On Cloud vS New Balance: Which Is Better?

As an avid runner and sneaker enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for the next great pair of running shoes. Recently I’ve been intrigued by two brands – On Cloud and New Balance.

Both offer high-quality running shoes packed with advanced technologies and features. But which one is better suited for my unique needs and preferences as a runner? Let’s dive into a detailed comparison and find out!

Comparison Table

CategoryOn CloudNew Balance
ComfortExceptional cushioning and adaptabilityVarying comfort levels
ColorsVibrant colors and color blockingMore muted tones
DurabilityDurable outsoles. Mesh upper prone to tearsVery durable. Mesh upper less durable on some
PerformanceExcellent energy return and bounce. For neutral runners.Excellent shock absorption. Stability options.
StyleSleek, modern aesthetic. Unique cushioning details.Classic athletic silhouette. Lifestyle elements on some.
PopularityGrowing niche brandExtremely popular. High brand recognition
Best SellerCloud 5880

On Cloud 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.

New Balance Overview

Founded in 1906 by William J. Riley, New Balance began by making arch supports and prescription shoes for people with foot issues.

Based in Boston, the brand gained popularity for technical innovations like ripple soles and heel counters to stabilize and customize fit.

While New Balance makes athletic shoes across sports, they remain deeply rooted in running due to their origins in correcting overpronated feet.

Core neutral shoes like the 880 use injected EVA midsoles for soft landings and Ortholite insoles for support.

Iconic models like the 990 integrate dual-density midsoles and Abzorb foams to combine cushioning with compression resistance for smooth transitions.

New Balance leans into retros styles while also incorporating new 3D printed midsoles and engineered mesh uppers. With masterful attention to fit adjustments for all foot shapes and biomechanical needs, New Balance delivers versatile performance and classic appeal across running categories.

Major Differences Between These Brands

Comfort and Fit

Both New Balance and On Cloud emphasize comfort in their shoes’ construction and materials. However, New Balance tends to offer a more personalized, adjustable fit across their wide size/width range and variations in support and cushioning technologies.

On Cloud shoes have a signature lightweight, bouncy cushioning that is comfortable for most in a standard fit. But some may find the On Cloud fit too snug, especially in the midfoot.

The highly adaptable CloudTec system can feel more unstable for runners needing more support. New Balance would be better for those needing a wider toe box, extended sizing, or stability features.

On Cloud excels in delivering an impressively comfortable ride right out of the box, while New Balance enables you to fine-tune comfort and performance through fit personalization.

Durability and Performance

When it comes to sturdy construction built to go the distance, New Balance has a proven track record of durability and consistent performance. Their rubber outsoles, synthetic/mesh uppers, and cushioning compounds are made to maintain their integrity over hundreds of miles.

This gives New Balance a slight edge for runners training for half or full marathons. On Cloud shoes feature notable innovations but may sacrifice some durability in favor of ultra-lightweight performance.

However, both brands implement strategic durability features like high-abrasion rubber in high-wear zones. Ultimately On Cloud shoes deliver excellent energy return and responsiveness over moderate mileage but are unproven over extremely high mileage. New Balance offers time-tested stability and cushioning to minimize deterioration mile after mile.


On Cloud running shoes are positioned as premium performance shoes and typically retail for $130-$180 USD. Their innovative CloudTec® technology and overall sleek, Swiss design justify the higher price point.

New Balance prices can range widely based on the model – from budget-friendly basic running shoes under $100 to stability shoes with premium cushioning reaching $175. On Cloud likely won’t appeal to shoppers on tighter budgets unless they can find older models on sale.

Overall, New Balance offers greater choice at lower price points for runners needing basic everyday trainers. However, On Cloud provides exceptional value for runners willing to pay more for a uniquely cushioned, responsive experience.

The overall price difference between the two brands is not drastic, but budget-conscious runners will likely favor New Balance while those seeking high-tech performance gains may lean towards On Cloud’s premium options.

Design and Style

When it comes to aesthetics, On Cloud shoes have a distinctive, fashion-forward look compared to New Balance’s classic athletic styling. On Cloud shoes incorporate unique design elements like the visible CloudTec® pods on the outsole and unconventional lacing patterns.

The overall silhouettes have a sleek, speedy profile in contrast to the bulkier shapes of most New Balance models. On Cloud shoes come in bold prints and color-blocking palettes while New Balance favors muted, tonal color schemes on most core models.

For runners who care about making a style statement, On Cloud has a leg up. However, New Balance still offers great options for runners wanting a no-frills workhorse trainer or retro runner style.

