We were lucky enough to get our hands on these amazing On Cloudswift trainers to give them a thorough test and see what we thought. Run Deep’s Jo Weston shares her opinions on this super-light running shoe.
With every new running shoe comes new technologies, and it’s all pretty exciting if you’re a keen runner looking for the perfect fit. On is a shoe brand that has been really capturing my attention over the last few years and I was looking forward to the chance to try them for myself.
These Cloudswifts feature On’s brand-new innovative cushioning technology called Helion™ superfoam – expect to see this being adopted across its product range. But for now, the Cloudswift is the first shoe from the company to feature the foam cushioning.
When you lift the shoes out of their box, you can’t help but let out a little gasp of amazement at just how light they are. Honestly, they weigh nothing (well, not literally, but 240g is light for a cushioned shoe). I loved the look of them – they are so sleek for a road shoe! The colourway that I had in for testing was Teal/Storm, a very attractive blue and grey mix. Other options include Glacier/White and Plum/Dawn in women’s sizes, and Denim/Midnight, Rock/Slate and Rust/Rock for men’s sizes.
These shoes are specifically designed for urban running, and promise to be light and fast, without sacrificing cushioning or durability. The superfoam is a proprietary technology, built to meet exacting requirements. “‘No compromises’ was the mantra when we set out to create this new superfoam,” explains Olivier Bernhard, On co-founder and multiple Ironman champion. “As a runner, you need your shoe to perform at its best so you can too. You won’t say yes to second best. Since no other foam was able to offer what we wanted, we decided to build our own. Helion™ is a lighter, softer, and more agile foam for a ride that feels more alive every step of the run.”
So what’s so special about this foam then? Well, it offers a unique structure made up of stable hard elements and softer, elastic segments. In the press release, On says: “While newly shaped Cloud elements on the sole collapse diagonally to increase horizontal cushioning, durable rubber reinforcements provide enhanced traction. In the forefoot, Cloud elements connect at the central channel for a more directional push-off without energy loss”. The theory is that these will offer better energy-return properties for enhanced performance.
Only one way to find out…
The first thing you can’t help but notice is that the tongue is sewn into the shoe itself, as a seamless whole – having not tried On shoes before, it was unexpected. I have quite wide feet, so normally I loosen the laces and pull the tongue out and forward to get my feet into shoes. It takes some getting used to when the tongue is fixed, but actually it has a lot of give and I had no trouble getting them on – just force of habit!
The engineered mesh sock that wraps around your foot is designed to let your feet breathe, and I felt well supported and comfortable. The only thing I did notice is that they initially felt a little hard underfoot, which I wasn’t expecting given the cushioning focus on these shoes. I’m used to a lot of cushioning and a softer feel, but I couldn’t wait to get out and give them a try. They felt so incredibly light on my feet.
I took these shoes out for their first go on an interval session. During the warm-up I had some reservations, as I felt like I could feel the impact of the road more than normal. However, it was a whole different story when I got going. I was doing sprint reps and oh wow! These shoes felt amazing at speed. As I moved across the ground swiftly (well, as swiftly as I do!), these shoes were so comfortable. It completely dispelled my initial thoughts during the warm-up.
They have been designed for running on tarmac, with impact protection and durable rubber reinforcement. The mechanical side band, which adds a pleasing aesthetic touch, is also highly practical, giving you midfoot support. During speedwork I really felt this – my foot didn’t slip around at all and the impact of the ground was minimised.
I felt like these shoes helped my overall running form. They rocked through my natural gait and gave me a boost to push off each step. I didn’t seem to fatigue as easily as I normally would during a speed session, which might have been a placebo effect brought on by new-shoes excitement. Or it might have been the way that these shoes supported and guided my foot through each step, and increased energy return as advertised.
I have really grown to love these shoes for my speedwork and shorter distances. I don’t think they would be my shoe of choice for marathons (I am out there pounding the pavements, or more often trails, for 5-6 hours).
However, for shorter road runs, commutes and speedwork, these are my new favourites. They just deliver speed – I never realised how much difference the right shoe could make. My next test will be at parkrun to see if I can get a PB; they fill me with the confidence that I really can get one!