Swiss brand On have been making some serious waves in the industry with their distinctive and stylish footwear which has quickly earned a reputation for comfort. The Cloudrock 2 is their hiking specific mid-high shoe and we’ve found it supportive and generally comfortable – though the fit may not be for everyone.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Stylish design
- Very supportive
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- Fit may be a little narrow for some
Relative newcomer to the market, On, have been producing some innovative, eye catching and feature-packed footwear for a few years now. We’ve been hearing more and more good things about their products recently, so they are clearly doing something right! Their Cloudrock 2 hiking shoes have really impressed us, striking a great balance between minimalistic good looks, light weight, comfort and support. Their unique open cell sole – essentially On’s signature innovation – also adds great cushioning to their feel. These hiking boots are not exactly cheap, but none the less, we think they offer a compelling package and would make a great choice for general hiking and nature walking.
Compare to Similar Products
- Danner Womens Trail 2650
- Adidas Terrex AX4 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes
- Keen Nxis EVO Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoe
- See all reviews: 20 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Get a closer look: The Cloudrock 2 in motion
Analysis and Test Results
Swiss brand On are a relative newcomer to the footwear market – the company was formed in 2010. In that time, they’ve made a real impact with their performance led footwear and their distinctive cut-away soles are now a common sight. The company is still heavily focused on running footwear, but increasingly their products are being worn as fashion shoes and they have also expanded their range to include shoes more suited for trekking and hiking. The company are proud of their Swiss Alpine heritage, and we had high hopes for their Cloudrock 2 hiking shoes. The good news is that they did not disappoint us. The fit may be a little narrow for some, but the boots are generally very comfortable and provide a surprising level of rigidity and foot support – more than you might expect for a shoe of this sort – and this is a great thing on the trail.
Surely the most distinctive feature of On footwear is the cutaway, honeycomb sole found on most of their products. That sole is also present on the Cloudrock 2 and here, the cutaways help form a deep thread patters which promises to provide exceptional grip on the trail. Indeed, these mid-high’s have the deepest, most ‘aggressive’ thread patter of any product in our roundup – and that’s even including the B2 rated Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD mountaineering boot! The rubber thread is slightly harder than some others in our round up. This will improve durability, but it may also reduce grip slightly on surfaces like wet rock.
The On Cloudrock 2 shoes feature large mesh panels in their upper section and this mesh – which is backed with a waterproof membrane – promises good breathability on the trail. On make a big deal of their Swiss Alpine heritage and it’s clear that these boots have been designed with Alpine hiking in mind. So, whilst they are breathable, the shoes are not the most heavily vented in our round up and still offer a decent amount of insulated padding. In practice, our reviewer did not find their feet got overly hot or sweaty on the trail whilst wearing these, even when the temperature got close to 30C/86F but that could be another story if you were to wear them in extremely warm conditions like you might find in the summer in the American South West.
The On Cloudrock 2 is a mid-high shoe/boot hybrid with a substantially padded ankle cuff. Despite what their design may suggest, many mid-high’s at this point in the market do not offer substantial ankle support, however, our reviewer was impressed by the support these On shoes offered. The fit of the cuff was adjustable via the laces and, whilst it’s not to the same level you would expect in a B-rated mountaineering boots, it’s still good and will offer some degree of protection from twisted ankles should you trip or stumble on the trail.
Arch support is a very subjective property and in common with most of the other product sin our round up, the On Cloudrock 2 boots offer fairly minimal arch support out of the box. We think this solution will suit the majority of buyers just fine. However, if you feel you need better arch support, it can easily be added by swapping out the removable insole. This is a fairly inexpensive thing to do and it could potentially make a massive difference to the shoe’s comfort for you.
The On Cloudrock 2 is available in sizes from US 5/ UK 3/EU 36 up to US 11/ UK 9/ EU 43. They are offered in a single width and our reviewer, who has slightly wider feet – thinks these shoes are better suited to those with normal to slightly narrow feet. If you need a larger size, then the men’s version is a viable option.
The On Cloudrock 2 is made from fully synthetic materials and also features a waterproof membrane to help keep water out whilst keeping the boots breathable. Synthetic materials are fast replacing traditional materials like leather for high-tech light-weight hiking shoes and boots and there are a number of reasons for this: first of all, modern synthetic materials can be lighter than leather. Also, in terms of durability, synthetic materials and gules can stand up better than leather and animal glues in environments, like high-altitude hiking – where they may be exposed to extreme cold and UV.
