A well designed, lightweight and comfortable hiking boot from Swiss running masters- On Running
If you are a runner you will no doubt have heard of the new kid on the block On. Like me you may well own a pair and even find them great to run in (I’ve had a pair on Cloudflyers for a while which I use for my winter road running) and their successful design and marketing have seen them appear on many runners feet. They specialise in cushioning, which is something my knees cry out for these days, and they have some of the best cushioning out there.
They have begun to diversify from pure footwear throughout the few years which a range of technical running wear and now a dedicated hiking boot has emerged. As I said earlier I am an On fan so I was very curious to see how the technology transfers into a hiking boot as we recently reviewed a pair of Hoka One One hiking boots. I’m not going to do a comparison review here as the boots are designed for different environments and we’re not keen on those tabular comparison type reviews here at CGR. We prefer in depth, technical reviews to help you research the perfect kit for your adventures.
The On Cloudrock Waterproof hiking shoes are a general purpose hiking mid style shoe suitable for all types of non technical terrain. They are supremely comfortable for all day use and you should be able to wear them straight out of the box for any hike you like. They feel like a supportive pair of running shoes and you could run for short distances in them if the mood takes you. They are not the softest of cushioning in the On range of soles but they are they are a good compromise as although super soft cushioning works on even and secure tarmac – out on the trail it can prove more problematic when too much bounce can cause ankle turns.
The Zero Gravity cushioning is super light and provides a moderate to firm strike. I found the cushioning ideal for those long descents at the end of a tiring days where I start to make small mistakes. The comfort level of the Cloudrock shoe was excellent – they felt like I was wearing running shoes (which I often do). So the cushioning was more firm than my Cloudflyers and more forgiving the the Cloud Peak running shoes as they don’t have the Speedboard midsole stiffener (but then again you’re unlikely to be racing in the Cloudrock so maybe that’s fine). All in all you should find the cushioning on the Cloudrock shoes much better than many other lightweight hiking boot brands and if cushioning is a priority decision in choosing a pair of lightweight hiking boots then the Cloudrock will probably appear very high on your list.
Stylistically they look a little similar to the ubiquitous Salomon X Ultra boots being all black, although the Cloudrock are a little lighter, have a lower drop and a little more of an understated look (more like Inov 8 Rocklite boots). The fabric main body of the boots has been quite breathable and has so far been quite robust over some quite challenging rocky terrain. The Cloudrock is reinforced with a thin, rubber material which is laminated to form a small rand and the roomy toe box has a more burly rubber te cap. The heel cup is further reinforced with a thicker and stiffer rubber fitting – the size UK8.5 have fitted well and I have had zero heel lift in the boot at all. They do fit nice and snug thanks to the internal sock type fitting around the bellowed tongue. This is all finished with a good sized heel tab to help getting the boot on and off and plenty of reflective decals.
The lacing is also something else On are renowned for. The lacing on the Cloudflyers I use is very good. It is a double threaded affair that does a good job of locking the shoe to the front of the foot. For some reason On haven’t adopted this for the Cloudrock, which is a shame as I feel it would have worked well. The Flexlock system did’t seem to work for me as I found the laces very thin for a hiking boot. They definitely need to be wider and stay flat. The way I found for the lacing to work best was to cinch the boot up on the Flexlock, lock it in by pulling it around the hook. That then locked the lace there and I could continue to tighten the lace around the ankle. It did work although it felt a faff at times. The ankle padding makes adds stiffness to the front of the boot and I’ve often found that running shoe lacing doesn’t work for hiking boots and that was the case for the Cloudrock. Some thicker and flatter laces would help – I don’t think it needs more than that.
And now onto the sole unit and I’ve saved this for the last section of the review as it’s contentious for many people. No doubt that you may have already read some reviews about the sole unit on On shoes. The Cloud Tech does indeed offer a great cushioning experience (pretty much the best I’ve found on these hybrid running/hiking boots) and you will have seen photos of pebbles and grit getting caught in the lugs. So, does do grit and pebbles get caught in the lugs – yes. But then no more so than many other boots I’ve used before. There is a a Y shaped slot that grit tended to get caught in and mud did build up in the sole. But if you apply a little maintenance they will be fine, so yes I may need to dig out some grit and yes remove dried mud but then I’ve has to do that with every hiking boot I’ve ever owned. The cushioning more than makes up for the small amount of extra work it amounts to.
The Missiongrip sole is also another aspect than On refer to on the boot and I found the friction very good on dry rock and reasonable on wet, clean rock. Needless to say in the UK you are more likely to come across mud, moss and other slippy hazards that no rubber will mitigate so I’m putting a proviso on that. Brilliant on rock, OK on wet ground as lugs are well spaced and placed. You not be able to resole the Cloudrock’s as it is very specific but the soles have proved quite durable for the punishing terrain I’ve put them through. The Speedboard has proved stable in a whole variety of situations including some easy rock scrambles. I haven’t worn them in snow yet but I’m confident that they will perform for me with running crampons and spikes and I’m looking forward to trying them out in winter mountain running.
In conclusion, the On Cloudrock Waterproof shoes are a great hiking boot and as a first foray into the market On have done well. The boot is supremely comfortable and provides a stable ride over all types of terrain. The waterproof membrane has proved breathable on warmer days and has kept the water out on water soaked ground. I suspect that as with all non leather hiking boots the membrane will leak over time but you can improve this by wearing waterproof socks (such as SlealSkinz). They’re stylish and perform well which, in my book is a winning combination.
The On Cloudrock Waterproof boots come in three colour options and sizes UK 6.5 to 13.5 for Men and sizes UK 3 to 9 for Women in half sizes.
The SRP is £180 and they are available direct from On Europe.
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