On Cloudflyer Review

No one will deny that On’s unique-looking running shoes have piqued the interest of runners across the globe. But are they worth the hype? While some runners agree, others vehemently disagree and call their signature CloudTec® technology a sales gimmick and unimpressive. We’re here to give you the lowdown on the On Cloudflyer and help you make sense of it all.

The Cloudflyer 4 is, according to On’s website, the perfect companion for those looking to take their running to the next level. Also according to On, with supreme cushioning and premium comfort, this shoe will support you as you push beyond your “pain, doubt, and goals”. We’re not so sure we agree.

Let’s get into the details of the On Cloudflyer review.

On Cloudflyer Review

On Cloudflyer Review

Features

  • CloudTec® in Zero Gravity & Helion foam
  • Engineered mesh upper in forefoot
  • Plush padding in the heel
  • Removable insole
  • Medial support for pronation
  • Full-length Speedboard®
  • Rubber on high-wear areas of the outsole

Pros

  • Excellent lockdown
  • True to size length wise
  • Provides good stability
  • Wide option available
  • Great for gym workouts
  • Not super responsive
  • Lightweight for stability shoe
  • Durable upper and outsole
  • Comfortable enough to wear all day

Cons

  • Rear half of the shoe is not breathable
  • Pricey
  • Not for mixed terrain
  • Heel counter comes up high against Achilles tendon
  • Low toe box

Who Is This Shoe For?

  • Runners that prefer firm cushioning
  • Flat-footed runners in need of moderate stability for pronation
  • Someone looking for a shoe that can cross from the gym to the road
  • Someone in need of a walking shoe
  • Someone looking for an ultra-comfortable casual shoe

Who Is This Shoe NOT For?

Steer clear if:

  • You’re looking for a very responsive shoe
  • You supinate 
  • You’re looking for plush cushioning

Fit of the On Cloudflyer

The Cloudflyer has an extremely comfortable upper that fits true to size across the midfoot and in length but the toe box seems almost a bit flat. While many runners have reported liking the really snug fit, I think for runners like me that prefer more room for toe splay it can be a touch claustrophobic. Overall the high-quality fabric provides a plush feel that hugs the heel and midfoot in a very secure and comfortable way.

Given the fact that I’ve run in plush cushioned shoes like the Asics Nimbus, the Hoka Clifton, the Brooks Glycerine, and the Altra Torin, I simply can’t agree with On’s classification of plush cushioning. To me, this is a very firm ride, but heel strikers might experience it differently.

Upper Design of the On Cloudflyer

On Cloudflyer Review

The breathability in the toe box of this shoe is amazing. It is contrasted though by the midfoot and heel design that is exactly the opposite. The thickly padded material in the heel hardly breathes at all. The non-gusseted tongue is thin and moves around a bit while running but not so much that it causes any discomfort. 

The lacing pattern is rather unique as well, with a cross pattern at the bottom, allowing you to tighten it for a snug fit without pressure on the lower bridge of the foot. There are some runners that have reported the laces cutting into the top of the bridge because of the lack of padding on the tongue.

There are some plastic overlays for additional support in the upper and this is where the low toe box can be an issue for some with the plastic overlay in the toe guard being a bit bothersome on downhills and faster paces.

The heel counter has thick padding and some added internal structure that keeps your heel locked into place but the back of the heel comes up a little high and this can cause some pressure on the Achilles tendon.

Like with most of On’s shoes, the color combinations are subtle and stylish and make for an attractive-looking shoe. It also focuses on sustainability with up to 40% of the upper made from recycled polyester.

Midsole Design of the On Cloudflyer

The midsole of the Cloudflyer consists of a firm Zero Gravity foam in the heel area that runs across in a J-shape on the medial side (inside) of the shoe to prevent your foot from rolling in (pronating). The forefoot consists of On’s lighter and more responsive Helion foam. Somehow that responsiveness doesn’t come through the way it does in shoes like the Cloudmonster and it ends up being rather dead. It’s not terrible, but it’s far from great. 

The Speedboard® once again sits on top of the midsole foam, and the thickness of the inner sole is not enough for a forefoot striker like myself. The impact from landing on the forefoot causes pain and you can feel the hardness of the Speedboard® with every stride. 

Heel strikers don’t experience this problem and get a bit more energy return from the shoe but it’s by far not the most responsive shoe. To me, this is another underperformer by On.

Outsole Design of the On Cloudflyer

The Cloudflyer offers really good grip on dry surfaces but on wet surfaces; it doesn’t give you that same confidence. When you flip the shoe over the cloudpods are smaller than some of On’s other shoes but the centre guide is quite wide and deep offering plenty of room for stones, acorns and the like to get stuck in there and I definitely don’t recommend trying even light trails with these. The Speedboard®  is also visible in the centre guide and the harder rubber on the high-wear areas is durable, as with all of On’s other shoes.

On Cloudflyer Review

Weight

Men 300g / Women 257g

Stack Height

Heel height: 29mm

Forefoot height: 18mm

Heel Drop

11mm (M) / 8mm (W)

Support

The Cloudflyer also features a wider Speedboard® for added stability and the rest of the shoe’s support comes from the plastic overlays but mainly the two compound midsole. It’s very successful at creating a stable ride and correcting mild pronation with the firmer J-shaped Zero gravity heel. You can read more here about stability shoes.

Alternatives to the On Cloudflyer

These are some alternatives to the On Cloudflyer that offer both stability and some versatility.

