If I were to list the biggest things I want in a running shoe, comfortable and not-going-to-injure-me are def tops. But if I'm being honest, being fast is right up there, too. If something I strap to my feet can pick up my pace without any extra effort on my part, count me in. Yes, I'm a sucker for "super shoes" on race day, but I also don't want to do all my runs on carbon-fiber plates. So I'm always on the hunt for a solid everyday trainer that gives me just a bit of an extra boost without feeling like I'm cheating.
Enter: On's latest update to its tried-and-true Cloudsurfer model. Not just your typical minor design tweak—this update is actually a complete reimagination of what's underneath your foot. And I'm legit hooked.
What's new about the Cloudsurfer 7
The Cloudsurfer 7 features the brand's latest computer-generated cushioning tech, called CloudTec Phase, which is meant to give you a smoother ride. To create it, the design team captured treadmill data from more than 1,000 runners to develop a model that accurately reflects how real humans run.
So what does that mean? The main difference from the traditional On shoe design is that the hollow "clouds," made of Helion super foam, are tilted on an angle to create a domino effect as you roll through your foot on each stride: The holes close up underneath the heel first, then each one pushes into the pod in front of it, creating a forward-propelling motion as they snap back into place.
With this new cushioning, On was able to remove its traditional "speedboard" in the sole of the shoe, ditching some excess weight, so the new model clocks in at a pretty light 7.2 ounces. Cloudsurfer is just the first On shoe to use this tech, but the brand promises others will follow.
Check the specs
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Midsole drop: 10 mm
Upper: Double-layer mesh
Cushioning: Tilted Helion foam pods make for a soft-but-snappy landing
Colors: 4 (light green, white, light blue, black)
Sizes: 7-14 (men), 5-11 (women)
Sustainability: 100% of the polyester used is made of recycled materials (so 30% of the entire shoe is recycled). Also, the dyeing process saves 95% of the water used to dye the upper.
What they feel like to run in
I first lace these up for a workout of 1.5 mile repeats at the local track, starting with an easy warmup on the sidewalk first. Within the first few steps, I immediately notice that the shoes feel light on my feet, with a nice little zippiness thanks to that domino effect.
(Is it all in my head? Maybe. But I like the idea, and imagine it happening under my feet as I head to the track.)
Without putting much effort behind my push-offs, I look down at my watch and see my pace is a good 30 seconds speedier than usual for a warmup. I figure it's a first-mile fluke. I got extra-good sleep the night before, and, to be honest, I always get a little excitable whenever I test out new shoes. Once the miles add up, then we'll see, I think to myself.
But I take stock again seven miles later, and the zippiness hasn't faded. Because of the forward-leaning angle of the clouds, I feel like the shoes help push me forward with each step, rather than just being generally... springy. I'm not bouncing up and down in them, I'm striding ahead in the direction I actually want to go in without wasting energy.
The next time I test the shoes is during a recovery run the day after a tough 18-miler, when my quads and hamstrings are still sore. Though not quite as drastic, they're still perking me up enough to drop 10 to 15 seconds per mile from my typical easy pace, even on dead legs.
A few runs later, I realize something else: For someone with a pesky heel striking habit, I find the placement of the cushion helpfully encourages me to have more of a mid-foot strike. Rather than landing at the back of my foot like I all too often do, it feels best landing on my metatarsals in this shoe, which has a toe box wide enough to encourage my little piggies to spread out the way they naturally want to. (That said, some testers with wider feet have mentioned it's a tad too narrow for them.)
Over the past two weeks, I've ran 41 miles in them, and I've been really happy with how much more efficient they've made runs (and how comfortable I feel). Have I finally found a sneaker that checks all the boxes?
Who I'd recommend this shoe for
Even if you've tried On shoes before and weren't a big fan, I'd suggest trying out the Cloudsurfer 7—it feels nothing like the brand's stiffer older models, or even its max-cushioned Cloudmonster. The only caveat: This shoe might not be for you if you have an extra-wide foot. Otherwise, anyone who loves running on the roads—whether short runs or long ones—and wants a bit of extra pep in their step might enjoy these.
What I can't yet speak to? How long this smooth, zippy effect lasts. On recommends this shoe for everyday training runs, tempo runs, and road races from 10K to the marathon. But since the cushioning tech is brand new, there's always a chance it could peter out more quickly than more traditional materials.
I guess I'll just have to keep on running in them to see. That's more than fine by me!
Loading More Posts...