And they’ve expanded some lifestyle design elements into select models as well. For the right balance of form and function, On Cloud gets the nod for stylish modern performance while New Balance provides timeless athletic sensibilities.


There’s no contest when it comes to overall brand recognition and popularity – New Balance dominates the market share. With decades of history and billions in sales, New Balance sits comfortably among the top five athletic footwear brands worldwide.

On Cloud is still a niche player but has gained tremendous buzz and brand cachet in just over a decade. Dedicated runners love being “in the know” about On Cloud’s unique cushioning technology. However the average consumer is far more likely to opt for the familiar New Balance name at first glance.

But On Cloud’s popularity is surging rapidly among recreational runners. As the brand reaches more mainstream audiences in the coming years, they could encroach on New Balance’s market share.

While New Balance maintains mass appeal across demographics, On Cloud attracts hardcore running shoe geeks obsessed with the latest innovations. The cool factor of sporting On Cloud kicks can’t be denied.

Target Market

both brands want broad appeal, On Cloud’s core demographic seems to be fashion-forward millennials who prioritize lightweight speed and style. New Balance courts Gen X and boomer fitness buffs needing stability and comfort for varied activities beyond just running.

But these distinctions are blurred as New Balance expands lifestyle offerings and On Cloud reaches more mainstream consumers. Ultimately both brands aim for versatility across running abilities and ages – they just take different approaches in their tech and aesthetic to get there.

Performance Comparisons

For Nurses:

For nurses who are on their feet all day, a comfortable shoe is essential. Both On Cloud and New Balance offer cushioned shoes that provide comfort, but some key differences: On Cloud’s CloudTec cushioning system provides plush, responsive cushioning that makes long hours on tile and concrete more bearable.

However, some nurses may find them not supportive enough for long shifts. New Balance provides options with firmer arch support and stability features to fight fatigue.

Shoes like the New Balance 990v5 have the durable cushioning and slip-resistant outsoles nurses need for long days with patients. While On Cloud excels at cushioning, New Balance offers technologies and stability tailored specifically to healthcare professionals. For most nurses, New Balance would likely be the more comfortable and supportive choice for long days spent on the move.

For Walking:

For walkers needing a comfortable, durable shoe, New Balance edges out On Cloud. The Fresh Foam cushioning technology used in New Balance walking shoes like the 847v3 provides excellent shock absorption mile after mile. This prevents joint pain that can cut walking sessions short.

New Balance walking shoes also provide the stability features and motion control that keep your gait smooth and supported through long distances. However, On Cloud is not a bad choice either – the responsive CloudTec cushioning serves up plenty of energy return to keep your stride powered and efficient during walking sessions.

But overall, New Balance walking shoes are tough to beat for their plush cushioning and stability that reduces pain and fatigue when you need to keep moving. For power walking, all-day wear, or hiking adventures, New Balance has the technologies and track record walkers need.

For Running:

For runners, choosing between On Cloud and New Balance depends on the type of shoe you need. On Cloud excels at maximizing energy return and delivering a lightweight, smooth ride for middle distance to marathon training.

The CloudTec pods almost feel like running on trampolines! However, New Balance offers a wider range of shoe types – like the 880v11 for neutral runners or the 1500v6 for race day performance. New Balance also better accommodates runners who overpronate thanks to stability shoes like the Prism.

For runners needing pronation control, New Balance is likely the better fit. But if you crave that bouncing, responsive sensation to gain speed and efficiency, On Cloud shoes truly feel like running on clouds.

Evaluate your foot type and running needs – stability features or max cushioning/energy return? For most neutral runners, On Cloud is an excellent choice for training and racing.

For Flat Feet:

If you have flat feet, stability and arch support are essential in running shoes. In this case, New Balance is the clear winner. They have an extensive line of motion control and stability shoes to prevent overpronation caused by flat feet. Shoes like the New Balance 1340v3 feature a medial post and multi-density midsole that keeps the foot from rolling inward during foot strikes.

On Cloud has fewer options to provide pronation control for flat feet. Their CloudTec system is excellent at cushioning but lacks the firmer arch support and pronation control flat-footed runners need. While not ideal for flat feet, some On Cloud models work for mild overpronators.

But for moderate to severe overpronators, New Balance can provide the corrective features and arch support to prevent injury and discomfort during runs. Overall, New Balance does a better job accommodating flat-footed runners.

