On Cloudventure Peak Reviewed
I recently took charge of a new pair of trail shoes. Racing shoes for the off-road scene. Born from the desire to create a fast Alpine racer. And they work like gangbusters!
The On Cloudventure Peak is a revelation. Part race shoe, part slipper. All comfort.
When compared directly with a previous favourite of mine, the Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra, the first thing to note is the degree of cushioning under foot.
Stepping from the car, onto a rocky surface, the shoes actually feel bouncy. Soft. Comfy. The uppers allow freedom of movement and a fair amount of space around the end of my toes. The shoes are by no means roomy, or longer than should be, but they feel as if I have bags of space. As I launch into my trail run, on a hot dry day, I'm struck by how stable they seem.
This is down to the 'Speedboard' within the midsole. Allowing power transfer as I push, it evens out the lumps and bumps. Thanks to the individual clouds under foot, the shoe articulates as I cross stoney terrain. It adapts completely to what's on the ground. I remain unphased. Still comfy. Still roomy and still without irritation.
In the Sense I would normally expect to trade comfort with performance. I'd trust my footing over rocks and roots, steep climbs and sudden drops, with unforeseen obstacles every so often. But always with a tendency to begin counting the minutes when my poor feet become sore and battered at the tips of my toes. With the Cloudventure Peak, there's the exact same level of trust over all surfaces, but never the sensation that my feet are paying the price. I might as well be in a road shoe, albeit a racing flat.
Technically, the characteristics are on my side. I usually favour a 4mm drop, where the Cloudventure Peak is 6mm from heel to toe. I like a stiff-ish, firm-ish shoe. The Cloudventure Peak affords just that, but with the efficiency of those clouds absorbing the impact without altering the direct response which makes for fast feet.
The shoes hold my feet. But not tightly. I ride securely on top of the shoes with a freedom of movement. The balance is just right, with no tipping when placing one edge against the floor. I don't feel restricted by the structure. The stiffness is subtle, due to a firm, yet flexible quality of midsole material. I can trust features and push off from nobbles, rather than feeling like the shoes will collapse or rotate my ankle.
If it's soft under foot, the firm midsole creates a platform for your foot. When hard ground appears, the clouds have you covered. Uneven terrain feels stable. They're light, but protective. There's not much to worry about.
The one Exception. The 'reality check' is on anything that isn't dry. Steep terrain in the wet, or deep mud and you're dancing. Don't get me wrong, I've always been a fan of trail over fell when it comes to footwear and I've managed to handle the job of staying over my feet and remaining upright, but when you need extreme traction, you'll wish for more tread depth. The token studs are just texture on what differs very slightly from the road version. So for fans of extreme open country and true 'Fell' running, the tools here may not be up to the job. But for anyone wishing to enjoy trails and test themself on 'undulating' technical ground - these are still my new favourite toys.
Traction is ample over the dry terrain. The Cloudventure Peak sticks. It rips into dirt and gravel. The low profile clouds appear to give the perfect amount of dampening, while affording me feedback and ground feel. The insole appears to also add cushion with a subtle amount of under foot padding. I have happy feet.
But the important factor, speed - I also have that in buckets. With fast feet, I skip over tree roots and rocks like it's rehearsed. During a long awaited dry spell, leading beginners at our Tuesday night run group (ATR), I have to keep controlling the urge to sprint. During a varied trip around a local reservoir, I encounter mud, mulch, puddles, gravel, roots, stones, tarmac, grass and fallen tree limbs. All of which proves fun in the Cloudventure Peak. I haven't had cause to doubt my footing once, even while rushing along exposed edges and picking my way through obstacles which could cause an open fracture or impalement. Even running on an incline during a hillside traverse, the shoes hold.
And I'm still comfortable. Wet and dry. Hot and cold. The laces stay secure. The tongue doesn't slip. The toes are intact. The running remains fast, even when low level fatigue rears its head...
They look great. They don't hold water and the dirt appears to have fallen off on its own. I haven't picked up a single stone, as the clouds here are both shallow and further apart than on some of the road based models.
And I simply cannot overstate - these shoes create a feeling of speed. The urge and the ability to move quickly, without having to pluck up courage or to pause once for thought. And my feet are unscathed.
A genuine masterpiece of engineering.
Tuesday 5th of June 2018