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On Cloudventure Midtop review

by Atanarjuat
Friday 15th July 2016
Tags  On   |   On Cloudventure   |   On Cloudsurfer
Just 10 seconds after ordering the Cloudventure Midtop from On’s website, I regretted the decision. I wished I had ordered the conventional Cloudventure instead. Why? Because of the colour. You see, the Cloudventure series are On’s newly launched trail shoes and while the conventional models come in the vibrant color combinations that all On shoes are known for, the Midtop version is only available in relatively drab “Forest & Grey.” Oh well, at least On offers free returns if I really didn’t like the look of them on receipt.
A few days later, once UPS made the delivery, after one look at the Midtop, any thought of returning them instantly vanished, only to be replaced with an eagerness to get outside in them. I was reminded of why I had opted for the Midtop in the first place: I had wanted a pair for the mountains, with the necessary grip on rock, foot support, and toe protection, and the Midtop seemed better suited than the other, albeit more colorful, version. One look at the shoes and I knew I had made the right choice. It’s remarkable how just by looking and holding a pair of On one can sense the impressive extent of design, detail, engineering, and quality control that has gone into them. Anyone who has drooled over a pair of Salomon’s S-Labs should be able to relate. These Cloudventure Midtops were no exception.

Ilsun 2

First thing you notice is the interesting 'bootie' design. The shoes basically consist of two components - the inner bootie and an outer layer, which are fused together seemingly only at the sole. Once on foot, the inner bootie wraps around the foot, feeling very much sock-like. Very comfy. On the sole, On’s trademark CloudTec is very much in evidence, but with key modifications. The front pods are much less pronounced than the road models while the rear pods seem to retain a similar prominent profile. The pod is actually absent under the ball of the foot, replaced by directional lugs similar to those in Brooks Cascadia. The entire outsole is made with more lugs, even on the pods themselves, and apparently using a softer, stickier compound than the road models. So far so good. The Midtop had arrived conveniently a couple of days before a weekend in the Peak District, so off I went for a proper test outdoors.
Ilsun 1
The Peak District is no Alps, but has its share of wet rocks, bogs, and mud, so I was confident they’d get a proper trial. Day 1 was a solo 14-miler from campsite near Hathersage down to Grindleford and through Froggatt Wood back to Hathersage. Not having run in the area before, I had downloaded a route from Movescount which started benign enough over some tarmac, dirt tracks, and grazing fields, but soon turned 'interesting', taking me up into overgrown dry river beds and bogs. All great terrain for a proper testing, and the Midtop very much impressed with their grip, support, and comfort, not only in the fells but also on tarmac, where they felt pretty much like a pair of regular Cloudsurfers. 
Day 2 of running was actually 2 days away when a group of friends were to come up from London for a 20-miler over top of Stanage Edge and along Thronhill Trail to Ladybower Woods and back to Hathersage. Until then, with the weather not playing ball, I stuffed some newspapers into the wet shoes and off into the car’s boot they went. They were still quite damp when I pulled them back on for their second run-out. The terrain was much the same, but in heavy rain showers, and included a knee-deep river crossing about 5 miles from finish. The shoes felt absolutely comfortable throughout, wet or dry-ish.
A couple of minor points. The laces: as those familiar with On know, their laces are generously long and somewhat thin. I don’t think the same laces work as well in Cloudventure, particularly the Midtop. The excess length kept getting caught in vegetation and such, and I resorted to making use of the extra 'heel loop' just to keep them out of way. Salomon style Quicklace, while not everyone’s cup of tea, would, I think, work well here. Also, while the website marketing claims the top layer is water repellent, that may only apply to the conventional Cloudventure, which I believe uses slightly different upper material. The Midtop were soaked through as soon as I began running on wet grass. The good news is of course that after river crossings and such they drain super-quick.

Ilsun 3

I am mulling over entering next year’s Lavaredo as my first proper mountain race. I did V3K Carneddau a couple of years ago in Brooks Cascadia and swore never to take to the mountains again without suitable footwear as I slipped and slid my way down over wet rocks. In Cloudventure Midtop, unless something else comes along to convince me otherwise (and it’ll have to present a very strong case), I think I’ve found the ideal footwear for Lavaredo and races in similar terrain. I would also use the Midtop for anything on North Downs Way and South Downs Way in the wet/cold months except perhaps in the muddiest of conditions. So, in conclusion, Cloudventure Midtop are for those days when a pair of light/minimal trail shoes just won’t do. And on those days the colour of the shoes is the least thing of importance, right?

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