Tuesday, October 17, 2023

ON Cloudultra 2 Multi Tester Review: 5 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark and Jeff Valliere

ON Cloudultra 2 ($180)


Renee: The Cloudultra returns for its second edition. If you have time, peruse the RoadTrailRun review of version 1. To say the least, the Cloudultra was not our favorite shoe. Version 2 promises a “softer Helion™ superfoam.” Softer being the keyword in this update. We all thought the midsole of the Cloudultra was too hard. Does version 2 solve this issue? Is Cloudultra 2 softer than v1? Is it actually “ultra” ready?  Please read on to find out what our testing in Nebraska and Colorado discovered.


Quality materials: Renee/Jeff

Smooth midfoot transition: Renee/Jeff

Secure fit: Renee

Comfort: Jeff

Versatility: Jeff

Nearly an ounce lighter than previous version: Jeff

Style: Jeff


A bit heavy for its use but considerably lighter than v1: Renee

Still firm/lacking forefoot cushion (despite 2mm more foam)  for ultra distances: Renee

Price: Renee/Jeff

Foothold could be a bit better still: Jeff


Weight: men's 10.4 oz /295g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

  Samples: men’s 10.6 oz /300 US10 (v1:322g / 11.4oz (US10)

                  women’s 8.64 oz/ 245 g (right) and 8.82 oz /250g (left) US10

                                 v1: 263g/9.28oz (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 27 mm heel / 21 mm forefoot ( 6mm drop spec) 

v1 Stack Height:  29.3mm heel / 19mm forefoot (9.7mm drop)

$179.99. Available now 

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: I still have version 1 of the Cloudultra because it’s a pretty shoe, not because I run it. I wasn’t the only  RTR tester who thought the midsole was too hard, especially for an “ultra” shoe. 

Thus, I had low expectations for version 2. Yet, surprisingly, I enjoyed the Cloudultra 2 for a variety of runs, including 4-hour efforts. 

The upper fit is secure. Wide footed runners might not enjoy the slim fit, but for anyone with normal to slender foot width and height, the upper is a great mix of comfort and security. 

I suggest true-to-size. If between half sizes in other brands, go with the longer half size. The knitted sock-like booty upper is a bit loose around my ankle (more room than version 1). I didn’t have issues with comfort, but I do prefer to wear crew length socks with these shoes for that reason. 

Jeff V:  Needless to say reviews were mixed at best on version 1 and I was a touch uncertain as to what to expect before getting my feet in version 2, but have to say that I am pleasantly surprised with the 2nd version.  Immediately obvious is that the cushioning is softer and more comfortable, the fit is a bit more relaxed, they are lighter, have a more friendly (less high and stiff) heel collar and have “normal” laces.  The moment I slid my foot into them, I knew On had improved this shoe dramatically and that I was going to like it.

The upper is a double layer mesh made from recycled polyester fabrics that is soft, flexible and comfortable, with also a knitted sock like booty design for very easy step in and reinforced mid-foot panels for added support in technical terrain.  I find the fit to be true to size, but over the previous version, the materials are much more friendly, flexible, comfortable and compliant, making for a very easy and pleasurable step in experience.  

Notably, instead of the somewhat rigid heel collar of version 1, the 2 has a nice engineered stretch mesh collar.  The dual pull loops, one on the heel and one on the tongue really help with quick pull on.  

The previous version had very thin and static laces that were difficult and unpleasant to operate, where version 2 has nice normal laces with just enough give to them for snug, easy one and done lacing.  

Like the previous version, the Cloud Ultra 2 retains the Flip Release on the lower laces intended for the user to rotate 180 degrees if needed for foot swelling.  I personally do not find use in it and if anything, find it to be a bit uncomfortable and distracting as I flex my foot forward, so I just removed it and have a much better experience.

The dual layer mesh upper does a great job balancing breathability with comfort, flexibility, keeping out debris, security and providing reasonable protection.

