The new Cloudsurfer is the best shoe On has made, with the updated midsole producing a soft and smooth ride for daily training. It also looks fantastic and has a comfortable upper that holds the foot securely.
- Enjoyable, comfortable ride
- Stylish design
- Excellent upper
- Durability may be a concern
- Minimal outsole rubber
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The new On Cloudsurfer is the seventh edition of this shoe and evidently signifies a departure in On’s approach, delivering a more comfortable and enjoyable ride than its predecessors.
It’s an instant favorite of mine for easy and long runs in particular, though it’s also light enough to pick up the pace at times. In fact it’s one of the best running shoes available. My only concern is that the soft midsole and lack of outsole rubber may mean the Cloudsurfer isn’t that durable, but time will have to tell on that front.
On Cloudsurfer Review: Price And Availability
The new Cloudsurfer launched in early March 2023 and costs $159.99 in the US and £150 in the UK, which is a $10/£10 increase on the price of the previous generation.
How I Tested This Running Shoe
I’ve run five times in the Cloudsurfer, most of them fairly short easy runs, with one long run of just over 10 miles and a progression run finishing at a steady pace around my marathon effort level. I have tested previous versions of the Cloudsurfer and many other On shoes.
Design And Fit
The Cloudsurfer shares a name with its predecessors, but has a new midsole design called CloudTec Phase. It’s made from On’s soft Helion foam and has holes in it, as with other On shoes, but they are smaller and now shaped to create a domino effect where each compresses in turn upon landing. Aided by the rocker shape of the shoe, this creates a smooth transition onto your toes with each stride.
On has also removed the Speedboard from the midsole. This has been a feature in most On shoes in recent years and a big contributor to the firmer, stiffer feeling common with the brand’s shoes. Despite having a fairly high stack of cushioning—On doesn’t give the exact stats but it looked to be over 30mm at the heel—the Cloudsurfer is a light shoe at 8.7oz/246g in my UK size 9. It has a 10mm drop from heel to toe.
The mesh upper is comfortable and there’s plenty of padding on the tongue and around the heel collar, with a small external heel counter to add support at the back of the shoe. The shoe felt tight around the toes when I first used it, but that has eased. I would stick with your normal running shoe size with the Cloudsurfer.
There is not a lot of rubber on the outsole of the shoe, with just the key impact areas at the heel and forefoot covered. This saves weight but may reduce durability, and while the grip has been mostly fine for me the shoe slipped a little when running on greasy surfaces.
I had a similar feeling about On’s running shoes until recently, which were all same-y to me. They were firm and not that bouncy, and they had similar cushioning and the Speedboard in the midsole. They also all had the word “cloud” in the name, which didn’t help.
Things started to change with the On Cloudmonster, which had a softer, less stiff ride than other On shoes, but the new Cloudsurfer is a radical departure from what we’ve seen before. I’m all for it.
Sure, it still has “cloud” in the name and confusion reigns because On doesn’t even number the generations of its shoes for some reason, but the 2023 Cloudsurfer has a different feel from past iterations. It should probably have a new name to go with the new ride.
That ride is effortlessly smooth and comfortable for easy runs. It’s distinct too—I don’t recall a shoe feeling quite like the Cloudsurfer, with such a pronounced forward rocker combined with such a soft foam. It’s a shoe that makes me excited about easy runs, with the comfort amplified by the padded upper. The feel of the cushioning also didn’t change over the course of 10 miles, appeasing concerns I had that it could compress and firm up.
Since it is quite a light shoe, I found that I could pick up the pace in it easily enough, but then the ride does firm up a touch and lose some of its magic. It felt fine when I upped the pace, but lacked a bit of propulsion off the toes. You can do different types of runs in the Cloudsurfer, but it’s undoubtedly at its best for easy and long runs.
Is The On Cloudsurfer Worth It?
The new On Cloudsurfer is one of the best cushioned shoes I’ve tested lately, and one of the best running shoes overall. It has landed a place in my rotation for easy runs because of its smooth and enjoyable ride, and I also like that it’s such a good-looking shoe to wear outside of running, too.
My only concern is with the shoe’s durability. After 50km it is holding up, but the soft midsole and its unique design may mean the Cloudsurfer has a shorter lifespan than other shoes, especially as the outsole doesn’t have that much rubber on it. The mostly exposed foam outsole no doubt helps create the great ride feel, so it may be a necessary trade-off.
It’s not a cheap shoe and there are certainly better-value options available, such as the Puma Velocity Nitro 2 or Nike Pegasus 39. Both are comfortable and versatile cushioned shoes with more substantial outsoles, and will probably last longer than the Cloudsurfer, but the ride of both during easy runs isn’t as smooth and enjoyable as with the On shoe.
The Puma Velocity Nitro 2 in particular is another favorite of mine and probably the smarter, more practical pick because of its outsole, which grips fabulously on light trails as well as the road, but the Cloudsurfer keeps me coming back with that silky-smooth ride.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.