Even though the On Cloudflow 4 is now more casual-focused versus a high-end running shoe, I had to review it for nostalgia’s sake. I ran my first 10k in the original On Cloudflow in early 2018. It will always have a special place in my heart for serving me well in my return to running after many years of neglecting road running in favor of lots of basketball.
Now it’s time to see if the latest iteration of the On Cloudflow 4 holds any appeal for the modern runner, who’s inundated with insane amounts of high-stack daily training shoe options. Just look at our list of running shoe reviews and check out all that foam underfoot! The On Cloudflow 4 has to deliver a remarkable experience to overcome its lack of cushion underfoot.
On Cloudflow 4
Release Date: October 2023
Weight: Men’s 8.3 oz., Women’s 7.1 oz.
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The On Cloudflow 4 is a great walking and short-distance running shoe but its lack of cushion holds it back from competing in distances of 3+ miles.
The On Cloudflow 4 doesn’t have much in the way of midsole. Even the On website calls the cushioning “low”. And when a brand website does that, it means foam science has left it behind. On has better options for cushioning in its lineup including the Cloudsurfer and soon-to-be-reviewed Cloudeclipse.
The On Cloudflow 4 instead honors its legacy by being light, firm, and responsive. It doesn’t have a stiff speedboard and has a great rocker that rolls you onto your toes, but you need to be light on your feet or just a smaller, lighter runner to really enjoy this shoe on anything longer than a three-mile run.
The On Cloudflow 4 is, however, a great walking shoe. It passes the theme park test easily. Just enough cushioning to let you be on your feet all day without any of the squishiness that will tire out your feet by having to self-stabilize while standing around. I suspect you’ll see a bunch of the Cloudflow 4 at your local doctor’s office or hospital.
On’s uppers are always meticulously put together. The craftsmanship is top-notch all around. Quality control issues with On are much rarer than with the other footwear brands. That, along with impeccable looks, makes On’s uppers incredibly enticing. The casual appeal of the On Cloudflow 4 is off the charts.
The woven upper feels amazing on foot and is flexible for both toe splay and accommodating wider feet. The shoe screams all-day casual comfort with its aesthetics and delivers in terms of its performance.
The On Cloudflow 4 features rubber at the high-wear areas of the toe and heel and then exposed Helion foam everywhere else. It works well in terms of traction but the toe area was wearing away faster than I expected so the durability for running outside is in question.
I think a diet of short runs when on vacation, treadmill runs, and walking/standing inside at a job is the sweet spot for the Cloudflow 4. If your shoe usage matches those use cases, you’ll end up happy with the durability and traction provided by the outsole.
Is the On Cloudflow 4 wide foot friendly?
Yes. It’s slightly narrower through the midfoot so keep that in mind if your midfoot can be a problem area. But otherwise, there’s plenty of room in the toe box and heel for wide footers.
Is the On Cloudflow 4 worth $160?
In terms of quality yes. In terms of running performance, no. There are a bunch of other running shoes at the same price point or lower that I’d recommend for anyone putting in miles as they train for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon. That said, if you’re mainly going to use the On Cloudflow 4 casually you’ll likely feel good about the value you get.
On Cloudflow 4 Summary
The On Cloudflow 4 is one of many running shoes that are best when used for occasional light running but mostly as casual walkaround shoes. If you need to run long, check out our list of the best long distance running shoes. But if you mostly need a comfortable, good-looking shoe for standing all day at work or that upcoming European vacation, this shoe will deliver what you need.