Comparing On Cloud vs Hoka running shoes is one of the more challenging comparisons I’ve done because the shoes feel, fit and function so differently. Yet, the one thing they have in common is how unique and recognizable both are!
I’ve run in many models from both brands and hope this breakdown will help you decide which one to slip on to your foot!
We’ve got details on construction, fit, feel, fabric and more. But ultimately it’s really the feel on your foot that’s going to make the decision.
You’ll see I have tested a lot of these shoes and like both brands, but have some bias based on what feels good to me! So I definitely went in search of other opinions to round it out.
Hoka Vs On Cloud Key Differences
On Cloud and Hoka offer similar features and models for all kinds of runners, from the new runner to Ultramarathoner to the flat-footed or high-arched.
Hoka One One first became popular with Ultrarunners and has since moved in the to main stream of running. I myself have run in a number of models and previously compared Hoka styles.
It feels like On took hold in the triathlon market first and then quickly moved mainstream running.
I break down the differences in more detail below, but here’s a quick overview:
Hoka Running Shoes
- Maximal shoe – has the larger sole for stability and smooth ride
- Usually more cushioned
- Some state they run narrow, but compared to other brands like Nike I disagree
- Does have some casual shoes, gym shoes and recovery sandals
On Running Shoes
- More narrow fit in older styles, newer styles have a wider forefoot
- Recognizable sole with the pods
- Claims their CloudTec sole reduces muscle fatigue and lowers HR
- Focus on improving speed off ground and reducing impact
- Mostly running shoes, but now has incredible jackets, pants, etc as well
I’ve worn both brands and will add some personal thoughts, along with links to detailed reviews.
ON vs HOKA ONE ONE Feature Comparison
Both brands are newer to the market compared to many, but have quickly gained avid fans.
Both offer options to aid with comfort, support, stability, and cushion. Where they differ most are in the feel of the shoe while running.
The following breaks down each shoe based on the components buyers need to consider when purchasing a running shoe.
It’s gonna get a little TECHY…so you can just skip on down to the specific model comparison if you want, but personally if I’m shelling out $150 for shoes, I kinda want to know why.
The lifespan of shoes from both companies is fairly comparable.
- On recommends swapping out for new shoes every 310 to 465 miles, a bit more specific than most brands.
- HOKA is often reported to last longer. I don’t know if this is more trail runners and thus less hard surfaces which extends the life of the shoe or simply their maximal design.
Determining when to replace running shoes, of course, all depends on your gait, weight, and whether you run mostly on trail or road.
On shoes are a little hard for me to describe because I think they’ve changed over the last few years and are different with each model that I’ve tested.
While the length runs true to size, I would say some are a narrow fit and some have a little more room in the toebox.
I would not consider any of them a wide shoe.
HOKA shoes run true to size from my testing. Some models are definitely a little more narrow than others, as with most brands. In fact, they have been working on increasing the toebox in newer models and I would say it’s more comfortable for a wider foot and with more toe room than most On shoes.
They also have a shoe finder quiz to help you get in to the right model.
On uses CloudTec technology which is entirely what makes their shoe look and feel different. They have little open pockets on the bottom of the shoe that compress with each step to absorb impact and in their words feel like a cloud.
I would say they are cushioned, but not plush.
HOKA likes to say they provide marshmallow softness. More technically PROFLY.
I’m going to admit that I was really skeptical of HOKA at the start because I assumed all that cushion would make it heavy. It turned out I was wrong and instead have been running in them since of their very first shoes.
- They have 3 levels of cushion, which is important because plush isn’t what you want on all runs
- Cushion that provides both a good landing and plenty of stability for push off
- Hubble Heel – their newest shoes with a longer heel which is supposed to improve heel to toe transition
On goes against the grain of most stability shoes and works with your foots motion rather than trying to stop it. I appreciate this as it’s one of the many reasons I steer folks away from most stability shoes.
Instead, they changed the shape and location of some of the pieces under the arch of the foot which allows all of your muscles to continue firing, but slows that inward roll.
HOKA was designed entirely with stability in mind.
It was a core foundation of their shoes because it allows runners to move quicker with less risk of injury. This is why they created a wide stable platform.
In fact, they call their heel system the “bucket seat”, like the seat of a race car. It cushions the heel and foot without posts or guide rails — this means the midsole remains more cushioned.
Overview of heel to toe drop and type of cushion in most shoe brands.
The prices between the two brands are fairly comparable. On prices range between $130 to $170, and HOKA’s start at a at $120 to $250.
The most popular models for On are around $150 and for HOKA also around $150.
Specialty items with more features (like carbon plates) will increase price.
You’ll notice that every brand offers a range and this is indeed due to a difference in technology and where they sell the shoe. They know that the big box store can sell the shoe with less in it, while the local running store needs to be best for dedicated runners.
HOKA Vs On Cloud Models
Now that you know more about each brand, let’s look at their top models in each of the main categories. There’s no winner declared here because all are great shoes, it’s just about which one is best for your foot.
With each of these, they are the top models so numbers are constantly changing as they make a little upgrade, but On doesn’t keep adding numbers to the shoe name like most brands doe.
