In 2020 we began stocking On running shoes at George Fisher, this Swiss brand was founded in 2010 in Zurich. Three friends with a love for running started creating shoes on a small scale, today the company has become the footwear of choice for over 7 million runners world-wide. We knew we needed to test these shoes in the English Lake District, so we called on George Fisher Ambassador Dave Troman.
Over the last couple of months Dave has racked up over 100 miles in the new On Cloudventure shoes. Dave is a Keswick based running coach with a degree in sports science and a background in teaching sports psychology. Amongst his achievements are podium finishes in some of the UK’s toughest ultra-marathons and mountain marathons!
Here is his expert review of the ON Cloudventure shoe:
Always keen to try out some new technology, I was very interested to try out the new On Running Cloudventure shoe. This shoe makes use of some new technology and design in order to provide the stability, cushioning and grip needed for a top end trail running shoe.
Starting with the upper, which has a two-layer mesh construction and is seam welded to provide a solid, durable covering with the right blend of support and flexibility provided by a number of additional support bands spanning out from the lace eyelets. This makes the upper pleasantly soft but also allows easy dialling in of the fit by preventing the upper from stretching too much.
As someone who spends a lot of time training on the rough trails and fells around Keswick, I found the protective rand around the upper, just above the midsole, especially useful. Those that require a shoe with greater flex, may find this makes the shoe feel a little clunky with the rand in place. However, it certainly provides significant protection on rough terrain and does become more supple once the shoe is broken in. Towards the back of the shoe, the rand rises to encase the whole of the heel counter, providing a strong, stiff heel support.
In an era where manufacturers seem to be polarised with regard to the tongue of a shoe, either providing thick padded material or very minimalist cover, On Running seem to have got the balance just about right. The tongue is gusseted to prevent mud and debris entering the shoe and it has a blend of minimalism and padding, just enough to keep the pressure from the laces away without adding to the bulk around this area of the shoe. There is a small elastic tab halfway down the tongue which is easy to tuck your laces into to keep them out of the way and prevent unravelling. The laces themselves are not really to my liking. They are a bit too thin, making them difficult to tie with cold hands and I found there was a tendency for them to lose some of the tightness over the course of a training run.
What makes this shoe really stand out from the crowd is the unique midsole and outsole design. The midsole uses a series of pockets (CloudTec) which are designed to act as cushions in order to absorb the ground forces and propel the runner forward on push off. These pockets are larger where the ground forces will be higher towards the back of the shoe, and smaller towards the front of the shoe. I initially suspected that there would be a great deal of lateral movement from these pockets and certainly some uneven reaction when you place your foot on the ground, however even when running in technical terrain this was not really noticeable. I should point out that I am a fairly light runner who does not hit the ground particularly hard in any running shoe, the impact forces from a different runner may produce a greater reaction from the pockets in the midsole.
What this design does provide is some very deep lugs, particularly at the rear of the outsole, which in many conditions do provide a very reassuring grip; not the same kind of grip you would get from fell running shoes, but nonetheless still a solid grip for trail running. Grip is further aided by the Missiongrip outsole. This has multiple patterns of rubber, designed to give grip to the front of the shoe when climbing and to the rear of the shoe when descending. The rubber itself is quite soft which gives it a sticky feel but I have been impressed with the durability which seems to have stood up well to the 100 plus miles that I have covered in the shoe.
Delving further into the midsole, we find the Speedboard plate. This is picking up on the trend for some kind of rebound plate which seems very popular with shoe manufacturers at the moment. This is not a carbon plate as found in very high-end shoes but still acts as a slight spring in order to push you forward into the flight phase of your running cycle. It also acts as a strong rock plate, meaning you don’t have to worry about painful feedback from the trail. The Speedboard plate is much narrower around the arch area of the shoe which means there is a greater degree of flex when running.
For the duration of this review, the miles clocked up have been over the winter, running in either muddy conditions or snow and ice. I have been pleasantly surprised at how little mud has clogged up in the pockets and deep lugs on the outsole. To this point, I have had no issues with small stones embedding in the pockets, I will be interested to see how this continues in the future months.
The shoe has a 6 mm heel to toe drop which places it between the low-drop shoes and the more traditional higher heel raised shoes and, like most trail shoes, has a neutral balance to the running action. The shoe is definitely built on a narrow last which suits me fine, but I would recommend that anyone thinking of getting any On Running shoes should try them on first to make sure you are suited to their fit. Lengthwise, the shoe came up true to size.
There obviously has to be a trade off against some of the features like the strong protective rand, the inclusion of the Speedboard plate and the considerable technology in the outsole construction, and that trade off comes with weight. For a light runner like me, I found the shoe a little on the heavy side coming in at nearly 350 grams for a UK 10.5. This is nearly 100 grams heavier than the majority of my running shoes.
These shoes have become my workhorse shoes, largely down to the great durability. Even after over 100 miles put into the shoes, there are no signs of wear at all. Considering I do all my running in the Lake District, that is a big plus point for these shoes. The strength and durability of the Cloudventure did mean that it took quite a long time to break the shoes in, but once broken in they feel very comfortable on my feet and I often reach for them for training runs and even when going out hiking on the hills.
You are definitely getting a lot of shoe for your money. There is a great deal of thought and technology put into these shoes, and you do feel that you are running in something a little different. The durability and protection is as good as I have encountered in any running shoe and I feel that I will get many, many more miles out of these shoes.
Check out our range of On running shoes at George Fisher here!
More details on Dave Troman's running coaching can be found here!