Comparing On Cloud vs Brooks running shoes is another great running shoe match up. Both have some of the same traditional shoe features and yet, Cloud running is breaking the old school mold.
Over the years, I have been able to test out models from both brands to give you some personal insight along with basic shoe details.
We’ve got details on construction, fit, feel, fabric and more. But ultimately it’s really the feel on your foot that’s going to make the decision.
You’ll see I have tested a lot of these shoes and like both brands, but have some bias based on what feels good to me! So I definitely went in search of other opinions to round it out.
Brooks Vs On Cloud Key Differences
On Cloud and Brooks offer a lot of similar features and models for all kinds of runners. There are options for moderate to max cushion and overpronation.
I would say neither brand is super high on the list of shoes that ultramarathon runners love, unlike the Hoka.
Brooks has been around forever and is a long standing favorite of running stores and distance runners alike.
Meanwhile, On took hold in the triathlon market first and then quickly moved mainstream running.
I break down the differences in more detail below, but here’s a quick overview:
Brooks Running Shoes
- Traditional running shoe with 6mm-12mm heel drop (a LOT of models at 12mm)
- Exclusively designs running shoes, with a huge variety of models
- Science-driven to accommodate rather than correct gait
- Has more fun holiday styled shoes than any other brand (Christmas, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, St Pat’s)
- Increasing focus on performance apparel
On Running Shoes
- More narrow fit in older styles, some newer styles have a wider forefoot
- Recognizable sole with the pods
- Claims their CloudTec sole reduces muscle fatigue and lowers HR
- Focus on improving speed off ground and reducing impact
- Mostly running shoes, but now has incredible jackets, pants, etc as well
If you’re looking for just a detailed look a On, checkout this full On Cloud Review >>
I’ve worn both brands and will add some personal thoughts, along with links to detailed reviews. Here you’ve got two of my well worn models!
ON Running vs Brooks Feature Comparison
While ON is newer to the running market, Brooks has a long history that often makes it hard for many runners to switch to the newer style.
Both offer options to aid with comfort, support, stability, and cushion. Where they differ most are in the feel of the shoe while running.
The following breaks down each shoe based on the components buyers need to consider when purchasing a running shoe.
It’s gonna get a little TECHY…so you can just skip on down to the specific model comparison if you want, but personally if I’m shelling out $150 for shoes, I kinda want to know why.
The lifespan of shoes from both companies is fairly comparable.
- On recommends swapping out for new shoes every 310 to 465 miles, a bit more specific than most brands.
- Brooks shoes have a life expectancy ranging from 300 to 500 miles, or three to six months, depending on your monthly mileage.
Determining when to replace running shoes, of course, all depends on your gait, weight, and whether you run mostly on trail or road.
On shoes are a little hard for me to describe because I think they’ve changed over the last few years and are different with each model that I’ve tested.
While the length runs true to size, I would say some are a narrow fit and some have a little more room in the toebox.
I would not consider any of them a wide shoe.
Brooks shoes have a wider toe box than other traditional models, which makes them a great choice for runners with wide feet or bunions. The brand recommends that buyers go up a half size from their everyday shoe.
On uses CloudTec technology which is entirely what makes their shoe look and feel different. They have little open pockets on the bottom of the shoe that compress with each step to absorb impact and in their words feel like a cloud.
I would say they are cushioned, but not plush.
Brooks uses two types of cushioning in their designs, which allows for a wide variety of cushion from plush to more minimal.
- DNA LOFT – Soft cushioning, that adapts to a runner’s profile, stride, and speed
- BioMoGo DNA – also adapts to runner’s profile, stride, and speed, providing a more balanced experience with a bit of spring.
On goes against the grain of most stability shoes and works with your foots motion rather than trying to stop it. I appreciate this as it’s one of the many reasons I steer folks away from most stability shoes.
Instead, they changed the shape and location of some of the pieces under the arch of the foot which allows all of your muscles to continue firing, but slows that inward roll.
Rather than “fix” the way someone runs, Brooks technology helps to stabilize your stride based on how you naturally run. So in essence, both brands have the same take on stability. Just different technology.
Whether that’s a little bit more support in the arch or through the midline of the foot it helps hips, knees, and joints to move naturally, offering support when needed. Neutral runners may only require them to kick in when their stride is off.
Overview of heel to toe drop and type of cushion in most shoe brands.
The prices between the two brands are fairly comparable. On prices range between $130 to $170, and Brooks start at a at $100 to $160.
The most popular models for On are around $150 and same for Brooks, also around $150.
Specialty items with more features (like carbon plates) will increase price.
You’ll notice that every brand offers a range and this is indeed due to a difference in technology and where they sell the shoe. They know that the big box store can sell the shoe with less in it, while the local running store needs to be best for dedicated runners.
