The On CloudStratus isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but the improvements made on the first shoe make it a far nicer shoe to go the distance in for easy to moderately paced training runs. They’re also a good option if you want something you can throw on for runs but also keep on when you’re not.
The wide fitting upper makes it more accommodating for a bigger range of feet sizes and with recycled materials in use, On is showing that it’s thinking more on the sustainability front here too.
Doubling up on its CloudTec cushioning technology and matching it up with the slightly firm feeling Helion midsole foam means you get a nicely responsive ride and something that’s well equipped to eat up a lot of running time.
Price and release date
The On Cloudstratus was released in August 2021, priced at $169.99 / £150 / AU$259.95. You can buy it direct from On, or from third-party retailers.
If there’s one thing On usually gets right, it’s making an attractive running shoe, and that doesn’t change with the second generation CloudStratus. There are two colourways each for both the men’s and women’s shoe, and the white and black look we had to lace up embraces the look of its speedy CloudBoom Echo. It’s a look that gets a thumbs up from us.
It’s a little lighter than the original CloudStratus at 305g for the mens’s shoe and 248g for the women’s version, but offers the same 8mm heel to toe drop, sitting at 36mm at the heel and 28mm at the forefoot. The mesh upper now uses 75% of polyester made from recycled materials, and there’s ventilated areas at the side and forefoot to make sure it’s a shoe that’s nice and breathable to run in.
Padding on the tongue and the heel collar offers a snug, secure fit, while the star lacing system delivers a nice locked-down feel. The heel counter has been reduced to cut down on overall weight, but still offers good support back there to make sure it’s fit for running long and getting the most from the cushioning system.
Slipping your feet in, it’s definitely a roomy, wide-fitting upper, particularly in the toe box, which gives your toes a little more space to breathe, making it ideal when you need that extra room as you up the distance.
Below that upper is the upgraded midsole, which is now made up of two layers of On’s CloudTec cushioning technology, and runs from the heel all the way to the forefoot of the shoe to help provide a smooth and consistent feeling underfoot. That’s matched up with On’s Helion foam and Speedboard to offer smooth transitions and help generate good energy return too.
On the outsole, On has focused on placing extra rubber in areas that’s likely to take the most regular pounding, whether you’re a heel or a forefoot striker. There’s less of that rubber here too, likely in a bid to make this a lighter shoe compared to the last CloudStratus while still keeping things stable.
On says this is a shoe that’s built for anything from 5k to marathon distance, and while that might be true, you’re probably not going to ring out your quickest times in them. They do feel like a good training shoe for short runs and cranking up the mileage but sticking to easy to moderate paces in them.
Like a lot of On’s shoes, you’re not getting the softest feeling underfoot thanks to the make-up of its favored CloudTec cushioning. Doubling up on that cushioning though, and matching up with its Helion midsole foam along with its Speedboard (just like its predecessor) means it’s something that’s a little on the firm side, but still offers a nicely responsive ride. It’s one you can feel confident running far in and it’ll feel consistent and a stable shoe to run in.
That upper offers plenty in the way of protection, and while the heel counter has been pared back compared to the first CloudStratus, it still offers plenty of stability back there.
Another real plus here is the rubber outsole that offered solid grip on dry and wet roads, and it even held up OK on some off-road time (though doing the latter does put you at risk of collecting unwanted debris in the sizable gap in the outsole).
The less great news is that, while it’s lighter than the last CloudStratus, it’s still a heavy shoe compared to other max cushioned shoes out there. It doesn’t feel like a clunky shoe to run in, but shoes like the Brooks Ghost 14 and the New Balance FreshFoam 1080v11 in comparison do feel lighter to run in.
Ultimately, the improvements that On has made here have paid off on the whole. It still feels like a shoe to put on when you want something that’s reliable, offers good protection, and gives a reasonably enjoyable ride. There are plusher maximum cushioned shoes out there, but if you want a mix of cushioning and a protective upper, the new CloudStratus does a really good job.
Buy it if
You want a great long run companion
With plenty of cushioning and an accommodating upper this is a good shoe to lace up for long training runs.
You want something to keep on after running
On’s big cushioning and stylish upper means it’s one that’s good for getting back to walking pace.
Don’t buy it if
You want something to run at your speediest
The CloudStratus is by no means the lightest shoe, and it’s not the most satisfying to try to run quickly in.
You like your cushioning plush
This is definitely a shoe that offers a firmer ride than other max cushioned shoes like New Balance’s FreshFoam 1080v11.