In all aspects of our life, technology is changing the standard of performance. The world of running shoes is no exception.
Founded in 2009, Hoka set out to change the game in running shoes, with its ample foam midsoles and Meta-Rocker design providing a new standard in comfort for runners.
A year later, On Cloud ventured to make its own mark, designing a running shoe that provided a cloud-like running experience without sacrificing anything in the way of performance.
After digging deep into the history and catalog of each company, we found that Hoka shoes tend to set the standard for cushioning and comfort, while On Cloud will be a bit better for durability and responsiveness.
However, if these aren’t your primary consideration points when choosing a running shoe, keep reading our Hoka vs On Cloud comparison to find out everything you need to know about how each one of them stack up!
Hoka at a Glance
Hoka One One–Hoka for short–is one of the most recognizable running brands in the world.
With many of its products noted for their thick midsoles and bold color schemes, it is hard to miss a pair of Hokas when out in public. I often find myself complimenting people: “Hey, nice Hokas!”
However, Hoka is not simply in the business of making a gaudy product–there is a reason behind the rhyme, if you will.
The thick midsoles are a direct result of Hoka’s Meta-Rocker technology and PROFLY+ foam. This helps provide runners with optimal propulsion and cushioning without adding cumbersome weight.
The bold color scheme stems from Hoka’s unwavering optimism. The company believes that whether you are a first-miler or experienced marathoner, your shoes can help you silence the critics and ward off the doubters.
The result is a product line that exudes confidence and helps guarantee performance, with some of the most well-known Hoka shoes being the Clifton and Bondi, each of which have undergone numerous iterations over the years.
On Cloud at a Glance
If Hoka gets the nod for recognizability, the Swiss shoe brand On Cloud is making its push thanks to cutting-edge technology and innovation.
Each of its shoes is scientifically designed with CloudTec technology that is guaranteed to provide a soft landing and explosive takeoff.
Through its use of Helion superfoam, the company can design shoes using a stiffer foam that remains soft on contact but surprisingly productive in energy return.
The result is shoes that provide a cloud-like running sensation and optimal performance–runners don’t have to choose one or the other.
Finally, the company’s Missiongrip outsoles give runners the confidence that they can maintain performance on all types of surfaces.
At the end of the day, the advanced technology used by On Cloud creates running shoes that may not look exactly like traditional products, but are designed for the next generation of runners.
Some of the most popular On lines are the Cloud, Cloudflow, and Cloudswift.
Hoka vs On Cloud Differences in Design
Now that you know some of the general background info on these two running shoe companies, let’s dive deep into how each company designs its products.
Both companies get high marks for the upper design.
At a minimum, you can expect an engineered mesh upper that provides outstanding breathability and flexibility from both companies.
On Cloud is able to accomplish this using 44% recycled material, making them the preferred choice for runners who value sustainability.
While On Cloud does not offer a ton of versatility in its uppers among products, those with all types of feet find the shoes to be snug and secure, with those with wide feet noting that the engineered mesh upper being flexible enough to accommodate their needs.
Hoka is a bit more diverse in its upper profile. While engineered mesh is at the heart of its upper design, you will frequently find more overlays, heel collars, and expanded toe boxes in its various products to accommodate those runners looking for more support.
There are even some Hoka lines that feature leather in the uppers for added durability and water resistance.
So if versatility in upper design is a priority, Hoka will give you a few more options when compared to On Cloud.
As a company famous for its midsole design, it is hard to go wrong with Hoka.
With its proprietary Meta-Rocker, PROFLY+ foam, and reinforced EVA rubber, Hoka midsoles set the standard for propulsion, cushioning, and lightweight design.
If there is any drawback to the Hoka midsole, it is that the noticeable stack may be a bit distasteful to some runners who may be looking for something a bit more understated.
Although Hoka midsoles are the standard, On Cloud is making a strong push thanks to its innovation.
Its midsoles feature CloudTec, which is a cutting-edge midsole technology that offers cushioning only when you strike the ground. So the midsoles are soft on landing, but firm up to offer greater pushback as you spring forward during your stride.
And while Hoka midsoles are recognizable for their stack, On Cloud’s make their mark through their pattern. An On Cloud midsole is not one solid piece of foam, but a patterned alternation between air and rubber “clouds,” creating a bold, checkered midsole.
If there is one aspect of design where we can confidently say On Cloud has the edge, it is in the outsole.
The company offers a variety of high-tech outsoles to suit the needs of any type of runner.
For trail-level toughness, the company equips its shoes with high-traction Missiongrip rubber. Its varied sole patterns ensure elite traction without sacrificing the cloud-like running sensation.
For those runners looking for optimal performance, the company has innovative Rebound Rubber outsoles, while those runners looking for a little extra cushioning can look for shoes that have Zero-Gravity Foam added to the outsole.
While Hoka’s outsoles may not be as diverse or innovative as On Cloud, they are still more than capable of meeting a wide selection of running needs.
As Hoka is a brand noted for its comfort and enhancing low-effort strides, many of its shoes will feature high-abrasion foam exposed on the outsole to provide some additional cushioning.
However, to enhance durability and traction, high-abrasion lightweight rubber is added to the forefoot and heel.
Hoka vs On Cloud Feature Comparison
Let’s take a look and see how each company’s design features actually play out in action.
Durability is always a bit of a tricky metric to measure with running shoes, as there can be great variability based on a runner’s weight and stride pattern.
However, in general, On Cloud’s will be the much more durable option.
