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On Cloudflow Review: The Third Generation Has Landed!

How they perform while running, key features explained, and questions answered

Visit our On Running Shoes Buyer's Guide to find the best On shoes ranked & reviewed.

All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here's our process.

The On Cloudflow is back with yet another new design that gives these popular running shoes a similar feel to the previous generation but with definite improvements. This in-depth On Cloudflow review focuses 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 in our Best On Running Shoe Reviews Buyer’s Guide.

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While the new On Cloudflow looks quite similar to the 2nd gen, it’s a very different beast. It feels just as responsive and cushioned as the previous model, thanks to the same Helion outsole and springy speedboard which sits above it. But this new Cloudflow has a much better upper, made from 70% recycled polyester, which makes it better for the planet too. The On Cloudflow is very much a 5k, 10k and half-marathon running shoe for fast training sessions and races, but those who enjoy running marathons in a more minimal running shoe will also enjoy these.

If you’re after a highly-cushioned On running shoe for marathons or road ultramarathons, have a read of my Cloudstratus, Cloudace, and Cloud X reviews after this one, or if you’re a serious marathon racer, the On Cloudboom Echo is the shoe that will get you hitting personal speed records.


Hopefully, this On Cloudflow review answers all the 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 – or for a faster response, ask me on Instagram.


On Cloudflow Sizing and Fit

On Cloudflow Review Trail and Kale web wm 2
On Cloudflow review | Perspective view

If you’re familiar with On running shoes then you probably know they generally feel comfortable right out the box, the On Cloudflow is no exception. Much of the comfort comes from the cozy inner layer of the upper.

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The internal sock (just about visible in the photo below) that is attached to the sides of the tongue also adds to the overall comfort as it helps the upper wrap-around and conform to your feet. This also reduces the chances of any chaffing and blisters.

On Cloudflow upper construction and internal sock
On Cloudflow upper construction and internal sock

These running shoes fit true to size relative to other On Running shoes and other popular brands like Nike, Adidas, and Brooks Running for example, so there’s no need to size up or down, go with the size that you’re used to.

The On Cloudflow Upper Construction

On Cloudflow Review Trail and Kale web wm 7
breathable and stretchy upper

The upper is very breathable with ventilation in the right places to keep your feet cool while running fast in hot weather. There’s also some stretch in the upper too, which helps keep your feet comfortable as they expand in the heat of your run.

I really like the elastic strap on the tongue (which was also present on the 2nd Generation Cloudflow) which is for securing your laces one tied up (see image below).

On Cloudflow elastic loop to store laces and stop them flapping while running | On Cloudflow Review
On Cloudflow elastic loop to store laces and stop them flapping while running

This loop is very useful because in the past, anyone with average to slim feet would have had to deal with excess laces flapping around during a run unless you tied a double knot.

The materials get thicker and more cushioned towards the rear for additional heel and ankle support (see image below).

The rear of the On Cloudflow has more padding and support
The rear of the On Cloudflow has more padding and support

Looking at the image above you’ll notice a solid plastic strip that acts as a heel cage, designed to lock your heel in place and reduce lateral foot roll when running in the On Cloudflow. This gives a really stable yet responsive feel while running fast, particularly when you need to dodge people in crowded places.

The Helion midsole

On Cloudflow Helion Midsole
On Cloudflow Helion Midsole

The podium-topping Cloudflow shoe loved by many elite athletes still has the latest cushioning tech from On, Helion superfoam. Refined with input from world-class triathlon and running athletes the Helion superfoam midsole provides a really smooth ride, soft landings and very explosive take-offs.

With the new Cloudflow (3rd generation), you can expect more kick, more speed, and more comfort over shorter runs. On does say that they recommend this shoe for Marathon running too, but in my opinion, it’s quite a minimal feel and your feet may prefer these for fast half marathons. If you are used to running long distances in lightweight minimal shoes though, these are definitely for you.

On’s Speedboard combined with this Helion midsole make the On Cloudflow a very cushioned shoe that will inevitably allow you to run faster than you may be used to, solely due to the fact that your feet will feet comfortable and as such you’ll want to push harder.

On Cloudflow Review | An updated traction pattern offers better grip than the previous version on slick wet surfaces
An updated traction pattern offers better grip than the previous version on slick wet surfaces

The Cloudflow outsole rubber compound and tread formation have been updated too. The tread is now in an advanced traction pattern that offers much better grip on wet roads. Something that is required on some city sidewalks.

Cloudflow weight and drop

The On Cloudflow weighs 238g / 8.4oz, 3 grams heavier than the previous version, which is such a small number that you won’t even notice a difference – it’s still a very lightweight running shoe. There’s a drop of 6mm from heel to toe which actually feels closer to 4mm, I don’t know why but it just does. Helen and I both thought the same.

The On Cloudflow has neutral running stability which means that they’ll feel good on most people but there is definitely a subtle amount of arch support/cushioning in there, which feels more pronounced than other On’s but I like how it hugs your feet none the less.

