Thursday, March 31, 2022

ON Running Cloudmonster Initial Multi Tester Review: Ride On smooth, light and friendly Purple People Eaters!

Article by Sam & Dominique Winebaum, Peter Stuart, Matt Cerhan, Sally Reiley, Jeff Beck

ON Running Cloudmonster ($170)

The RTR team just very recently received the Cloudmonster but got right on them and shares its initial review here. The review will be updated with more comments and scores after more testing.


Sam: The Cloudmonster released March 31st, 2022. It can be thought of as deftly sitting in, and serving, two categories of running shoes: daily trainers and max cushion cruisers. It weighs under the magic 10 oz barrier I like to see for a daily trainer at 9.7 oz / 275g (US9 sample) while having a very decently maximal stack height of 33mm at the heel, 27mm at the forefoot, the foot sitting down in the midsole making them appear more “monstrous” than they actually are.

I have never struggled with ON’s visual design or uppers which are truly spectacular but have with the rides which for years were very firm with a highly prescriptive rigid feel from their Speedboard plates and very firm foam. 2021 saw some glimmers of change with the Cloudswift 2 and Cloudstratus 2 softening the ride some and increasing the effectiveness of the rocker geometry.

With the Monster we clearly have both a softer (to pressing) Helion midsole foam than in the Cloudstratus 2 and Cloudswift 2, larger Cloudtec elements which compress and release individually but until here in the Monster didn’t do much for cushion feel, and a streamlined less armored and saddled upper. 

I think the Monster can be thought of as more of a big overhaul of the Cloudstratus 2 (right above) than an all new shoe,  the Monster is 11g lighter at the same heel height while adding 2mm to the forefoot becoming a 6mm drop shoe.

Would this finally be an ON that I would love to run and daily at varied paces and not just love to look at? Time to find out as we share our initial runs impressions review. Our full multi tester review will follow..

Peter: I have really wanted to like running in ON shoes for years! I’m a big fan of the way their shoes look and though their marketing has suggested that the shoes felt like “running on clouds”--I’ve found all the models I’ve run in to feel very firm. Very, very firm. I’m hoping that this is the ON shoe I’ve been waiting for. 

Matt: I’ve been an On fan since they created their Helion foam, finding previous On foam technologies to have been too firm and rigid. At work in my running shop, I tend to wear version one of the On Cloudstratus as it is a super comfy shoe but I found its design too wide for me to run in. On’s flagship shoe, the Cloudflow got Helion in version 2 and was a game-changer for me taking it up to 30 miles and well over my usual shoe lifespan (250-300 miles) to 600 miles. So when I first saw the CloudMonster back in the Summer of 2021, featuring On’s largest CloudTec elements and even more Helion foam, I was super excited to take it for a test drive when it eventually became available. 

Sally: I have never had the pleasure of wearing an On shoe before, and yet I get asked about them all the time because so many of my friends wear On. They may not run in them, but boy, do a lot of them wear them as their casual shoe! And then they board their yacht or drive off in their Range Rover or Tesla… On is clearly popular as a status shoe, but I have heard that they are beyond firm as a running shoe. But the Cloudmonster looks different, and I was intrigued and interested in testing them on the run. Let’s see how they perform!

Jeff: The Cloudmonster is my third On Running review, and the previous two were both disappointing shoes with incredible uppers. Stiff, firm, and odd geometry was the killer for the previous On shoes, how does the Cloudmonster stack up? Spoiler alert - largely much, much, much better. And in some ways a little worse.


Sits neatly between agile, snappy daily trainer and max cushion cruiser at a light 9.7 oz / 275g  with a big 33/27 stack: Sam/Sally/Jeff/Dominique

10.87 oz for a M 11 which feels nice and light Peter/Jeff

Stable, deeply cushioned heel, aggressive yet flexible rocker with response up front. Sam/Peter/Sally

Softer (than usual for ON) landings and foam with larger Cloudtec elements providing more cushion and more rebound: Sam/Peter/Matt/Sally/Jeff

Secure fit midfoot, and true to size fit on my UK10 sample. Matt

Beautiful blue colorway and aesthetics that are all around easy on the eyes  (and who can not like polka dot laces?!) Sally/Dominique

