Innovative Swiss running brand On have just released their first off-road shoe range, the Cloudventure. Steve Skinner was keen to order a pair and put them through their paces.
I’ve run in the Clouds and Cloudsurfers on numerous occasions and found them very comfortable. When I heard that On were producing a trail shoe, the Cloudventure, I wanted to get my hands on them. Or rather get my feet in them.
Last year we held an event with the brand at The Running Works where Olivier Bernhard, Swiss champion triathlete and On Running co-founder, came and ran with us. Our run club got to try the (new at the time) On Cloudcruisers and they were super comfortable too. When speaking to Olivier on the run he said they were working on a trail shoe. I wanted to hear more but they were in the middle of designing and testing them in the Alps. I have been really impressed with the quality and comfort of my Clouds and Cloudsurfers so expected good things.
One of my [and others] biggest concerns was that the clouds would fill with mud and stones. Luckily this doesn’t happen…
Now I think about it, when I did my first run in the On Clouds it was a 20 miler and they felt great. Obviously we don’t recommend running that far in a new pair of running trainers.
Living in London it’s hard to find the time to run on trails and when I do I often have to run on road for a fair few miles to get onto the softer stuff. Over the last few months I have been gathering a selection of trail shoes (understatement of the year – Ed) so I have options for a variety of terrains. I decided to buy the Cloudventures as, having looked at the outsole, I could see they would be well cushioned and fit in my road to trail category. With the amount of cushioning that the Clouds (lugs on the outsole) provide I intend to use them at races where there’s a mixture of road and trail to contend with.
On first impressions I was a big fan of the Cloudventure. The Swiss brand has a very distinct style. They always look well made with a clean design. I guess that’s Swiss engineering for you. The first thing I noticed when I put them on was the large amount of padding around the heel. This provides support when changing direction and running up and down hills on the trails, my feet definitely felt secure. The padding is super smooth and soft and I had a good amount of room in the toe box for when my feet would heat up and expand when running. Despite the large amount of cushioning and padding in the shoe it remains light, weighing 240g (most trail shoes are around 300g). The biggest difference between the Cloudventures and any of the other On shoe is the amount of grip. In On’s words:
Our experiences in the Alps led us to develop four unique, micro-engineered grip-rubber surfaces that enable you to reach the peak in record time.
There are four distinct features on the outsole that allow the On Cloudventure to grip well, they are:
The entire outsole features an extruded triangular grip-pattern made from anti-slip “sticky” rubber. You can really feel the stickiness (technical term) when you touch it. The base grip helps the Cloudventures find traction on wet surfaces making them reliable in the rain.
Impact and push off grip
Arrow-shaped elements at the heel and front of the sole enable a secure grip upon impact and the transmission of force at take-off.
Crystal-shaped ridges provide directional grip and stability without stopping the natural flow of motion. These are positioned on the Clouds and in simple terms are small lugs. Compared to the likes of a Salomon Speedcross these lugs are very small. This might not be enough if you’re running on really muddy trails but for running from road to trail this is a good thing.
“Shark-teeth” at the sides of the sole enable grip to be found on trail running terrain even during the most extreme movements. When you run on trail each step is different. Olivier Bernhard and his team have taken this into consideration and thought about grip on the side of the clouds. I’m sure they have been thoroughly tested being born from the Alps.
My biggest concern was that the clouds could fill with mud and stones. Luckily this didn’t happen as the clouds are shallower than on other models. When in contact with the ground the clouds compress, closing the gap of where you think mud and stones could end up.
The upper is lightweight and breathable and features reflective detailing to ensure you remain visible in the dark. It appears to be durable and easy to clean. Although we all know what’s the point in cleaning trail shoes really!
The On Cloudventures are a great pair of trail shoes overall that I am looking forward to running many miles in.
Note from the Ed:
Steve purchased the On Cloudventure with his own hard-earned cash. All views are his own and written after running 40 miles in the shoes. The Cloudventure is available now at The Running Works, in-store and online.
I’d add a fifth type of grip; I’m not sure if it’s designed this way but on rocky / loose terrain (I’m in the High Peak, UK) I think the clouds themselves act like giant lugs, grabbing onto boulder edges and scree way better than I expected. The bit of ‘give’ in the cloud helps further in how they stick to stuff.