Apl vs On Running: Which Is Better?

As an avid runner and sneaker enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for footwear that balances performance with style. Recently, two brands have caught my attention – Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) and On Running.

Both offer unique technological innovations for a comfortable, responsive ride. But with different backgrounds and design philosophies, deciding between the two can be tricky. This comprehensive overview compares all the key factors – from founder stories to target markets – to reveal how APL and On Running stack up.

Comparison Table

CategoryAPLOn Running
Founded In2009 2010
Comfort & FitCustom FutureFoamTM contours to feet but low drop challenges some.CloudTec ‘clouds’ adapt to stride, roomier toebox suits wider feet
Color OptionsConstantly pushing boundaries with unique textures, gradients. More lifestyle focus.Core ranges stick to complementary tones. Emphasize function over form.
DurabilityCraftsmanship investments justify premium price, but occasional quality issues reportedLightweight build stays true over typical 300-500 mile lifespan
PerformanceCutting-edge Launch N’ Load®, FutureFoamTM propel runners to new PRsCloudTec responsiveness great for everyday runs but trails racers on track days
Design & StyleAggressively bold aesthetics target young hypebeasts and sneakerheadsClean, minimalist lines reflect restrained Swiss design simplicity
PopularityRapidly rising cult status among younger athletes and basketball cultureMainstream darling for recreational runners but less influencer ‘hype’
Best Selling ModelTechLoom ProCloud5

APL Overview

Founded in 2009 by Adam and Ryan Goldston, Athletic Propulsion Labs is known for revolutionizing athletic shoes by seamlessly blending performance, comfort, and style.

APL Founders

Their shoes feature a balance of cushioning and support through the use of responsive Propel Foam in the midsole. This proprietary foam provides soft, pillowy cushioning while still maintaining a firm, responsive feel underfoot.

The flexible TechLoom woven upper material is another key feature of APL shoes. This lightweight, breathable upper allows the foot to move and flex naturally with each stride. Wearers remark how the TechLoom upper “moves with you” for uninhibited motion.

APL shoes strike a balance between plush cushioning and ground connection. They absorb impact comfortably without excessive softness that can undermine performance.

Across the board, wearers praise the secure, sock-like fit of APL shoes that keeps the foot locked in place without constriction. Many also comment on the stylish, sleek silhouette that pairs well with athletic or casual wear.

While designed with running and training in mind, the versatility and smart aesthetics make APL sneakers suitable for all-day wear.

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 & Fit

Both brands care deeply about cushioning but take different approaches. APL utilizes FutureFoamTM compound custom molds to your contours. On Running emphasizes adaptability through stretchy woven uppers and pressure-absorbing Cloudtec pads adjusting to your strike path. APL’s low-drop isn’t universally comfortable while On Running’s roomier toeboxes suit wider feet.

Durability & Performance

Premium quality assurance and luxurious leathers means APL invest heavily in enduring craftsmanship with impressive lifespans matching $300+ price tags. However, occasional reviewer concerns surface over premature upper tearing or overly rigid midsole breakdowns reducing bounce.

Comparatively, lightweight Clouds stay robust over typical 300-500 mile lifetimes adequate for most runners without podiatry issues. When deciding purely on energy loading performance though – be it sprinting or vertical explosiveness – APL still rules the roost through precision-calculated technologies.


Sticker shock distinguishes these brands more than anything – APL cements its positioning among luxury performance lifestyle titans like Alexander McQueen through $250+ standard pricing (approaching $1000 for special collabs).

Compared to On Running’s $150 mean valuing accessibility over opulence, the everyday runner may discover greater value-for-money in those cost-conscious Cloud models.

Then again, APL worshippers happily pay premiums for exclusivity and status symbols celebrating progress through ostentatious innovation.

Design & Style

Flamboyance oozes through every stitch and strap on APL’s kicks – bold iridescent textures, transparent tech, graffiti-bombed midsoles and typographic logos fine-tuned for hypebeast allure.

On Running stays more muted in adhering to restrained Swiss aesthetics – clean lines, complementary tones, pedestrian-friendly silhouettes. Both ooze technical modernity but target different demographics, backgrounds and definitions of what high-performance even constitutes in running shoe design.

Popularity Market buzz for APL concentrates in basketball culture – their Vision is an NBA staple while rapper endorsements drive hype among younger sneakerheads.