Distinctly different construction from other shoes that I have run in but equally performing.Dominique


While the upper is for sure up to the task of maximum comfort, its overly pliable ankle collar support and hold may limit its use for faster more uptempo running for those with “narrow” ankles and heels. Sam

Lacing is minimal and the foot hold suffers just a little bit. I didn’t feel quite as locked down as I’d like, but it didn’t inhibit me at all when picking up the pace. Peter/Sally/JeffDominique

Slightly squared and low cut ankle collar typical of the majority of On shoes doesn’t necessarily sit correct around all ankle bones. Matt/Sally

Paper thin tongue as with any shoe featuring this design cuts into me when wearing ‘no-show’ or On’s low socks. Matt

Ankle collar actually dug in and cut along the medial side of ankle. Matt

Enjoyable to run in, but leaves my legs trashed the following day. Jeff

Very light weight as well as heavier runners (fore to mid foot strikers) may not find the ride as enjoyable as runners in the middle. Too little element compression for light runners, too much for heavier runners.

Women’s colorway


Weight: men's 9.7 oz / 275g (US9)  /  women's oz 8.35 oz / 237g (US8) Men’s 11 10.87 oz. 

  Samples: men’s  9.7 oz / 275g (US9), 10.44 oz / 296 g (US10.5)

                  women’s: 8.6 oz / 243 g (US 8.5)

Drop: 6mm

Stack Height: men’s 33 mm heel (measured) / 27mm forefoot (spec), 6mm drop 

Available March 31, 2022.  $170

Tester Profiles

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years.

Matt is the owner of Made to Run an independent running store based between Manchester and Liverpool in the UK, which he runs alongside his mother Susan who competed in the 1987 Rome World Championships 10,000m and 1988 Seoul Olympic Marathon for Great Britain. So with running in the family, Matt has high goals of replicating what his mother did and having raced at the national level over in the UK for the last 15 years, Matt made a further step towards his goal on his 30th birthday when he won the 2021 Manchester Marathon in 2:18.23, followed two weeks later by winning the Liverpool Rock N Roll Marathon. Matt also has PR's for the 5km -14:18, 10km  - 30:11 and HM - 65:28. 

Average weekly mileage ranges between 80-100 miles, easy-paced runs between 6:30-7:00 min/mile Best session 40x400m av. 70 seconds, longest run 30 miles, highest mileage week 145 miles. Age: 30, Height: 5ft 10, Weight: 11st. / 154 lbs.

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past eight Boston Marathons, one Chicago, and two NYC Marathons, with a Boston PR of 3:29 and a NYC PR of 3:26, good for 2nd place AG. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. She has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04), Half Marathon (1:37), 5 Mile, and 5K. She ran the NYC Marathon in 2019 to commemorate her 60th birthday and finished 2nd in her age group with a time of 3:28:39, a feat she repeated in 2021 when she ran NYC again with an all time PR of 3:26:54 (a few weeks after 5th at Boston in 3:32:24).  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.

Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 30 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

Dominique has run for over 40 years, consistently about 25 miles per week at paces between 10 and 11 minute miles. She races rarely, but always surprises more hard core runners in her age group when she does. She has a 1985 marathon PR of 3:16 in her second marathon which at the time put her on the top 10 Swiss women’s lists. She is the mother of two grown children, both runners post college, and enjoys nordic and alpine skiing, hiking and trekking, and gardening. 

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range on a real good day,  training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

First Impressions,  Fit, and Upper

Sam: Beautifully styled in a royal purple with a simple modern aesthetic, the men’s and women’s only differ in lace and tongue collar and the color of the subtle billboard band cutting through the ON logo with half the word “Cloudtec” seen. 

Oh yes the men’s has a black outsole with the women’s a blue.  Upper mesh and construction is the same.

The upper is a thin engineered mesh which is lined at the toe box. ON calls it “soft touch” and it does indeed have a wonderfully soft and pleasant feel everywhere on foot. It is made of recycled fibers.

There is a very slight stiffening of the toe bumper.

The thin tongue is gusseted with a thin durable grid outer mesh over an inner softer spacer liner with ventilation holes. 

The inner and outer sides of the tongue are backed with a pliable but very dense mesh that is wider on the inside than outside where it is just an edging that is not seen in the outer view above. A very comfortable and effective tongue which might be stiffened a bit down low at the sides for a bit more structure to the upper.

