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On Cloudstratus 2 vs 1 Comparison Shoe Review

by Sportitude
30 Aug 2021

Josh reviews the new On Cloudstratus running shoes, a max cushioned shoe in the stable neutral category to crush your high mileage runs. You can tackle long and easy-going runs, daily training or even shift the pace up a gear with this second generation providing plenty of protection at no compromise to responsiveness.

With heel striker and midfoot striker-friendly engineering, On’s signature CloudTech pods for a smooth ride and a slightly more minimalist outsole regarding the forefoot, this running shoe is lighter than the original On Cloudstratus without compromising on that unique On Running experience.

Twin layers of CloudTech pods run the full-length of the running shoe compared to the previous model which tapered to a single layer at the forefoot. This means the On Cloudstratus 2 provides a more consistent sensation from heel-to-toe and a more snappy response as you transition through your gait cycle. When paired with Helion superfoam, you get shock-absorbing compression underfoot and a propulsive feel.

A well-ventilated engineered mesh upper provides targeted support and allows you to fine-tune the fit for a personalised feel. Being broader and deeper in the forefoot, it allows you to engage your toes fully and accommodates wider foot types searching for their runner’s high.

Check out the transcript with full review below.

Hey guys, Josh here from Sportitude Running and it's shoe review time and we're going to be talking all things On Running Cloudstratus 2. This shoe has just landed mid-August 2021 and there is a lot to like about this shoe in comparison to where it was with its predecessor being the On Cloudstratus Classic or On Cloudstratus 1.

In today's review we're going to be talking about this shoe in full detail regarding the outsole, midsole and the upper. We’ll talk about the changes from the previous version and I’m also going to give you some insight on how I have experienced this shoe.

I've had a pair for about six weeks and it's made its way into my rotation. I've put in around 50 kilometres in which I have been pleasantly surprised, but you have to watch this review right through to the end. My journey with this shoe didn't start out that crash hot but it got better and better with every single kilometre. Without further ado let's get stuck in.

Runner Profile

Before we start diving into the engineering components of this shoe let's talk about the foot type that could be considering the On Cloudstratus 2. Technically it is a neutral shoe but there are some websites out there claiming this shoe to be max cushioned and supportive.

Let me break this down quickly for you. If you’re a runner with a supinated foot type, your foot has a static position where the arch hits up a bit higher. When you go through your transition the majority of the pressure is on the lateral part of your forefoot before you engage your forefoot to toe-off.

However, if you happen to be a neutral to mildly overpronated foot type your foot will be slightly flatter in the arch on that medial side. When you transition through your gait cycle you'll ever so slightly favour that medial side and then get your foot ready to toe-off through your forefoot.

The reason there's a bit of miscommunication with regards to where this shoe is placed is because technically in years gone by a shoe was either neutral or supportive, and the area in between was relatively minimal. Now it's becoming rather wide and grey so a lot of shoes fit into what we classify as stable neutral.

If you happen to be a mild overpronator the On Cloudstratus 2 works quite well and I can speak from personal experience. This also goes for the same sort of shoes being your Brooks Ghost 14 and Brooks Glycerin 19.

Outsole

Let's get stuck into the fun part of the review and talk about the engineering components starting with the outsole. Looking at the On Cloudstratus 2, On have used their harder wearing rubber and they've strategically placed it on top of their CloudTech pods throughout the shoe.

You have the back of the shoe being your heel strike zone for your heel striker. Coming through the midfoot region which is where I land, you can see that one pod has been missed. I didn't find unusual wear. I've only done 50 kilometres in mine but that is holding up A-OK.

As you come through to the forefoot they have reduced the amount of rubber on offer in comparison to the On Cloudstratus 1. That's done a couple of things including ever so slightly reduced the weight.