The Cloud Ultra 2 is much more relaxed and comfortable than the previous version, more comfortable in the heel counter/collar, a still secure, but softer wrap midfoot and more room in the forefoot without notable compromises in foothold.  While I would not pick this shoe for the most rugged all mountain use, I find that they perform well on most trails and have not been problematic in technical terrain, at least at more moderate paces and gradients.  If really steep, off camber and going fast, I feel a bit of movement, but is not completely unnerving either.


Renee: ON says the midsole is “softer” than version 1. I guess so. I mean, the midsole couldn’t be any harder than version 1s was. I can’t say the midsole is “soft” by comparison to other shoes, but it does feel just a tad softer than version 1. Underfoot, the midsole is more flexible than v1 maybe due to changes the TPU Speeboard, which is felt immediately (I did a quick A/B test). I was able to use the shoe for 4-hour efforts, but that included hiking up the hills. 

For me, the shoe is still too firm/hard for running efforts beyond a few hours, especially on terrain when I’m running fast off the forefoot. ON lists the shoe as “max” cushion, but it’s not “max” as compared to other max cushion trail shoes. If you are used to Hoka “max” cushion, the Cloudultra will feel like a minimalist shoe. I’m sure some runners can use them for ultra distances, but not me. Still, I enjoyed the shoes during my long runs, but again I mixed in hiking, which I think made a difference in terms of comfort. 

Jeff V:  Like Renee, I am not sure I would choose the Cloud Ultra 2 as a shoe for Ultras, but I do find the new Helion superfoam to be much more soft, comfortable and friendly than before.  While not exceptionally bouncy, springy or fast, the Cloud Ultra 2 is smooth and efficient, providing a comfortable and well protected ride for easily a half day to a full day of running, hiking or general time on your feet.  The TPU Speedboard is described as “load(ing) with energy”. I have not really noticed it actually loading with energy, but do find that it provides just the right balance of flexibility to contour over terrain and reasonable protection from sharp rocks and roots.  Also changed for the 2nd version is that the drop is now 6mm vs. the 8mm of the previous.

I have always been somewhat indifferent to the CloudTec pod elements and am still not sure they really provide any sort of advantage, other than to On to look unique and perhaps sell more shoes with their marketing because they look cool.  Maybe they help drop a bit of weight, but I have yet to detect any real performance gains.


Renee: The Missiongrip™  outsole is listed as providing “50% more ground contact.” While running, it felt the same as version 1. I ran on gravel/dirt roads, mud, and single track with some fall debris. 

Top: Cloudultra 1 Bottom: Cloudultra 2

The lugs are small enough where you could run on pavement with them but as the midsole is firm  I don’t suggest long efforts on road. I thought they worked well for gravel and single track dirt trails. The outsole was not the best for mud, but that is not surprising given the lug depth (I measured 3mm). Mud does wedge into the cutouts on the outsoles, making it feel heavier than its weight.  

Jeff V:  The Missiongrip outsole has proven thus far to be very good given the low profile and not particularly aggressive nature of the lugs.  I have found traction to be adequate in all but the most challenging off trail surfaces or steep, loose gravelly trail and as the outsole is similar to the previous version, I predict similarly good if not better results in wet conditions.  Durability thus far is excellent, showing very little wear after 50 or so miles.  The outsole versatility is also very good, transitioning smoothly between road to trail, making a great all around door to trail and travel shoe.  The grooves in the outsole also help with the flexibility of the shoe as it does not feel overly stiff in technical terrain.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee:  Did I enjoy this shoe? Yes. Is it much different from version 1? No, not really. However, I think the changes make it much more runnerable and warrant a much higher “score.” The midsole is softer, just not soft enough for me for an ultra. For shorter efforts, the ride is actually fun despite the midsole firmness. The 6m drop is just enough for a smooth transition from the midfoot when running on gravel, and I found the drop and underfoot geometry to work well on single track (no big climbs, about 180 ft gain per mile).