The laces are reflective, soft and easy to pull through the webbing straps. 

The heel is lightly padded, I think too lightly padded with a low squared off collar  and wide for my narrower heels to hold well although for sure it is comfortable. 

I prefer the more substantial rear hold of the Cloudstratus 2 (right above) but as far as the rest of the upper the Monster is a step above, if a bit more relaxed in fit.

This is a much more minimal upper construction than typical for ON. For example the very similar Cloudstratus with a lighter mesh has extensive overlays, a much more substantial toe bumper, a mini saddle, more padding around the collars with a narrower opening and a more rigid heel counter than the semi pliable one in the Monster.

The result is that a half size up from my normal US8.5 I had to resort to not only to thick Balega socks but had to use a runner’s knot to secure the area around final lace up and towards the ankle collar. I often get size 9 as that is many manufacturers sample size but only very rarely do I have to resort to both thicker socks and the runner’s knot. I have a narrow left foot and a medium wide right and both needed the treatment. 

My wife Dominique had no issues with her heel hold. Maybe the women’s sizing last would suit me better? She does note at her usual women's 9 that they run a little short with thin socks fine and thicker making the fit short at the toes.

I suspect at true-to-size I would get a slightly better fit but it seems the issue is the lack of upper support in the lace up and ankle collars. 

I think more padding and height around the ankle collars would help stiffen that area. I think without some additional structure/substance in that area the shoe suffers in the variety of paces versatility department for daily training but for sure is foot friendly for long easier runs.

The toe box is moderate in width but given the lack of overlays and soft touch very pliable upper materials even those on the border of wide should be fine at true to size. I would especially avoid sizing up if you have narrow ankles or heel areas or if you plan faster paces in the Monster which it is certainly capable of and fun to run in. 

Peter: Minimal and maximal all at the same time. The upper is a beautiful purple minimalist looking upper with playful pale green laces with little purple triangles.

Little design touches that go a long way to making this a very good looking shoe. Between the big Cloudtec pods and the fairly high sidewalls this is a pretty big looking shoe. For all of the design minimalism there’s some size maximalism going on here. 

The “soft touch” mesh upper is lovely. Feels nice to the touch, breathes just fine and holds the foot decently well. I found it a little tough to dial in a nice solid foot hold with basically only three rows of fabric eyelets and two normal eyelets up top. I think the very thin tongue complicates the issue as there’s some pressure on the top of my foot when I really cinch the laces down. The good news is that after a couple of stops to fine tune the fit in the first mile I didn’t have to worry about them again. The even better news is that when I did some strides at the end of my run the Cloudmonster felt very secure. 

Matt: Though the initial marketing color of the Acia/Aloe looks fantastic, and is the color I stocked in-store due to it’s better commercial appeal and especially for the UK market, my sample arrived in the Frost/Surf shown above and just wow, what a shoe, the color just looks great on the CloudMonster!

Initial step in feels like a very different shoe to previous ON models I’ve run in with a soft and very bouncy feeling, giving me at least that initial feeling that this is going to be a great shoe for logging those easy days and recovery runs in. 

Fit wise On’s low and slightly squared ankle collar always leaves a little something to be desired to get it to really feel like it’s giving your ankle the support it needs (especially when you’ve rolled your lateral and medial ankle ligaments a couple times as I have). 

Toe box and midfoot fit really well and are secure. I know speaking with our sales reps that the On line from the On Cloudflow V3 is trying to hit that initial step in feel that the likes of Brooks and Saucony are known for, so just like in the Cloudflow V3 and Cloudstartus V2 the heel collar has more padding and softer feel. Though I love a paper thin tongue it has to be cut just right otherwise it digs in when wearing ON’s  low socks or ‘no-show’ socks ( I do my best to avoid them to be fair, preferring qtr crew socks, but sometimes that’s all you have left clean). 

