I'd like to thank the kind people at On Running and Fit Brands for providing me with a pair of ON Cloudsurfers for me to test out. This in no way altered my opinion of them, and no bias was given during this review.
Ever since I first laid eyes on these shoes, they have been something I've wanted to try. I love new technology, and these are about as new and out there as you can get. When I first received the box, you can tell that they've spared no expense. Even the box is nice! When I opened the box, I was happy to see the black and green shoes I'd been hoping for, and they certainly look excellent. When I picked them up, they were lighter than I was expecting; having opted for these and not the Cloudracer, it was a nice surprise. putting them on was a good feeling. The pull tabs at the back made it easy, and the toe box is nice a spacious, allowing your feet enough room to breathe. the laces were a little stiff, due to the reinforced eyelets, but I'll get to that in a minute. All in all it was a good first impression.
I'll include the Outsole here, as the outsole acts like a traditional midsole. The midsole is a standard EVA foam, but that is not what this shoe is about. The EVA was soft, and comfortable, however you don't really notice it, due to the outsole. The outsole is this shoes main talking point, and is what ON are all about. The Cloudtec pillows are what provides this shoe with its cushioning, and are what most people will think of when someone mentions ON shoes. They have an odd sensation at first, as when you re-distribute your weight between your forefoot and heel, it feels like you're sinking. This is the Cloudtec at work. After a few minutes of playing around with this, I soon got used to it, an it was quite a pleasant experience. I also did what most people would do in my situation and jumped up and down in my kitchen in them. They are surprisingly springy. The Cloudtec also acts like a spring, so when you begin to take off, they actually push you into your stride. Not a huge deal mind, but enough to notice. The Cloudtec pods are also more than just cushioning. They have interlocking grippers that when you are putting weight through them, grip together and provide a stable platform from which to spring back up from.
The upper is made of a breathable mesh, and has no overlays until you reach the heel counter. The design of the shoe was clearly in the minds of the creators, however, this does not mean they are all style over substance. There are a few subtle things that actually make the shoes very pleasant to wear, and I'd actually like to see on more shoes. The first of which was the pull tab at the heels. This makes the shoes very easy to put on, and will extend the life of the heels. The second was the reinforced material that appears to have been heat welded on. This made the shoe strong around it's weakest point, and although it made the laces a little tougher to adjust than in some other shoes, it was worth it for the extra structure you get. The tongue is also stitched into the medial side of the shoe, so doesn't move when running. The tongue is also made of a synthetic suede like material, and appears to be very hard wearing, as well as soft and comfortable. The heel counter is also lightweight, yet of enough substance to feel snug around your foot. Additions of reflective branding create bright flashes that will be excellent in the dark. The laces even have 'Put Me ON' on the ends of them, which does not make a performance difference, but made me chuckle.
The outsole as mentioned above is actually integrated into the midsole, and is made of the same piece of material. My one concern about this shoe is how hard wearing it will be, due to the lack of a traditional outsole. The patterning of it however is something I will have to test out, as it again is something completely different, and may not be as flexible as other shoes.
I quite enjoyed my running in these. They certainly aren't the fastest of shoes, but are not designed to be; that's the job of the ON Cloudracer. They are surprisingly light, and very comfortable on your feet. The cushioning is great, if a little difficult to get used to. They are easy to run in, however may be a little different for the lighter runners (I'm 14st, and the cushioning was spot on for me). The heel unit and collar were snug enough that I did not need to butterfly the laces; something I've not had for a while. The shoes have warped slightly towards the medial side, but this has not caused a problem for me. I do fear for mild over-pronators however, as they do not seem to be the most stable of shoes. They were not the easiest of shoes to run forefoot in, but again, that is not their purpose. They are excellent for slogging out the hard miles, and are comfortable enough to wear for a long time. The heel cushioning layout is especially good for people who often experience heel pain. The fact that there is physical space between the Cloudtec pods means they are even softer than first thought, and will be a lifesaver for heavier runners struggling to find a shoe that cushions in this area well enough. There is a little scuffing occurring on the midsole EVA where the shoes hit the floor when going down steep hills, and this was my one main area for concern. The fact that the Cloudtec pods in the heel are relatively far forwards compared to the rest of the shoe means that those who stride out may end up hitting the floor with the heel of the shoe, and not the pods, although you'd have to be almost bounding to do this. The outsoles have worn very very well, and do not appear to be taking much abrasion at all, which is great news. The Cloudtec pods squeak a little when walking, but as soon as you begin to run, this stops, and I suspect it may just be my shoes that do this. In the wet, they perform equally as well, and were as grippy as expected. Not amazing, but did as well as any other road shoe I've tried. All things considered, they are one of the most comfortable shoes I've ever put on, and although they won't be for everyone, I've found myself going out for my longer steadier runs in them more and more.