The ON Cloudmonster 2 Review: The lowdown

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on
For this review, Solereview purchased the ON Cloudmonster 2 at full retail price; the proof of purchase is here. We do not accept free samples for our reviews and have no ties to the industry.

The ON Cloudmonster 2 on the road.

ON Cloudmonster 2
ON Cloudmonster 2 product box

OUR VERDICT: 67% – AVERAGE

The Cloudmonster 2 is good for long and easy runs, but average for everything else. Buy a half-size smaller for a correct fit.

Buy from REI.com

 

  • ON’s marketing pitch: Max-cushioned, max energy return road runners.
  • Upper: Engineered mesh, full inner sleeve.
  • Midsole: Dual-density EVA foam, Nylon board. 6 mm heel drop.
  • Outsole: Carbon rubber in high-wear areas.
  • Weight: 295 gms/ 10.4 Oz for a half pair of Men’s US 9/UK 8.5/EUR 42.5/CM 27.
  • Stack heights: 35 mm (heel), 29 mm (forefoot).
  • Available widths: Single, D – regular (reviewed)
  • Previous model: ON Cloudmonster.
  • Country of origin: Vietnam.
  • Recommended use: Daily cruiser, half-marathons, marathons.
  • Footstrike orientation: Heel, midfoot/forefoot (full contact).
  • Median lifespan: 400 miles.
  • Recommended temperature range: Warmer than -5° C/23° F.

Pros

  • Long-distance comfort
  • Ride stability
  • Smooth transitions
  • Excellent build quality
  • Comfortable upper fit

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Low versatility
  • No optional width(s)
  • Poor value for money
  • Sizing is a hit or miss

Also consider:

  1. Hoka Skyward X
  2. ON Cloudmonster Hyper
  3. Hoka Bondi 8

 

ON Cloudmonster 2 product box

This is the first detailed review of an ON running shoe on the site. No, seriously.

We have always viewed ON products as comfortable sneakers with a unique aesthetic, but average running shoes. For example, the ON Cloud Flyer has often featured in our ‘best of’ guides as a travel-friendly shoe. So we passed over countless ON models for other shoes that deserved more attention.

That is, up until now.

The ON brand has matured over the years. While their assortment looks like a sea of sameness and their segmentation an absolute mess, there are a few models that stand out. Those would be the Cloudboom Echo, Cloudmonster, Cloud Surfer, and to a certain extent, the Cloud Runner.

You have to hand it to ON; their marketing is excellent. This is a brand that has successfully marketed an antiquated midsole tech to both the casual consumer and running crowd. After all, the ‘CloudTec’ architecture is over a decade old, and so is the ‘Speedboard’ that comes with it.

While some of their future products appear promising, ON still relies on EVA midsoles for the majority of their products, including the Cloudmonster 2. So what should runners know before buying a pair of Cloudmonsters?

The Cloudmonster 2 is neither soft nor bouncy

The dual density midsole of the ON Cloudmonster 2.

The word ‘Cloud’ in the shoe’s name suggests a soft ride. ON also claims that their ‘Helion superfoam adds bounce’.

We can tell you neither is true. Both foams used on the midsole are extremely firm. There’s a stiff Nylon-blend plate (aka Speedboard) over the midsole as well.

Only the foam insole and its plush lining add some step-in softness. Calling the Helion foam a ‘super foam’ is misleading, as it does not compare with foams such as adidas Lightstrike Pro, Asics FF Turbo, Nike ZoomX, or Saucony Pwrrun PB or HG.

Most of the ‘softness’ comes from the collapsible (hollow) chambers, rather than the inherent properties of the foam.

That said, it’s very cushioned. The tall midsole is protective and cushions the impact well. But ‘max cushioning’ isn’t the same thing as max softness – which the Cloudmonster doesn’t have.

There’s very little ‘Energy return’, as both the EVA foams have a flat feel. The midsole responds to the footstrike and loading, but differently than most shoes do.

The cushioning is mechanical, not foam-based

The Cloud Tec pods compressing in a race.

ON’s main shtick is selling running shoes with ‘mechanical cushioning.’ These shoes used to be all the rage between 2006 and 2012. Examples would be the Mizuno Wave Prophecy, Nike Shox/Reax, adidas Superbounce, and Reebok Trinity KFS III, where the hollow chambers or foam pillars made the shoe responsive – not the foam.

The dual density midsole of the ON Cloudmonster 2.

Similarly, the Cloudmonster’s softness comes from the collapsing and rebounding of hexagonal hollow chambers and not the foam. When weight is loaded on the Cloudtec chambers, it momentarily collapses (occasionally shearing) before returning to shape.

This effect is better noticed at walking or slower running speeds due to the longer dwell time. At higher speeds, the effect becomes less noticeable.

Good for long and easy runs, less so for speedwork

The ON Cloudmonster 2 on a weighing scale.

The Cloudmonster 2 is best used as a running shoe for unhurried runs. While the stiff Nylon Speedboard makes the transitions smooth, the midsole isn’t particularly responsive. Its 10.4 ounce/295-gram weight also makes it a heavy shoe.

At the same time, the ride is more engaging than, say, running in the Hoka Bondi 8. Also, the Cloudmonster isn’t comparable to the New Balance SC Trainer 2 or the Nike Zoom Fly 5.

You need to buy a half-size smaller

The toe box of the ON Cloudmonster 2.

If your regular size is US 10, then you should get a US 9.5 in the Cloudmonster 2. Otherwise, your forefoot will be swimming inside a very loose upper. Unless you’re an ultra wide-footed runner, you’ll struggle to get a secure lockdown if not correctly sized.

Once sized down, the upper will fit true-to-size and securely. The insides are fully sleeved, and the heel uses smooth lining and comfortable padding. The lacing is quick to cinch.

The ventilation is very decent for a double-layered upper; the breezy no-padding tongue helps.

Excellent stability for straight-line running

The transition groove of the ON Cloudmonster 2.

As long as the route doesn’t involve sharp turns, the ON Cloudmonster 2’s stability is very good – considering its stack heights of 35 mm(rear) and 29 mm (front).

The firm EVA midsole adds stability, and the deep channel helps with straight-line tracking.

The build quality is best in class

The tongue flap of the ON Cloudmonster 2.

The ON Cloudmonster has exceptional finishing with no corners cut. Everything feels very high quality, be it the mesh and trims.

The reported feedback around durability is positive – be it the cushioning retention or the outsole durability.

Poor value for money

There’s a reason why ON charges $180 for a shoe (albeit nicely built) with an EVA midsole. ON has an insanely-high profit margin – its last reported gross margins was nearly 60%. That’s over 30% more than Nike’s gross margin of 43.6%. Other industry players have their gross margins in the mid-40’s.

ON shoes are made in Vietnam, not Switzerland

The Swiss label of the ON Cloudmonster 2.

There’s a small label on the upper that resembles the Swiss flag and is accompanied by a ‘Swiss engineering’ text callout.

ON’s offices may be in Switzerland, but their factories are in Vietnam. That’s where the On Cloudmonster 2 is manufactured.

Here’s an interesting fact – ON shoes sold in Switzerland do not have this flag label. According to official Swiss labeling guidelines, only products that have 60% or more Swiss content can display the ‘white cross on a red background’ tag. Ah, the irony.

Don’t believe us? Here’s the link to the Cloudmonster 2 product page on ON’s Swiss website. Notice the missing Swiss flag label on the upper.

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