THE RUNDOWN: On-Running’s Cloudventure Peaks provide all the traction and comfort you’d expect from a quality trail running shoe, but only in dry conditions.

Surface: Trail   Pronation: Neutral   Stack Height: Minimal

Chances are you’ve seen an ad for one of On-Running’s shoes. The ads are slick and clean, like their shoes, and do a great job of piquing your interest in their unique technology enough to make you want to try a pair.

But if you’re anything like me, stuck in your ways and hesitant to shell out over $150 for something different, you’ve never actually put any on your feet. So when I got the opportunity to test out a pair of On’s Cloudventure Peaks, I was pretty pumped.

These are the brand’s version of a lightweight, minimal trail shoe, taking what has worked for them with the Cloudventure series and stripped it down to a race-ready version. Right out of the box, the simple bright orange upper pops, and the rip-stop material feels like high-end mountain gear on your feet.

They look and feel fast, and as a trail runner, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. At the same time, the shoe technology is unique, and with anything so vastly different than anything else on the market, there are of course some pros and cons…both of which I discovered over the first 100 miles.

The Specs

Weight: 7.4 oz. W; 9.2 oz. M

Offset: 6mm

Heel/Forefoot: 25mm; 19mm

Midsole: EVA with Speedboard Technology

Outsole: Micro-engineered grip rubber

Upper: Ripstop

Price: $150

Photo Credit: Doug Hay

100 Miles In: The Review

You can’t talk about On without first talking about the “clouds,” or pods that line the sole of their shoes. According to the brand, “the CloudTec technology is engineered to deliver a soft landing followed by an explosive take-off. The result? An unbelievably light running sensation. And no compromise on cushioning and impact protection. In other words, running on clouds.” The Cloudventure Peaks offer 11 such clouds, four in the heel and seven in the mid and forefoot.

First impression? They feel equal parts really good and really weird. The clouds do in fact provide a soft, spring-like sensation, while at the same time letting you know exactly where they’re located on the soles of your feet, which was a bit concerning. What I found over time, however, is that when running on dry, smooth trail, you can hardly feel the clouds at all, only reaping the benefits.

I say dry because as soon as you hit mud, gunk often collects in between the pods, which you can feel with each step. On longer runs, this almost felt like it was bruising my sole. That said, for shorter runs, it’s not really an issue. The On Speedboard offers plenty of protection, like a typical rock plate would, along with fantastic ground feel and responsive forward motion.

But for me, where this shoe really shines is the upper that is completely breathable, stretchy, and likely the most comfortable material I’ve ever had in a running shoe. They drain beautifully when sloshing through mud or wading through a creek, and even though the fit was intentionally snug, rubbing was never an issue.

Even the shoe laces are lightweight and made from a material that feels high quality. The tongue, while very thin, creates what they call an “inner sock,” by providing a sort of pocket, locking the tongue and your foot in place and reducing rubbing. To say I’m a fan of the upper would be putting it lightly.

Photo Credit: Doug Hay

There’s the Rub

Unfortunately, there are two big concerns with the shoes that didn’t take anywhere close to 100 miles to discover. The first is durability, mostly centered around the clouds, which seems to be a common concern for many (mine held up beautifully, however).

For me the issue was actually the upper (yup, that sweet orange upper that feels so good might have a durability issue). Within the first 20 miles, I had a tear on the right side, and over time, the glue holding together a few of the seams in the toe box appear to be coming apart. One hundred miles in there hasn’t been a major blowout, but the first signs of breakdown appeared far too prematurely.

My second concern comes from the traction. On touts their “four level grip-profile” as providing great traction in all conditions, but while they felt totally fine in most conditions, I couldn’t trust them on wet trail, especially on rocky wet trail (which we have a lot of on the East Coast). I found myself slipping frequently, especially on the downhill. Just to make sure I wasn’t being dramatic, I even tested it against other shoes on the same rocks.

They just didn’t provide the traction in wet conditions to make me feel confident on the downhills or other slick terrain.

TL;DR

There’s a lot to love about On-Running’s Cloudventure Peaks—they’re lightweight, responsive and comfortable as all get-out, ideal for racing and fast workouts. The CloudTec technology ensures a unique ride without hindering ground feel, and the material choices throughout the shoe make it look and feel high-end. As long as you’re running on mostly dry trail, the Cloudventure Peak will provide all the traction and comfort you’d expect from a quality trail running shoe.