On Running Cloud X 3 Review

As with all my reviews, let’s take it from the top! Let’s be honest, there are very few shoe brands out there that have reached star status in such a short amount of time as On Running has.

The Zürich-based shoe brand was founded in 2010 to create a shoe that would deliver the perfect “Goldilocks” running sensation with every step: a soft landing, followed by a firm toe-off.

On Running Cloud X 3

The secret to On Running’s success lies in their unique structure, attention-to-detail, and luxury materials used. The most iconic part of any On Running shoe is CloudTec, which is the company’s patented cushioning construction.

Essentially, CloudTec consists of hollow tubes of rubber or foam making up the entire outsole of the shoe, which are designed to absorb any vertical and/or horizontal forces experienced during each stride, as well as provide a sturdy platform for the toe-off.

Another unique and patented aspect of On shoes is the use of “speedboards”, which consist of specialised layers of strong material beneath the CloudTec structures to support and channel the motion of the foot for the most efficient technique. The On Cloud X 3 has both of these technologies, and much more…

On Cloud X 3 - Running Remixed

The On Cloud X 3 is the brand's third generation of its iconic Cloud X shoe, which was first marketed as the world’s lightest fully-cushioned shoe for “running remixed”. Basically, it’s a training shoe for those that wish to mix up their training with activities (HIIT, mixed-sports training, gym sessions, and workout classes) other than just running - although you can run short-mid distances in them too.

At first, this seemed quite a tall order for a shoe, but given we’re no onto shoe number three in the Cloud X range, clearly, On must be doing something right?

Vendor: ON Running Cloud X 3 - Ivory/Alloy
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Vendor: ON Running Cloud X 3 AD - Fossil/Hay
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Vendor: ON Running Cloudstratus 3 - Metal/Wisteria
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Vendor: ON Running Cloud X 3 - Black
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All the Cloud X 3 Stats You Need!

  • Weight: Very Light | 201g grams in a women’s size UK5
  • Heel-To-Toe-Drop: High | 8 mm
  • Heel Height: High | 27 mm
  • Heel Cushioning: Pleasantly firm
  • Forefoot Height: Very high | 18.0 mm
  • Forefoot Cushioning: Medium cushioning
  • Flexibility: Flexible but not floppy
  • Stability Features: Good stability
  • Energy Return: Some
  • Price: £129 (available here)

On Running Cloud X 3

On Cloud X 3 First Impressions

If you are new to the On Running world, then be prepared. Unboxing a pair of On Running shoes can be likened to witnessing a golfer hit a hole-in-one – it is quite exhilarating, yet so rapid that you want to watch it over and over again.

Open the box and you are greeted with a plush and pristine looking pair of shoes. You’ll lift them up to admire them from every angle before trying them on, giving yourself a smug smile as you do so. If On has done one thing right in its 14 years of making shoes, it’s making shoes that look good.

I chose the classic Black colourway; I learnt my lesson with white shoes when they brought out the first Cloud X - they didn’t stay white for long. I hoped the black would give me some longevity, and also versatility.

The first thing you will notice is the weight. It’s hardly noticeable that you have something in your hand (or on your feet). The CloudX’s are Incredibly lightweight shoes (201g for women’s UK size 5), but also quite cushioned at the same time (even if it doesn’t look like it).

As with most On Running shoes, the branding is bold, clean, and emphasises the shoes rather than detract from them. They are incredibly well constructed with laser-cut and glued seams.

The Cloud X 3 is the best version of the shoe yet, with additional features to enhance the shoe, such as a wider platform for stability and support and the latest Speedboard® for explosive takeoffs in every direction.

On Running Cloud X 3

On Running Cloud X Upper: knitted, breathable, and recycled

On Running strives to lower their impact on the planet with every item of clothing and shoes they make. The 3-layer mesh on the upper of the On Cloud X 3 is made from 90-95% recycled content. It’s breathable, durable and also very comfortable - you could wear these shoes without socks if you wanted to.

The front and sides are sleek and streamlined with a double layer / reinforced canvas which offers additional padding in the midfoot for comfort, as well as allowing for a more secure lacing system, hugging your foot in all the right places. The heel fit has also been updated in the Cloud X 3, enhancing the comfort and lock-down.

On uses reflective material in most of its shoes. It may be simple lining detail or the logo which is embossed, but it all helps keep you seen, especially if you run in the dark.

Lastly, the tongue is thin, wide, and has just the right amount of padding, keeping it plush against your foot.

On Running Cloud X Inner Sock Liner: your foot's happy place

Apart from what is noted above. The Cloud X’s include an internal “sock” which attaches the tongue to the forefoot area, similar to the On Cloudflow running shoes.

This helps keep the forefoot snug within the shoe and stops the tongue from slipping out of place – a personal pet peeve of mine. All seams inside the shoe appear to be really well hidden, contributing to the fact that these were made to accommodate bare feet.

On Running Cloud X Midsole: is it responsive? How is the energy return?

There are two crucial features to understand before talking about the CloudX’s midsole is

  1. On’s proprietary Speedboard™ (see image below) – a rigid plate (non-carbon) that promotes lateral stability and reduces stride momentum loss - essentially reducing the strain and fatigue felt by the muscles of the underfoot.
  2. On’s Helion™ superfoam – formed of a special structure fusing stable, hard elements and softer, elastic segments. This enables greater durability without adding weight and more rebound without sacrificing cushioning.

