Shoe Review: On Cloudsurfer – the 150-mile update

On-cloudsurfer-shoes (3)Run Oregon receives and tests running shoes from time to time. This post is the second of three about the On Cloudsurfers, which Matt has been testing. This post goes further into Matt’s first 150 miles with these shoes. Check out the initial post here.

On-Running Cloudsurfer

First and foremost, these shoes are a joy to look at. They combine just enough flair to keep things interesting, but look stylish and well-made that people know they mean business. There is hardly a race goes by that someone doesn’t comment at the “clouds” on the soles of the shoe. Some think it’s awesome; some are skeptical about how it feels to have no contact with the road. Either inquiry garners the same response – I love these shoes.

Below were some of the questions I had Day 1, followed by my replies to the “former me”.

On-cloudsurfer-shoes (5)1. These cloud things…are they going to hold up during my quest for 100 miles/month? And for how long will they last?

I must say that I have been surprised by the resiliency of these 13 little clouds. They look so simple in design that I half expected them to deteriorate quickly. I mean, they are the only things touching the ground so they should be expected to wear out rapidly, right? The answer is no. There is a little sketch of a cloud on each of the individual clouds.

While I will admit that I am not a “technical” person by nature (i.e. if I feel comfortable in shoes/clothing/gear, the measurements are of less concern to me), I imagine that this feat has something to do with their shoe technology promising to transform the momentum from the stride and strike and balance it out over the entirety of the shoe, all while providing a cushion. Whatever it is, I can’t imagine that these shoes are going to wear out any quicker than a typical pair of running shoes.

2. I am a heel-striker. Bad. All of my Dress shoes are worn through in the heel. Will the back two heel clouds be diminished to nothing in the blink of an eye?

The answer to this initial concern was addressed a little in #1. None of the clouds are wearing yet, not even wear that my old running shoes typically start showing right about now.

On-cloudsurfer-shoes (1)I should probably make clear that the clouds, especially those 9 in the front, are becoming more flexible. When I first received the shoes, those were stiff and I couldn’t really push them in. However, they now are malleable enough to push together. I believe this is normal and expected, as what would be expected from 180 pounds of man striking the ground thousands of times, over and over?

This flexibility in the front clouds has had no effect on my running as far as I can tell. I didn’t even notice until I started writing this and did a once over them. The back 4 clouds are still strong and as rigid as day 1, which really surprised me due to my heelstriking tendencies. I feel that they must be constructed in a way to keep me moving forward more than I normally do and transfer the energy across the entirety of the shoe instead of on the heel.

3. I really don’t want to feel like I am bouncing along the road instead of feeling like I am actually running on road.

Putting these shoes on for the first time honestly did not feel like as much of a change as I anticipated. I remember at my first run in these shoes at the Cascade Half Marathon, I was very conscious of the way they felt on my feet pre-race. I was convinced I was going to be doing nothing on the 13.1 mile course but thinking about how different they felt on my feet. My feet and knees felt good, and I felt I was propelling forward a little more than usual, though the difference was mostly imperceptible when running and focused elsewhere. I don’t want to give the impression that the shoes were launching me forward and throwing off my stride – the forward momentum is small and relatively welcome.

There has been no feelings of bouncing or concerns about not being able to “feel” the road. When I run, I don’t think about my shoes – which is how I think it should be.

4. I am worried that with a limited amount of surface area touching the pavement, I am going to struggle with grip in wet conditions. That would not be good for a runner in the Pacific Northwest…

I will admit that the wet pavement at the Cascade Half did led me to take turns a little more gingerly than I otherwise would have. During that race, it felt there were a few “mini-slips”, where I felt that traction was not all that it could be. I think a little more road contact may do the trick in future iterations of ON.

5. Will I be able to run on all terrains in these shoes? Those clouds look like they could be a magnet for rocks and pebbles…

I have done runs on a myriad of terrain in these shoes: pavement, trail, sand, gravel/dirt, and even some mini-scrambling mountain sections complete with ideal rock-wedging capabilities. End result = not a single rock finding their way into, or between, the clouds. Maybe that will change over time – but I’ve been surprised a little by this. Hopefully int continues.

Stay tuned for a future follow-up on these shoes and how they treated me over the upcoming months! If you want a pair of your own, they are available at Fit Right and Road Runner Sports stores.

My totals:

Races ran in these shoes:
Cascade Half Marathon
Zena Road Runs 15k
Heartbreaker Half Marathon
Lincoln City Half Marathon

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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