On Running Vs Nike Running Shoe Comparison: 5 Main Differences

When you are shopping for running shoes in your local running store or online, narrowing down your search can be a bit difficult and a bit overwhelming with all of the choices out there. 

There are many excellent brands that manufacture high-quality running shoes, so determining which brand to go with is often best facilitated by doing a head-to-head comparison of the features of each brand.

An On Cloud vs Nike running shoe comparison is an interesting one because the shoes are quite different in many ways yet similar enough that many runners might be interested in either one.

But, what are the main differences between Nike vs On Cloud running shoes? In this article, we will discuss the differences between On Running vs Nike running shoes to help you find which brand might be a better fit for you.

We will cover: 

  • What Are the Main Differences Between On Running Vs Nike Running Shoes?

Let’s jump in!

A runner tying their teal shoe on a deck.

What Are the Main Differences Between On Running Vs Nike Running Shoes?

On Cloud running shoes are designed and manufactured by the Swiss company On Running, which was founded in 2010 by a six-time Ironman triathlon champion named Olivier Bernhard.

The On Cloud lineup mostly includes neutral shoes designed to support a natural running stride in contrast to corrective stability and motion control running shoes that offer a lot of pronation control and gait correction.

Compared with Nike running shoes, which have all different looks based on the type of running shoe, On Cloud running shoes as a whole have a rather distinctive appearance.

The shoes have pods in the soles called CloudTec, and the company claims that this technology helps reduce muscle fatigue and heart rate by promoting energy return to enhance forward propulsion and reduce impact stress.

Nike running shoes tend to be performance-driven, using the latest and greatest running shoe technology to make the lightest, fastest, most responsive running shoes.

Someone jumping in the sand.

Nike also has plenty of cushioned, everyday trainers in their lineup, but the options for racing shoes and high-performance or elite running shoes are extensive.

Nike also makes a deliberate effort to use as much post-consumer recycled materials in shoes to improve sustainability.

One important thing to note is that there are fewer On Cloud vs Nike running shoe models that are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA)

For this reason, if you have foot conditions or wear orthotics, you might be better suited to choosing Nike vs On Cloud running shoes.

Black On running shoes.
Wikimedia

Nike vs On Cloud Running Shoes: Cushioning 

The primary differences in the cushioning with On Cloud vs Nike running shoes are the type of cushioning materials used in the shoes and the resultant feel and function. 

The distinctive appearance of On Running shoes is a product of the CloudTec technology in the sole, which involves the incorporation of little hollow pockets on the bottom of the shoe. 

This specialized CloudTec sole is designed to “feel like a cloud,” reduce shock, and absorb impact by compressing and rebounding with each step.

To help provide a balance between cushioning and responsiveness, the midsole of the On Cloud shoes is deliberately designed to be firmer than that used in most running shoes. This helps promote energy return.

Most runners report that although the shoes are well cushioned, On Cloud shoes do not necessarily feel plush and pillow-like in the way that a maximalist shoe like Hoka running shoes do. 

When comparing the feel of Nike vs On Cloud shoes, both shoes are quite responsive, but Nike shoes tend to have a little more cushion, particularly models with air cells or thicker cushioning. 

There are also plenty of speed shoes and lightweight trainers, such as the Nike Free, which essentially has no cushioning, so it is a little hard to make sweeping generalizations given the wide range of models.

Red Nike shoes.

On Cloud vs Nike Running Shoes: Stability

Neither On Cloud nor Nike running shoes are necessarily ideal for runners who overpronate severely, as neither brand has shoes designed to provide a significant amount of pronation control.

With that said, if you are looking for greater stability and pronation control, you will be better served with Nike vs On Cloud, choosing specific stability Nike shoes.

On Cloud shoes are not designed to “correct” overpronation. There are a couple of stability shoes in the lineup, but these models just vary the placement of some of the materials under the arch to help steer the foot into a better position.

