Swiss-born sneaker brand On is a relative newcomer to the running shoe space but there’s a reason why tennis ace Roger Federer is a fan.
You may have spotted a pair of On trainers pounding the streets in lockdown, their distinguishing feature being the sole, which features hollow pods called “clouds.”
More than just a style feature, these gravity-defying pods are designed to cushion horizontally for a soft landing, before firming up again for an explosive lift-off – the effect of which is supposed to make you feel like you’re literally running on clouds.
On produced its first pair of Cloudflyers in 2015, and the new model marks the third series. According to founder Olivier Bernhard: “Unlike your average support shoe, the Cloudflyer focuses on cushioning, not correction. With cloud elements placed where runners need it most, the Cloudflyer is light in weight but big in energy return.”
The Cloudflyer really is incredibly lightweight – at 210g per shoe – it’s built to offer agility, comfort and stability on long runs.
Design features include an expanded surface area and elevated mesh; a forked outsole for cushioning and speedy take-offs; On’s signature Speedboard wider base, which is supposed to disperse the weight of a runner’s impact while energy from landing propels you forward; a star-lacing system and 3D-moulded heel.
In practice, wearing an On Running shoe feels unlike any other training sneaker. The Cloudflyer has a slightly square toe and hugs the entire foot and ankle with a cocoon-like firm cushion.
The CloudTec cushion system features 12 cloud pods which sit underfoot. The result is really steadying, with noticeable impact protection – and the word springy just doesn’t do it justice.
As I set out on my first Cloudflyer run, the curve shape of the sole gave almost a rolling motion sensation, which makes for really smooth miles. My foot felt super supported and stable, yet the shoe itself is so light. Personally, this feels like the perfect accompaniment to my 10K training.
Aesthetically speaking, I’m a huge fan of On sneaks, and I’m not the only one. On a recent trip to New York it felt like everyone was wearing a pair of black On runners for their post-weekend brunch strolls.
My only grip would be fit-wise, the Cloudflyers are snug and on reflection I would have sized up by a half size. Despite this I’ve still been swanning around in them to run errands (even though they’re designed for training purposes). As our obsession with running shows no sign of slowing down, I predict we’ll be seeing lots more of this style of shoe in the capital.
The Cloudflyer (£140) is available at on-running.com and in stores