The two of these features work in concert to create the Cloud X’s innovative Cloud Element midsole. This peps up its responsiveness enough to noticeably reduce the sink on ground strike and adds a little more return at toe-off: More energy, more speed.

When doing explosive movements, like shuttles and jumping on and off boxes in the gym, I can certainly feel the momentum of the shoe propelling me not just forwards but backwards and sideways - whichever way I move the shoe responds.

When it comes to running, the energy return is moderate. It’s not super cushioned like the Cloudmonster or Cloudsurfer, but it has enough cushioning to run. Personally, I wouldn’t do more than 5-10 km in this shoe, keeping it mainly for CrossFit or Hyrox style training, where weight lifting combined with shuttle sprints or bike intervals are the main focus.

On Running Cloud X 3 Midsole

On Running Cloud X 3 Sole

On Running Cloud X Outsole: a stability shoe dream

This is the secret sauce, or “where the magic happens”. The outsole of the On Cloud X features the company’s typical 16 semi-circular EVA pods called ‘Cloud Elements’ which complete the remainder of the cushioning system.

And this is why: taking a closer look at the outsole reveals that the ‘cloud elements’ have had their inside edges sliced off, and then they’ve been angled outward. They are also slightly larger on the Cloud X 3, to boost cushioning.

This subtle design tweak not only stops any small stones or debris from getting caught in the pods (On has fixed this old school issue in all of its latest shoe models) but, more importantly, it provides incredible amounts of stability and comfort especially when enduring a high intensity interval training session.

Additionally, the outsole features smartly placed sections of an adhesive rubber compound under the heel and forefoot that provide surprisingly reliable grip on wet and dry pavement, slippery gym floors, and tricky terrain.

Is the On Cloud X True to Size?

Given the incredible sock-like upper and generous toe box area, I would say the Cloud X’s are true to size, and are more forgiving if you have made a miscalculation of up or down 0.5 your actual shoe size.

How Are the Laces on the On Cloud X?

The Cloud X 3 follows a star lacing system, which keeps your foot snug and in place. The laces are the perfect length and only require 1 tie for a secure knot. This is thanks to the stretchy fabric they are built with which is another design feature to allow your feet to expand and shrink comfortably over the course of a run/workout.

This whole experience makes for a much smoother ride that your feet will thank you for.

On Running Cloud X 3

Is the On Cloud X Any Good?

I’ve still got my first pair of Cloud X shoes (the white ones, which are much more grey these days). So, are they durable - yes!

But for me, the best thing about the Cloud X 3 is how versatile they are. You can’t always pack multiple shoes when travelling or going to work, and the Cloud X ticks three boxes: you can run in them, gym in them, and walk around in them all day - if you’re after more of a lifestyle shoe, check out the AD model of the Cloud X 3 (below).

Without overstating the fact, the Cloud X is truly a masterpiece of balance, which has only got better in each version of the shoe. It offers the right mix of cushioning, breathability, style, weight, stability, and speedy-feel to keep you in them regardless of what you are doing.

On the run, the ride feels lively, low-to-the-ground and especially nimble, offering a great proprioceptive feel for the road — especially at faster paces. Notably, they don’t give off a bouncy or marshmallowy (a technical term of course) sensation as likened with the Monster, but instead a feeling of consistent smoothness. Some people will love this if they prefer more minimal running shoes. But for me, this is a shoe for shorter distances - anything more and your legs will start to take the strain of the lack of energy return.

On Running Cloud X 3

Is the On Cloud X Good for Flat Feet?

Definitely, the soft and seamless upper coupled with the stretchy laces and firm midsole provide a support that those with flat feet will rejoice over.

The insole is also removable so if you need to update this with a specific insole you use for your feet, this can be done.

Is the On Cloud X Good for Plantar Fasciitis?

I would tentatively say "yes" the Cloud X is a good shoe for plantar fasciitis. The On Cloud X shoes have a neutral fit, similar to the On Clouds. Adeptly, they feel moderately soft, very light and extremely dexterous once you lace them up.

The heel counter is slim in its construction yet sturdy enough to minimise the abnormal stretching of the plantar fascia which diminishes pain and inflammation in the heel and arch of the foot

Is the On Cloud X Waterproof?

Unfortunately the Cloud X is not waterproof. However, the wide-gauged upper knitted mesh does help resist or wick away some smaller drops that it may encounter in a light drizzle. And On Running does offer waterproof versions of many of their shoe models.

What is the On Cloud X 3 AD?

If you’ve been browsing the On Cloud X 3, you may have noticed the letters ‘AD’ next to some of the models. This stands for All Day. On has realised that some people do more ‘living’ in the shoe than training, so they have created a slightly more durable version of the shoe with a thicker upper - although it has made it less breathable.

The rest of the shoe is virtually the same, so the choice is really down to your personal lifestyle and what you need from this shoe. Breathability is mainly a priority for longer runs or working out in very warm conditions.

If you liked the Cloud X Shift then you’ll get on with the AD (they’ve basically just renamed it).

On Running Cloud X 3 AD

Final Verdict

Overall, I am blown away by On’s pursuit to constantly innovate and better themselves. I’ve been wearing the shoes for five years now and each pair has gotten better and better. This is a company who truly listens to their customers, their feedback and the market.

Whilst the Cloud X 3 aren’t the best distance running shoes due to their lack of sufficient energy return, they are the best “everything” shoe due to their superior comfort, light weight, and stability.

So, whether you are a tempo runner, Hyrox competitor, city-commuter, athleisure-aficionado, or all four, then these shoes should be added to your gym shoe rotation.