Founded in 2010, Swiss brand On has seen remarkable success in a relatively short amount of time.
One of the fastest-growing running shoe brands in the world, it produces high-quality footwear with a unique aesthetic, incorporating cutting-edge technology to boost performance.
But given the wide range of models the brand offers, choosing the right one for your needs isn’t always easy.
That’s why we’ve designed this guide to help, with a list of the 10 best On running shoes available right now.
We’ve outlined the main features of each model – along with their pros and cons – so you can find the perfect pair for your next run.
Before we get started, though, let’s take a look at some of the distinctive elements of On running shoes that are earning them an ever-increasing fanbase worldwide.
The 10 Best On Running Shoes in 2023
1. Best On Running Shoes for Newbies: On Cloudgo
2. Best On Running Shoes for Trail Runners: On Cloudultra 2
3. Best On Running Shoes for Race Day: On Cloudboom Echo 3
4. Best On Running Shoes Without a Speedboard: On Cloudsurfer 7
5. Best On Running Shoes for Stability: On Cloudrunner
6. Best On Running Shoes for Versatility: On Cloud 5
7. Best On Running Shoes for Speedwork: On Cloudflow 4
8. Best On Running Shoe for Longer Distances: On Cloudstratus 3
9. Best On Running Shoes for Comfort: On Cloudmonster
10. Best On Running Shoes for Cross Training: On Cloud X 3
Why are On Running Shoes so Popular?
The secret of the brand’s success lies in its ability to design shoes that are simultaneously fast, lightweight, and comfortably cushioned.
It’s a winning combination that’s hard to achieve, yet something that On delivers consistently throughout its range.
Here’s a look at some of the technology behind it:
This unique cushioning system comprises hollow pods underfoot that compress horizontally and vertically to absorb impact when you land and then rebound for a propulsive takeoff.
These make the shoe feel both comfortable and responsive.
The pods vary in size from shoe to shoe, depending on the type of running that the particular model is designed for.
This stiffening plate in the midsole is designed to work like a carbon plate, bending and flexing with your run to help achieve a more aggressive push-off.
It also gives the shoes a feeling of stability.
The material, thickness, shape, and curve of the Speedboard vary from model to model and depend on the goal of each shoe.
This year, On has introduced its latest cushioning technology – CloudTec Phase – currently seen in the Cloudsurfer.
Instead of featuring individual pods, CloudTec Phase fuses them together so that they collapse and interlock one after another, in a domino-type effect.
This is designed to provide a rolling motion and smoother transitions than ever.
Another bonus is that the Speedboard plate is no longer needed, reducing the shoe’s overall weight.
Other features of On shoes include:
- Helion – this is the Swiss-engineered superfoam created by On for a smoother performance. Lightweight and tough, it also performs well at all temperatures.
- Missiongrip – Developed in the Swiss Alps for safety on mountain runs and used in On’s trail shoes, this rubber compound – along with enhanced traction patterns – provides excellent grip on a variety of off-road terrain.
The Best On running Shoes
#1. Best On Running Shoes for Newbies:
Heel Drop: 11 mm, Weight: 9.03 oz, Cushioning: Mid, Support Level: Neutral
|Great combination of steady speed and comfort||Midsole a little too firm for very long distances|
|Very flexible midsole plate|
|Plush upper suitable for multiple foot shapes|
When designing the Cloudgo, On aimed to create a shoe to boost your energy and make you feel faster.
This it does in spades, making it perfect for motivating new runners and inspiring established athletes to push harder.
The gentle rockered midsole and the energy return from the TPU Speedboard help propel you forward, while the Helion superfoam feels lively underfoot and effortlessly absorbs the shock of impact.
But there’s a big emphasis on comfort, too, with a soft, generously padded upper and a pleasantly roomy toebox.
A bonus with this shoe is that it doesn’t have the deep grooves in the outsole that you see on some other On shoes, so it doesn’t pick up random pebbles en route.
#2. Best On Running Shoes for Trail Runners:
On Cloudultra 2
Heel Drop: 5 mm, Weight: 10.41 oz, Cushioning: Max, Support Level: Neutral
|Cushioned comfort for ultrarunners||Little recycled content compared to other On shoes|
|Closed channel on the outsole prevents rocks from sticking|
|Knitted sock upper keeps out debris and gives a snug fit|
A trail racing shoe designed to handle any terrain, the second generation of the On Cloudultra features a softer Helion foam than its predecessor.
