Allbirds vs On Cloud: Which Is Better?

When looking for comfortable, sustainable shoes that can keep up with an active lifestyle, two great options are Allbirds and On Running. Both brands design quality footwear but have different strengths. This comparison covers all the key differences to consider when choosing between these popular shoe companies

Comparison Table

CategoryAllbirdsOn Running
Founded20162010
Comfort & FitSoft, breathable, lightweightCushioned, cloud-like feel
Color OptionsNeutral tonesVibrant color options
DurabilityAverageAverage to below average
PerformanceCasual lifestyleRunning, athletic activities
Design & StyleUnderstated, minimalistModern, sleek style
PopularityVery popular, cult followingGrowing popularity
Best Selling ModelTree RunnersCloud 5

Allbirds Overview

Founded by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger in 2016, Allbirds exploded onto the shoe market as an innovative, eco-conscious brand.

Allbirds Founders

Based in New Zealand, Allbirds built its reputation on the use of merino wool as the core material in its shoes and loungers. The merino wool helps control foot temperature, wick away moisture, and provide natural flexibility.

In addition to merino wool, Allbirds incorporates other sustainable materials like eucalyptus tree fiber, sugar cane foam, and recycled plastic and cardboard.

This environmentally friendly approach is a huge selling point for the brand.

In just a few short years, the company has expanded its catalog to offer wool runners, loungers, flip flops, and other shoes and apparel.

The simple, straightforward design aesthetic gives Allbirds products versatility as both lifestyle and casual wear. The Tree Runner is by far Allbirds’ most popular silhouette.

On Running Overview

Swiss running shoe brand On Running took the market by storm when they debuted their revolutionary CloudTec cushioning system in 2010.

Co-founded by Olivier Bernhard, David Allemann, and Caspar Coppetti, On Running sought to shake up the look and feel of running shoes.

On Running Founders

Unlike the thick foam midsoles of brands like Hoka and Brooks, On shoes feature individual rubber pods strategically placed on the outsole.

This signature CloudTec cushioning provides a firm yet responsive feel. The pods compress and rebound independently to deliver what On calls a “soft landing followed by an explosive take-off.”

Most On Running shoe models also incorporate the company’s Speedboard technology, a curved plastic plate that improves transitions from heel to toe.

Together, the CloudTec sole and Speedboard reduce muscle vibration and create what On describes as a “smooth running sensation.” The outsoles are strategically mapped to match key pressure points during the phases of a runner’s stride. On Running shoes tend to have close-fitting mesh uppers to hold the foot securely.

While On Running’s CloudTec cushioning doesn’t isolate impact as much as maximally cushioned shoes, the pods respond individually to deliver energetic rebound. This makes On shoes ideal for efficient runners who want some feedback from the ground. The technology caters to midfoot and forefoot strikers with an emphasis on propelling runners forward.

Over the past decade, On Running has unveiled innovations like the CloudTec Lite system using hollowed-out pods to shed weight, and the Cloudboom midsole foam for additional underfoot softness. Their unique sole technology combined with clean, minimalist uppers gives On Running shoes an identifiable look.

Major Differences Between the Brands

Comfort and Fit

Allbirds shoes are known for their exceptional softness and breathability, while On Running emphasizes cushiony support. However, both brands aim to deliver cloud-like comfort in their way. Allbirds has a more relaxed, casual fit suited for everyday wear, while On Running focuses on a locked-in athletic fit.

Durability and Performance

For performance, On Running shoes edge out Allbirds with features designed specifically for running and training. However, some users complain that the On Cloud outsoles show signs of wear more quickly than traditional running shoes. Allbirds are not made for high-performance activities but their casual shoes tend to hold up well for daily use.

Price

Allbirds shoes retail between $95-$135 while On Running sneakers cost $130-$180. So Allbirds comes in at a more budget-friendly price point for basic everyday shoes. Those looking for performance shoes will get more advanced technical features from On Running to justify the higher price.

Design and Style

Allbirds’ pared-down, minimalist look focuses on showcasing natural materials and comfort. On the other hand, On Running has a bolder, sleeker aesthetic incorporating bright pops of color and the distinctive CloudTec sole. It comes down to personal preference, but both brands have their own unique sense of style.

Popularity

As one of the trendiest casual footwear brands, Allbirds has captured widespread popularity and a cult-like following. On Running has a smaller but growing devotee base, especially among runners and athletes looking for cushioned, comfortable performance.

Target Market

Allbirds aims squarely at the casual shoe market, designing predominantly for urban lifestyle wear. On Running specifically targets active runners as well as those on their feet all day who want cushioning during activities or travel.

Performance Comparison

For Nurses

The cushioned comfort of On Running shoes makes them a great pick for nurses and others who spend all day on their feet. The CloudTec system provides plush cushioning and shock absorption while still allowing for agility during busy shifts. Allbirds wool shoes also deliver cushy comfort but may not provide enough support for long hours standing.

For Walking

Both Allbirds and On Running shoes work well for walking, but On edges them out when it comes to lasting comfort for long distances. The responsive CloudTec cushioning offsets walking impact while the grippy tread provides stability. Allbirds are very comfortable but lack pronation control and stability benefits.

For Running

Experienced runners will get better performance from On Running shoes engineered specifically for running. The CloudTec system provides responsive energy return and bounce with each stride. Allbirds lack the technical features needed for serious running like medial/lateral support.

For Flat Feet

The stability and arch support of On Running shoes makes them a better choice for flat feet over Allbirds. Some On models even have medial posts to control pronation and provide motion control. Allbirds’ minimal sole and neutral support may not supply enough correction and cushioning.

For Back Pain

Again, On Running comes out on top for those suffering from back pain who need cushioning and support when active. The plush CloudTec midsole absorbs impact to reduce stress on the back. Allbird insoles are too thin to adequately cushion and stabilize.

For High Arches

High arches need ample cushioning and shock absorption, which points to On Running as the ideal pick. The CloudTec system softens each step while avoiding arch collapse. Allbirds lack necessary arch support and are likely to exacerbate pain with high arches.

For Hiking

Running hiking shoes like the Cloudventure provides excellent grip and traction over varied terrain, making them a great match for hiking. Allbirds trail shoes are fine for very light hiking but lack the stability, pronation control, and grip serious hikers need.

For Plantar Fasciitis

Those with plantar fasciitis do best in shoes with ample arch support and cushioning under the heel. On Running fits the bill with its plush CloudTec cushioning and stability features. Allbirds lack the necessary arch and heel support to relieve plantar fasciitis pain.

Final Verdict

In the battle between Allbirds vs On Running, there’s no single winner for all needs. Allbirds takes the lead for those seeking an affordable, sustainable everyday sneaker with low-key comfort and style.


On Running is ideal for runners and anyone wanting performance shoes with advanced cushioning technology for activities like sports or all-day wear.

Evaluate your priorities between lifestyle comfort, athletic performance, sustainability, and budget. Then choose the brand offering the best fit for your needs and preferences.

With both Allbirds and On Running, you really can’t go wrong – unless you’re picking shoes unsuited for your shoes style and activities. Consider where and how often you’ll wear the shoes to decide whether Allbirds minimalist comfort or On Running’s sporty cushioning is the route to happy feet.

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