However, through the forefoot you can see there is two vertical lines and and three horizontal lines. That provides a slightly more compliant shoe through the forefoot in comparison to last year where most of those pods were relatively filled out with the outsole. This was kind of a good thing and it worked well with the On Cloudstratus 2 regarding how the midsole performed. It offered a little bit more stability through the exit phase of your gait cycle.

It was a necessity to have more rubber through the forefoot for the On Cloudstratus 1. However, in the On Cloudstratus 2 we've got a slightly reduced outsole on offer through the forefoot.

Midsole

Let's talk all things midsole. First things first, let's talk about the stats. We have an 8mm drop in the On Cloudstratus 2 from heel-to-toe. That is a 36mm heel and a 28mm forefoot and it's the same for both the men's and women's model.

You can see On Running’s very loudly called out Cloud technology. The Cloud pods are strategically placed through the midsole both on the lateral and the medial side. It provides a nice, soft damping underneath the body but also aids in that responsive feel as you transition through your gait cycle.

The other thing to call out is the Helion foam. I believe that On Running have ever so slightly changed the density of Helion. It's a tricky thing to do. They don't release that information to the public, but from my own personal experience how this shoe felt underneath the body was considerably different than the On Cloudstratus 1.

A couple of things to call out, the dual layered Cloud technology runs right from the heel of the shoe through to the forefoot so you have the double layer of CloudTech pods. That helps the shoe feel more consistent throughout the whole phase of your gait transition.

However, in the On Cloudstratus 1 there is dual layering at the rear of the shoe but as you transition through to that forefoot it became a single CloudTech layer. To politely put it, it just felt a little dense in comparison to the new Cloudstratus where you have a bit of pop and juice through the forefoot which is a nice transition and feeling.

To call out the fact as we did in the intro of this review, the shoe is neutral. There's no overly complicated system on the medial side that's going to push your arches up.

With running shoes gone by we have talked about dynamic support systems and fixed arch supports with dual density foam. Obviously, brands try to control that overpronation with regards to how much support they have on offer on the medial side.

On Running features CloudTech and also the Speedboard which sits underneath the strobel board of this shoe and between the midsole. The Speedboard helps the shoe transition through that gait cycle a little bit quicker and smoother. There's a couple of little bells and whistles in this shoe that aid in that feeling through entry point right through to your release which is great.

Upper

Dialling into the upper of this shoe. Being a mileage shoe obviously it's a shoe that's going to be spending plenty of time out on the road. What we want to see with a good mileage shoe is plenty of cushioning and plenty of protection underneath the body. You also want to make sure that you're going to get the breathability that you require when you are pounding the pavement.

Up top we have some nice engineered open mesh through the forefoot which is going to provide plenty of ventilation and it did that for me.

I didn't have any qualms, queries or theories with regards to the upper, it felt beautiful on the foot. If anything from last season, it is marginally deeper through the front half which I personally like. It provides a little bit more depth and wiggle room which is fantastic.

Like last year they have the anatomical laces. When you slow down and take that extra three to four seconds doing your shoelaces up, you get a nice customised fit through the front half. As you come through to the arch you can see around the top of the navicular there's this cradle called out with a green colouring up top both on the lateral and the medial side.

Last year they didn't have it, but On Running have always focused on that detailed fit across the top of the arch. They did have more eyelets on offer which allowed the user in the On Cloudstratus 1 to change the fit and feel to get a bit more depth or really dial in for more of a lockdown on top of your arch.

They haven't done it with the On Cloudstratus 2. However, this arch cage for want of a better term does have a connection like a gusseted tongue, so it attaches to the midsole on the lateral side and the medial side. While you can ever so slightly change the depth, fit and feel around your arch you're going to get plenty of support where you want it.

Where your foot is going to sit on top of that platform you don't want to be moving around too much so again, it’s a really nice feature. It does help the foot sit on top of the shoe and basically dial into where it needs to be throughout the whole gait cycle.

Coming back to the back of the shoe, last year we had the external heel counter on offer so it was a little bit more anatomical with regards to the shape and construction. However, this season it's certainly more asymmetrical with regards to how much support it offers on the lateral to the medial side.