Sally: On, you had me at the beautiful clean shades of blue aesthetic! I was wowed by the shoe as I took it out of the box. As Peter points out, it is somehow both minimal and maximal at the same time: it is a massive looking shoe with that high stack of large Cloud Tec pods, but it is minimal in its clean upper design of soft touch mesh. And somewhere I read 80% recycled material in the upper? Big points in my book for sustainability! I received my sample in W8.5 when my usual size is W8; I would have said that this fit is TTS, but I actually appreciated the extra length for the big toe. I have narrow feet and found the toe box to be very roomy, a bit too spacious for me, but clearly able to accommodate a wider, high volume foot quite nicely. Perhaps the width and the heel would have fit better in my true size. The polka dot laces are so so fun, but I had a few issues at first with getting the lacing system to lock down tight enough down in the midfoot without slipping. I found these comfortable to slip on out of the box, but they definitely fit my feet better as I put some miles on them and tweaked the lacing.

Jeff: “On made themselves a Bondi!” was all I could think as I took them out of the box. They look big in pictures, but even bigger in person. I couldn’t wait to throw them on, and straight out of the box with no lacing issue I was impressed. Good fit, true to size, and a really good traditional shaped toebox. That said, the upper feels like a big step down for On. Previous On shoes I’ve reviewed (Cloudswift and Cloudstratus 1) had a number of issue below the foot, but their uppers exuded a quality I hadn’t seen in running shoes. They were reminiscent of Mizuno in the early 2010s, top notch craftsmanship and design, and the Cloudmonster upper feels like a slight downgrade from that bar. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a better constructed upper than virtually any other brand out there, but going against its ancestors, the Cloudmonster upper feels a little diminutive. Also, it’s a very high volume shoe. I’m somewhere between a D and 2E width, and there’s a lot of room inside the shoe. It doesn’t fit sloppy for me, it’s close, but not quite there.

Dominique: My Cloudmonster still has that fresh look of just having come out of the box as I am getting a feel for them.  For my first ON shoe, I am running high on clouds – the stack height 33/27mm is up there and the engineered CloudTec midsole with embedded Helion superfoam is distinctly different from what I have been running in recently such as the ASICS Cumulus 24 and Diadora Equipe Atomo, and thereby intriguing and exciting.  

With its maximalist midsole and minimalist upper, the Cloudmonster is designed to heighten your running experience and comfort, and without a doubt elevate your style.  The massive construction of the midsole is offset by the lean upper resulting in a sleek design that is both trendy looking and attractive.  In addition, the Cloudmonster is available in two different colors (women), Acai/Lavender and Glacier/Meadow, which I find are a huge draw to the shoe along with all the details, i.e. letter markings & Swiss flag.  

In my regular size 9, the fit is snug if I wear a pair of thin socks, but too short up front with medium weight socks. Unlike Sam, I don’t have issues with the hold, which I would characterize as good.  However, the hold might be different and perhaps problematic if I were to size up, which I would be tempted to do if buying a pair. I was initially surprised by the firmness of the shoe. Incidentally, I am testing in parallel another “cloud” shoe from a different company, the ASICS Cumulus, which is well cushioned but a bit too soft. 

I am enjoying the energetic ride and smooth heel to toe motion of the Cloudmaster and adjusting well to the firmness of the shoe.  I have run in ON running clothes - short, top, and jacket -  the same summer outfit for years now, so indeed I am ready to experience the running performance of the Cloudsmater.  Like ON, I too was born in Switzerland! 


Sam: The midsole has ON’s largest CloudTec elements to date, its softest Helion foam, and a lively, springy when flexed polypropylene Speedboard plate with decent flex. While not a highly flexible shoe,  the Monster combines an aggressive rocker with some flex, something I like and I hope the future and with the 33mm heel, 27 mm forefoot there is plenty of cushion stack here,

The result is a much more pleasant feel than ON’s traditional stiff firm and while responsive, quite rough riding almost board like shoes of the past.

More than just softer foam, I think the larger Cloudtec elements really now, and for the first time have some give and return that is clearly felt. 

One can feel the relatively firm foam stabilizing and directing the elements’ now deeper more dynamic feeling pneumatic actions. The offset placement of the through the midsole channels provides a more flowing sensation than older single layer ON geometries.  

This is in no way a dense feeling midsole (say as PWRRUN is in the Endorphin Shift) or an overly mushy feel as some New Balance Fresh Foam shoes can feel when stacked big. Different, as a big part of the cushion and return are the elements which also give the midsole a lighter, less dense and monolithic feel than slabs of foam. 

