Shoe Review: On Cloudswift 3

A side profile of the women's On Cloudswift 3.

On has been one of the biggest disruptors in the running industry over the past few years. Their shoes have graced the feet of runners, gym-goers and just about everyone else. With their unique appearance and distinct pod-like cushioning, you’d be hard pressed not to spot them on the feet of someone at your local gym, grocery store or coffee shop. But one of the most impressive things about the brand is their ability to adapt and evolve to meet consumer demand. Many On shoes are changing to become softer and more cushioned, like the updated Cloudsurfer and brand-new models like the Cloudmonster and Cloudgo.

Despite the evolution, the latest version of the On Cloudswift stays true to its roots. It looks and feels like an original On running shoe, with some tweaks to improve the fit and ride of the shoe. The On Cloudswift is equipped with Cloudtech cushioning, On’s signature midsole technology that gives the bottom of the shoe its pod-like appearance. Helion superfoam, On’s softest midsole foam yet, gives you a moderate dose of underfoot cushioning while a smooth, one-piece knit upper holds you in.

Fleet Feet reviewers put the On Cloudswift to the test during short runs, HIIT workouts and jaunts around town. Here’s everything you need to know.

Tech Specs

On Cloudswift 3

Weight 8.9 oz (W) , 10.2 oz (M)
Heel-to-toe drop 5 mm
Stack height 25 mm/20 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Comparable to… Adidas Ultraboost Light, Brooks Levitate StealthFit 6

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

On Cloudswift 3 offers a versatile fit and feel

A pair of the On Cloudswift 3 sits on a wooden porch.

We first reviewed the On Cloudswift in 2019 and noticed just how distinct the cushioning felt. Now that On running shoes have become more mainstream (and the pods underfoot have been tweaked for maximum comfort), stepping into the On Cloudswift will feel like a homecoming for longtime On fans.

“The Cloudswift 3 is an On shoe that truly looks and feels like an On shoe–and that’s a good thing,” Nate says. “It has a low stack height and a firm ride that feels both stable and smooth. ”

The Cloudswift 3 comes fully equipped with the classic On trifecta—CloudTec cushioning technology, a TPU-injected Speedboard and On’s signature Helion Superfoam.

The sole of every On running shoe is built with On’s CloudTec cushioning system, which is what gives On running shoes their unique appearance. This series of pods underfoot, called clouds, compress during landings and pop back up during take-offs for a springy ride. They also offer multi-directional support, meaning no matter how you land, your feet are protected from the harsh impact.

The clouds are shaped with On’s signature Helion Superfoam, which combines both soft and rigid elements for a balanced feel. Sandwiched in between the Helion Superfoam is On’s Speedboard, a thermoplastic polymer (TPU) plate that flexes as you land and propels you forward as you toe-off. All of these elements combine to create a unique ride that’s distinctly On.

“In terms of cushioning, the Cloudswift 3 skews a bit towards the firm side,” Max says. “The Speedboard placed within the midsole provides smooth heel-to-toe transitions and adds a bit of stiffness and rigidity to the overall ride. During my run, I could really feel the pod-like outsole directly under my forefoot, in a way that made me feel faster. It’s hard to explain—it’s a shoe you have to feel to believe.”

But not everyone is a believer, as some reviewers felt the shoe was just too firm for long-distance running.

"I felt every step of my run and not in a good way,” Mandy says. “The Cloudswift 3 was very firm, so short, quick runs felt much better than longer runs. The shoe felt better when I picked up the pace and landed more on my forefoot as opposed to my heels. While this shoe isn’t my favorite for running, I did enjoy doing a HIIT workout in them. They gave me plenty of energy when I was doing burpees and held my foot in when I was doing side to side movement.”

One-piece upper actually locks down fit

A close up view of the lacing system on the On Cloudswift 3

No, seriously, the one-piece upper actually does provide a locked-down fit, something Fleet Feet reviewers were initially skeptical about. The engineered knit upper offers a balanced combination of stretchy and snug, while the separated lace cage, made of a firmer material, wraps around the midfoot. All of our reviewers said the Cloudswift 3 fit well and felt true to size, which is impressive considering the variety of foot shapes within our roster.

