Like the rest of On’s line, the recently introduced Cloudventure Midtop trail running model has an innovative outsole built on CloudTec lugs, which are open rubber spaces that compress upon landing and spring back on takeoff. The result is a responsive, agile trail shoe with thoughtful, eye-catching details like a dual-layer bootie construction.
On Running, founded by Swiss entrepreneurs in 2010, has a well-established line of road models, from the baseline Cloud to the performance-oriented Cloudracer. The new Cloudventure and Cloudventure Midtop are the company’s first foray into trail running shoes. All of On Running’s models are distinguished by a unique, innovative outsole technology called CloudTec pods. Each model has between 11 and 14 low-slung, open loops of hard rubber built into the outsole, and these compress and spring back as the runner moves through his or her footstrike. The goal is to provide both comfort and energy return, resulting in a responsive and agile ride. Although our wear-testers were initially concerned that the pods were a marketing gimmick or that they would quickly fill with mud and rocks, the Cloudventure Midtop’s outsoles performed just as intended.
On top of the sole, the Cloudventure Midtop’s uppers have a dual-layer construction, with a relatively stiff shell around a stretchy one-piece inner bootie. The two layers only connect from the midfoot forward, so the rear halves move independently. Although our wear-testers experienced some trouble initially getting their feet into the booties, the combination works well to support the foot while protecting it from water and trail debris. Our wear-testers were also impressed with the high quality of materials and construction On uses for the Cloudventure Midtop. Although the price tag is higher than comparable models, the innovative features and high quality are worth it. It’s also a visually striking shoe, although our wear-testers thought the bootie could be cut a bit higher to further distinguish the Cloudventure Midtop from the baseline Cloudventure model.
Comfort The Cloudventure Midtop’s seamless dual-layer bootie construction is sock-like. In combination with the stiffer outer shell, it provides support without chafing or irritation. Because the bootie material isn’t particularly stretchy, however, our wear-testers had some difficulty slipping their feet in. The small pull-tab on the heel is helpful, but could be more prominent. The Cloudventure fits long and narrow, however, and runners with wider feet or a preference for roomy toeboxes may find the fit restrictive rather than supportive. On the trail, the CloudTec lugs individually, independently compress and release as they contact the ground to generate a smooth, comfortable ride over a variety of surfaces and obstacles.
Speed The eleven CloudTec pods on the sole of the Cloudventure Midtop are designed to compress individually and independently upon footstrike. As the pods compress they soften the landing, and as the foot rolls through the strike, they release and bounce back, returning energy to the stride. One wear-tester was concerned that this was a gimmick, but was ultimately impressed by how well the technology worked on the trail.
Security of Fit With a relatively narrow last and a dual-layer bootie construction, the Cloudventure Midtop has a supportive upper, although runners who prefer the roomy forefoot of Altra or Pearl Izumi trail shoes may feel constricted. Because the bootie is a single piece that runs the entire length of the shoe from ankle to toe box, it’s difficult to wrench down on the laces without creating minor folds and bends in the bootie material. On supplies relatively thin, round laces with the shoes, which occasionally came untied for some wear-testers.
Agility In addition to the CloudTec outsole pods, the Cloudventure Midtop has four different styles and depths of lugs on the sole. The smallest is a crosshatched microgrid for better traction on smooth, wet rock, while the largest are hexagonal and diamond-shaped lugs across the high-impact zones on the forefoot and heel. It’s clear that careful thought went into the design and placement of all the details on the Cloudventure Midtop, and the tread design is no exception. The combination of varied lugs and independent CloudTec pods produces an agile ride on a variety of trail surfaces and types, including pavement. None of the lugs are deep or aggressive like those on the Salomon Speedcross 4, however, and the Cloudventure Midtop suffers in wet, muddy conditions.
Responsiveness One of the strongest features of the Cloudventure Midtop is the responsive, energetic ride provided by the CloudTec pods. The model’s soft, flexible midsole foam is also designed to enhance the ride. The proprietary Speedboard that connected the pods to one another allows them to compress and release independently but prevents the shoe from feeling pillowy or squishy underfoot.
Protection The Cloudventure’s Midtop’s full-contact rubber outsole is paired with a burly, protective toe cap and the stiff outer layer of the two-piece upper. The toebox mesh keeps out trail dust, and overall, wear-testers were impressed by the level of protection. One wondered why On didn’t build in a flexible forefoot rockplate, and wondered whether this was an inherent limitation of the pod outsole. The inner bootie could also be cut a bit higher to function as something like a built-in gaiter, which would also further distinguish the Cloudventure Midtop from the baseline Cloudventure model.