On Cloud Ultra Trail Running Shoes | Review - Outdoors Magic

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On Cloud Ultra Trail Running Shoes | Review

We test the On Cloud Ultra, a lightweight runner that’s built for distance over long mileage

Why We Chose Them: ‘Cloud Pod’ midsole cushioning, breathable two layer mesh, impressive propulsion

Built on their “Running On Clouds” mantra, Swiss-based On Running look to make road, trail and hiking shoes with a unique concept; with clouds under your feet. Basically, the original shoes they released all had an outsole with cloud-shaped pods that provided cushioning and responsiveness to propel you through each stride. Those pods have evolved slightly over the years as new On shoes have been released but the overall end goal has remained the same and we’ve always been left impressed.

This new release for 2021 from them, the On Cloud Ultra, is designed specifically for high mileage trail running in the mountains. 

Photo: Chris Johnson

Who Is The On Running Cloud Ultra For?

Taking inspiration from their road running success, the On Running Cloud Ultra is designed for those looking to pound high mileage on the trails. The combination of soft cushioning with a firm and responsive midsole gives these runners the ability to carry you over long distances without too much fatigue on your joints.

Materials

A breathable two layer mesh wraps the entire upper of the Cloud Ultra. This upper not only brings a high amount of airflow, but it also keeps the weight down. As we’re starting to see with a lot of modern day ultra-lightweight mesh uppers, On has reinforced this upper with TPU in high wear areas. The upper is then all pulled together with a relatively traditional lacing system.

Sitting beneath the laces is an elastic band that stretches over the centre of the tongue. This band has been designed to make the shoe hug your foot, providing you with a sock-like fit. Not only does it bring a close fit, but it also gives you the option to loosen the lower section of the laces for a little more comfort when you’re pushing into the high mileage.

“The On Running Cloud Ultra is designed for those looking to pound high mileage on the trails.”

This loosening is achieved through On’s ‘FlipRelease’ lacing system. This system provides a simple and fast way of reducing discomfort through the flip of a leaver. When you’re looking to tighten things back up again then it’s just a simple pull on the laces and flip of the lever.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

Features

The main talking point of any On Running shoe is of course the cloud technology on offer. Being a trail running shoe designed for ultra distances, the On Cloud Ultra features two layers of ‘Cloud Pods’ (that’s On’s midsole cushioning). These pods have been designed to provide high levels of cushioning thanks to an innovative spring design and the use of On’s new Helion foam – which On claims is softer and more temperature resistant than normal foam.

While the Cloud Pods provide cushioning, On has utilised what they call a ‘Speedboard’ rockplate to provide stability, propulsion and responsiveness overall. It also brings a good level of protection from sharp rocks and roots too. 

This combination of Cloud Pods and Springboard rockplate results in a moderate drop of 8mm. There’s also a substantial amount of rock overall, resulting in an impressive level of propulsion from each stride.

The sole features shallow 2mm lugs made from their Missiongrip rubber. 2mm is pretty low and we found this meant the outsole didn’t quite cut the mustard on the typically slippy hills around the UK. However, we did find that it could cope with well worn trails without too much of a gradient. If you plan to run up and down mountains in these, we’d say you’ll only really want to venture out when the trails are likely to be dry and hard packed.

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic

“These are supremely well-made, with a lot of clever design-thinking clearly involved. And I’ve loved running in them. They’re comfortable, they feel fast and the amount of shock absorption they bring to the table is impressive. I wouldn’t say they feel spongy and very cushioned, but they do still feel like they’re made to handle lots of impact.

“I do most of my trail running in the UK where you’re likely to encounter mud even during hot dry spells and for that reason I like my trail shoes to have relatively aggressive outsoles. At 2mm, the lug depth, for me, is too shallow for UK mountain running. Still, I could see these being fine for something like the UTMB which is mostly along hard-packed and defined trails.”

“I’m a UK size 10 and nearly every size 10 tends to fit me comfortably. That includes these – I’ve found the fit to be very comfortable.”

Photo: Chris Johnson

On Running Cloud Ultra

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