If you do feel you need extra arch support then I would recommend reading our Tread Labs insoles review next, which explains how their running insoles can help improve comfort and form for those who need the extra support underfoot.

On Cloudflow Review | Medium width toe box on the Cloudflow 3rd Generation
Medium width toe box

Toe Box

The toe box is medium/normal width and feels airy due to the very breathable upper material.

Roger Federer wears the On Cloudflow for running

If you didn’t know already, Roger Federer has joined the team at On Running in an effort to collaborate and help shape the future of research and development of the Swiss running brand.

Roger will use his unique experience to help take product development, marketing, and fan experiences to new levels. This is very exciting news for the direction of the brand. How and why did they become partners? Roger was spotted wearing On shoes around the world, by the On team, and so they reached out, not in the traditional sponsored athlete sense, but more of an entrepreneurial collaboration between them both.

I suppose Switzerland is a relatively small place and it makes sense for two such powerhouses in design and sport to collaborate at some point! Roger’s first On Running shoe, aptly named the On Roger, are the tennis shoes you’ll see him wearing at Wimbledon, the US Open, French Open and other world class tennis tournaments.

Final thoughts and where to buy

In summary, the On Cloudflow is one of the best lightweight running shoes for running races of distances between 5km and the half-marathon – Find out how they rank on our On Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide. Marathon runners who enjoy minimal running shoes will have a lot of fun in these responsive shoes too. The toe box is airy and of a medium width and the midsole has the enjoyable Helion foam that responds well to fast running, on hard surfaces.

The upper is really breathable and I love how the material stretches and conforms to your feet while you run. The upper is a big improvement over the original Cloudflow too, with it being made with 70% recycled polyester. These are currently my go-to running shoes for tempo runs.

At $139.99 the On Cloudflow is very well priced for such a durable and high-performance training and racing shoe.

On Cloudflow Review Summary

On Cloudflow Review Featured Trail and Kale
On Cloudflow Review
Comfort
9.2
Design & Function
9
Durability
8.5
Flexibility
8.8
Performance
9.5
PROS
Very comfortable on runs up to half-marathon. Marathon runners who enjoy minimal shoes will love these for Marathons too.
Comfortable out of the box
Very lightweight (8.4oz / 238g)
Elastic strap on the tongue for stowing laces
Very breathable
CONS
A little minimal in the midsole for long distance running
9
Overall Score

Cloudflow Image Gallery


Jump over to our Best On Running Shoes Ranked and Reviewed buyer’s guide to find out how well the Cloudflow ranks against other On running shoes, HINT – They’re rocking it!

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Living in Monterey county, ca. We have a lot of mixed running. Road
    Running to get dirt trails. Have you had experience with mixed surfaces. The trials are mostly packed dirt, single track(mountain bike trails) to some looser sandy trails. I just bought these and would love
    To wear them on any type of run. Thoughts? Thank you

    • Hey Justin, what a wonderful part of the world Monterey is! 🙂 the Cloudflow is very much a road running shoe but i guess you could wear them on buffed, hard-packed, and dry trails. The closest On trail running shoes to the Cloudflow would be the Cloudventure Peak. They will definitely be better suited and actually handle road surfaces pretty well too! Hope that helps a little?

      Best,
      Alastair

  2. I had the first gen Cloudflow which I used mainly for road. However I also did a 100km trail in them. It was dry trail mostly dirt with few small stones here and there. Worth noting I had changed the insoles with some gel to provide extra cushioning. They were brilliant.

  3. Hi! I am the “marathon runner who enjoys minimalist shoes”. I’ve been running in Vibrams 7 years and have finally hung them up and decided to wear real shoes (after years of pressuring from friends and family). That being said, I am looking for every day trainers that are minimalist. Do you think that the cloudflows could work for that use rather than just for speed work? Thank you! 🙂

  4. Hey Alastair,
    Many thanks for the reviews, they are super helpful and thorough.
    I recently bought the Cloudflow to train for a half-marathon and love them, but I also do a lot of crossfit / HIIT training, and so I’m wondering whether it is worth investing in CloudX as well. I know the CloudX are marketed as ON’s go-to shoes for crossfit/HIIT training, but I don’t understand what the CloudX have that the Cloudflow don’t have.
    Thanks again for the website, which as a fellow WFPB nature enthusiast I find very inspiring 🙂

    • Hey Hingle,

      So glad you’ve been enjoying my On Running gear reviews – it’s always a pleasure for me to be able to test their gear and report back to all of you! The Cloud X is a really great all-round shoe. The difference you’ll find when comparing to the Cloudflow is that there’s extra cushioning in the Cloud X, and there’s a bit more flex in them too which is what you want ideally for HIIT training, as there’s a wider range of motion involved. There’s also less bulk around the heel on the Cloud X – If you end up buying them you’ll notice that they’re just generally more comfortable for everyday use than the Cloudflow which I only use for running with. I often wear mine like the On Cloud – all day, for any use.
      -Alastair

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