The polypropylene Speedboard  clearly smooths the transitions and stabilizes and gives the shoe a long flex with rocker action and some snap felt. So a nice middle ground between a rocker geometry which is usually rigid (Endorphin Shift or ASICS Glideride) and more flexible classic daily trainers. And even though early, I think this flexible plated with rocker approach is smoother than Hoka’s approach to rockers (Clifton and Mach 4) which uses foam slab and midsole geometry alone. 

Peter: Sam, as usual, nailed all of the technical aspects of the midsole. I’ll agree that ON finally comes through on the promise of having the Cloudtec pods do some collapsing and expanding. They work in concert with the Speedboard to give a sense of directed flow through the gait cycle. These are still not “pillowy soft”--and I’d argue that they are a better shoe because of that. The midsole feels forgiving while still being a little bit firm. It’s a good combination. I can feel the rocker working. My suspicion is that this shoe will break in a little bit and provide an even smoother ride as the miles stack up. 

Sally: Sam said it all for the technical aspects, so I will focus on how the Cloud Tec pods worked for me. This is not a soft squishy bouncy feel, nor is it a rigid firm feel; it is somewhere nicely in between. One definitely feels the rocker geometry rolling your foot forward. The pods seemed to get a bit “softer” as I added miles. This concept of the large CloudTec pods compressing and springing back as one runs sounds great, but my concern is that lightweight runners such as myself (105 pounds dripping wet) don’t have enough mass to compress the pods and maximize the energy return potential. The naked eye can see that my weight does not flatten the pods the way a heavier runner does. Perhaps On needs a model designed for women/light runners such as myself: rowing and boxing have lightweight categories, how about running (shoes)?!

Jeff: And this is where my complaints about the upper get lost, because this midsole is an absolutely massive step forward from where On has been. No longer stiff, firm, or saddled with awkward geometry, the Cloudmonster is a real, legit, running shoe. I’m not smart enough to know if it comes from the softer foam, bigger elements, or more rocker-centric geometry, but I can tell you this shoe feels more dynamic than virtually any trainer on the market. It isn’t just bouncy, it almost feels mechanical - and I mean that as a compliment. And yet, that’s not all good news, but I’ll save that for the Ride portion.

Dominique: Sally noted that she feels she is too lightweight of a person at 105 lbs for the CloudTec pods to compress and spring back as one runs. At 136 lbs, the CloudTec pods are compressing under my weight and springing back as I release my foot from the ground, generating a pleasant and energetic ride.  At first, I felt the midsole was a bit rigid, however, withmiles, I am adjusting to the feel of a firmer cushioned midsole that is not “pillowy soft”,  as is the consensus here.  In fact, I prefer a bit of firmness rather than a shoe being too soft, as is the case with the ASICS Cumulus. 


Sam: Classic ON outsole with large broad pads of durable rubber topping most lower Cloudtec elements.  I was surprised by the grip on sea sand blown over concrete.

I also note the wider channels and more independent nature of the outsole pods and fewer of them than in the Cloudstratus 2 as shown below. In my A/B with the Cloudstratus 2 I could feel a smoother toe off as a result if actually a bit thinner if softer one in the Monster than in the Cloudstratus.

Peter: the textured outsole rubber on the heel and the forefoot seem to do a very good job of holding the road. I had issues with early ON shoes losing the rubber padding that was covering the pods. I’ll keep an eye out on these, but so far nothing to indicate that this would be an issue here. 

Sally: I had the opportunity to test this shoe on snow, on gravel, and in pouring rain, and the outsole performed well in all conditions. The grip was solid with no slippage whatsoever. This outsole is blissfully quiet underfoot, an important quality for this runner who despises LOUD shoes. And despite all the apparent opportunities under the foot for rocks and gravel to accumulate, I had no issues at all with collecting stones. 

Jeff: Plus one to the good grip and no stone collection camp - though I am seeing a lot more wear on my pair between the extended pods than my more svelte colleagues. It may be that I’m bottoming on the suspension, so to speak, but even the interpod wear isn’t bad as much as it is present.