Thanks to their Missiongrip rubber outsoles, On Cloud’s are not easily damaged by rocks, sharp edges, or other types of rough surfaces. As a result, many runners report exceeding 500 miles in their On Cloud’s.
While it is not completely uncommon for Hokas to experience this kind of longevity, the opposite end of the spectrum has also been reported for Hokas, with some runners falling short of 300 miles in the brand.
Because most Hoka products feature a high degree of exposed foam on the outsole, they are simply not as durable as those shoes that feature solid rubber outsoles.
Therefore, Hokas are usually most ideal for running on tracks, highways, sidewalks, or other types of consistent surfaces.
You are more likely to find your ideal fit with Hoka than you are with On Cloud.
As mentioned, On Cloud provides an engineered mesh upper that promotes breathability and flexibility for all types of feet without adding bulk, so it is far from substandard.
However, Hoka will offer a wider range of offerings to arrive at the perfect fit. While Hoka also uses engineered mesh in its uppers, it also offers products with expanded toe boxes to help those with wide feet.
Hoka also has more overlays on some of its shoes to create more snugness.
Both companies offer upper-end cushioning, but Hoka gets the nod in this realm as well.
Thanks to its ample midsole featuring PROFLY+ foam, many runners looking to log “easy” miles typically search for Hoka products.
However, On Cloud is no slouch when it comes to cushioning.
With its CloudTec innovations, it is able to create a cloud-like landing for high-performance runners that does not inhibit responsiveness in the same way that heavier high-cushion shoes do.
Stability and Support
Many runners love On Cloud shoes in terms of stability because its CloudTec features provide cushioning without correction. Many shoes that force runners to correct their gait can lead to both acute and overuse injuries, so there is no fear of this with On Cloud.
On Cloud shoes also provide a heel counter that prevents slippage in the heel.
Hoka tends to offer a bit more diversity in its offerings for stability and support.
You can find Hoka products that will offer heel clutches to prevent slippage, J-Frame technology to prevent the foot from collapsing inward as you run, and the Meta-Rocker design to help limit exertion between strides.
The one downside for Hokas in terms of stability is that due to their thick midsoles, some runners who like to be able to feel the ground note that running in Hokas is a bit of a balancing act.
Most runners feel like Hoka runs true to size or slightly bigger. This is not a bad thing, as it is generally recommended that you size up slightly for running shoes to account for swelling during exertion.
As for On Cloud, runners overwhelmingly agree that their products run true to size.
If you are looking for economy running shoes, then neither of these premium brands fit the bill. You are going to have to pay a little extra for the kind of cushioning and performance these shoes offer.
For both companies, you are unlikely to find any of their products priced below $150. However, many of their latest, most up-to-date shoes will price around $100 more than this.
Hoka vs On Cloud Top Shoes
To round out our comparison of Hoka vs On Cloud, it is worthwhile to get specific and look at how some of their similar products stack up against each other.
Performance: Hoka Rocket X vs On Cloud X
The Rocket X is the fastest shoe in the Hoka product line, with a carbon-fiber plate and strategically placed outsole rubber giving the shoe increased traction and stability in addition to Hoka’s famously cushioned midsoles and breathable upper.
However, while Hoka proves it is more than just a comfort line with the Rocket X, it can’t quite stack up to On Cloud in terms of performance.
The Cloud X is arguably the most responsive in the On Cloud line–which is saying something when the entire series is built on responsiveness!
At only 8 ounces, there is simply no other shoe that can provide the amount of spring and lightweight comfort that this shoe can to help you shine on race day.
Winner: On Cloud X
Stability: Hoka Arahi 6 vs On Cloudflyer 2.0
Although the thick midsole in most Hoka shoes can leave some runners feeling a bit uncertain about stability, the Arahi 6 alleviates most of these concerns.
With a less pronounced heel-to-toe drop than other Hoka shoes, runners can feel like they have a bit more control over their stride. In addition, its J-Frame features help keep the foot from collapsing inward as you run.
The Cloudflyer 2.0 is a premier shoe for overpronators. With fewer, wider cloud elements in the midsole, this shoe helps prevent inward rotation of the foot.
In addition, the shoe uses an internal speedboard to help promote a more natural heel-to-toe motion with each stride.
Winner: On Cloudflyer 2.0
Cushioning: Hoka Bondi 8 vs On Cloudstratus 2.0
The Cloustratus 2.0 is On cloud’s most cushioned shoe, doubling the cloud elements in the midsole to further enhance the soft landing for which On Cloud is famous. The amount of small “clouds” visible in the shoe’s midsole is quite the sight to see!
However, when it comes to cushioning, there is no shoe on the market that can match Hoka’s Bondi line, as it tops the list of many websites’ reviews of most comfortable running shoes. The Bondi 8 is the latest in this famous premium comfort line.
With the most up-to-date midsole foam compound, impressive heel-to-toe drop, and low energy Meta-Rocker design, the Bondi 8 is truly the shoe to turn to for low-effort miles.
Winner: Hoka Bondi 8
Hoka vs On Cloud: Our Final Verdict
As expected, our in-depth review revealed that Hoka running shoes remain the standard for cushioning and comfort, the perfect choice for logging easy miles.
However, On Cloud products are nearly as impressive in this regard while helping the runner maintain a strong race-day performance. It’s proprietary CloudTec innovations ensure a soft landing on contact, with an elite transition to high responsiveness.
Whatever your primary motivation for choosing a running shoe, sift through the detailed breakdown above to find the perfect Hoka or On Cloud shoe to help you reach your goals!