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I'm a competitive distance runner and I tried On's CloudEclipse running shoe — here's my honest review

I tried one of On's 'supertrainer' running shoes — are they worth $230?

collage of orange CloudEclipse sneaker on white background, I am a competitive distance runner and I tested the On CloudEclipse: Here is what I think (Photos via On).
I am a competitive distance runner and I tested the On CloudEclipse: Here is what I think (Photos via On).

I run at a competitive level: I routinely line up against Olympians in road races and sometimes finish close enough behind them to get a high-five at the finish line. Humble brags aside, I am not above taking running shoe shopping advice from my own mother. “If the sneakers have a high number in their name, they’re a safe bet,” she once told me, walking comfortably in her Brooks Ghost 15.

She is not wrong: the majority of our most trusted shoes have an impressive digit at the end of their moniker, signalling their edition: the ASICS Gel Nimbus 26, the New Balance 880 V14, and the Nike Pegasus 41. The logic checks out: any shoe that has kicked around for 41 seasons has to be a good one. But such enduring nomenclature is a luxury reserved for your grandfather’s shoe companies: newer players do not have four decades of experience to speak of. So, when On, a Swiss running company formed in 2010, released its Cloudeclipse (not the Cloudeclipse 32 or even 12; just the plain old Cloudeclipse 1), there was no way of affirming they would be comfortable, high-performing, or even mom-approved. So, I tested out a pair and shared my thoughts below.

Big and bouncy, the On CloudEclipse is equipped for any run.

  • Springy, Helion superfoam in the midsole
  • Plastic speedboard that propels runners forward
  • Rubber pads on the outsole for grip
  • Somewhat heavy (10.1oz)
  • Not enough pop to be a racing shoe
  • Lots of separation from the ground
$230 at Running Room
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$230 at Altitude Sports$230 at SSENSE

First off, let’s define some terms. As I mentioned in a previous review, running shoes come in three categories: racers (lightweight shoes with carbon plates that are built for speed), classic trainers (standard, durable running shoes built for comfort), and hybrids (shoes in the middle that can do a bit of everything.) The Cloudeclipse exists in that middle: they have more bounce than a classic training shoe but a bit more heft than a racing sneaker due to their huge stack of bouncy foam underfoot. We call hybrid shoes like the Cloudeclipse super-trainers: they are big, bouncy and powerful; but also comfy and cushioned.

The Cloudeclipse is the classic supertrainer, and its thick midsole comes stacked with On’s proprietary foam called Helion: a lightweight and energy-absorbing material present in many of On’s training and racing shoes. As far as I’m concerned, that foam is what justifies a price point of $230. Embedded inside of it is a stiff, plastic plate, or Speedboard, which creates a spring forward-feeling with each stride. To soften the ride, On interspersed these speed pieces with a more cushioned foam that absorbs some of the pounding to give the joints a break.

orange on Cloudeclipse  running shoes, The cushioning and dense foam make for a heavy package on this On shoe (photo via Alex Cyr).
The cushioning and dense foam make for a heavy package on this On shoe (photo via Alex Cyr).

The first thing I noticed about the Cloudeclipse when trying it on was the weight: all of this cushioning and dense foam make for a heavy package. I wondered if they would be too heavy to really fly. But much like another one of On’s creations, the Cloudmonster 2, they have enough bounce to excuse their size and not weigh me down while running. I actually have more of an issue with their height: they are so tall that you don’t feel much of the ground when running. While that is neither good nor bad (there is no agreed-upon correct stack height for shoes; it’s a matter of preference), I had to become used to it before feeling comfortable. If you’re accustomed to minimalist sneakers or even classic trainers like the aforementioned Brooks Ghost 15, prepare for a significant adjustment. Otherwise, the Cloudeclipse’s fit is fantastic: they are true to size and have a flexible upper and lacing system that accommodates most foot widths.

Because of its status as a supertrainer, the Cloudeclipse is a bit of a chameleon. It has enough support to be your everyday running shoe but it also can excel in faster training runs like hill sprints and tempo workouts. There are certainly lighter and faster sneakers out there that are more fit for races, though most of them will cost you something closer to $350. If you want one solid pair of shoes for everything you do (which I do not recommend, but sometimes the budget calls for that), the Cloudeclipse is a safe bet.

But if you’re like me and don’t mind splurging on running gear, you will likely enter a running season with three pairs of shoes: a training shoe, a racing shoe, and a workout shoe. In that scenario, the Cloudeclipse makes for a fine workout shoe.

top view of orange Cloudeclipse running shoes from on on table
Because of its status as a supertrainer, the Cloudeclipse is a bit of a chameleon (photo via Alex Cyr).

Sure, On and the Cloudeclipse do not have the time-proven, cultural cache of some of its competitors like Nike, Adidas and New Balance; and taking the leap towards a new type of shoe can feel like a risk. The Cloudeclipse’s price point is also somewhat high for a non-racing shoe. But, if you like the high-off-the-ground feeling and are curious about energy-returning foam and spring-forward profiles, it is worth trying it on and making the call for yourself. It’s both a gateway into more aggressive racing sneakers and a fun and bouncy ride for everyday runs.

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