For Back Pain:

Back pain sufferers need ample cushioning along with rearfoot and arch support. On Cloud’s soft, adaptive CloudTec cushioning system does a great job absorbing shock and reducing pounding. This can alleviate pain from conditions like degenerative disc disease.

However, New Balance offers superior support in options like the Vongo v5 which provides stability to correct overpronation that can aggravate back issues. An extended medial post and firm heel counter provide the structured support back pain sufferers require.

While On Cloud cushions effectively, their lack of pronation control could allow poor movement patterns that strain the spine. The plush comfort helps, but not as ideal as New Balance motion control and enhanced stability.

The right support prevents back pain while soft cushioning provides relief – and New Balance combinations achieve both better for runners with chronic back problems.

For Standing All Day:

Cushioning and arch support are vital for people on their feet all day at work. While both brands are comfortable, New Balance again takes the lead for all-day wear. Options like the New Balance 608v5 have Abzorb cushioning to reduce knee and foot pain but also provide necessary arch support.

That prevents foot strain and pronation that flatten arches over long hours. On Cloud still provides ample cushioning for comfort, but some may find it too soft for all-day standing. The CloudTec pods compress easily and don’t provide inherent arch support.

While the cushioning alleviates pain, the lack of arch reinforcement leads to fatigue faster than New Balance’s stability options. For nurses, retail workers, or others needing support through long shifts, New Balance has the right combo of cushioned comfort and pronation control to keep feet happy even after 12+ hours on hard floors.

For High Arches:

High arches require shoes with proper cushioning and flexibility – too much stability causes pain. In this case, On Cloud shoes are likely the better choice. The CloudTec system flexes naturally for an adaptable ride without digging into high arches.

New Balance stability shoes have a firmer midsole that may irritate high arches, especially if trying to correct overpronation that isn’t even happening. Cushioned neutral trainers like the On Cloudswift would cushion high arches comfortably while allowing natural movement.

Some New Balance models like the 1080v11 have plush cushioning but with a higher drop that doesn’t fully support high arches. While those with high arches can still run pain-free in New Balance, the On Cloud line provides a more tailored fit and flexibility to avoid discomfort and irritation during miles.

For Hiking:

Hitting dirt trails calls for sturdy shoes with traction, support, and responsiveness. For moderate hiking adventures, On Cloud and New Balance both offer solid options. Shoes like the New Balance Hierro v6 or On Cloudventure peak provide grippy outsoles to manage varied terrain and lightweight cushioning for mile after mile.

The CloudTec pods compress to absorb shock on downhill sections while providing bounce on inclines. New Balance offers pronounced toe protection helpful for scrambling over rocks and roots. However, for hardcore trails or multi-day hikes with substantial weight on your back, New Balance has the edge in durability and stability.

Models like the New Balance Summit Unknown utilize Vibram outsoles and REVlite foam to empower hikers to conquer hundreds of miles in comfort. For most day hikers, either brand works well. But hardcore trekkers may want New Balance’s combination of ruggedness and cushioning to tackle tougher trails.

For Plantar Fasciitis:

The right combination of cushioning, support, and flexibility is the key to preventing and managing plantar fasciitis. For PF sufferers, New Balance shoes tend to offer greater relief thanks to stability elements. Options like the Vongo v5 have a firm heel counter and medial post to correct overpronation that strains the plantar fascia ligament.

Fresh Foam cushioning also absorbs shock from heel strikes. On Cloud provides plush cushioning at the heel, but typically lacks the intrinsic arch support and pronation control needed for PF.

However, the On Cloud X does incorporate a medial stabilizing bar for light overpronators. While not ideal, some models can work for mild cases of plantar fasciitis needing pure cushioning. But those with moderate to severe PF will benefit more from tailored motion control in New Balance shoes to prevent reinjury.

Final Verdict:

In the battle of these two innovative athletic brands, there’s no single winner – the right choice depends on your foot type, running needs, and preferences.

For runners with neutral pronation who want a super-soft, responsive ride, On Cloud is a home run. Their CloudTec cushioning system feels like running on air and provides enviable energy return for middle-to-long distance training and racing.

However, New Balance takes the crown when it comes to support, stability, and tailored fit for varied foot issues like overpronation.

Their wide sizing, stability posts, and cushioning technologies allow you to customize performance and comfort for your unique needs. While New Balance has the advantage for versatility, nothing quite matches the springy sensation of On Cloud.

Ultimately both brands produce high-quality running shoes packed with advanced performance features. Weigh your priorities – support vs. lightweight cushioning – and test models from both brands to make the ideal choice for your next pair!

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