Brooks Vs On Cloud Models
Now that you know more about each brand, let’s look at their top models in each of the main categories. There’s no winner declared here because all are great shoes, it’s just about which one is best for your foot.
With each of these, they are the top models so numbers are constantly changing as they make a little upgrade, but On doesn’t keep adding numbers to the shoe name like most brands doe.
Stability Running Shoe
When it comes to stability, On is trying not to force the foot in to any kind of rigid position. This means it’s a more natural feel that most stability running shoes.
It also has just that slight rocker effect, to help move you from heel to toe.
Considered a plush shoe, but as noted, their plush shoes are not in the same ballpark as Hoka plush…it’s still a firmer ride with the focus being on that spring off the ground. I will say this is changing with other models that you’ll see me note below, so just know this a firmer ride due to the outsole.
Important to note this is a fairly high heel to toe drop and a heavier shoe than many. If you don’t really need a stability shoe, I like a lot of other On Cloud shoes better.
- 11 mm drop (this is a big drop for many)
- 9 oz women’s, 10.5 oz men’s
One of the ongoing issues I have with On shoes is this…rocks.
The brand’s most popular road running shoe (GTS stands for go-to-shoe) just turned 20 and comes in a swath of colors. This supportive shoe is best for a medium to high arch, and is part of the cushion line.
This was one of the very FIRST shoes that I bought at a running store! I thought it was so incredibly cool my name was on the shoe…ha!!! But yes they were super duper bright white (as you’ll see below).
- 12mm drop – on the higher side, good for those with Achilles issues
- 9.0 oz women’s, 10.2 oz men’s
Neutral Running Shoe
I’ve run in a few of the earlier models of this shoe, but as their most popular shoe it’s one of the few that continues to get a number to note that it’s new and improved!
We are currently up to model 7. Though it’s simply listed as the new Cloudsurfer. This is absolutely far and away my favorite version of most On Running shoes!
I would look at this as a speed training or daily trainer shoe for 6-8 miles. It has a completely new midsole and outsole, that uses the pods, but turns them in to softer cushion and eliminates the issue of rocks getting stuck!!
This one is designed with moderate cushion for those medium distance runs (5K to half marathon). In other words, it doesn’t have the extra padding or structure that we often like to see in a marathon shoe.
- 10 mm heel drop
- 7.2 oz women’s, 8.6 oz men’s
- See my full Cloudsurfer review >>
The Ghost offers smooth transitions and soft cushioning for road running and is best for those seeking neutral support. Runners’ World has awarded this shoe several Editor’s Choice Awards.
I personally was so intrigued by those awards that I snagged myself a pair last year and they are nearing the end of their life, but have served me very, very well.
They are 12mm drop, which is not something I recommend for most runners. We know it can increase heel striking.
Bonus that the shoe is net zero emissions! We runners need to take care of our planet to keep enjoying those runs.
- 12mm drop
- 9.1 oz women’s, 10.1 oz men’s
- See my full review of the Ghost 15
Cushioned Running Shoe
This was one of the first On shoes that immediately got me hooked. I have now been running in it for over a year and continue to like that this shoe isn’t super squishy soft, but isn’t hard like previous On Running shoes.
I always try to compare it to the HOKA Bondi, which feels like you put your foot in a cloud and this is not that kind of soft, it’s also not the Vaporfly bouncy kind of soft. For On the cushion is more about the absorbing of impact, rather than what you might think of as traditional cushion. That’s not a bad thing, just different expectations.
This absolutely felt like the most cushioned On running shoe I’ve tested. Not too soft, just a good cushion. Making it a good daily easy run trainer.
- 6mm drop
- 8.11 oz women’s, 10.76oz men’s
See my full review of the On Cloudmonster >>
The plushiest model in the Brooks line features plenty of DNA Loft foam, plus the Ortholite sock liner. This is designed to be the plushest ride they have with not only their signature DNA, but a new nitro infused midsole.
Let’s be honest, most of us don’t understand all the technology, but what we do know is how it feels. And folks have been raving about this shoe long enough to get all the way to a version 20. Many say it’s ideal when you need to be on your feet a long time.
It’s a little higher heel and weight than some shoes, but when a shoe feels just right to you those are very small differences.
- 10mm drop
- 9.1 oz women’s, 10.1 oz men’s
Carbon Fiber Plate Shoes
Are they cool new technology, yes.
Do they last as long as your other shoes, nope.
So if you want to test these out use them for speed work and then race day!
The Brooks Hyperion Elite is a lightweight, high-performance running shoe designed for speed and efficiency.The carbon fiber plate runs through the midsole to provide a responsive, energy-returning ride that helps runners go faster for longer.