This – combined with the more accommodating upper – translates to a noticeable increase in comfort over longer distances.
The Missiongrip outsole has been redesigned too, with an updated stud layout that gives 50% more ground contact for better traction on everything from muddy trails to steep descents.
The signature CloudTec cushioning and TPU Speedboard keep you rolling smoothly forward while protecting you from impact, and the Flip Release tab on the laces is a nice touch, making it easy to adjust the fit on the fly.
#3. Best On Running Shoes for Race Day:
On Cloudboom Echo 3
Heel Drop: 9.5 mm, Weight: 7.58 oz, Cushioning: Plush, Support Level: Neutral
|Race-specific fit||Very expensive|
|Incredibly lightweight||Only 1 color option|
|No rock-trapping pods underfoot||Narrow fit|
This is On’s fastest racing shoe, built with CloudTec and a new Helion HF hyper foam midsole made from Pebax for excellent shock resistance and superior energy return at all temperatures.
The lightweight full-length carbon Speedboard has an extreme rocker shape for explosive propulsion and the higher heel drop promotes a forward leaning position to encourage forward motion.
Lockdown is great thanks to the silicone inserts on the laces and insole, and the streamlined microfiber upper offers great breathability.
The only real downside with this shoe (aside from its eye-watering price tag) is its firmness, which may make it less than comfortable over longer distances.
#4. Best On Running Shoes Without a Speedboard:
On Cloudsurfer 7
Heel Drop: 10 mm, Weight: 8.64 oz, Cushioning: Plush, Support Level: Neutral
|Cushioned comfort through every phase of your stride||May be too unstable for overpronators or heavier runners|
|Soft, bouncy ride||Not ideal for up-tempo runs|
|Rockered geometry for smooth transitions||Upper feels too warm in hot weather|
The seventh iteration of On’s Cloudsurfer brings some new technology to the table, in the shape of its CloudTec Phase cushioning system.
With the hollow pods now collapsing like a line of dominoes with every landing and then springing back into shape, you get a rolling sensation during transitions that makes them a pleasure to run in.
The Speedboard has been removed, too, making the shoe lighter and more comfortable for longer distances, and the extra layer of cushioning beneath the pods means you won’t have to worry about trapped rocks and gravel.
The comfort continues right into the padded, luxurious upper, the plush tongue protecting you from the laces, and the toe box spacious enough to splay your digits.
#5. Best On Running Shoes for Stability:
Heel Drop: 9 mm, Weight: 10.6 oz, Cushioning: Plush, Support Level: Stable
|Unobtrusive support||Not supportive enough for serious overpronators|
|Good grip in wet and dry conditions|
|Wide fit available|
The Cloudrunner is one of the few shoes in On’s stability category, similar to the Cloudflyer but slightly more responsive, made with lighter Zero-gravity foam instead of Helion.
Like many of On’s shoes, it features a Speedboard – but in this version, it’s a bit wider than usual to provide stability.
Several other elements make this a great shoe for mild to moderate overpronators, including midsole cushioning that cradles the foot, raised sidewalls, and a wider-than-usual base to limit lateral motion.
As with many of On’s shoes, the thick upper has a welcoming feel, with a plush tongue and plenty of padding around the heel.
#6. Best On Running Shoes for Versatility:
On Cloud 5
Heel Drop: 7 mm, Weight: 8.81 oz, Cushioning: Mid, Support Level: Neutral
|Comfortable enough to wear all day||Not a performance shoe|
|Molded heel for a secure fit|
|Plenty of colors to choose from|
The 5th iteration of its best-selling Cloud shoe, this model carries on the tradition of being a fabulous all-rounder, as great for casual running and cardio workouts as it is for everyday wear.
Made with 44% recycled content, it is designed to support On’s signature speed lacing system that makes it easy to slip on your shoes or remove them in a flash (although it comes with a spare pair of old-school laces too).
