On Cloud vs Nike: Which Is Better?

Choosing the right athletic shoe is an important decision. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to decide between popular brands like On Cloud and Nike. This article will compare and contrast key features of these two shoe giants to help you determine which may be the better fit for your individual needs and preferences.

Comparison Table

CategoryOn CloudNike
Founded In20101964
Comfort and FitCloud-like cushioning, wide toe boxVaries by shoe, generally moderate to high comfort
Color OptionsVibrant and neutral optionsWide range of colors and styles
DurabilityDurable rubber outsoles, high-quality materialsGenerally durable, varies by model
PerformanceExcellent shock absorption and energy returnGreat performance features like cushioning and support
Design and StyleSleek, modern designsIconic, athletic aesthetic with many classic silhouettes
PopularityGrowing popularity among casual wearers and runnersExtremely popular among athletes and lifestyle wearers
Best Selling ModelCloud 5Air Force 1

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.

Nike Overview

Nike was founded in 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight as Blue Ribbon Sports, initially importing Japanese running shoes before establishing their own footwear manufacturing in the 1970s.

Nike Founders

Nike popularized innovations like the waffle outsole and air cushioning technology, earning the brand a reputation for performance and style.

Today, Nike is the largest athletic shoe company in the world, producing footwear and apparel for virtually every sport imaginable.

In running specifically, Nike is the undisputed market leader, offering an enormous range of shoes tailored for competition, training, and everyday running at varying price points. The Nike Pegasus, introduced in the 1980s, remains one of their most ubiquitous neutral trainers.

Other pioneering technologies include Shox columns for impact absorption and lightweight Flyknit uppers. As a global brand active in sports science research, Nike employs state-of-the-art product testing to create performance-driven footwear.

Recent releases like the Alphafly NEXT% racing shoe with carbon fiber plates demonstrate Nike’s commitment to pushing boundaries. For runners of all levels, Nike offers both cutting-edge models as well as classic staples like the Air Zoom Pegasus.

With its iconic Swoosh logo and pervasive marketing and sponsorship, Nike has become one of the most recognizable brands worldwide.

Major Differences Between the Brands

Comfort and Fit

On Cloud, shoes are known for their exceptional cushioning that provides a soft, cloud-like feel during wear. They incorporate unique CloudTec pods that compress and rebound underfoot.

However, some may find they offer too much cushioning. Nike comfort and fit can vary widely depending on the model. Nike uses many comfort technologies like Air cushioning but also makes performance-driven shoes that sacrifice all-day wear comfort. Nike offers more variety in fit with narrow to extra wide sizes available.

Durability and Performance

The rubber outsoles and quality construction of On Cloud shoes give them good durability that can handle frequent mileage. The CloudTec system also delivers excellent shock absorption and energy return for running performance.

Nike shoes are also built to hold up to athletic demands with features like rubber outsoles, TPU heels, and mesh uppers. Models like the Pegasus and Air Zoom lines are designed specifically for performance running with responsive foam, Zoom Air units, and breathable Flyknit uppers.


On Cloud shoes retail between $130 to $180 on average, positioning them as premium-priced running and lifestyle shoes. Nike footwear covers a wider spectrum of price points based on the technology and materials used.

Entry-level Nike shoes can start around $60, while high-performance models incorporating tech like Flyknit and Zoom Air can cost over $200. Overall, Nike offers choices at lower price points than On Cloud.

Design and Style

With their vibrant colors, sleek silhouettes, and prominent CloudTec soles, On Cloud shoes have an athletic-chic aesthetic geared towards fashion-focused wearers.

Nike also offers modern and stylish designs but has many classic silhouettes like the Air Force 1 woven into streetwear culture and fashion. Both brands release limited edition collaborations and capsules with unique styles.


Though On Cloud is growing in popularity, especially among casual wearers, Nike remains one of the most iconic and recognizable shoe brands worldwide. As an established giant in the athletic footwear industry, Nike has an extremely devoted customer base across sports and various walks of life.

Target Market

The unique cushioning system of On Cloud shoes appeal most to runners looking for comfortable, low-impact shoes for training and racing. Nike has an exceptionally wide target market spanning professional athletes to fashion-focused lifestyle wearers. Their vast selection accommodates most athletic pursuits.

Performance Comparison

For Nurses

The CloudTec cushioning system of On Cloud shoes absorbs shock and reduces foot fatigue, making them a great choice for nurses and others on their feet all day. The Nike Air Zoom Pulse was specifically designed for healthcare workers who need support and breathability.

For Walking

On Cloud walking shoes like the Cloudace provide plush yet responsive cushioning to make walking comfortable without losing energy return. Nike walking shoes range from casual models like the Air Monarch to performance shoes like the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% for a natural gait.

For Running

On Cloud running shoes excel at providing a soft feel while still remaining responsive. Nike offers a deep selection of performance running shoes tailored to different foot types and speeds, like the Pegasus or ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%.

For Flat Feet

On Cloud’s stability shoes provide moderate support but may lack the motion control needed by some flat-footed runners. Nike’s selection includes structured shoes like the Air Zoom Structure or LunarGlide that better accommodate flat feet.

For Back Pain

The soft cushioning in On Cloud shoes helps absorb impact and reduce pain for wearers with back pain. Nike also offers well-cushioned shoes focused on comfort, such as the Joyride Run Flyknit or the Air Zoom Vomero 5.

For Standing All Day

The CloudTec system minimizes fatigue for On Cloud shoes, making them suitable for extended standing. Nike also has shoes designed for all-day wear like the Air Max 270 React or Nike Air Zoom Pulses.

For High Arches

On Cloud may lack the arch support needed for high arches. Nike has styles with higher arch support built into the midsole and insole, like the Odyssey React 2.

For Hiking

On Cloud ultra shoes provide cushioning for moderate hikes but lack technical features found in hiking-specific shoes. Nike offers hiking boots and shoes with aggressive lugs, ankle support, and weather protection.

For Plantar Fasciitis

The ample cushioning in On Cloud shoes helps reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Nike also has shoes focused on comfort that can aid plantar fasciitis, such as the Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail or Renew Ride 3.

Final Verdict

In the end, choosing between On Cloud and Nike shoes comes down to your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize running performance and enjoy a super soft, cushioned ride, On Cloud delivers impressive comfort and energy return in sleek designs.

For those seeking a wider range of styles, performance features, and price points, Nike is hard to beat as an athletic footwear juggernaut. Make sure to consider your intended activity, foot type, and budget when deciding between these two brands.

You also can’t go wrong test driving shoes from both Nike and On Cloud to get a feel for their fit and comfort. With quality craftsmanship and technology, both brands make excellent athletic and lifestyle footwear.

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