Stability Running Shoe
As noted above both On and Hoka do a good job of not trying to force the foot in to position, but rather providing a wider base that immediately provides stability. So it’s a more natural feel that most stability running shoes.
It also has just that slight rocker effect, to help move you from heel to toe.
Considered a plush shoe, it has a 7mm heel drop and weighs in a 7oz. But as noted, their plush shoes are not in the same ballpark as Hoka plush…it’s still a firmer ride with the focus being on that spring off the ground.
One of the ongoing issues I have with On shoes is this…rocks.
As noted all Hokas are designed with more stability than many brands, but these are considered maximum stability. But they provide stability without feeling rigid, a problem many runners have with other stability options.
It’s still cushioned, only 5mm heel toe drop and 11.3oz for men’s.
Many have said they like this for an all day shoe as well because it’s providing that support and cushion to keep the feet and legs happy. Probably one of the shoes I recommend first for many looking to help with overpronating on long runs.
Neutral Running Shoe
I’ve run in a few of the earlier models of this shoe, but as their most popular shoe it’s one of the few that continues to get a number to note that it’s new and improved!
We are currently up to model 6. And it sounds like this is the favorite so far with additional cushioning on the forefoot.
I would look at this as a speed training and racing shoe, for the design focused on really springing off the ground. Then again I like really low profile, low cushion shoes like the Saucony Kinvara for long easy runs too…so you do you.
This one is designed with moderate cushion for those medium distance runs (5K to half marathon). In other words, it doesn’t have the extra padding or structure that we often like to see in a marathon shoe.
Low profile at 6mm, weight in at 11.83 oz.
The Clifton was their first model and I actually got to run in version 1, 2 and 6! It’s their trademark shoe and a great one for any runner who wants cushion and to test out a maximal shoe.
At just 7 oz you’ll be shocked how much cushion in provides. It’s cushioned without being too soft, so it’s still responsive.
Once you get past the fact that they look big, you’ll quickly notice they feel lighter than many other styles. And every ounce counts for me when I’m hitting 20+ mile long runs. I also appreciate that the wider base naturally supports the foot a bit more.
Cushioned Running Shoe
I’ve got a couple pairs of these rattling around my shelves right now! While it isn’t as firm as the other On shoes, it’s in no way the plush style of a Bondi.
The Bondi feels like you put your foot in a cloud. For On the cushion is more about the absorbing of impact, rather than what you might think of as traditional cushion. That’s not a bad thing, just different expectations.
This absolutely felt like the most cushioned On running shoe I’ve tested. Making it a good daily easy run trainer.
It’s an 8mm drop with 10.76 oz in the men’s.
I wanted to love it so badly. But for some reason, the shoe breaks along the top of my foot and due to the diagonal lacing structure along the forefoot I can’t do much to change it. I honestly tried and tried because I wanted to wear them so bad!
If you want to feel like your feet are running on actual pillows…this is it.
The most cushioned shoe I’ve tried in over 26,000 miles of running. It’s a heavenly shoe for recovery days.
Important for most runners to know a shoe this cushioned isn’t ideal for all runs. You can easily start to sink in to your low back and lose a little speed without that spring off the ground.
This is a 4mm drop and also 10.7oz in men’s.
Carbon Fiber Plate Shoes
Are they cool new technology, yes.
Do they last as long as your other shoes, nope.
So if you want to test these out use them for speed work and then race day!
Watch my detailed video on how Carbon Fiber Shoes work.
More About On Cloud Running
On started in 2010 in Switzerland, when yet again another runner thought “I could do this better.”
This time it was three retired professional athletes, who decided there needed to be a shoe that had more firmness to create that bounce off the ground, along with cushion.
They went from their first prototype in January 2010, to having it sold in stories by June 2010! How insane is that timeline?!
By 2014 and 2015 professional athletes were wearing the shoes and winning races, creating even more buzz about these unique looking shoes.
More about HOKA ONE ONE
Let’s start with how do you pronounce Hoka One One? “Ho-Kah O-nay O-nay” which is a Māori phrase that means “to fly over the earth.”
But they’re kind of like Madonna and just need one name: Hoka.
Founded by two mountain trail runners in the Swiss Alps, Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, former Salomon employees, had an epiphany during their training that lead to the foundation of a new shoe and new company in 2009.
This makes them a mere baby in the world of running shoes, as many of the brands from Brooks to ASICS have been around 100+ years now. Pictured here is their first prototype.
At first they simply wanted a shoe that would allow them to run downhill faster and thus win!
Quickly they realized there was something more here with a smooth, super light, cushioned and stable shoe. Their maximal design took many of by surprise in a time where Zero Drop running shoes and Barefoot running were the in thing.
In 202o, the company was purchased by Deckers (owners of UGG and Teva). Hopefully that just means more marketing to keep the shoes going and not a change to what their doing right.
Your gait and feet will likely change over time and you may need to change shoes.
This is also why I recommend rotating through several pairs of shoes at once.
And remember, just because these are two of the most well known brands on the market, there are still plenty of other shoe brands to select from if neither On nor HOKA has the right shoe for you.
Keep in mind that shoe design can change, even with the same model, so always assess how the shoe fits every time you replace a pair.
For more help selecting the right shoe for you, don’t worry, I’ve got you:
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish