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Game On: On launch Cloudventure trail running shoe

by editor
Friday 10th June 2016
Tags  On   |   Cloudventure   |   Cloudflyer   |   Cloudsurfer   |   Cloudcruiser
We’d like to tell you a story. It’s a story of David and Goliath, the little guy from Switzerland taking on the big guys in the US, it's a story about the underdog. We will borrow liberally from fairy tales. 
Once upon a time there were three friends who had a dream: to find the perfect running shoe. One that gave you a cushioned landing, followed by a firm take-off. One that was perfectly engineered for comfort, for your own running gait and for fun. You know, a bit like Goldilocks and her quest for the perfect porridge. So did they go down to their local running shop, try on all the shoes like Cinderella and find their prince of a trainer? [Well, through the years they did try on an awful lot of running shoes, none of which were quite right]. No, they decided to design it themselves.
Ah, so like Pinocchio’s dad Geppetto (this is getting a bit tenuous now) they were craftsmen, shoe designers? No, none of them were shoe designers! But they decided to take on the huge brands, established for many years, at their own game? Yes. Are they crazy? Yeah, a little bit, but the good kind of crazy. The kind of crazy that allows you to throw away the rule book, make up your own and just make stuff happen without the constraints of ‘this is how it should be done’. 
It sounds a little bit like a fairy tale but those three friends - Olivier Bernhard (three-time World Duathlon Champion and multiple Ironman winner), Caspar Coppetti and David Allemann - developed their first prototypes and within one month of founding On had won an ISPO award for innovation in sport. Since then they have grown fast (winning another ISPO Gold Award for the best performance shoe in 2013 and then winning it again in 2015 for the Cloud) and are now in 50 countries and 2,200 specialist running stores. Their story is truly remarkable and in one way it’s just beginning. 
Having developed innovative, high quality, and in many ways revolutionary shoes like the Cloudster, Cloudcruiser, Cloudflyer, Cloud and Cloudsurfer they set their sights on the one they really wanted: a trail shoe. They are incredibly passionate about running in the mountains in their native Switzerland and they wanted a shoe that was perfect for that environment. In their words: ‘to make the Alps flatter’. A shoe for adventure: the Cloudventure. 

On shoe collage

On invited us to their HQ in Zurich to find out all about the development of the Cloudventure and then to try it out in the environment it was inspired by: the Engadin valley in Switzerland. And what an incredible opportunity this was. I was really intrigued to see how they could transfer the technology from their road shoes to the trail. Could they keep their trademark ‘clouds’, the rubber lugs on the bottom of the shoes that deliver the cushioned landing and firm take-off? Would they get mud and stones stuck in them? How could they deliver grip? Could the shoes remain light? Questions, questions. 

On collage 3

Some time spent in their top secret development lab gave us the answers to all of these questions. Yes, of course they’ve kept the clouds, and because they are designed to collapse on landing you can’t get stuff stuck in them. And the trickiest part - the grip - is delivered with a very clever surface on the rubber and additional grippy studs placed strategically. Other differences with the road shoes include a slightly lower construction around the ankle to allow for more movement in this area on the trails and a tough but breathable outer layer which will be resistant to a bit of water/mud but when you stick your foot in a puddle or bog it’ll let the liquid come in and drain out easily (I found this out the hard way). 

On collage 2

So, to the important bit - how does the Cloudventure feel to run in? We will do a full review once we’ve had chance to test it in a few different conditions (there isn’t much mud around at the moment in the UK) but these are just some first impressions. It’s incredibly light and comfortable, though the fit is deliberately slightly closer than their road shoes (I prefer a little more room in the toe box). In Switzerland we were lucky enough to experience a number of different surfaces and inclines so it’s probably easiest to say how I found the shoe handled them:
Road - really cushioned so fine for road. Crucially the grippy rubber also means that you won’t have any of those ‘come off the trail, hit a wet pavement in studded shoes, hit the deck’ moments.
Dirt trail - very lovely to run on in these shoes. Again, the cushioning means that you can run on this all day long.
Rocky trails - because they’re so light they felt very responsive when you were negotiating this sort of Alpine trail (even when they were hampered by my old legs). Dry rock isn’t a problem for them, they’re very grippy on this sort of surface. I probably wouldn’t wear them on a run with a lot of wet rock and wet tree roots as they didn’t grip too well on those surfaces. 
Uphills on the trail - again, they are very light and very grippy and so are a great shoe for anything with a lot of climbing.
Downhills on the trail - this is where I thought they really excelled. These shoes are a blast to run downhill in. They really cushion your landing (which I’m sure your quads will thank you for after a long day in the hills) but without feeling bouncy as the clouds collapse and then support you when you push off. They are designed to take the force out of vertical and horizontal movement, with each cloud moving independently. This is just ideal for running downhill on trails. Even on wet grass downhill they are fantastically grippy and just a huge amount of fun. You can throw yourself down a hill with reckless abandon and say (in your head) ‘I am Kilian/Frosty/Robbie/Lizzy [insert name of trail running hero]’.
I’m really looking forward to trying them out in different conditions in the UK and writing a full review as I really think that this is the shoe that puts On on the map here. They have been stealing large chunks of market share off the big guys across Europe and around the world so if you haven’t seen many On shoes around that will change. We all love it when the underdog wins and fairy tales come true. 

Find out more about On shoes here
Twitter @on_running

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