at On Running
$136 at Zappos

Best Max Cushion On Running Shoe: Cloudeclipse

Tanner Bowden

The Cloudeclipse is On’s latest mannequin. It’s a max-cushion behemoth that features CloudTec Phase, the firm’s newest midsole system. That’s the largest distinction between this shoe and the Cloudmonster, as the two fashions every have a 6 mm drop and weigh roughly the similar. Fans of thick-soled sneakers for all sorts of runs will take pleasure in each, however in our testing, we discovered the Cloudeclipse to be barely extra versatile. While the Cloudmonster made me need to pace up, the Cloudeclipse was nice for running sluggish, which makes it nice for restoration runs. It’ll go lengthy whenever you need to, although.

Pros:

  • Roomy toebox.
  • Forgiving match with good heel maintain.

Cons:

  • Large part of uncovered Speedboard hits gravel.

WEIGHT: 10.05 oz (dimension 8.5)

HEEL-TOE DROP: 6 mm

$180 at On Running
$180 at Road Runner Sports

Best Minimalist On Running Shoe: Cloudflow 4

Tanner Bowden

On trimmed the fats for the just lately revamped Cloudflow. With a low stack underfoot and the similar engineered woven higher as the marathon-winning Cloudboom Echo 3, the shoe solely tilts the scale to a paltry 8.3 ounces. The new replace additionally fixes what the Cloudflow has been maligned for in the previous: it now not acquire chunks of gravel underfoot. It additionally has a slight rocker roll to maintain the tempo transferring. In lots of methods, the Cloudflow 4 looks like the tempo sneakers of yore, when fats outsoles weren’t so outstanding. Some will like that firm really feel, some will not. Yet the Cloudflow can deal with slower paces in addition to it does intervals, making it a flexible shoe for all types of runs. If extra cushion is what you are in search of, take a look at the comparable, however beefier, Cloudsurfer.

Pros:

  • Lightweight.

Cons:

  • Low cushion makes it really feel firm.

WEIGHT: 8.29 oz (dimension 8.5)

HEEL-TOE DROP: 8 mm

$160 at On Running
$160 on Road Runner Sports

Best On Running Shoe for Wide Feet: Cloudstratus 3

Tanner Bowden

The Cloudstratus, a mainstay in On’s lineup, distinguishes itself with the most accommodating match of any On shoe we examined. The toe field is especially good and roomy, making it superb for runners with wider ft. The just lately reworked higher features a lacing system that gives loads of safety and extra consolation with a luxurious, cushioned tongue. On would not promote the Cloudstratus as a stability shoe, however it positively has extra construction to it than different sneakers in the lineup. During a run, it sticks to the center lane, offering a steadiness of spring and cushion. All of these components make it one other strong alternative for brief to mid-length runs. It’ll choose up a fast-paced run if you would like it to, however when you’re recurrently doing pace workouts, you would possibly want a unique mannequin.

Pros:

  • Lacing system gives nice lock-in.
  • Good grip.
  • Stable.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Heavy for a day by day coach.

WEIGHT: 10.23 oz

HEEL-TOE DROP: 6 mm

$180 at On Running
$180 at Road Runner Sports

Best Run/Hike Crossover On Shoe: Cloudvista

Tanner Bowden

On made the Cloudvista versatile, and our testing on pavement, rutted-out dust roads, and correct path proved that the shoe can certainly deal with all of it—although it is on the less-rugged finish of the spectrum. It’s fairly mild, and the experience is neither plush nor springy however as a substitute extra dialed and managed. The match performs a job in that too — this shoe is narrower in the toebox than different path fashions, making for a detailed match (you would possibly even examine a half dimension up at try-on). Still, we discovered that the Cloudvista can deal with sections of pavement properly, and its Missiongrip outsole took on dust, mud, gravel (and frozen variations of all of them) simply nice. While it is in no way a stability-oriented shoe, we’ll fortunately pull this one on for day hikes along with shorter, non-technical path runs.

Pros:

  • Handles many terrains.
  • Built-in lace loop

Cons:

  • Slightly stiff.

WEIGHT: 9.88 oz (dimension 8.5)

HEEL-TOE DROP: 9 mm

$150 at On Running
$150 at Zappos

Most Versatile Trail Running On Shoe: Cloudultra 2

Tanner Bowden

The Cloudultra comes with a novel little function referred to as FlipRelease, a small plastic piece that lets runners loosen or tighten their laces only a smidge with out untying any knots. The thought is that it will probably relieve lace pressure when ft get swollen on lengthy, lengthy runs. It’s a touch at the place this shoe desires to go: all over the place. Gimmick or not—I by no means wanted to make use of it—the Cloudultra is a superb shoe for lengthy days, however that is extra due to a gentle base of Helion foam and a comfortable knit higher that permits loads of room for toes to unfold. It’s not so plush that you’re going to lose out on path really feel although, and it strikes an amazing steadiness between flexibility and stiffness due to the built-in Speedboard. And despite the fact that it will probably go the distance, we discovered ourselves lacing it up for brief runs, too.

Pros:

  • Comfy for lengthy distances.
  • Responsive.

Cons:

  • Not nice in mud.

