The best On running shoes for women

The best On running shoes for women

On is a relative newcomer to the running shoe market. Founded by three friends including an ex-athlete and an engineer, the trio first started designing running shoes in 2010. These distinctive shoes with their signature ‘clouds’ quickly won over runners. Now more than 7 million runners in over 50 countries have run in On shoes, and they are considered to be among the best running shoes on the market.

On’s range of shoes has grown over the years to now include walking boots and even tennis shoes, and the ‘cloud technology’ has evolved. But the basic concept to their shoes remains the same: to offer runners a cushioned landing and firm take-off.

Our pick of the best On running shoes for women:

The best On running shoes for women: road

Best for every day road running: On Cloudrunner

The On Cloudrunner looks great

On Cloudrunner technical details

  • Weight: 250g
  • Price: £130
  • Drop: 9mm
  • Sizes: UK women’s 3-9

why we loved them

  • Comfortable ride for medium to long runs
  • Reasonably priced for a great shoe
  • A sleek and striking look

Why we didn’t

  • Not ideal for cross training

What our testers said

The On Cloudrunner is specifically designed for beginner and returning runners. It is a comfortable, cushioned shoe that will help make those first runs as enjoyable as possible. But we all know that it’s not just beginners that like comfort, so I would say they’re suitable for any road runner looking for a comfortable shoe.

The CloudTec cushioning in the sole is made from ultralight Zero-Gravity foam and is designed to absorb both vertical and horizontal forces you’re subjected to when you run on hard surfaces.
My first run in this shoe was an easy 5k loop of a local rowing lake. It’s a mixture of road and tarmac path, all smooth surfaces and the ideal testing ground for a shoe that’s intended to withstand a lot of pavement pounding.

The first mile passed and nothing wowed me about the Cloudrunner. But as I plodded onwards on my loop, I started to appreciate the shoe. There was a feeling of security to it, the way it cradled my foot and hugged my ankle. I’d gone out expecting it to be a simple, bouncy shoe for short, easy runs but it felt like it deserved more than my 5k.

So I headed out on Sunday morning aiming to do 8 miles. It was a hot day so I headed for a tree-lined, off-road route. This isn’t a technical trail, it’s used regularly by cyclists and horse-riders. But it’s not tarmac and less predictable than pavement. This was no problem for the Cloudrunner though and they supported me through the 7 miles that I ran. It was too hot for the full 8 miles I’d wanted to do, but despite that, the breathability of the upper shoe delivered and I finished blister-free.

Want more? Check our Laura’s full On Cloudrunner review.

Best for long runs: On Cloudace

best on running shoes for women cloudace

On Cloudace technical details

  • Weight: 267g
  • Price: £170
  • Drop: 9mm
  • Sizes: UK women’s 3-9

why we loved them

  • Well cushioned for long runs
  • Designed for runners of different shapes and sizes
  • springy and responsive

Why we didn’t

  • Forefoot can feel a little firm
  • More expensive than other On shoes

What our testers said

This is a pricey shoe for an everyday running trainer, and you’re going to expect a lot from its price tag. Taking it out the box, you’ll feel reassured somewhat about how much you’ve forked out. It feels like a solid, well-made shoe that’s going to last you a while.

The shoe is aimed at runners training for longer distance races who want comfort and support – it’s your Sunday long run shoe for those marathon training miles. In order to provide this comfort, On has added extra molded side elements to gently hold your foot and two types of their signature Clouds. Under the forefoot the Clouds are made from rebound rubber, while under the heel, the Clouds are in On’s Helion superfoam for more cushioning and there is a noticeable difference. I personally found the forefoot clouds a little too firm for me. However, On has designed this shoe with heavier runners in mind, so it’s likely that this firmness will offer more cushioning with more weight going into each step.

Best for training sessions: On Cloudsurfer

on running cloudsurfer review

On Cloudsurfer technical details

  • Weight: 205g
  • Price: £150
  • Drop: 10mm
  • Sizes: UK women’s 3-9

why we loved them

  • great rebound
  • Extremely comfortable
  • super lightweight

Why we didn’t

  • Pricier than other On shoes

What our testers said

The Cloudsurfer feels peppier and faster than your average neutral shoe, but without the stiffness of a plate. I truly loved running in these. I knocked out mid week 5Ks and 10Ks with not bother, no rubbing, and every time I put them on, the blissful feeling of comfort was huge – especially compared with other trainers I’m currently running in. Yes they’re squidgy, but you don’t feel like you’re disappearing into memory foam – there’s a feeling of attack and vibrancy there that pushes you onwards with a determination underfoot. Every run has been a joy.

Want more info? Here’s Esther’s full On Cloudsurfer review.

Best for recovery runs: On Cloudmonster

on cloudmonster review

On Cloudmonster technical details

  • Weight: 230g
  • Price: £150
  • Drop: 6mm
  • Sizes: UK women’s 3-9

why we loved them

  • Perfect for long runs
  • super cushioned

Why we didn’t

  • A little sluggish for tempo sessions

What our testers said

The On Cloudmonsters are a bit of a dream. Taking them out for road runs, they’re perfect on hard pavements and packed trails, and I absolutely loved them on my longer weekend runs. There’s not a massive amount of traction on the outsole – this is where On have saved a bit of weight – but sticking to dry pavements and trails didn’t cause any issues at all. The clouds themselves can cause a few issues if you inadvertently go off-grid as mud and grit can get wedged in there, so keep them clean and away from your more adventurous runs.