Dominique: Like Matt, I am going to keep an eye on the rubber of the outsole.  It is very thin and the rubber tread pattern in some areas of the forefoot is wearing off a bit after only one week of use (26 miles: 20 running & 10 walking).  I am also in agreement with the group that the grip is good and that my outsole has remained free of collecting rocks.  


Sam: Two shorter slow runs in and I can say this is a wonderful ride for daily training, longer runs,recovery, and maybe even longer racing. Smooth, very well cushioned with a lively sense of rebound from the elements and one that is also not overly dense or in any way unstable. They are airy in feel underfoot but also substantial and stable. Nice smiles here during my runs on tired legs after a half this weekend with a sore hamstring. No chore to move them, no struggles in transitions, no harsh stiff traditional ON feel. 

My early sense is they could also be a fine half and marathon shoe for those who don’t want to go with a fully rigid plated shoe but want some (more mellow) forward impulse and plenty of stable cushion.  

It’s a fine ride for daily training faster miles but.. only if the upper has enough structure for your foot shape. It doesn’t quite get there for me. I also sensed the very front pods and the solid midsole further forward feels a bit thin, likely due to the pronounced rocker there. 

Peter: Early going here, but on my first run I found the ride to be delightful once I got dialed in. The first mile felt a little firmer than I expected, but once I figured out how to work with the shoe, I felt that the ride was smooth and gentle. The big surprise for me was that when I did some pickups at the end of my run the Cloudmonster felt terrific at speed. They’re a little heavy to be a tempo shoe, but I think they’ll be a great daily trainer and/or long run shoe. The ride is somewhere between the Mach 4 and the Rebel V2. Not quite as firm as the former and not as cushy and bouncy as the Rebel. 

Matt: It’s early in testing for me with just over 15 miles done on the Cloudmonster but I did a mix of sessions and steady/easy paces in the shoes to try and get a feel of what they are for. As I said in my initial thoughts, my perception of the Monster with its softer and bouncier feeling was that it would sit as a great easy day, recovery and slightly steadier pace shoe, and that it probably wouldn’t handle the speed elements as well. 

So far my testing has said the complete opposite. My first run was a 3 mile warm up starting at my easy day pace of 7:00 min/miles and going down to a slightly faster clip of 6:30min/miles by the last mile, here the Monster felt just sort of okay, nothing overly special, no real spring and bounce or soft cushion feeling I sort of expected to just make my legs feel nice and relaxed as I warmed up. 

I then went into 12x1min hard, running around 4:30min/mile pace and 1min easy back to around 6:30 pace. And boy did the Monster do something different on those minute long hard efforts. That pretty aggressive rocker feeling right at the end of toe off mixed with the final three CloudTec elements had me bouncing forward off the toes, similar to the experience of the AlphaFly at marathon pace, and made those one minute efforts quite gleeful. Back to the one minute off efforts and whether it was coming off the speed or not but the shoes felt better than during the warm up. I finished with a 3 mile cool down at 7:00min/mile pace and again just didn’t enjoy the feeling of the Monsters ride. 

My next run out was again a warm up and cool down around a 4 mile road relay leg here at the North of England 12 Man Road relay Championships, and again at those easier 6:30-7:00min/mile paces the Cloudmonster just didn’t feel like the shoe I expected it to be on my initial impressions. 

It’s worth noting that all my testing so far has been conducting during the taper for my marathon after hitting over 14 weeks of 80-100 miles so I’m fully considering that my legs just might not yet be in the right place to give a clear picture of this shoe for me, and I’ll definitely be logging more miles after my marathon recovery week.  

Sally:  I found the ride to be smooth, pleasant and well-cushioned without being soft. I was of course concerned that the ride might be too firm and downright harsh based on stories of earlier On running shoes, but I was pleased to find the ride somewhat soft and well-balanced. For me it was not a squishy or springy ride that screams FUN like some other current (carbon plated?) shoes, but a steady forward rolling easy ride that would translate well to long cruising miles for the right runner. The shoes run lighter than they look (that stack height is mostly air, with those large pods!). I did feel as if the shoes responded well to a faster tempo, but I am likewise in marathon taper mode (Boston is in 19 days!) and feeling a bit beat up, so further testing will be coming.