WEIGHT: 10.41 oz (dimension 8.5)

HEEL-TOE DROP: 5 mm

$180 at On Running
$180 at Dick's Sporting Goods

Best Minimalist Trail Running On Shoe: Cloudventure Peak 3

Tanner Bowden

Take a take a look at the Cloudventure Peak 3 and you will discover it is missing one thing: the cloud pods. Well, technically there are a number of in the heel, however they do not lengthen down into the outsole as CloudTec sometimes does, leaving a really conventional combine of 3 mm lugs and sticky Missiongrip rubber. The Cloudventure Peak can be completely different from the relaxation of On’s path catalog in how minimal it’s, with an ultralight higher with mesh panels that shocked us in how breathable they’re, and a really low stack that retains your ft near the floor, feeling the path.

The higher does have some toe safety by way of overlays, however general the really feel of the Cloudventure Peak is spare. It’s nimble, responsive, and made for spee—aided by a 30-percent carbon Speedboard. If you are used to running on broad platforms, you would possibly discover the slim heel a tad unstable at occasions, nevertheless. And when you go for the mild uppers, put together to get them soiled (shortly).

Pros:

  • Very responsive.
  • Good steadiness of light-weight and protecting.

Cons:

  • Laces are method too lengthy.
  • Get soiled shortly.
  • Narrow heel.

WEIGHT: 8.11 oz (dimension 8.5)

HEEL-TOE DROP: 4 mm

$160 at On Running
$160 at Dick's Sporting Goods

Related: We Tested Every Hoka Running Shoe—These Are the Best

Why You Should Trust Me

I’ve been running since center college, and running half and full marathons since 2017. I’ve run 5 marathons and managed to snag a 2:56 PR at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon. My path pursuits embody a run of the Presidential Traverse and a circumnavigation of Torres del Paine National Park. I’ve been writing about running—training, nutrition, races, and kit—for over a decade. I always discuss to athletes and trade execs about sneakers and have examined a number of earlier iterations of the Ons on this checklist.

For this information, I additionally spoke with Fan Zhou, normal supervisor of running and footwear at REI. Beyond his function at REI, Zhou has been running for over 15 years, has accomplished 13 Boston Marathons, and just lately ran CIM. “The rhythm of my life is dictated by running,” he advised Men’s Journal.

I attempted quite a few On running sneakers to select the perfect the model has to supply.

Tanner Bowden

What We Look for When Choosing the Best On Running Shoes

We know from our personal skilled expertise—testing and evaluating running sneakers and dealing carefully with athletes and trade execs—that the excellent running shoe for one person is likely to be the worst running shoe for one more. Zhou agrees: “It depends on who, where they are in their own personal running journey, and what they want to accomplish while wearing that product.” As such, we have evaluated the sneakers on this information primarily based on the high quality of the options and construct of each, protecting in thoughts their potential meant use for any particular person

We examined every shoe included on this checklist—and quite a few others—throughout a variety of surfaces and distances. Knowing that each one runners have completely different ft, gaits, and types of running, we additionally keep in mind exterior critiques and experiences.

Remember: It’s all the time a good suggestion to strive on a shoe earlier than you decide to it. When looking for a brand new pair of running sneakers, Zhou recommends noting the “step-in feel” at try-on. “A good running shoe is one that when you take your first steps and you walk around it should just feel comfortable, supportive, and then get you excited to start running in it,” he says.

Key Features of On Running Shoes

CloudTec

CloudTec is On’s signature cushioning design. It’s foundational to the model and makes On sneakers completely different from any others—in each appear and feel. Look at an On and see these quirky hole pods underfoot, which On calls “clouds.” That’s CloudTec. The thought is that with every footfall, these pods compress, cushioning impression and making a firm platform for the subsequent push-off, returning power into the subsequent step. On claims that as a result of these pods operate individually from one another, the general cushioning system adapts to how completely different runners transfer.

On has been tinkering with how CloudTec seems. Some sneakers have two layers of pods, for example. There’s additionally CloudTec Phase, a latest innovation that does away with the pod design, however retains the midsole holes to provide the similar collapsing cushioning system. CloudTec Phase additionally would not require On’s signature Speedboard (extra on that under).

Speedboard

On’s signature Speedboard is a plate part positioned between the midsole and higher. The Speedboard’s materials, form, thickness, and curve change from shoe to shoe however the thought behind it, is that it connects CloudTec’s impartial pods right into a unified construction to permit for clean transitions. By tweaking the Speedboard design, On can tweak particular traits for each shoe, like including additional pop for pace workouts, for example.

Proprietary Foam and Grip

Helion is On’s newest proprietary midsole “super” foam. It’s made of a mix that mixes EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) and OBC (olefin block copolymer) to create zones of rigidity and suppleness when wanted. Helion is used for many of On’s efficiency sneakers now with a number of exceptions, whereas the firm’s older Zero Gravity (EVA solely) foam continues to be used for way of life and strolling sneakers.

Another piece of jargon it’s possible you’ll encounter is Missiongrip, which refers to the rubber compound On makes use of to offer grip to its path running sneakers. Visually, On usually denotes Missiongrip’s presence with a sample of tiny triangles on the outsole, along with conventional lugs.

Related: The Best Nike Running Shoes


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