The On Cloudrock 2 certainly looks like modern footwear. We like their minimalist styling and On’s graphics are unobtrusive and subtle. We’d say they are modern, but still understated. They are good-looking shoes and we we’ve seen enough On footwear out and about on the streets to know that plenty of it gets bought to be worn as day to day fashion shoes. These are shoes you could easily wear in town after hitting the trail in the day. The cutaway cells in the sole are certainly distinctive and they are the ‘signature’ feature of many of On’s products. They do add something to the looks, but they also add comfort, fulfilling a similar job to an air-cushioned sole. On offer the Cloudrock 2 shoes in a number of color ways, ranging from more muted options to vivid palettes.
We have no major concerns about the durability of the On Cloudrock 2 boots. A rubberized rand runs the full circumference of the boot and will provide some protection from scratches and scrapes from debris on the trail. The various mesh materials used for the upper should also prove to be durable. The general build-quality also seems to be first rate and On certainly seem to think this too as they claim their shoes represent ‘Swiss Engineering’.
These shoes come in at 990g/2lb 3oz for a pair. That puts them at the heavier end of the footwear we’ve assessed here, but this weight also isn’t unreasonably heavy, especially when considered next to the good support they offer. Weight is very important when it comes to footwear as it’s disproportionately fatiguing relative to weight carried elsewhere. However, with these, we feel that their good level of support means they could potentially replace a heavier pair of, say, B1 rated boots on some less demanding technical hikes. Before our first experience with On footwear, we were concerned that the distinctive open cells on the sole would clog with debris and mud on the trail – that could, in theory, have a noticeable impact on the weight of the shoe, and perhaps also the comfort and durability. However, so far, we’re happy to report that this has not bene an issue, with the cells staying free of debris build up.
The On Cloudrock 2 shoes come with a fairly generic pair of padded, removable insoles. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about them – and you could say exactly the same thing about the insoles in every other pair if footwear in our round-up! Most buyers will, we think, be completely happy with these insoles. However, if you want to fine-tune the fit or comfort of your boots – by improving the arch support, and providing extra cushioning for your feet, then swapping out the insoles is a great and relatively cheap way to do this. For some, this could make a big difference to the comfort of their footwear.
Modern hiking footwear offers one massive advantage over traditional, heavy-weight hiking boots: it has a way shorter, and less painful breaking-in period. That said, we don’t’ think any footwear is completely without a breaking in period and we certainly wouldn’t advise wearing a new pair of boots out on a lengthy trail without first getting used to them on a few shorter ‘test’ walks. Our reviewer found the On Cloudrock 2 shoes took a little bit of time to bed in – that’s perhaps not surprising given their more rigid construction. They rubbed a little at first, but certainly did not cause blisters. A pair of thicker or padded hiking socks can certainly help when bedding in hiking shoes or boots.
The On Cloudrock 2 shoes use standard laces. The have a basic, multi-zone lacing that allows you ten tension the ankle cuff separately. Laces may not seem the most interesting feature, but they are actually a great way to adjust your shoes. Aside from varying the tension to provide a tighter or looser fit in different areas, you can also change the lacing pattern you use to better fine-tune the comfort of your boots. Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide for more information on this.
The On Cloudrock 2 boots feature a reinforced, rubberized section around the toes. This doesn’t give the same level of protection as what you might find on a pair of dedicated mountaineering boots – but then, that’s not really what the Cloudrock 2 shoes are all about. However, the toe protection is at the better end of the products we’ve assed in this round up and should be able to prevent a few stubbed toes or take the edge off the impact should you trip or kick into a rock on the trail.
Hiking Shoes v Hiking Boots
The choice between wearing hiking shoes or boots is a deeply personal one. Our reviewer personally favors shoes for most general hiking as weigh less and give better ankle mobility. However, as the terrain becomes more demanding and the conditions more extreme, then a more rigid boots makes sense. However, hikes don’t just comprise general walking on even trails and extreme mountaineering – there’s plenty in-between – and that’s where we really see the benefit of these On boots. They certainly won’t replace B2 or B3 mountaineering boots, and a lot of them when they wouldn’t replace B1 boots either. But, we can also think of plenty of occasions where we might choose these over a pair of B1 boots: three-season mountaineering on less technically demanding routes, for instance. In this case, they are not just a viable but also likely way lighter option.
The On Cloudrock 2 shoes certainly are an impressive products. They are well made, look good and provided more support than we expected. These boots could be great choice to supplement some heavier mountaineering boots in certain circumstances. What’s more if you favor footwear that gives more support, they are also a good choice. The fit may be a little narrow for some, but if it works for you, then we think these boots are a great choice for general and more demanding hiking and will certainly last a long time.
Disclaimer: This article contains Affiliate Links. You won’t pay any more for buying through these links, but we may receive a commission from any purchases made through them. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you choose to support us by buying through our links, we thank you as it helps us to continue providing the resources we do to help you enjoy the outdoors more!