A beautifully light, well-fitting shoe, with dream-like cushion packed with energy return. A keeper of a shoe.

Want more? Check out Esther’s full On Cloudmonster review.

The best On running shoes for women: trail

Best for technical trail running: On Cloudvista

on running shoes for women cloudvista

On Cloudvista technical details

  • Weight: 235g
  • Price: £130
  • Drop: 7mm
  • Sizes: UK women’s 3-9

why we loved them

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable sole for tricky landings
  • striking design

Why we didn’t

  • Not ideal for long runs
  • Pale colors that show change

What our testers said

I have one issue with this shoe and one alone – it’s far too pretty to go splashing through muddy puddles in. The shoe comes in three colours, two of them featuring quite a lot of white or light gray. But if you can bring yourself to let them get a bit messy, or you’re more of a fairweather trail runner, this is a great shoe.

The first thing you’ll notice when you take the On Cloudvista out of the box and pop them on your feet is that they feel really light, especially for a trail shoe. At just 235g, they’re one of the lightest trail shoes in the On range. Head out for a run and you’ll really start to notice this, on my first run in the shoe I could really notice my heel coming up a little higher each stride.

Trail running, particularly in the summer or if you need to navigate roads to get to your trails, can involve a fair bit of hard ground and the Cloudvista coped well with this. The sole is a combination of On’s Helion superfoam and CloudTec which makes for a comfortable landing.

I’ve taken them out for a few easy trail runs between 5k and 10k and this seems to be the sweet spot for the On Cloudvista. Their lightness means that, if you have an offroad parkrun or short trail race you’re looking to run fast at, they’re going to serve you well there and let you pick up the pace. But if you’re planning longer trail adventures, you’ll want to look elsewhere in the On range.

Best for long trail runs: On Cloudultra

on running shoes for women cloudultra

On Cloudultra technical details

  • Weight: 245g
  • Price: £160
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Sizes: UK women’s 3-9

why we loved them

  • Perfect for ultramarathons and trail races
  • Seamless and cushioned for extra comfort
  • ‘FlipRelease’ clip to release laces if your feet swell

Why we didn’t

  • Laces are a little short
  • They come up slightly small

What our testers said

For those logging some serious off-road mileage, the On Cloudultra is here to help. As the name suggests, it’s a trail shoe aimed at runners training for longer trail races and ultra marathons and is designed to offer maximum cushioning and support. The On Cloudultra is comparable with the Cloudstatus in the brand’s road shoe range so if you’re familiar with that shoe you’re looking at a similar feel. The sole has two CloudTec layers that work together to provide the cushioning and it certainly is comfortable to run in.

The upper has a sock-like fit so there’s no tongue and it comes up round your ankle, doing everything it can to keep out small stones. It’s very comfortable and there’s no unnecessary seams to rub – something that’s particularly important on ultra long runs.

The Cloudultra is also On’s first shoe to feature the ‘FlipRelease’ which is a small clip already tied into the laces that you, well, flip to release the laces a little. It’s something that would probably feel nice towards the end of an ultra when your feet have started to swell, but wasn’t something my 10k test run pushed the limits of.

If I had a criticism here it would be that the laces could do with being a bit longer – yes, I like a double knot but my feet are also on the narrow side so I’d expect more leftover. They come up a little small so go half a size up on your usual size.

Best for sustainability: On Cloudneo

On Cloudneo technical details

  • Price: £25 per month
  • Weight: 205g
  • Sizes: UK women’s 3-9
  • Special technology: Speedboard for fast feet
  • Eco-credentials: so many! They’re made from 100% recyclable, bio-based, undyed yarn. And, they’re made with beans. Yes, beans.

why we loved them

  • super-sustainable
  • light and speedy
  • Great for building mileage
  • Can get a new pair of shoes every 6 months
  • Loved the minimal design

Why we didn’t

  • Could be more expensive than buying a single pair of shoes if you’re not a keen runner
  • The undyed yarn is great for sustainability, but does get grubby quickly

What our testers said

A running shoe subscription? That’s a new one for us. Here’s how it works: you subscribe and receive your shoes (which are 100% recyclable, by the way). You run as much as you want or can. Then every 6 months, you can request a new pair. You send your original pair back to On, who recycle them into new products. It’s a circular system that keeps going for as long as you want.

I love this new concept. I cover quite a lot of miles, so it’s great that you can request a new pair every 6 months. You’re always wearing a pair of recently new shoes, and ticking a huge sustainability box too!

Before we get to the running, can we talk about the look of these shoes? Their minimal design has garnered more comments than any other super shoe I’ve paraded about in, and even more so after I shouted, “They’re made from BEANS!” at anyone who would listen. The only downside is that the lovely, undyed material they’re made from is very light in colour, so they do get grubby quite quickly.

Now, you want to know what they’re like to run in. They’re really light, neutral and felt brilliant underfoot on those midweek miles. I took them for six runs up to 5K, and they performed brilliantly. They offered a great locked-in feeling in the mid-foot, and the Speedboard gave plenty of bounce from the midsole

Want to know more? Read Esther’s full On Cloudneo review

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