Nike stability shoes help control the degree of pronation by widening the base of the shoe, increasing the size of the heel flare to prevent inward rolling of the foot, and building in a gentle S shape to the shoe last itself. This shape helps enhance lateral stability through the heel-to-toe transition.

A pair of black On Running shoes.
Wikimedia

On Cloud vs Nike Running Shoes: Durability

The durability of any running shoes depends on factors inherent to the shoes themselves and how well you take care of them, as well as individual factors pertinent to your training and body.

Individual factors include things such as your body weight and size, your specific gait and foot strike, whether you rotate your shoes, how often you run and for how long, the terrain you run on, and the climate and weather in which you run.

The quality of construction and materials used are the primary factors that influence the recommended lifespan of running shoes.

The durability of On Cloud vs Nike running shoes is similar. Like many running shoe companies, both companies recommend replacing their running shoes after 300 to 500 miles (500-800 km) of use, or every 3-6 months, depending largely on the training and body factors mentioned.

With that said, On Running notes that the lifespan of On Cloud running shoes depends specifically on the model and materials used. For example, the On Running Cloudflash model is designed for short, fast runs, so they are less durable than everyday trainers.

Similarly, Nike says shoes like the VaporFly last only about 200 miles.

A pair of neon Nikes.

Nike vs On Cloud Running Shoes: Fit and Feel

Both On Cloud running shoes and Nike running shoes tend to run narrow, but there is some variability in the fit of the different models.

Nike is notorious for running small, particularly in terms of the width of the shoes. The fit is snug through that heel and midfoot, and even the toe box is relatively narrow and tapered.

Certain Nike running shoes, such as the Nike Free, also feature a stretchy, sock-like upper, that enwraps your foot like a glove.

Nike recommends ordering at least a half size up. If you have a normal foot width, you might even want to consider getting a wide-sized Nike shoe. Unfortunately, Nike offers very few wide shoes. The Nike Pegasus and Nike Revolution are two good options for runners with wide feet.

On Cloud shoes also fit quite narrow, although the brand is transitioning to a slightly wider toe box than that used in earlier models. The toe box is still not as roomy as you might find with Brooks or New Balance running shoes.

Someone running on a treadmill.

On Cloud running shoes have a rather unique feel that differentiates the shoes from most other types of running shoes, and certainly feel different from many common Nike running shoes like the Pegasus and the Air Max.

The On Cloud running shoes feature a speedboard that functions much like a carbon fiber plate in that it creates a firmer feeling at push-off to maximize energy return.

Therefore, when comparing the feel of most Nike vs On Cloud running shoes, the midsole of Nike shoes is softer, and On Cloud shoes feel more firm and springy. The exception here would be the Nike VaporFly, which has a carbon fiber plate, so it is especially springy, light, fast, and firm.

On Cloud vs Nike Running Shoes: Price

Both Nike and On Cloud running shoes are competitively priced in the running shoe market for premium running shoes, but both brands are on the higher end of the price range for most high-quality running shoes.

The prices for On Running shoes primarily range between $130 to $170, with the most popular models falling right in the middle, around $150. The average price of Nike running shoes is about $100-180.

Overall, both On Cloud and Nike make excellent running shoes. Whether you should choose Nike vs On Cloud shoes primarily depends on the amount of cushioning versus responsiveness you want in your running shoe and the amount of stability you seek.

A pair of black and white Nikes.

Here are a few Nike running shoes to check out:

Nike Men’s Free RN Flyknit Running Shoe

Nike Men’s Air Zoom Pegasus 38 Running Shoe

Nike Women’s Stroke Running Shoe

Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Running Shoes

Here are a few On Running shoes to check out:

ON Men’s Cloud 5 Sneakers

ON Running Mens Cloudflow Running Shoe

On Running Women’s Cloudflow Mesh Rock Rose Trainers

ON Women’s Cloud X Sneakers

For more of our running shoe comparisons, click here!

A pair of grey running shoes.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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