On Running CloudUltra shoe review - Josh Miller

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OnCloud Ultra Review, written by OnRunning ambassador Josh Miller.

OnCloud Ultra trail running shoes sitting in a patch of sun, the toe of one shoe is partially covered by an out of focus bright green leaf

The OnCloud Ultra is the newest in the line of OnCloud Performance shoes, that is built to target the growing trend in ultra distance races and efforts.

The OnCloud Ultra was released on March 4th 2021 and I have spent the last month running a variety of different terrain, conditions, and distances in this shoe; so I can provide the most reliable review, and Yes, I did run an “Ultra” in this shoe (My first ever in fact) in order to test just how “Ultra” this shoe is.

My Review will go like this:

  • What OnRunning Say about the shoe
  • My first impressions 
  • Final Impressions
  • Summary
  • Top 3: Nailed it
  • Top 3: Room for improvement

On say this shoe

Is a “Versatile trail shoe made for all-terrain adventure and off-road running. Born in the Swiss Alps, it’s ready to conquer epic mountain mileage, quick bursts through forest glades, rocky routes and gravel paths. And all in total comfort”.* (Ref On Website)

OnRunning recommend this for longer runs, gravel roads, forest trails and off road training claiming “Any Trail, Any Distance”.

 

My First Impressions:

I was lucky enough to try a pair on at Find Your Feet before my pair from OnCloud arrived, they will attest to how excited I was about these shoes as soon as my feet were embraced by this shoe.

The upper is a single “Sock” like build, meaning there is no separate tongue; it’s one integrated piece. I thought this might make putting on the shoe difficult, however they seem to be cleverly engineered to provide stretch in the direction of pulling the shoe on yet they hold firm once your foot is in the shoe. The fit is not like other “Sock-like” shoes on the market either; it is more padded and firm than some of the other shoes that utilise this construction.

The laces are thin (typical for OnCloud footwear) however provide a good lockdown of the shoe to my foot. Unlike other On laces, these ones are grippier and easier to tie without losing tension. The other interesting piece about the laces is the flip release system to provide some more room in the toe box quickly, during a long run as your feet expand, my first impression is “Makes sense” but my cynicism feels as though this may be a gimmick (I’ll elaborate on this later).

OnCloud Ultra, trail running shoes

Walking around in the shoe the cushioning feels incredible, by far the softest feeling under foot and bouncier propulsion than any shoes I have previously worn. (For reference, My shoe of choice has been the Salomon Sense Ride 3)

Needless to say I was excited for my pair to arrive!

 

 

Final Impressions:

For context of my testing, This is what I ran in these shoes.

10km easy run (Pipeline Track)
10km Moderate (mix road and single track Knocklofty)
15km Moderate-hard w hills (Off track, fire trail and road)
23km Fire Trail and single track “Technical” (Big bend – Mt Connection – EW Trail)
5km Commuting roads and paths in the rain (Hobart)
7km Hill intervals (Browns Rd Kingston Beach)
15km Easy Run (Gravel and road)
56km Kunanyi Abels Link-Up (K.A.L – OKT)

For my very first run in these shoes I decided to run the pipeline track at an easy pace. I felt was the best “Test” for the type of pace and terrain you might expect in an Ultra Event.
The Shoes immediately fells soft underfoot, yet springy as I jogged up the gradual incline toward Nieka.
They did however feel a little tight around my foot for the first 2-3km, however softened after that and felt extremely comfortable. This became a constant theme with every run.
Running back downhill, the cushioning came into its own and the ride home was the softest ride I have had in a shoe on a trail such as this heading downhill.

Over the next few runs there were a few things that struck me about this shoe.

The breathability: is very good. My feet tend to overhead in just about all shoes, yet these provided enough airflow, and I think the increased cushioning allowed my feet to feel less battered than in my previous shoes, leading to less heat build up. One negative was the material in the heel counter has lifted away from the material under it, as if my running pulled it away. I thought this might become a problem and cause rubbing and blisters, however it has not resulted in any negative consequences at all thankfully.

The Grip: in these shoes is fantastic on gravel roads, trails and technical single track; I was able to walk/jog down dollerite rock slabs with full confidence and I was extremely happy with the “Missiongrip” outsole. Until conditions were wet.
Running in the rain to and from work, I did not feel confident in the shoes grip. Coming from the Salomon Sense Ride 3, which seemed to grip on anything you put your foot on, I felt a little less confident in the On Cloud Ultra. That said, during my 55km effort, the shoes got wet during the Mt Connection track section and I didn’t suffer any slipping. I feel this may be die to the rubber being more worn in, something to consider.

OnCloud Ultra trail running shoes

The “Fit”: When lacing up the On Cloud Ultra I learned to tighten the laces extra tight (Almost uncomfortably so) before I took off. The reason being that after about 3-5km the upper loosens up a little and provided a much more comfortable fit. If I didn’t tie them hard enough, I would feel them starting to loosen up. Whilst this might sound like a negative, it worked extremely well for me and I actually find I prefer it this way particularly with the added flip release on the laces.
The flip release on the laces to provide an instant change in the tightness of the laces is an extremely clever idea and 100% NOT a gimmick. I found this flip release very useful on both my scouting trip out on the Mt Connection track and again on my Ultra effort.

The Speed-board: If you are unfamiliar with On and their Speed-boards; basically On have been producing all of their shoes with a “Speed-board” in them since the beginning. Similar to what we are seeing with “Carbon Plates” On’s speed-boards aim to give you some extra pop when you run.
In the Cloud Ultra, it also gave me the best rock protection I have ever felt! Rocks, stick and pointy whatever’s can come at me now, these shoes will protect you from those nasty pointy rocks and roots out there.

Oncloud Ultra trail running shoesOnCloud ultra trail running shoes

In Summary:

This is a very exciting shoe from On. Many of the elements show that On are listening to their supporters and their critics. They changed the design under the sole so that you will NOT pick up ANY rocks with this shoe; They improved the laces and actually went further by innovating a whole new system (The Flip Release) and they produced a very comfortable, cushioned shoe that is very low weight for what it can do.
At the end of my 55km Ultra, my feet had no signs of wear, and in the days following the run, no muscular fatigue. These shoes are fantastic.
The cushioning, the rock protection and the general comfort are hard to beat in my view, it’ll be interesting to see how they can improve in future iterations.
This is now my Go-to shoe for casual trail runs, a daily trainer that can take me from road, to gravel to single track without missing a beat.

 

Top 3 Nailed It!
1. Rock protection
2. Comfort
3. Cushioning

Top 3 Room For Improvement:

1. Grip in the wet
2. Material in the Heel counter lifted (Better glue?)
3. Stable Fit: Whilst I have figured out how to get the fit right for a run i.e. Tie harder than comfortable – a more sure fit would be an improvement.

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