Jeff: There’s no denying it’s a bouncy, but controlled shoe, that’s more stable than other shoes with similar bounce profiles. I found they work at easy paces and for slightly uptempo runs, though not the shoe I’d wear for faster stuff. My big gripe with the shoe isn’t how it runs, it’s how it makes me feel after the run. Every run I’ve had in the Cloudmonster has given my legs the feeling that they ran at least double what I did the day before. Easy three or four mile runs around the neighborhood find me waking up the next morning like I had a medium long day. My longest run in them, a very easy-paced seven mile, left me feeling like I’d aged a few decade overnight and ran at least 15-20 miles. As I mentioned in the Outsole portion, I may be bottoming out the suspension and that paired with the firm plastic Speedboard the shoe just impacts me more than many other trainers. I’m pleased that I’m seemingly the only one that feels like trash the day after, because it’s a great shoe to run in, I’m just not sure if it’s worth the price I have to pay the following day.

Dominique: For someone who likes maximalist shoes, the Cloudmonster is a good fit with a fairly high stack height (33/27 mm), plenty of cushioning and support, as well as a rocker geometry that creates a fun and energetic ride.  In comparison to the Cumulus 24, it is a much more enjoyable and bouncier ride.  Also, the heel to toe transition is smooth and the ride very stable.  It also helps that this is a lightweight shoe! 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: Radical if oh so stylin’ fine and superb in appearance while, in something new from ON, a truly pleasant and friendly running  experience,  the Cloudmonster at long last starts to put a smile into my runs beyond those for the always spectacular ON aesthetics and quality, which of course the Monster shares. Monster..the name… Really a bit of a joke or a challenge as the shoe is neither over stacked, monstrous, over firm and harsh or a scary ride! 

The now larger Cloudtec elements actually are felt in a first for me with ON as compressing and rebounding  and in combination with the softer Helion foam this is felt as smooth continuous flow to the fairly aggressive final rocker toe off with a now more springy quite flexible Speedboard helping keep things lively. If you have run ON in the past and found them rough and firm  we now have a far friendlier fun and smoother ride than any of their shoes except the similar, somewhat firmer Cloudstratus 2 with the Monster clearly improving all around for me on that model.

My concerns here are around an overly “friendly” rear portion of the upper where I think  runners will be delighted at try on but some may struggle some in foot hold as they pick up the pace. I did. A bit more structure and rear substance I think is in order especially for narrower ankle and heel runners if your plan faster paces in them.

Peter: These big, burly looking purple people eaters are surprisingly mellow and fun to run in. It seems that ON has upped their ride game to be on par with their design game. I’d highly recommend getting a pair for daily training, recovery runs and long runs. They run and feel lighter than they look and should last a good long time. 

Matt: The Cloudmonster is definitely an ON shoe I can honestly say I enjoy running in, what I can’t say just yet is for what type of running. But in general, for most, I’d say if you’re a Hoka fan, or enjoy the Endorphin Shift, ASICS GlideRide or the bounce in the forefoot of the Nike Air Tempo and Alphafly, the On Cloudmonster is definitely a shoe to try and add to your rotation.  

Sally: I can’t wait to wear these around all my ON obsessed friends! They have often asked why I don’t run/race in their beloved ON shoes, and now I can say I do. These are a great everyday, easy or long run cruising shoe, well-cushioned and easy rolling. The fit is a bit challenging to dial in, as I found the heel collar somewhat aggravating (high on my ankle?) and the laces tough to snug securely down at the midfoot, but I believe after 35 miles I have gotten them about right. They are a beautiful shoe to behold with a simple but bold upper with gorgeous colors, and I am sure I will find them in my easy day rotation as well as on my feet for casual outings.

Jeff: Big step forward for On, not just in overall stack height but also performance - there’s no doubting that On actually made a real running shoe. The upper isn’t quite as good as previous models from the brand, but still among the very best in the industry. My only gripe is how much wear and tear they put on me and how they make my legs feel the following morning. It turns out there may be a weight limit, with my 220 pound frame bottoming out past the pods and causing the extra wear on me. The $170 price point is hard for me to stomach for a shoe that I wouldn't want to wear for the majority of easy miles during the week.