The Zero-Gravity foam Cloudtec cushioning ensures soft landings and gives the shoe a lightweight feel, and there’s a little more of it in this generation so it feels more comfortable than ever.
And if you regularly run in wet conditions, you’ll be pleased to hear there’s a waterproof version of the On Cloud 5 too, with a membrane made from 100% recycled materials to keep out moisture while allowing your feet to breathe.
#7. Best On Running Shoes for Speedwork:
On Cloudflow 4
Heel Drop: 8 mm, Weight: 8.29 oz, Cushioning: Low, Support Level: Neutral
|Light, minimal design||Outsole is vulnerable to wear|
|Comfortable, secure fit|
The design of the Cloudflow was inspired by On’s fastest shoe – the Cloudboom Echo – and the ultra-light woven upper is made from the same material.
There’s a real emphasis with this model on pushing you forward – it features a strong but lightweight nylon-blend Speedboard and a rocker profile with a forefoot toe spring that together give it an undeniably propulsive feel.
You’ll find this generation feels even lighter and smoother than ever, with a welcome increase in cushioning boosting your comfort.
The updated upper gives the shoe a much more sleek and stylish look, while the outsole rubber grips well – even on rainy days – and has a newly closed channel to avoid picking up debris.
#8. Best On Running Shoe for Longer Distances:
On Cloudstratus 3
Heel Drop: 6 mm, Weight: 8.5 oz, Cushioning: Plush, Support Level: Neutral
|Double layer of CloudTec for excellent shock absorption||Somewhat pricey|
|Roomy but secure fit||May not suit very narrow-footed runners|
|Good energy return|
The demands of high-mileage runs require a very special kind of shoe, and On’s best-selling Cloudstratus 3 fits the bill perfectly.
Instead of just one, this model has two layers of the brand’s distinctive cloud pods.
According to On, an independent study conducted with Progressive Sports Technologies at Loughborough University found that this feature helps “reduce both the onset and duration of muscle soreness“.
And the improvements with this generation go beyond basic comfort – it has a sleeker look (and more eco-friendly appeal) thanks to the removal of all TPU and plastic overlays.
#9. Best On Running Shoes for Comfort:
Heel Drop: 6 mm, Weight: 9.7 oz, Cushioning: Max, Support Level: Neutral
|Largest pods of any On running shoes||May feel a little too soft for heavier runners|
|Soft landings with unmatched energy return||On the heavy side for an On shoe|
|Temperature-resistant for great year-round performance|
On shoes are designed to give you the experience of ‘running on clouds‘ and of all the models in their lineup, this is the one that comes closest to meeting that goal, making it ideal for daily training and recovery runs!
It features the most CloudTec of any On shoe for an enjoyably soft and bouncy ride, yet the springy Speedboard and forefoot rocker ensure there’s no sacrifice in performance.
Despite the unusually (for On) high stack height, this shoe feels stable enough to allow you to corner with confidence – especially with the deep guideline groove in the outsole – and has rubber coverage on the forefoot and heel for good traction and added durability.
The soft sockliner and upper are some of the most comfortable you’ll find anywhere, with the padded ensuring you’re locked in and well-supported.
#10. Best On Running Shoes for Cross Training:
On Cloud X 3
Heel Drop: 8 mm, Weight: 8.57 oz, Cushioning: Low, Support Level: Neutral
|Lateral support and stability||Outsole picks up debris|
|Stiffer Speedboard for powerful take offs in any direction||Not enough cushioning for longer runs|
|90-95% recycled upper|
And the good news is that On has created the perfect shoe for the job, designed for running but with features that make it a great choice for HIIT workouts, strength training, and more.
It has a 3-layer mesh upper with raised sidewalls for lateral support; an engineered heel cap and wider platform for stability; and the reactivity you need for plyometrics.
It also uses a star lacing pattern that wraps around and holds the foot securely in place so you can tackle explosive moves with confidence.
The Best On Running Shoes: Key Takeaways
With their distinctive design, intriguing tech, and growing commitment to sustainability, it’s no wonder that On running shoes have become some of the most popular with athletes worldwide.
I hope you’ve found this guide useful in picking a great pair for your next run, whether you’re new to the brand and itching to put it to the test, or an established fan looking for more great On footwear to add to your rotation.