That black plastic section provides more support for that foot when it comes down. When we hit the ground for a heel striker it’s really important to get the cushioning right because of the shock that goes through the body, and also to make sure that your calcaneus heel sits on top of that midsole. It's vitally important you get a really good support system in the back. There is that last eyelet as well on offer so you can utilise the heel lock lace system.

Widths

While we’re touching on the upper, it's really important we talk about the widths of this shoe. Currently it is only available in standard widths so that's a D in the men's and a B in the women’s model. However, the shoe does fit a little wider through the forefoot.

As I touched on a minute ago, it has a bit more depth through the front in that toe box than last year. It's a slightly deeper fit and from feedback in early days and also straight from On Running’s head office is that they have engineered this shoe to be marginally wider through the forefoot. For some runners out there they probably won't like that.

If you are narrow regarding your foot shape I'd probably put a question mark on this shoe. However, if you happen to be a D width previously in your Brooks running shoes, Asics running shoes and New Balance running shoes for example, you are going to comfortably transition over to this shoe.

We had a couple people who were a 2E width in the Brooks Ghost previously and did some wear testing in the On Cloudstratus 2 and had no issues regarding the forefoot fit and feel, so it’s important to note.

The Wrap Up

I want to give you my subjective opinion on the On Cloudstratus 2. When you look at the catalogue and you're looking at the On Running family this is their max cushioned shoe. It sits at the top of the tree and fairly so too because it has plenty of cushioning underneath the body with a 36mm stack.

When you're talking about stack heights like that we start entertaining your Hoka One One Bondi, New Balance Fresh Foam More and also your Nike ZoomX Invincible Run so there's a few shoes that come into that category for max cushioning and high stack.

However, when you put this shoe on, on your first run out of the box you don't get that super squishy feel that you get from your Hoka One One Bondi, Nike ZoomX Invincible Run and New Balance Fresh Foam More.

However, I will touch on one thing. This shoe has gotten softer the more I have used it. There is going to be a point where that's going to stop of course. I’ve only run 50 kilometres in it but I really like what this shoe is doing underneath my body. For around 308 grams in a men's size 9 it's by no means the lightest shoe on the market and there are certainly lighter max cushioned shoes on offer. Just touching on weights, it’s around 250 grams for the women’s model in size 7.

However, the shoe is nice and snappy through the forefoot when you're comparing it to the other three max cushioned shoes I just touched on. If you try to do a tempo run in a Hoka One One Bondi or New Balance Fresh Foam More, you can but it's not overly enjoyable.

The On Cloudstratus 2 is a slightly more versatile mileage shoe when it's fitted correctly and dialled in for the right runner. You can use it for your longer days out in the road, your easy runs and you're going to get the cushioning you require. However, if you want to mix it up and run a bit quicker but get a little bit more structure and support, the On Cloudstratus is certainly a shoe that I will have no qualms at all throwing into a conversation for a customer.

There you have it, that is my take on the On Cloudstratus 2. It is in my shoe rotation and I'm really enjoying what this shoe is doing for me. I hope to hear from you as well, so if you've happened to be an On runner before, you've used the On Cloudstratus 1 or you've been lucky enough to try or buy the On Cloudstratus 2, please contact our Sportitude shoe experts.

Please subscribe to the Sportitude YouTube channel if you haven’t already done so to stay notified and we'll keep pumping out shoe reviews for you the running community.

Until next time stay safe, be kind to one another, happy running and we shall see you on the road. Take care.

FEATURES

  • Support: Neutral
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Midsole: On CloudTec, On Helion
  • Heel Height: 36mm
  • Forefoot Height: 28mm
  • Offset / Drop: 8mm

Men

  • Weight: 305g / 10.7oz (US 8.5)
  • Width: D (standard)

Women

  • Weight: 248g / 8.7oz (US 7)
  • Width: B (standard)