Stepping into the Cloudsurfer was a treat right away. Besides being a good-looking shoe (I got a few compliments the first day I wore them), the Cloudsurfer fit perfectly, was extremely lightweight and was comfortable on day one.
I've tried minimal running shoes in the past, but always went back to a traditional shoe. The barefoot and minimal shoes tend to be a rough ride, and require a big dose of patience and gradual progression that I just didn't want to make time for--I want to put on my shoes and go run. After developing some aches in my Achilles tendon and some nagging calf pain, I decided not to continue with the minimal shoes in fear of developing a more severe injury.
So, giving the Cloudsurfer a spin was my next attempt at running with a minimalist shoe. I had high expectations, simply because they looked so good and felt good while walking. So, I hoped for the best and took off on a few short runs, and gradually built up the time and distance to give the Cloudsurfer a good demo.
What's Different About On Running Shoes?
The makers say this design helps prepares the muscles for landing and allows a smoother transition into the stride, and then the "clouds" lock and provide a solid surface so the runner can push off with explosive force.
Although they claim, "the activation of the running muscles reduces the risk of injury and shortens recovery times with no adaption time needed," I found that, just like any minimal shoe, you need to gradually build up your time wearing them or you may end up with the same aches and pains as you'd have wearing any minimalist shoe.
Road Review and Bottom Line
With the airy mesh uppers, it's not the ideal shoe for cool or rainy conditions. My feet got cold on more than one occasion. It would be a good choice for hot summer days, though. The only truly annoying thing about the On shoes is that the little "cloud" tubes on the bottom of the shoe can get caked with debris--dirt, mud, sticks and stones--if you run off-road or in any muddy conditions. It's not the worst thing, and it's easy enough to clean 'em out, but still, I found this annoying.
One less annoying, but still noticeable, characteristic of the shoe, was an audible squeak I heard one day while running in the rain. It wasn't constant, and didn't bother me much, but I wondered if that would happen every time I ran in the rain. It was only on one shoe and lasted about 5 minutes and then disappeared.
Bottom line: if you want a good-looking, lightweight, minimalist shoe that has some, but not too much, cushion, you may find the On Cloudsurfer a good choice. [On Running also offers the Cloudrunner for a bit more cushion and the less cushioned Cloudracer.] It's a new shoe and with any new-to-market product, time will tell if it's a winner or just another short-lived fad.