“This shoe actually fits my foot really nicely,” Caroline says. “It’s technically a one-piece upper, which usually doesn't fit my foot well because it’s hard to cinch down the fit. But the separated lace cage, the firm material that sits atop the upper to hold the laces, hugs my midfoot perfectly and extra padding in the heel collar holds my heels securely in place.”

Mandy, who frequently laments over heel slippage, was pleasantly surprised by the fit. She says, “The one-piece upper fits a lot better than I thought it would, as someone with narrow heels.”

An extra dose of padding behind the heel adds to the locked-in feeling, while a handy pull-tab on the back of the heel makes it easy to slide into the shoes in a pinch.

On Cloudswift 3 vs On Cloudswift 2.0

A side by side comparison of the On Cloudswift 3 and the On Cloudswift 2.

Tech Specs

On Cloudswift 3

On Cloudswift 2.0

Weight

8.9 oz (W) , 10.2 oz (M)

7.7 oz (W), 9.9 oz (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

5 mm

7 mm

Stack height (heel/forefoot)

25 mm/20 mm

23 mm/16 mm

The On Cloudswift 3 stays true to form as a semi-minimalist shoe with firm cushioning, a sleek upper and a catchy aesthetic. On added more Helion cushioning in the midsole while redesigning the upper to create a more accommodating fit. Reviewers appreciated the upgrades that improve the fit and feel but still keep the Cloudswift feeling like a traditional On running shoe.

“I used to have a pair of the On Cloudswift 2.0 back in 2019,” Caroline says. “The updated version is much improved. The underfoot feeling is a lot smoother, and I can no longer feel each individual pod underfoot. While the shoe is still fairly minimal in terms of stack height, especially compared with other models from both On and competing brands, the Cloudswift 3 definitely offers more padding and protection than the previous version.”

The Cloudswift 3.0 is 10 dollars more than the previous version, which reviewers felt was warranted given the upgrades to the shoe and market trends across the industry.

How does the On Cloudswift 3 compare?

A close up shot of the CloudTec cushioning system in the On Cloudswift 3.

We took a look at some comparable shoes and how they stack up against the new On Cloudswift 3. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

On Cloudswift 3

Adidas Ultraboost Light

Brooks Levitate StealthFit 6

Weight

8.9 oz (W) , 10.2 oz (M)

9.2 oz (W), 10.5 oz (M)

9.1 oz (W), 9.9 oz (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

5 mm

10 mm

8 mm

Stack height (heel/forefoot)

25 mm/20 mm

29.3 mm/19.3 mm

22 mm/14 mm

Price

$160

$190

$150

While the On Cloudswift 3 offers a unique feel underfoot, it reminded reviewers of two competing models; the Adidas Ultraboost Light and the Brooks Levitate StealthFit 6.

All three shoes offer a one-piece knit upper, and the Ultraboost Light even features the same separated lace-cage design as the Cloudswift 3.

“While the lace cage in the Ultraboost felt overly rigid, the material used in the Cloudswift 3 was much more flexible, leading to a more comfortable fit,” Max says.

“The lace cage in the Cloudswift 3 feels like a soft hug,” Caroline says.

The Brooks Levitate StealthFit 6 offers the same one-piece upper, but without the separate lace cage. Both the StealthFit 6 and the Cloudswift 3 offer a firm feel underfoot with a relatively low stack height, but the CloudTec cushioning system feels so unique that it’s hard to compare it with any other brand.

Who is the On Cloudswift 3 best for?

The On Cloudswift 3 is just about as versatile a running shoe as you can get. Its sleek aesthetic makes it an option for everyday events and casual wear, while its firm cushioning and low stack height make it wearable for cross-training sessions at the gym. This makes it an ideal option for runners who want one shoe that they can wear for quick runs, workouts and traveling.

The Cloudswift 3 is also a solid choice for runners who appreciate a firm, low-to-the-ground feel that not many shoes are offering amidst industry trends of ultra-tall, super-squishy shoes.

“I’d recommend the Cloudswift 3 to runners who enjoy those stretchy one piece knit uppers but want to feel secure. The secure feeling is enhanced by the firmness of the shoe’s cushioning system. If you like that firm feel with minimal stack height, give this one a try from On,” says Max, who will be bringing his pair along on his next photoshoot trip.

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