I’m excited to finally be putting words down for this On Cloudboom Echo 3 review, because this premium racing shoe for runners who want to run their fastest times, and it’s only in its 3rd generation of the Cloudboom Echo, that On has finally nailed it, and by that I mean this is one heck of a fast running shoe!
While the Cloudboom Echo 3 is On’s most expensive running shoe, it’s also their fastest; so for anyone out there wondering whether it’s worth the $290 price tag, I’m here to tell you maybe, and that all depends on you as a runner and how deep your pockets are (keep reading as I explain exactly what I mean there).
In this On Cloudboom Echo 3 review, I’m going to go over the features that I love (and a couple that could be improved), and how well they perform while running fast.
I will also share how they compare with the other On running shoes, whether the high price tag is justified, whether or not they’re worth buying, and finally a rating out of 10 with my pros and cons.
The key specifications of the On Cloudboom Echo 3
- Usage: Designed to help you hit more PRs and reach the podium; this is On’s premium racing shoe for anything from 5km to marathon distance.
- Price: $290
- Weight: 7.7oz / 218g for a size US(M)9 (my pair)
- Drop: 9.5mm
- Toe box width: medium
- Midfoot width: medium
- Stability: Neutral
- Cushioning: medium cushioning (it’s marketed as plush but i’d say there’s more of a balance between plush and responsiveness in the midsole)
On Cloudboom Echo 3 sizing and fit
Read our On buying guides to find the best On clouds for you:
The On Cloudboom Echo 3 is an incredibly comfortable running shoe when you first slip them on, and the first thing you’ll probably notice when walking in them is the rocker geometry that has you smoothly rocking forwards as you walk.
This combined with the new carbon speedboard and Pebax Helion midsole foam produces a really unique propulsive feeling that translates to really smooth energy return when you start running in them.
They’re so lightweight and have so much cushioning underfoot that the Cloudboom Echo 3 literally feels like walking barefoot on clouds with extra responsiveness pushing your feet back up and forward as you run.
The Cloudboom Echo 3 running shoes have been designed with the help of elite athletes where comfort is sometimes sacrificed in exchange for performance.
However, this is not the case for the CBE3, in the same way it wasn’t for the HOKA Rocket X 2 (a fantastic shoe by the way), but was slightly in the fit of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 (another great super shoe in it’s own right).
On top of the additional midsole cushioning which uses Helion HF foam made with Pebax material, there’s also a carbon speedboard running through the middle of it.
You can actually see the plate in the image below, it’s the black line that runs through the midsole.
These features give the Cloudboom Echo a very cushioned feel underfoot for running long distances fast, and for the most part, very comfortably. This all comes with the benefit of being propelled forward with the help of that springy carbon fiber plate, Pebax foam, and the rocker geometry.
The On Cloudoom Echo is neutral in their support type, with an average arch best suited to most runners, and this is actually consistent with all the other On running shoes I have tested to date. The only inconsistency would be the relatively high drop of 9.5mm, which is rare to see in an On running shoe.
The toe box and shoe, in general is of a medium width.
Oh I almost forgot to mention, there is a very clever use of silicon strips on the foot bed inside the shoes, which helps stop your feet from sliding as you’re running – nice touch from the On brand!
You can see in the photo above that the On logo is made with this grippy silicon material but there are also strips that run from edge to edge of your feet all the way down to your toes inside the shoes; really cool idea, that I’ve only ever seen used on socks before.
My experience running in the On Cloudboom Echo 3
The Carbon-fiber-infused Speedboard and rocker profile is a huge part of the Cloudboom Echo’s secret to unlocking so much speed and efficiency.
The first time On introduced a carbon fiber plate was for the original Cloudboom (non Echo version) years ago, and if you read my review of that running shoe, you’ll already know that I was pretty much instantly impressed by how much faster it helped me run.
Running on a regular route of mine I was able to knock off a considerable amount of time, without putting in extra effort.
On has sandwiched the carbon plate between two layers of Helion HF foam (On’s latest Pebax Helion midsole foam), which means the shoes keep their responsiveness but also a well cushioned ride.
A carbon-fiber-infused plate inside an On running shoe that uses Cloudtec technology is really something that needs to be experienced to be able to completely understand how it makes you run faster. It’s an awesome experience.
If you’re not familiar with Cloudtec, it’s basically the technology On has developed to allow for a cushioned landing but also an explosive takeoff. It’s made possible by how the midsole clouds compress as you land, and then spring back into shape, giving you energy return, as you take off with your forefoot.
The Cloudboom Echo 3’s microfiber upper delivers excellent breathability and water absorption.
Having air flow through the shoes really helps to regulate the internal temperature and stops your feet from overheating and sweating too much. You may find that these shoes let in too much cold air on icy cold days.