Dominique: For my first pair of ON running shoe, I am glad that I got to test the Cloudmonster.  Overall, it is a great fit for me though the fit itself is a bit too tight. I don’t have much room to wiggle my toes and I need to wear a thin pair of socks at all times.  This is a great option when looking for a maximalist shoe as the cushioning is generous, but without a sinking feeling, and the ride is very enjoyable and stable.  The price tag at $170 is up there, though this is a high quality engineered product made with 35% recycled content, so quality and sustainability as well as durability matter in the long run.  And yes, I do like to wear my Cloudmonster for other types of activity, such as walking or going places, for both their comfort level and looks.

The RTR team just very recently received the Cloudmonster but got right on them and shares its initial review here. The review will be updated with more comments and scores after more testing.


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Cloudstratus 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: Heavier at 10.1 oz / 286 g,  the Cloudstratus has about the same heel stack height but at an 8mm drop has 2mm less front cushion than the Monster. Its upper is more secure and structured than the Monster’s. I wish the uppers were right between these two with the front and mid foot comfort of the Monster and the superior rear hold of the CS. The Cloudstratus is firmer with less of a rebound sensation from its smaller CloudTec elements if a bit more responsive in feel at slower paces. While the forefoot of the Monster is softer and despite 2mm more front stack it is touch less cushioned in feel there, if notably snappier and easier to toe off. 

ASICS Glideride 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: Notably more rigid and structured under foot, the Gllideride locks the ankle and prescribes the stride through its rigid rocker. The Monster is more flexible and adapts better to varied paces with about equal cushion but a friendlier lighter under foot feel. At 10.5 oz / 297g the Glideride is considerably heavier than the  Monster.

Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)

Sam: Yet higher stacked with a massive 39/35 stack height of firmer less lively midsole,  the Shift has a rigid profile and final sharp short rocker. The Monster is more fun while the Shift is all serious business, very stable and predictable and favors faster paces over slower to activate its front rocker while Monster so far feels more pace versatile if not quite as secure in the upper department.

Jeff: Spot on, both big, but in completely different ways. The Shift rocker is much more pronounced, but virtually no bounce compared to the Cloudmonsters mechanical spring back.


ASICS Nimbus 24 (RTR Review)

Peter: Not totally dissimilar. The Cloudmonster transitions more smoothly for me. Upper feels a little less claustrophobic for me on the Cloudmonster. 

Sam: Agree with Peter the Monster is smoother in transition. While yes a bit claustrophobic and heavy the Nimbus 24 upper and especially its rear hold is superior for me. At 10.3 oz / 289g (US9) the Nimbus is a heavier and more flexible shoe with a plastic plate at midfoot along with denser Flytefoam Blast on the medial side for some support. Combined with the upper hold it is a more stable shoe and while it has a great midsole in Blast it has a more conventional not quite as exciting ride as the Monster

Sally: (W8 Asics, W8.5 On) Despite its massive appearance, the Cloudmonster runs lighter and smoother than the Nimbus 24 for me. The N24 is a wonderful daily trainer, but the Cloudmonster is just that much sexier and deserving of my miles today.

Jeff: Agreed with everyone above, the Cloudmonster is a much more fun and capable trainer, but I’d take the Nimbus for the ability to wear day-in/day-out that the On doesn’t give me.

Craft CTM Ultra 1 (RTR Review)

Peter: The Craft has a firmer, more noticeably rockered ride, but suffers from a pretty sloppy upper. That said, I’d probably do tempo work in the Craft and longer, slower work in the Cloudmonster.

Sam: Agreed with Peter on all points.

Hoka Bondi 7 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The Hoka is softer and heavier, while the Cloudmonster is better fitting, has more fun of a ride, and a more pronounced rocker. Bondi excels at the easy stuff, while the Cloudmonster is more versatile for sure.

New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Very similar to the Bondi, the FFM is a bigger and softer shoe, that goes beyond the ability to put many miles per week on them - it’s one of those exclusively easy day shoes.

Our full multi tester review with scores and more comparisons will follow after more testing

The ON-Running Cloudmonster is available from ON HERE

And from our other partner retailers below.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and currently preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

Where is each persons rating or scoring of the shoes (ride, fit etc) Thanks :)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
As the review is initial we will add that and any edits after more miles by the testers. Most of us only received 5 or so days ago so more testing is required.

Anonymous said...

How does it compare in your opinion to the ZoomX Invincible? Thanks!