On Running, a trip to HQ and the new Cloudventures
Suddenly, wherever I look in Scotland there are people wearing ON Running shoes. In fact, On Running has been a brand since 2010 (it was founded in Switzerland) but the shoes with the strange-looking “cloud” soles had not been fully on my radar.
I did try a pair of ON Cloudace shoes earlier this year and gave them a review on Run Ultra. I thought they were okay, but not my favourites. They felt a bit heavy and stiff for me and I found that part of the upper hit off my ankle bone.
So, I continued wearing my top shoes: Salomon Speedcross 4s. The Speedcross 4s are light and flexible and they suit my narrow feet.
But then I tried the new ON Cloudventure shoes and my views changed.
I really like these trail shoes.
The story of ON Running
The idea started with Swiss athlete Olivier Bernhard, a three-times world duathlon champion and multiple Ironman winner. When he retired from professional competition he decided he wanted to create a running shoe that would give him “the perfect running sensation”
In his quest, he met Caspar Coppetti and David Allemann, who also wanted to a new kind of running shoe.
The trio pooled their running experience and engineering expertise to start the process of founding the ON Running concept.
Their idea was that the shoe should have a cushioned landing and a firm take-off.
ON was officially established in Zürich in January 2010.
On set out in 2010 with a big ambition: To change the world of running. Eight years later, On Running shoes are available at more than 3,500 running stores in more than 50 countries.
On Running HQ
An impressive office in Zurich, Switzerland, offers an HQ for the brand. I was also amazed by the range of On shoes that were on show. From lightweight racing shoes to seriously durable trail trainers, there were far more On shoes in their wider collection that I knew about.
I pinpointed a few I would like to try, especially those at the lightweight end of the spectrum.
On Running themes and features
There was a lot of information to take in during the trip to On HQ and then to St Moritz in the Engadine valley in the Swiss Alps for some shoe testing. I joined a bunch of journalists and retailers from across the world and we were fortunate to be the first to be invited to test the new On Cloudventure shoe, which is due to launch the end of November.
Much of the technical info focused on the new Cloudventures, although it is based on the came Cloud technology principles that are found in all of On’s shoes.
Cushioning, not correction
Instead of correcting your running movement or gait, On lets you run how you run. The CloudTec cushioning “takes the first blow off the street or trail and then lets you transition naturally to the forefoot”. From there, the Cloud elements become “firm for a stable and a powerful push-off”. So, it’s all about cushioning, but only when and where you need it.
The CloudTec technology is “engineered to deliver a soft landing followed by an explosive take-off”. The result is a lightweight running feel but with great cushioning and impact protection.
On Running say: It’s like running on clouds.
The Missiongrip outsole offers “traction to master any mission”. The combination of an enhanced traction pattern and a specially selected grip-rubber compound keeps you sure-footed on pavement or trail. This has been updated in the new On Cloudventure shoe.
A new Specialized Speedboard is designed to allow the runner to “keep pace with the demands of the trail”. The Cloudventure Speedboard has been engineered specifically to drive you forward when running off-road. Narrower at the midfoot and with added torsion ability, the Speedboard works with the natural motion of your foot for an improved feel as it rocks and rolls over uneven ground.
Other features include forefoot grip studs, midfoot grip studs, square elements, traction patter and zig-zag channels.
First thoughts: On Cloudventure
Having tested a pair of Cloudace before and not finding them to my liking, I was worried I wouldn’t like the Cloudventure. But right from the start I enjoyed the fit and feel of the shoe. It is lighter and less sturdy compared to the Cloudace, yet still offers good support, stability and cushioning.
The Cloudventure is a stiffer trail shoe than I usually run in (Salomon Speedcross 4) but I appreciated the greater support from the upper, especially at the heel area, and underfoot.
We ran and walked on Alpine trails (dry, rocky and dusty) and I enjoyed the Cloudventures. They coped well although the trails did not really test the shoes to any limits. I felt like these trail shoes were meant for tougher terrain and so I decided to spend time at home running in the Scottish hills to see how the Cloudventures perform.
Update: You can see my full review of the On Cloudventure.
See On Running.