On Cloudboom Echo 3 Review

The On Cloudboom Echo 3 is a great carbon racing shoe and a big improvement on what’s come before from the Swiss brand

On Cloudboom Echo 3
(Image: © Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Our Verdict

After a couple of attempts at super-shoes that fell short of standards set elsewhere, On finally has a competitive carbon plate racing shoe in the Cloudboom Echo 3, though its high price may be discouraging.


  • Pebax foam midsole
  • Comfortable, fast ride
  • Lightweight


  • Expensive, even for a super-shoe
  • Outsole durability

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Over the past couple of years, On has taken several swings at making a super-shoe, and each has fallen short of the performance of the best carbon plate running shoes. The On Cloudboom Echo, released in 2021, was an improvement, but still lacked the bounce you get from shoes like the Nike Vaporfly.

With the On Cloudboom Echo 3, the Swiss brand finally has a carbon super-shoe that can go compete with the best. However, in a market that is now saturated with excellent racing options, the Cloudboom Echo 3’s high price makes it hard to recommend—especially since I think there are more impressive shoes available for less.

On Cloudboom Echo 3 Review: Price And Availability

The On Cloudboom Echo 3 officially launched on 29th June 2023 and costs $290 in the US and £260 in the UK. That’s expensive even for a carbon plate racing shoe, and the Cloudboom Echo 3’s US price is higher than that of any other carbon shoe I’ve tested. For a brand with something to prove in this area, I think that price is a mistake.

Design And Fit

On Cloudboom Echo 3

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

The numbering of On’s shoe lines can be confusing. The Cloudboom Echo 3 is the successor to the Cloudboom Echo, which succeeded the Cloudboom—there is no Cloudboom Echo 2.

The Cloudboom Echo was a good racing shoe, just a lot firmer than most carbon shoes, and it lacked the bounce you get from Peba-based midsole foams. On seems to have taken that on board because the Echo 3 uses a new Peba-based midsole foam called Helion HF (Hyper Foam) that’s softer and springier than the materials it’s used in the past.

It still says Cloudtec on the side of the shoe, but the distinctive pods that On is known for have been toned down with the Echo 3. This shoe just has a few holes on the side that show the carbon plate that runs the length of the shoe. There are also no pods on the bottom of the shoe to catch gravel, again something that has previously been associated with On.

On Cloudboom Echo 3 and On Cloudboom Echo

On Cloudboom Echo 3, left, and On Cloudboom Echo (Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

The Cloudboom Echo 3 doesn’t hit the 40mm maximum stack height set by World Athletics regulations, though at 37mm it stands taller at the heel than On’s previous racing shoes. The Echo 3 has a 9mm drop, with a stack height of 28mm at the forefoot, and a pronounced rocker shape to speed the transition onto your toes.

At 7.9oz/223g in a US 9.5, the Echo 3 is about middle of the pack for weight among carbon shoes, and it certainly feels light on the foot. The microfiber upper is lightweight and breathable, yet still holds the foot securely during fast runs. The laces are thin and I feared that yanking them tight would result in discomfort on the top of my foot, but this didn’t happen. It’s a well-designed and comfortable upper, and the shoe fitted well in my normal size.

As with many racing shoes, the Cloudboom Echo 3 has a lot of exposed foam on the bottom of the shoe, with rubber covering the forefoot as well as a few small sections at the heel. I had no problems with grip using the shoe, though there is wear around the rubber at the heel after 30 miles. I know another reviewer who ripped off the rubber at the heel after just a couple of runs, so durability is a concern.

How I Tested This Shoe

I’ve run 30 miles (50km) in the On Cloudboom Echo 3, doing a variety of fast runs, including a 5K race. I’ve also done a half marathon in training, which included a four-mile stint at around my marathon pace, and a tempo 10K. I’ve also tested almost all the best carbon plate running shoes available.

Running Performance

On Cloudboom Echo 3

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

It’s apparent from the first steps you take in the Cloudboom Echo 3 that this is an improvement from what On has previously produced. The midsole is livelier and more propulsive, and it’s also a more comfortable and lighter shoe than the Cloudboom Echo. 

I did a half marathon in the shoe out of the box, and it felt fantastic when I was running hard. The rocker flings you forward and the plate and foam combine to deliver pop off your toes. It’s still firmer than some other super-shoes with squishier foams, like Nike’s ZoomX material, but the Cloudboom Echo 3 isn’t harsh underfoot.

My next run was a tempo 10K in 36 minutes, done unpleasantly early in the morning, and the Cloudboom Echo 3 felt excellent again. Even when feeling tired it’s easy to turn your legs over in the shoe and keep rolling at fast paces. 

I noticed on those runs that the plate is less apparent at easier paces. It sits quite deep in the midsole foam, especially under the forefoot, and when I wasn’t pushing hard on runs I almost felt like I was just skipping off the top of the midsole and not engaging the plate. I think you have to be running hard to get the best from the midsole set-up, and lighter runners may not get as much back from the shoe as heavier or faster ones—who put more pressure on the foam.

For a race test I used the shoe at the RunThrough Lee Valley Velo Park 5K, which is on a cycle track in London’s Olympic Park. I didn’t realize how undulating the one-mile lapped course was, and the race essentially amounted to a series of short hill reps followed by fast downhill recoveries, but the Echo 3 felt nimble and light uphill then propulsive on the downs. 

I ran 16min 28sec for the 5K and don’t think I’d have gone any quicker in any carbon shoe over that distance. However, I think the Cloudboom Echo 3 falls slightly short of the bounce you get from my favorite carbon shoes, like the Nike Vaporfly 3, and that would tell over longer events like half marathons and marathons.

Is The On Cloudboom Echo 3 Worth It?

On Cloudboom Echo 3

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

The Cloudboom Echo 3 is a good carbon plate running shoe and one I’d be happy wearing for any race. I get more back from the ZoomX foam in Nike’s super-shoes, and there are other carbon racers I also prefer, but that’s personal taste. You’re not losing much, if anything, on performance if you opt for the Cloudboom Echo 3.

Two concerns undermine the shoe for me. The main one is the price, which is simply too high when you’re a brand arriving late in the game, which On certainly is. Not only are the best new shoes available from others cheaper than the Cloudboom Echo 3, including the Nike Vaporfly 3, there are also excellent older shoes regularly available for less than $200/£200 in sales, including the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3, Nike Vaporfly 2 and Asics Metaspeed Sky+.

Related to this concern is my fear that the Cloudboom Echo 3 will not be durable, since it’s showing more outsole wear than most carbon shoes I’ve tested after 30 miles. The Echo 3 is a great shoe, but with most serious runners already having a carbon racer they love, convincing them to switch to On will be hard when the Echo 3 is more expensive than the rest, and potentially less durable. 

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

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.