On Cloudflow 4 Review: Radical Upgrades; The Cloudflow IS BACK!

I have a new favorite tempo training shoe, and it's not a HOKA! Read on to learn how On has managed to bring the Cloudflow back on top, from the brink of extinction!

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The On Cloudflow is (finally) back with a radical new design that gives these popular running shoes a completely new feel to the previous version (and all the other On running shoes too), but filled with improvements.

Although the Cloudflow 3 was a nice running shoe in its own right, it lost its pizazz that made it such a hit in the first place and I put that mostly down to the very minimal and firm midsole that made running anything longer than 10km a bit of an ordeal.

The On Cloudflow 4 looks nothing like the previous version, which excited me because it means that On has been getting innovative to bring the Cloudflow line back to the forefront of On running shoes.


On Cloudflow 4 at a glance

On Cloudflow 4 review 3 2

Weight

8.7oz / 247g for a size US(M)9 (my pair)

Drop

8mm / Stack height: 31mm/23mm

Width

Medium

Support

Neutral

Cushioning

Firm and responsive but slightly more cushioned compared to the previous version.

Price

$159.99 at on.com

Key Features PROS & CONS

  • 🟢 More comfort on long runs
  • 🟢 Enhances running momentum
  • 🟢 Durable and breathable material
  • 🟢 Unique rolling momentum
  • 🟢 No more stuck stones
  • 🟢 Very lightweight
  • 🟠 Laces need extra loosening
  • 🔴 Pricier than previous model

Usage

This is what On calls a “forward rolling” running shoe, meaning it’s designed with a Rocker geometry around the forefoot area to help keep you moving forward – and it works!

What’s new in this version?

HUGE improvements over the Cloudflow 3, including a new engineered woven upper (same as the Cloudboom Echo 3), new dual density Helion midsole with spoon shaped speedboard, new outsole with closed channel (no more stones caught in your shoes). It’s lighter, better energy return with an enjoyable feeling of rolling momentum, and there’s more cushioning underfoot.

Closest competitors

HOKA Mach 5, HOKA Mach X, On Cloudmonster, Brooks Ghost Max


This in-depth On Cloudflow 4 review will focus on the key features of these running shoes, how well they perform while running, and as always how well they rank against other On running shoes.

Some regulars readers of Trail and Kale have been in alignment with me when I pointed out some issues with the previous version of this running shoe, so I know they’ll be pleased to read how it has been spiced up with this new release.


More On buying guides:


The Cloudflow 4 feels more cushioned, more responsive and has that early rocker geometry that helps bring momentum to your runs in a way that well… just feels right! I’ll go into all the reasons why the Cloudflow 4 is such a hit with me, and ultimately why it’s now one of my favorite tempo running shoes.

The On Cloudflow 4 is a 5k to half-marathon training shoe for tempo runs, and racing. For those who are training for a marathon I’d recommend either the Cloudsurfer 7 or Cloudmonster for an even more cushioned ride for those long easy runs.

And if you’re looking to switch the Cloudflow 4 to a racing shoe come race day, and you want On’s fastest ever running shoe, check out my On Cloudboom Echo 3 review next – those things are insane.

On Cloudflow 4 review 1
The women’s Cloudflow 4 are a huge hit with Helen too! On Cloudflow 4 review by Alastair from Trail and Kale

This On Cloudflow 4 review should answer all the pre-purchase questions that you may have but if not, please feel free to ask me anything in the comments section down below, I usually respond within a few hours – you can also reach me on Instagram


On Cloudflow 4 Sizing and Fit

On Cloudflow 4 review 11

I can confirm that these running shoes do indeed fit true to size and the medium width accommodates average-sized feet perfectly.

So, if you’re used to running or walking in On running shoes, go with your usual sizing. If you’re new to On but use brands including HOKA, Brooks Running, Nike, Saucony, then they fit consistently with them too.

Comfort has always been is an important factor for On, and the Cloudflow 4 brings this back to the forefront, whereas the previous version had kind of lost it’s way in terms of cushioning and comfort in the upper, and midsole.

This new upper is breathable, flexible, and has plenty of room for your toes to breathe while running.

My experience running in the On Cloudflow 4

On Cloudflow 4 review 4
The Cloudflow 4 is so much fun to run in, and also the tempo training shoes I really need right now, as I build speed ready for my Kodiak 50k race in less than 10 days time.

