The Swiss know how to make fantastic products. That legendary know-how has been translated to the full lineup of On Running shoes. In Europe, mountain running is legitimately off-the-hook (it’s becoming a thing here in the States) and the On Running Cloudventure trail runners are one of several capable shoes available from the upstart Swiss brand.

On Running Cloudventure Features:

  • Missiongrip outsole rubber
  • CloudTec® outsole with 11 individual pods
  • Technical two-layer mesh uppers
  • Ideal training companions
  • Moderate cushioning
  • Optimized for dirt (mixed gravel/dirt and mountain running)
  • Speedboard midsole
  • 6mm heel-to-toe drop
  • MSRP: $149.99
On Running Cloudventure Review

With unique CloudTec lugs and airy uppers, the Cloudventures perform well.

Like running on a Cloud(venture)

Arriving just prior to the Alta stop of the Cirque Series, the On Running Cloudventure trail runners feature the brand’s unique outsole/midsole construction, dubbed CloudTec. I’ll start there, because it’s certainly the most prominent feature of the Cloudventure’s.

If I turn back the Wayback Machine in my mind, these honestly remind me of the now-defunct GoLite Sundragon trail runners with their unique midsole/outsole pods. Fast-forward a few years and the Cloudventures are built with 11 individual pods, each one consisting of a molded outsole that wraps around a hollow, square pod. That empty space reduces weight and enables a smooth cushion and rebound. So far, the foam is wearing well and is still just as responsive as day one.

As others have mentioned, the first impression that the Cloudventure’s delivers is outstanding. They are comfortable, airy and smooth right out of the box. They don’t feel clunky or overbuilt in any way. After some office time and a few walks around the neighborhood, I was confident taking them out on the trails.

On Running Cloudventure Review

A beautiful sunrise run in the Wasatch.

Compared to the Arc’teryx Norvan LD (this year’s current favorite), the Cloudventure offers a different feel. Due to the unique construction, each pod delivers individual grip, traction and rebound in a way that you have to feel to believe. Because each square flexes independently, they splay outwards or sideways to contour with the terrain. I’ll say, the shoe’s construction really plays well with the types of trails I run here in Utah, which are typically dry, loose and rocky. Traction both uphill and down is excellent and overall support is also great. These do well everywhere and shine on technical, rocky terrain.

The mesh uppers allow plenty of airflow and make for excellent breathability. Even on the warmest days, my feet felt cooled and comfortable. That fabric is also durable as well (they show little signs of wear). The rubberized, welded rand delivers 360-degree support and protection against sharp, pointy stuff on the trail. And, the Speedboard midsole protects against intrusion from below. Trail feel is adequate. I can definitely feel the terrain, but I wouldn’t characterize these as having a “close-to-trail” feel.

On Running Cloudventure Review

Dry, smooth trails are a breeze in the Cloudventures.

For long and short training runs, my feet have been comfortable and supported. The overall stride of the Cloudventure’s is great. They do have a natural rocker to them, so the process of a midfoot-strike to toe-of is smooth, with a nice kick to it. I really appreciate the comfort and performance of this shoe. And, much of that can be attributed to those unique outsole pods. While they do offer a nice, comfortable stride and traction, I have stubbed my forefoot a little more than usual (I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it’s happening more often).

The only downside of the pods is mud and animal poop. I’ve had a little bit of both and it can get caught inside the hollow pod structure — making it difficult to clean out. This was particularly bad with one dog poop episode on the trail. Ugh. In addition to that, perfectly-sized rocks can become lodged into the outsole. I typically pick up a hitchhiker or two on every run.

On Running Cloudventure Review

Some small hitchhikers came along for the ride.

As I’ve used these, the thin laces have become more of a bother. They are so thin, it can be difficult to grab and lace up. Something with a little thicker or ribbed texture would be preferred. I utilized the uppermost lace ports and, because of that the laces weren’t long enough to use the lace keeper in the middle of the tongue. Double knots kept everything in place just fine. Once laced, the overall pattern is akin to wearing climbing shoes (it’s nice).

I’ll add that the outsoles are trending on the “fast wearing” side. I’m seeing some odd wear patterns in the most rearward CloudTec pods from descending. Additionally, the triangular micro patters are mostly gone. Again, traction remains fantastic and comfort is great as well, but I’ll have to keep an eye on them as they continue to wear.

The Good

  • Unique CloudTec outsole contours to the terrain
  • Smooth stride and toe-off
  • Airy and comfortable in hot temperatures
  • Uppers are wearing well
  • Enough wiggle room in the toebox for comfort (could always use more)
  • Lace up like climbing shoes
  • Can transition to road well (but increases wear)
  • Great traction on technical terrain

The Bad

  • Thin laces
  • Outsoles are wearing a little quickly
  • Mud and debris can get trapped in the hollow CloudTec pods
  • Tend to attract rocks into the treads

The Bottom Line: On Running Cloudventure

As with any fine European product, these perform at a high level, but do have a few quirks. I absolutely love the traction, comfort and support that the CloudTec pods provide. It’s a unique feel, but I’m liking it. Those thin laces are easily-forgiven, but the hitchhiking rocks and debris is a little harder to overlook (but I will because they are that good otherwise).

Buy Now: Available at REI

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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