Hardcore runners still represent On Running’s stronghold thanks largely to Cloudtec winning devotees through literal word-of-foot referrals rather than TikTok flexes.

Still, APL rapidly races towards mainstream credibility even among sadbrained office drones seeking secret performance advantages within workplace dress codes.

Target Market

For APL – young hungry competitors and lifestyle athletes craving bold swag and swagger boosting performance upgrades inside and out.

Lightning quick guards, aspiring vocal artists, teenagers plastering posters across their bedrooms. But also weary white-collar workers discretely seeking ergonomic advantages over co-workers one launch sequence at a time thanks to Launch N’ Load® assisted 1-inch leaps.

On Running speaks more to committed runners and coaches seeking solutions balancing energetic speed and injury mitigation across marathon distances or during weekly half marathon and 10K training blocks. Their European styling and scientific ethos carries universal appeal but best targeting runners avoiding extremes.

Performance Comparisons

For Nurses

After eight hours on their feet, nurses need plush comfort prioritized over pace. On Clouds literally rise to the occasion by cushioning long shifts and dispersing concentrated pressure points better than APL’s Spartan FutureFoamTM targeting PRs over pain alleviation.

For Walking

On Running redeems itself for walkers through enhanced mobility and comfort brought by integrated Cloudtec and outer sole flexibility encouraging smooth walks or high step count fitness. For easy cruising, On Clouds carry your soles in pillowy comfort farther and safer than APL’s racing focused alternatives.

For Running

Get off the blocks and serious track runners know APL pulls away rapidly thanks to energy loading Launch ‘N Load® plates or FutureFoamTM Blast striking a perfect balance of lightweight responsiveness critical for accelerating intervals and repeat hill strides.

Except for enduring long distances or easygoing joggers, On can’t catch up once APL’s patented performance technologies launch your personal best into record breaking orbit.

For Flat Feet

Research shows On Cloud’s stable, generously padded profile best prevents excessive inward foot rolling associated with fallen arches. Optimal pod placement absorbs shocks preventing damaging impact ripples felt by knees and lower back while some APL models specifically stabilize neutral runners almost exclusively.

For Back Pain

On Cloud again stands tallest helping back pain sufferers by dispersing ground force reactions across responsive pods – preventing jarring along the kinetic chain up from heels to the spine over miles of training compared to undifferentiated APL midsole blocks aggravating vertebrae and sacroiliac joints through sheer force repetition.

For Standing All Day

Office workers or retail nurses praise the Cloud X for easing exhausting 10 hour shifts better than APL options ill-equipped for upright marathons. On Clouds live up to namesake billing by cushioning and cradling fatigued feet all afternoon unlike APL’s unforgiving race-tuned midsole blocks. Again though – On Clouds sacrifice snappy responsiveness catering specifically to prolonged comfort few competitors match.

For High Arches

Without specialized arch reinforcement, insufficient FutureFoamTM cushioning leaves high-arched runners painfully vulnerable by ignoring their orthopedic needs. Compared to On Cloud’s flatter sole more adaptive across arch types, APL really best supports neutral pronators exclusively.

For Hiking

When the trail turns rocky, those durable Cloudtec lugs and tenacious Continental rubber outsoles grip and brake on unpredictable terrain so much better than APL’s street-focused treads which wear down fast on unforgiving inclines.

And On Running’s clever Speedboard midfoot wraps add lateral support for unstable downhill trots – outclassing APL’s flimsy woven uppers vulnerable to overpronation on loose surfaces.

For Plantar Fasciitis

Cloud’s responsive cushioning wins scientific praise by alleviating first step heel pain or chronic tightness from strained plantar fascia tissues far better than APL insoles purely designed for energy return versus therapeutic recovery.

Podiatrists actively prescribe On Cloud models specifically for fascia stabilization thanks to trailblazing pod configurations mitigating inflammation through every phase of each gait cycle.

Final Verdict

While APL wins outright on pure performance technologies, On Running better balances athletic capabilities with lifestyle demands.

Unless hardcore competition is your priority, On Cloud’s Swiss-engineered formula of comfort, style and adequate responsiveness makes them the more versatile, well-rounded choice for runners with discerning tastes. Ultimately though, individual fit and priorities determine the ideal shoe – so try them on to decide which sole truly connects with yours.

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