The day I laced up the On Cloudflow 4 (scratch that, my experience told me that they would perform well just by looking at them for the first time), and headed out for my first run in them, it was the new dual density Helion midsole that initially stood out to me.

The way the midsole feels when walking and running was the one thing I couldn’t have predicted from looking at them.

The rocker geometry when combined with the new spoon shaped Speedboard that runs through the middle of the outsole just feel joyous in the way it helps you smoothly roll forwards and on to your next stride.

On Cloudflow 4 review 19
This is where that rocker starts to roll you forward

The rocker is situated toward the forefoot, and this really helps me run more on my forefoot, focusing on better running form, increased speed with an explosive toe off, and improved endurance thanks to that smooth transition – and better yet, this all just feels totally natural, and I just want to keep running in them.

On Cloudflow 4 review 4 2
Here’s the midsole from the other side where you can clearly see the dual density layers (blue and white), the speedboard sits between them, and helps give you a rocking feeling along with good energy return.

I review A LOT of running shoes each month, and it’s not very often that a gem of a running shoe like this graces me with its performance and comfort, and it’s even less frequent that I decide to bring a running shoe into my shoe rotation.

The On Cloudflow 4 is one of those special running shoes for me, and Helen agrees with regard to the women’s version!

On Cloudflow 4 review 15
I love the new upper; fun fact, it’s the same material used in On’s mega speedy Cloudboom Echo 3 shoes

The Cloudflow 4 now features On’s latest high-tech woven upper with engineered zones for high breathability. It’s extremely light for your feet and light for the planet because the base material is made out of 100% recycled polyester.

Additionally, a new lining and heel construction offers better comfort and heel lock than before, and you’ll know this as you will need to loosen those laces plenty, in order to slip them on.

On Cloudflow 4 review 18

This is good news for you run but does make them a few seconds slower to get on, but once on, they really do provide a very secure fit.

On Cloudflow 4 review 10

The upper is also very breathable and provides a nice amount of room inside for your toes and feet to breathe and you’re stepping up the pace.

My first run in them was during our late heatwave here in California where the temperatures were over 30C (around 90F), and my feet did not overheat at all; that impressed me.

And finally let’s quickly talk about the outsole, another feature that has been revamped for the better.

On Cloudflow 4 review 13

The outsole is much better now, with better traction and a construction which finally closes the channel without affecting Cloudtec performance in order to prevent the collection of stones. Yes, that was a real problem with the Cloudflow 3 that came before.

There are also rubber pads on the outsole now, which are strategically placed for high traction and durability in wet and dry conditions.

On Cloudflow 4 review 33

Here is a closer look at the outsole (more images in my photo gallery below):

On Cloudflow 4 review 34

But the Cloudflow 4 isn’t just about performance; it’s also about principles. I love how On incorporates sustainably made, recycled materials into their running shoes.

So that’s really the story of why, and how the new Cloudflow has made its way into my shoe rotation as my new favorite tempo training shoes.

I’ll be putting down a lot more miles in these running shoes so please drop any questions you have about them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to add new notes there, as I rack up the miles in them.

Are they worth your hard-earned money?

100% YES! The On Cloudflow 4 is a true hit for me; it’s a high performance, moderately cushioned, and eco-friendly running shoe that I know you guys are going to love.

On Cloudflow 4 review 7
It’s a HIT for me! On Cloudflow 4 review by Alastair from Trail and Kale

If you’re familiar with the Cloudflow series, this really doesn’t feel anything like it, instead I would describe them as being a blend of the Cloudsurfer and the Cloudboom Echo 3; not in looks, but how they feel!

It’s more than just a shoe; it’s a running partner that will find a special place in many a runner’s running journey.

For only $160 at on.com, I highly recommend giving the Cloudflow 4 a try, especially if you’re after a new tempo training shoe.

Whether you’re an experienced runner like me or just starting out, these shoes have something for everyone; I also love how they look, and right now there are 5 different colors to choose from (in both men’s and women’s).

