What You Need To Know
- Max cushion, mild stability shoe
- Weighs 11.1 oz. for a men’s size 9
- Dual-layer CloudTec® outsole
- Get the black version and throw on a piano key necktie for your next “run friend” wedding
Blue Steel. Ferrari. Le Tigre. They’re all the same thing.
Like Mogatu’s disbelief at the media fawning over Derek Zoolander’s runway look, I too feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
I don’t get On.
For the unfamiliar, On is the Swiss creator of Helion foam and cloud pods for outsoles (made of their proprietary CloudTec® technology). While their product is no piano key necktie, it is a shoe that certain people love— namely rich jetsetters, triathletes, and Rich Roll listeners. Some runners too.
This is my fourth On shoe I’ve reviewed over the last year and in my opinion, it goes beyond a piano key necktie. It’s on the same gimmick level as a keytar necktie. My prediction? Once knowledge of the product catches up to the slick marketing, eye-catching creative, and sleek Euro design, On will fall back down to earth.
Of course, if they get rid of their awful cloud outsole, they could turn their dirigible airship around and sail for cirrus skies. Then again, maybe I’m the crazy one— one of their sponsored athletes just won the Badwater 135 and destroyed the course record in the process.
In any case, the Cloudstratus is their newest shoe, meant for an ultimate cushioning experience. It offers double layers of CloudTec®, which is a bit different than the rest of their shoes that have just one larger layer. The engineered mesh upper has a star lacing system with almost endless options (there’s actually 20 different eyelets on each shoe). While not a pure stability shoe, it does offer some mild stability with an anatomically designed heel counter, and a sock liner that’s ribbed under the arch.
You can probably guess I didn’t love this shoe; however, to-date it is the best On shoe I’ve tried.
I’ll go with what I always feel is the good with On shoes. I like the upper design. It’s certainly polarizing, but I’m on board with their style choices. I get why people buy them. They’re different and they have that uniquely European look that says “I know something you don’t know.” They’re the Helly Hansen of the shoe world.
As always, On isn’t afraid to try new things with their uppers. I like this, even though it’s to the shoe’s detriment at times (see the rubber side pieces on the Cloudswift). This shoe is no different. While the lacing system gives you a ton of options (I like this), I also can’t tell if the lace loops up front are just a gimmick or are useful. Whatever, they look kind of cool.
Overall, the upper is certainly well-constructed and comfortable, if not a little stiff. However, this is how most On shoes are made; they need a good amount of breaking in, but will hold up for a long time.
Out of all the On road shoes I’ve reviewed, I probably liked this one the most. I like the dual-layer of CloudTec that transitions to a single layer in the forefoot for a more firm pushoff. It has the cushioning of the Cloudace, but weighs a half-ounce less. It’s a much more comfortable ride than the Cloudswift, but it should be since it’s a high-cushion shoe.Shop On Cloudstratus
I noted this in my review of the Cloudswift (a shoe experience that felt like running on plywood)– I hate the Speedboard in the midsole. It’s just a hard piece of plastic that needs to be thrown out. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the CloudTec® pods need this platform to exist. If so, get rid of everything.
While I enjoyed the upper, it felt too roomy for me. For reference I have a narrow foot , but I felt like I was sliding around, even with the laces secured tightly. Nike is my ideal fit, so take that as you will. I imagine the lacing system was designed to mitigate this in some way, and maybe I should’ve taken more time to dial this in, but out of the box it wasn’t great.
My shoe weighed 10.6 oz. for a size 7.5. This is pretty average for a stability shoe; the Brooks Adrenaline 19 and ASICS Gel Kayano 26 weigh the same. However, this is more of an everyday trainer/mild stability shoe, and other shoes I’ve worn in this weight range have a much lighter feeling ride. I’ve experienced the same thing with the Cloudace and Cloudventure as well. The outsole is just so heavy, with the pod structure and added rubber pads.
Lastly, my legs just felt beat up, even after 4 or 5-mile runs. I’m reviewing the new Skechers Max Road 4 Hyper, and it was a glorious relief from my runs in the Cloudstratus. (I know, the Max Road isn’t a stability shoe, but still, the cushioning was way better). My consensus? While this is a cushioned shoe in the On world, and honestly their best overall shoe, it is still not a comfortable ride when compared to the myriad of other options out there.
Which brings me to my next point– those other options can be had for much cheaper. While the Cloudstratus isn’t as eye-poppingly expensive as the Cloudace (at a wtf $199.99), it still comes in at $169.99. I thought ASICS had jokes charging $159.99 for the Kayano; with these prices, On’s got the headlining gig at the Comedy Cellar’s open mic night.Shop On Cloudstratus
On Cloudstratus Conclusion
I’ll continue to say it— I want to love On. This is literally the only reason I keep asking for their shoes for review (probably much to On’s chagrin). But I’m now fully convinced that their Helion cushioning and CloudTec® pods, combined with their Speedboard, is just a bad recipe preventing good running.
You may be able to pull this over on casual runners for a while with good marketing. Which, by the way, On has the best website design, creative shots, etc., so kudos to them. It looks like a company to love.
I actually have a friend who started running and went with On right off the bat. He thought they were great and ran in them for months. But he had zero knowledge of running shoes. Once he started getting more serious, I pointed him to some other lighter, more comfortable, and more responsive options that I thought would fit his marathon training better. He hasn’t gone back.
If you’re an On fan, and you want to stick with them, by all means, go right ahead. I’m sure they’re great for some people. Like I said, it’s the best out of all the On shoes I’ve reviewed. If that’s the case, I think you’ll love this shoe and you can pick it up at Running Warehouse for $169.99.Shop On Cloudstratus
Robbe is the Senior Editor/Review Manager for BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards when he’s not MAF training. His favorite race distance is the marathon and his favorite beer is anything but Blue Moon.