The upper is secure, the quality is great, and the ride is fun. That said, it remains a heavy shoe in comparison to other shoes, and most runners will need a bit more midsole underfoot for an ultra. In conclusion, I like the shoe, but I’m not sure exactly what it’s meant for or what type of runner will enjoy it more than other options. ON craftsmanship and durability are topnotch and it can double as a casual shoe too (which might help offset the $180 price). 

Renee’s Score: 9.0/10 

(-.60 weight, -.30 firmness, -.10 price


Jeff V:  The ride is pleasantly smooth and predictable, good for moderate paced running or hiking up to mid distances.  I find the v2 to be much more comfortable, softer, lighter and user friendly than the first version, with the updated upper more relaxed (yet still secure), softer mesh heel collar, better laces and a softer midsole.  I find the Cloud Ultra 2 to be ideal as a daily trainer, door to trail shoe or just a stylish everyday shoe for casual wear or travel.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.1/10

Ride: 9, Fit: 9, Value: 9, Style: 10, Traction: 9, Rock Protection: 9


5 Comparisons

On Cloudultra v1 (RTR Review)

Renee: Updates include changes to the upper and outsole, which I did not find too noticeable. The major change is the “softer” midsole, although it’s not much softer, just enough to make the shoe a bit more comfortable for longer efforts. Sizing is comparable. 

Jeff V:  Compared throughout, the 2 is lighter, with a more roomy fit and a more comfortable upper, softer foam and an overall much better all around experience.

Salomon Sense Ride 5 (RTR Review)

Renee: These shoes have similar uses to me. Both have a good transition underfoot, with midsoles that aren’t as comfortable as I would like. The Sense Ride 5 has more underfoot cushion, but it’s not soft. The upper of the Cloudultra is more comfortable. Both shoes are heavier than they need to be, although the Sense Ride 5 is heavier. Sizing is comparable. 

Jeff V:  Renee makes some good comparisons between the two.  I find the midsole of the On to be a bit softer and better cushioned, whereas the SR 5 feels a bit firm.  I think the SR5 has a more precise and secure upper and is a better overall value.  Both have comparable door to trail ideal use, as well as fcasual wear.  Style points to On.

Salomon Ultra Glide  (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  I would say the UG also has a similar use case to the Cloud Ultra 2, but perhaps the UG is a bit more suited to going longer distances. It  has a more secure upper and slightly better traction.

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: I know Nike trail shoes aren’t typically beloved, but the Pegasus Trail 4 is a surprise. The drop is high and it’s a hybrid road-to-trail shoe, but it runs very well on single track from a forefoot landing (doesn’t feel like a high drop necessarily on single track). The midsole stack is not high, but it’s comfortable. While the Cloudultra has “ultra” in the name, I can run just as comfortably in the Peg Trail 4 (I’ve taken both shoes for 4-hours efforts). For the money and use, I’d choose the Peg Trail 4. Sizing is comparable, although the Nike has a bit more length. 

Jeff V:  There is not a more comfortable trail shoe IMHO than the Peg Trail 4, but its actual running capabilities are limited, as I find them to be a bit thin under foot, with not quite as secure enough upper and with traction less than ideal.  I find the Cloud Ultra 2 to be a bit more capable for running on the trails , but both are excellent door to trail and comfortable casual.

Hoka Speedgoat (RTR Review)

Jeff V: The Speedgoat 5 is a little lighter, more responsive with much more plush cushioning, better foothold and better traction, a proven long distance, durable, all mountain shoe.  The Cloud Ultra is a bit more relaxed in fit, but not nearly as plush or all mountain competent.

The Cloudultra 2 is available at our partners



Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products

Tester Profiles

Renee is a former U.S.Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping 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 current preferred shoes

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Europe only: use RTR code RTR5ALL for 5% off all products, even sale products 


Men's and Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Google "roadtrailrun Shoe Name" and you can be quite sure to find just about any run shoe over the last 10 years

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook: RoadTrailRun.com  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even if you look at the comments, 9 points is probably too high. I was surprised because I thought it would be around 7 points based on the comments.