If you do end up getting these running shoes (or you already own a pair) for your run training or leisurely jogs with family and four-legged friends do let me know in the comments down below – I love seeing how you all get on with my recommendations! 🏃‍♂️💚


On Cloudflow 4 Photo Gallery

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

6 COMMENTS

  1. He usado las versiones de CloudFlow en su versión 2 y 3, y a pesar de ser fan de su dinamismo, versatilidad y ligereza, me hacía falta un poco mas de comodidad, no soy alguien que le guste mucho los tennis maximalistas, y siempre busco un tennis mas versatil, que permita ir desde un trote suave, un tempo, hasta una carrera de ser necesario, por ello parte de la comodidad es importante para mi.
    La nueva versión quiere decir que cumple mas con esa funcion que las versiones anteriores? no es tan ruda o rigida como las versiones 2 y 3?, que propiamente no eran duras por su flexibilidad, pero despues de los 10km, ya no se sentia mucho amortiguamiento.
    Que consideras tu?

    • Hi Carolina, just adding a rough translation for our English speaking readers, as this is a great question!

      “I have used the CloudFlow versions 2 and 3, and despite being a fan of its dynamism, versatility and lightness, I needed a little more comfort, I am not someone who really likes maximalist tennis shoes, and I am always looking for a More versatile tennis, which allows you to go from a gentle jog, a tempo, to a race if necessary, which is why part of the comfort is important to me.
      Does the new version mean that it fulfills that function more than previous versions? It is not as rough or rigid as versions 2 and 3?, which were not really hard due to their flexibility, but after 10km, there was no longer much cushioning.
      What do you consider?”

      Answer:

      The Cloudflow 4 is still a firm and responsive ride making it a good Tempo running shoe so if you prefer more cushioning in your runs I would recommend the Cloudsurfer 7, or Cloudgo instead. Reviews here:
      Cloudsurfer 7 review: https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/on-cloudsurfer-review/
      Cloudgo review: https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/on-cloudgo-review/

      -Alastair

  2. Hi there! Thanks for the thorough review. I actually just purchased these about a month ago and have been really enjoying them for half-ironman training. They feel noticeably light and springy on tempo runs and intervals thanks to the advanced rocker, and cushy enough to sustain medium distance runs. However, as soon as I’ve pushed mileage over the 10k mark, my ankles/achilles have started to feel a little beat up from the pavement. I’m guessing this is due to the fact that the cushioning/midsole is still relatively firm compared to the Cloudmonster.

    My hope for this shoe was to be an all around training shoe that was light and fast enough for race day (half-marathon in a 70.3). However, I’m starting to think they may not be the best for longer runs, and maybe best kept for shorter tempo runs.

    I love the advanced rocker for forward propulsion and how light these are. With that in mind, do you have any recommendations for a similar shoe with more cushion for longer runs, but still light enough for race day? I thought about the Cloudmonster for training but it seems a little heavy for race day. And of course, the cloudboom echo 3 sounds epic but the price tag is pretty heavy. Is the original cloudboom echo a terrible compromise? Appreciate any and all suggestions you might have! Thanks in advance.

    • Hey Ryan, glad you’ve been enjoying the Cloudflow 4 but you’re right there are definitely better options for longer runs. The original Cloudboom Echo was a bit of a fail unfortunately (the CBE3 is much better however, just very expensive). If you’d like to stick with On then check out with the Cloudsurfer or original Cloudmonster: you can find reviews of both and where I rank them in the Cloud lineup here: https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/best-on-running-shoes-reviewed/

      Another shoe from On Are you willing to look to another brand like HOKA? If so, the Mach 5 could be what you’re after! Here’s my review: https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/hoka-mach-5-review/

      Hope that helps a bit but please let me know if you have any other questions! -Alastair

      • Thanks for the feedback, Alastair! I’ll check out your other reviews and see if I can narrow it down. I didn’t love the Mach 5’s but maybe I’ll give them another go. I’m also curious about the new On Cloudstratus 3 (same plush cushioning and forward-rolling but maybe on the heavier side). Cloudmonsters sound amazing – question is, are they race day worthy? Thanks again for your helpful tips! Much appreciated.

        • You’re welcome! You’re right, the Cloudstratus 3 is dfinitely a heavier/bulkier shoe – it’s one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. The original Cloudmonster is great and I’d give them a shot at race day – they’re alot of fun with tons of bounce but they do lack in stability. The new Cloudmonster 2 goes the other way however.. It has lost the fun bounce but has good stability… lol Here are reviews of both if interested ( you will probably be able to get a great deal on the original when the V2 goes on sale on the 22nd): https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/on-cloudmonster-review/ andhttps://www.trailandkale.com/gear/on-cloudmonster-2-review/
          -Alastair

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