Asics Gel Nimbus

Alternatives to the On Cloudflyer - Asics Gel Nimbus

The Nimbus isn’t strictly a stability shoe but with a wide platform and a lot of structure, it just works well at providing an incredibly plush and stable ride and feels light on the feet.

In addition to its comfort and performance features, the Gel Nimbus also boasts sustainable materials for eco-friendly runners.

Pros

  • Great shoe for new runners
  • Extreme comfort for long runs
  • Good grip on both wet and dry surfaces
  • Feels light
  • Durable
  • Eco-friendly upper

Cons

  • Not breathable
  • Runs narrow
  • Pricey
  • Not the most responsive

Its plush feel underfoot, secure upper, stability, and eco-friendly materials make it an all-around winner in terms of both performance and style. You can also read our comparison of the Asics Nimbus and Asics Cumulus for more detail on what the Nimbus is like.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS

Alternatives to the On Cloudflyer - Brooks Adrenaline GTS

The Brooks Adrenaline 22 is a reliable daily trainer with a DNA Loft Midsole and added GuideRails for stability and support. Its GuideRails makes it one of the most stable and comfortable trainers on the market. It’s durable, and will last well beyond you getting bored with it.

However, its 12 mm drop, makes it suitable mainly for heel strikers and it takes a little while to break it in.

Pros

  • Super responsive
  • Very light for a stability shoe
  • Extremely breathable
  • Very stable at higher speeds
  • Good looking shoe
  • Fun to run with

Cons

  • Tongue is a bit thin
  • High arch could be uncomfortable for flat feet
  • Outsole not great in wet weather

Overall, the Brooks Adrenaline 22 is an excellent choice for a heel striker who needs stability and comfort in their daily trainer. While it may have some minor drawbacks, it’s well worth considering.

Saucony Guide

Alternatives to the On Cloudflyer - Saucony Guide

The Saucony Guide 16 is a mild-to-moderate stability shoe that offers a balance between traditional and modern guidance, with stability elements that are not too intrusive. The shoe has a soft and comfortable upper, good lockdown, and a roomy toe box. It is lightweight and suitable for longer daily runs or as a walking shoe.

Like the Cloudflyer, the cushioning is firm and may not be comfortable for those who prefer softer shoes. Additionally, the shoe isn’t meant for high speeds and its durability is sort of average.

Pros

  • Reasonably responsive
  • Breathable upper
  • Good lockdown
  • Lots of room in the toe box
  • Lighter than other stability shoes
  • Very stable at higher speeds
  • Good looking shoe
  • Fun to run with

Cons

  • Average durability
  • Firm ride
  • Not great for tempo and faster type workouts

Overall, the Saucony Guide is great for those who need some stability and support for longer easy runs. It provides good guidance without being too intrusive and offers a natural-feeling ride with good grip on various surfaces. However, it may not be the best option for those looking for softer cushioning or high-speed performance.

Saucony Tempus

Alternatives to the On Cloudflyer - Saucony Tempus

The Saucony Tempus is unique in that it’s a lightweight, very responsive stability shoe. It does great on distances from 5K all the way up to half marathons. If you need stability but are a little jealous of the selection of lightweight running shoes out there, this is the shoe to try.

It doesn’t have any of the traditional plastic overlays we’ve come to expect with stability shoes, instead, the magic happens in the midsole. Saucony has used their firmer PWRRUN foam in the shape of what they call a tuning fork to frame their more responsive PWRRUN PB foam to turn this into a truly fun running experience unusual for stability shoes.

Pros

  • Super responsive
  • Very light for a stability shoe
  • Extremely breathable
  • Very stable at higher speeds
  • Good looking shoe
  • Fun to run with

Cons

  • Tongue is a bit thin
  • High arch could be uncomfortable for flat feet
  • Outsole not great in wet weather

This versatile stability shoe can do everything if you’re only going to buy one shoe and at a mere 252g (M) and 224g (W) this shoe is a joy if you like to go a little bit faster. Plus it’s available in a wide model and is good for heel- and forefoot strikers alike.

FAQs about the On Cloudflyer

Is the Cloudflyer a true stability shoe?

The Cloudflyer isn’t a true stability shoe in that it doesn’t have the traditional features that you would expect from a stability shoe. Instead, On uses a more natural approach to providing stability by using foam compounds of different densities and plastic overlays on the upper of the shoe, to provide a more stable and supportive ride.

What is the On Cloudflyer best for?

We feel the Cloudflyer, similar to the Cloudrunner, is best suited for someone that needs a shoe with light stability, that can transition from the gym to the road. We don’t recommend them for heavy lifting in the gym or high-intensity CrossFit workouts. 

Are the inner soles of the Cloudflyer removable?

Yes, the insoles are removable and as with the Cloudrunner, we recommend you look at a gel inner sole to put a little extra cushioning between your foot and the Speedboard® if you’re a forefoot striker and want to try them out.

Does the On Cloudflyer fit true to size?

Yes, the Cloudflyer fits true to size. Some users have reported the toebox lower than usual however and had to add an extra half size to compensate.

Final thoughts on the On Cloudflyer Review

The Cloudflyer is a moderately versatile, everyday trainer for someone that prefers a firmer ride with light to medium stability. It’s comfortable whether you’re going to use it for running, gym, or just as a walking shoe. That said, if you’re looking for something a bit peppier, you might want to consider the Saucony Tempus and if you need a softer more cushioned ride, you should seriously consider the Asics Nimbus.

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AUTHOR

Marlene Baiton

Marlene Baiton is a freelance writer/editor and accounting controller. As a running and cycling enthusiast, she loves spending her free time out on the roads and trails with her family.

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