The upper is made from 100% recycled polyester engineered material and it has targeted reinforcements to provide good ventilation and a secure hold of your foot when making turns, or digging into steep hills.
The Cloudboom Echo 3’s outsole features a cross-hatch traction pattern similar to that of the Cloudboom Echo 2 that came before it. This cross-hatch pattern provides very good grip on city surfaces in dry and wet conditions, and this is something I feel On has needed to improve for a while now – so this is a great improvement for On’s racing shoe lineup :).
It’s not the most durable outsole but I’m noticing a trend with super shoes, in that they all seem to have slightly less durability in their outsoles.
I’m not sure why this is but maybe it’s to do with a lighter rubber compound being used – anyone reading this care to enlighten me here? Either way, the Cloudboom Echo does a great job of giving me traction where I need it.
The tongue is very minimal and lightweight but it has plenty of padding where it’s needed which you can see in the image above. The tongue is also asymmetrical in its design, which helps it sit comfortably over the top of your foot.
This shape, combined with some rigidity in the shoes, helps the tongue stay in place whilst running; that’s something that actually struck me as a feature in itself.
The On Cloudboom Echo range has always been designed for the higher echelon of serious half and full distance marathon runners in mind but to be honest it’s for anyone who who wants to perform to their absolute best in a race, this includes 5km and 10km races.
The carbon plate that runs along the midsole, sandwiched between two cushioned, yet responsive Helion HF Pebax foam layers, and that rocker silhouette, provides very efficient and accelerated forward-propulsion which is top of the line performance engineering in a racing shoe – I know because I’ve reviewed a lot of these carbon fiber shoes over the years.
The carbon fiber plate performs so well in running shoes due to its rigidity that allows it to store energy as you flex your foot, and release that energy as it snaps back into its original form, just as you take off from the ground.
This plate when combined with this new rocker profile, and On’s springy Cloudtec pods is a truly awesome experience and one that brings back the joy of almost feeling like you’re floating when running.
The rocker profile in the mid and outsole is there to help smooth out the transition from landing to takeoff, with reduced clunky impact. A new pair of On’s with fresh cloud pods always seem to make me run faster, but when combined with a carbon plate, I’m flying.
Carbon plates effectively assist the muscles in your feet/legs to some degree, which is why they’re better for racing with rather than training.
I would recommend doing some tempo training runs in a shoe without a carbon-fiber-infused plate (here are some recommendations in our Best Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide), in order to work on building up the muscles in your feet for real.
Good running gear should never be a substitute for hard work and well disciplined training – instead, it should compliment that hard work.
Training for a marathon this way, means you’ll feel turbo-charged when race day finally arrives, and you lace up your Cloudboom Echo 3s.
Okay so a couple of things that I feel could be improved with the Cloudboom Echo 3 then, and these things may just be me.
First off, I’d like to see the heel counter rolled back a little, or incorporate more flex, as I did feel it put pressure on my heel after a while running in them for a while. No major issue but I did notice it!
Secondly, my right shoe developed a squeak after about 5km of running them hard, I still can’t tell if it’s coming from the carbon plate, or whether it’s the insole making the noise.
It’s not very loud but I noticed it all the same, and I wouldn’t want passers by to think I have squeaky joints, I have a reputation to keep! haha!
Now if you’d like to know how the Cloudboom Echo 3 compares to other On cloud running shoes, you’ll have to read my Best On Running Shoes buyer’s guide! 🙂
Are they worth buying?
Well, it depends! If you’re looking for super-lightweight (7.7oz / 218g), breathable, and cushioned shoes to run your fastest half or full marathon times, and your pockets are deep enough (and you’re serious enough about running) to have a separate pair of running shoes reserved for racing, then the Cloudboom Echo 3 is an exceptional racing shoe and definitely worth considering as it delivers on so many levels, and you’ll likely hit new PRs wearing them.
If however, you’re a marathon enthusiast who wants to also hit PBs but without paying $290, then I would recommend you try out the Cloudmonster instead – they are an awesome running shoe that provide a ton of bounce and energy return, but they’re not going to keep up with the Cloudboom Echo 3.
The On Cloudboom Echo 3 is the highest performance On running shoes for road runners to date but that doesn’t mean they’re the best for you… Have a read of my On Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide for a complete ordered listing of On running shoes ranked and reviewed in their specific categories (Road, Trail, hiking, Lifestyle).
On Cloudboom Echo 3 Review Summary (rating with pros and cons)
On Cloudboom Echo 3 Photo Gallery
I hope you enjoyed this On Cloudboom Echo 3 review – if you have any questions about these premium running shoes, feel free to drop it in the comments below 🙂 -Alastair.