Similar increase in stack height to add more cushion, while finding places to strip away weight like the tongue and a grove in the outsole.
My complaint with the newest version is it looks like an orthotic shoe in light grey. Come on. If I’m trying to go fast, make me feel fast!
- 8mm drop
- 8.1 oz unisex
This was one of the earliest carbon fiber shoes I tested and it’s very different from the Vaporfly. Instead of high cushion, this is more like the feeling you might get in your daily trainer.
The lack of cushion isn’t a bad thing, just different. That being said, with each iteration of the Echo, they are adding more cushion to keep up with other brands, just not that super bouncy feeling. For many runners, I think this is a good thing and might strike that balance of speed and cushion, without the worry about Achilles injuries that are popping up.
I was truly impressed with the updates in the Echo 3 from the original Cloudboom. BIG win for me is not having the pods that trap rocks on the bottom! This shoe also fits better than the original. That being said, the HOKA Rocket is still going to be a bit wider fit.
- 10 mm heel drop
- 7.6 oz men’s and women’s
- See current models
Watch my detailed video on how Carbon Fiber Shoes work.
Trail Running Shoes
On is a little newer to the trail running shoe game, but if you already enjoy their road shoes then you’ll find they’ve done a good job on the Ultra. Brooks meanwhile actually has a pretty wide range of shoes here.
It’s been a few years since I’ve run in this particular model, but I really enjoyed it at the time. I’ve just been testing a lot of other shoes!
The Brooks Cascadia is a premium trail running shoe celebrated for its exceptional performance in rugged environments. Its robust outsole, equipped with aggressive multi-directional lugs, offers superior traction on diverse trail surfaces, enhancing stability and confidence during runs.
The Cascadia’s midsole features a rock shield, safeguarding your feet from sharp obstacles and uneven terrains, making it an ideal choice for technical trails. Its water-resistant upper keeps your feet dry in wet conditions while remaining breathable to prevent overheating. The integrated gaiter tab simplifies the attachment of gaiters, keeping debris out on rugged trails.
- 8 mm
- 9.8 oz women’s, 11 oz men’s
Welcome to their trail shoe with the highest amount of cushioning. The flip release on the shoe laces, also makes it easy to adjust the tigthness of the shoes. Which as we know is often needed during ultras when feet swell.
The On Cloudultra is one of On Running’s newest trail running shoes and an excellent addition to the ultramarathon and endurance trail running market.
Partially because they shifted the pod set up, so you will catch less rocks than with the road shoes!! They add lugs for more grip and took the pods way, way down.
On has satisfied the request of thousands of trail runners with this shoe, thanks to its ability to tackle tricky terrain effectively and remain comfortable over long distances on trails and highways with its Helion midsole foam.
These are excellent trail running footwear for all distances up to and including the marathon.
- 6 mm heel drop
- 8.64 oz
More About On Cloud Running
On started in 2010 in Switzerland, when yet again another runner thought “I could do this better.”
This time it was three retired professional athletes, who decided there needed to be a shoe that had more firmness to create that bounce off the ground, along with cushion.
They went from their first prototype in January 2010, to having it sold in stories by June 2010! How insane is that timeline?!
By 2014 and 2015 professional athletes were wearing the shoes and winning races, creating even more buzz about these unique looking shoes.
More About Brooks
Believe it or not, Brooks started out in 1914 making ballet slippers and bathing shoes. Since then, they have made everything from baseball and football cleats to roller skates.
It wasn’t until Frank Shorter won the marathon at the 1972 Munich Olympics that Brooks considered limiting its focus. The first running shoe debuted in 1974 and their most popular running shoe, the Adrenaline GTS first hit the market in 1999.
In 2001, Brooks decided to focus solely on running.
They introduced the Transcend in 2013, a shoe that used new biomechanics technology to create a GuideRails technology, allowing runners to run naturally without trying to correct their gait.
The Seattle-based company is also well known for its commitment to sustainability and giving back. Brooks donates time, gear, and money to companies that align with their values around diversity, equity, and inclusion and staff receive paid annual volunteer time.
How to Choose On or Brooks Running Shoes?
Now that we’ve gone through the different models, you have a better feeling for what sets each apart. I can’t recommend enough that you buy knowing you can take them out for a few runs and return.
Seriously, return policies are pretty amazing.
And remember: Your gait and feet will likely change over time and you may need to change shoes.
This is also why I recommend rotating through several pairs of shoes at once.
Keep in mind that shoe design can change, even with the same model, so always assess how the shoe fits every time you replace a pair.
For more help selecting the right shoe for you, don’t worry, I’ve got you:
- Nike Vs New Balance running shoes
- Altra Running Shoes Review
- Top 5 Marathon Running Shoes
- New Balance Vs Brooks
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