After a few years when the Nike Vaporfly was the only real game in town, the world is now full of running shoes with carbon plates. Brands seem to have split into two camps in terms of design.
The first is the Vaporfly Camp, a shoe with a large piece of soft, light padding on the bottom, along with the carbon plate. This cushioning protects the legs and makes for a more springy ride, but provides more volume, although the latest foams keep the shoes light.
Then there are flat designs that look more like racing homes, with just a little more cushioning. These shoes offer a more traditional race – hard and fast, with a lot of ground feeling and the additional drive of a carbon plate.
The On Cloudboom falls next to the Brooks Hyperion Elite and the Asics Metaracer exactly in the latter category, although the latter is a bit softer underfoot. The cloud boom is fast and has a chic, quick look that many prefer over the chunkier Vaporfly-style shoes, but that costs comfort.
In two shorter runs with a total distance of 10 to 12 km, I enjoyed using the shoe, especially during a speed session where the carbon-enriched plate and the slimmed-down design of the shoe turned out to be ideal for 1 km repetitions. However, the lack of protection underfoot began to show on a 24 km long run. After the 17 km mark, each forefoot started to hurt from the impact, and my legs felt like they had been put through the wringer the next day.
The cloud boom was advertised by On as a long-distance racer who is suitable for the full marathon. Brand representatives, however, have suggested that it is more of a 10 km to a half marathon, which is a small niche.
I couldn’t imagine running a full marathon in the cloud boom, just for fear that my legs would be torn for 30 km. Padded carbon shoes like the Vaporfly, the new Nike Alphafly and Saucony’s Endorphin Pro protect against this and allow you to end your long races better.
The cloud boom also suffers in comparison to the Asics Metaracer, which is 210 g (UK size 9) lighter than the cloud boom with 240 g. The Metaracer feels faster and more comfortable to me, even though it has a fairly thin stack of cushions.
Part of the problem is On’s signature pod damping style, which in my experience has always resulted in a pretty steady ride. If you combine this with a stiff carbon plate, you get a shoe that is only suitable for shorter races or for people who prefer this very firm and responsive ride. Even in the latter case, I think the Metaracer is the better choice between the two when you’re queuing up for a marathon.
The upper of the Cloudboom is a typical lightweight mesh job, breathable and comfortable around the toes. The design makes it pretty narrow and although I was able to resize it with no problems, increasing half a size would probably work too, especially if you have wider feet.
There is a welcome amount of rubber on the outsole to provide reliable grip even on wet roads. Although I found the shoe to be fine on easy trails and towpaths, you should probably only avoid it because it pebbles easily picks up the cracks between the pods.
Like all carbon plate shoes, the cloud boom has a high price. At £ 170, it’s a little cheaper than the Asics Metaracer at £ 180 and the Saucony Endorphin Pro at £ 190, and a lot cheaper than Nike’s shoes, which cost £ 240 for the Vaporfly and £ 260 for the Alphafly.
Aside from the cost, either the Endorphin Pro or the Metaracer would be a better choice for most runners than the cloud boom. The Saucony is certainly preferable when you think of a marathon, while the Metaracer has a similar feel to the cloud boom, but is more padded, more comfortable, and lighter.
The cloud boom is a fast shoe, but not faster than other, more convenient options. It is also not as light as shoes like Alphafly or Endorphin Pro (both approx. 230 g in size 9). As a result, it lags behind the carbon podium, especially if you run 42.2 km when the hard drive hits your legs hard.
Buy from On Running | £ 170