The On Cloudsurfer has been around for about seven years, but the 2023 version changes everything. Gone are On’s Speedboard plate and typical cloud geometry. Instead, the midsole features CloudTec Phase, a digitally constructed midsole geometry based on scanning thousands of runners.
For On Running, switching up the midsole technology is a significant risk…they’re super popular among the masses. But, the reception is more lukewarm among competitive runners. Is the On Cloudsurfer finally a shoe that everyone will love? Let’s find out.
Release Date: March 23, 2023
Weight: Men’s 8.64oz, Women’s 7.23oz
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The On Cloudsurfer is probably On’s best pure running shoe yet…but the disjointed feel of the midsole may not work for some people.
The new CloudTec Phase midsole is the star feature of the On Cloudsurfer and the main marketing message behind the shoe. The On website and press release are littered with language like following:
In CloudTec Phase, the computer-generated Clouds seamlessly collapse like dominos when your foot lands. The result? Supreme, enhanced cushioning, and a softer, smoother transfer from heel to toe.
Which, sounds absolutely fantastic. I did feel like the Clouds collapsed like dominos and did find the heel of the On Cloudsurfer to be the softest On running shoe I’ve ever worn. What I didn’t like, however, was that the heel and forefoot felt like different shoes.
The heel of the On Cloudsurfer felt as soft and plush as many of the best road running shoes on the market. On the other hand, the forefoot felt like a completely different foam. It was strangely firm underfoot and a big switch from what was used in the heel (although it’s the same foam). The combination of the two together in one shoe felt disjointed and uneven.
Whether you like the CloudTech Phase midsole on the On Cloudsurfer will depend on 1) where you land and 2) your preference for cushioning. For example, if you’re a heavy heel striker who loves soft, plush foams, you’ll likely think the Cloudsurfer is great. But I think most midfoot strikers like myself will leave their runs unsatisfied because the Cloudsurfer can’t really decide what it wants to be.
As usual, On’s engineered mesh upper looks and feels premium. It’s also noteworthy that the looks didn’t suffer as On upped the amount of recycled polyester. I’m always a fan of including more recycled materials when it doesn’t affect the end product’s wearability.
The upper is, again as usual for On, soft and comfortable. The On Cloudsurfer has plenty of padding at the heel and in the tongue but keeps the rest of the shoe light on the bulk. So, even with the extra padding, the Clousurfer still feels light and airy.
The On Cloudsurfer’s outsole has a large patch of rubber with diamond-shaped inlets at the forefoot and a smaller one at the back of the heel. It doesn’t look like much, but the grip was solid and the traction didn’t show any signs of wear during my testing. I think this outsole will last the life of the shoe and you’ll be happy with the grip on multiple surfaces.
Is the On Cloudsurfer wide foot friendly?
The Nike Ja 1 is fairly wide foot friendly. The last is on the wider side which will satisfy a fair amount of people. I’d still recommend most wide footers go up a half size to be safe. Everyone else can go true to size.
Is the On Cloudsurfer worth $160?
I mean, $150-160 is about the right price point for a shoe with the On Cloudsurfer’s stack and cushioning technology. Do I think there are better neutral cushioned running shoes for the same price? Yes. But, this one isn’t overpriced by any means.
We covered the biggest con in the midsole section…the disjointed feel of the cushioning from heel to forefoot. If you’re not a midfoot striker, the difference in feel might not bug you. Well that and some forefoot strikers might want a little more squish. Otherwise, there’s nothing else to complain about.
On Cloudsurfer Summary
The On Cloudsurfer shows me On Running is dedicated to making shoes competitive runners love to wear. In eschewing the speedboard, On is showing us they have no sacred cows and are willing to do what it takes to make awesome running shoes. And while the On Cloudsurfer doesn’t nail the midsole feel, it’s a shoe a bunch of people are going to enjoy.