The On Running brand is impressing shoe enthusiasts with various Cloud shoes. Cloudflow and Cloud X are On’s one of those versatile shoes.
I have used both lineups for walking, running, and gym workouts.
So, here I will provide a comparison review of the latest Cloud X vs Cloudflow shoes, highlighting their unique features to help you make an informed decision.
Let’s dive in.
Overview of On Running Cloud X and On Running Cloudflow
Born in 2010, the Swiss company On Running released the first On Cloud X shoe in 2017. The brand was committed to improvement, which shines through in its refined, user-friendly products.
As a result, On released the Cloud X 3 in 2023 with an improved midsole, lacing system, and drop.
The 3-layer mesh, a combination of CloudTec and Speedboard, and new midsole foam give you confidence for a comfortable stride with a secure fit.
Meanwhile, after releasing the original Cloudflow in 2016, On has worked with its crowd-pleaser shoes.
In pursuit of perfection, they have released several shoes over the years. And finally, Cloudflow 4 hit the market in 2023.
The fourth iteration’s style, functionality, versatile, low-profile design, and lightweight build display the dedication of ON.
Attribute Comparison of the Cloud X 3 vs Cloudflow 4
A quick table tour highlighting the comparison makes it easy to grasp the feature differences. As there are several models, I’m giving the comparison table of the newest model for convenience.
Below is the feature comparison table of the Cloud X 3 and Cloudflow 4:
|On Cloud X 3
|On Cloudflow 4
|Re-engineered 3-layer mesh
|Lightweight engineered woven
|CloudTec®, Helion™ superfoam
|CloudTec®, Helion™ superfoam
|Full-gusseted (both sides)
|Stack Height (Approx.)
|Heel: 27mm, Forefeet: 19mm
|Heel: 32mm, Forefeet: 24mm
|Short distance run, Gym, Cross-training
|Speedwork, Daily performance trainer
Now, dive into the detailed comparisons for a better understanding.
7 Primary Differences between On Cloudflow 4 and On Cloud X 3
While both are great versatile shoes, they have differences in attributes like breathability, lacing system, tongue, weight, etc, that can affect personal choice.
Here are the seven key differences between the latest On Cloudflow vs Cloud X:
1. Upper Construction
As mentioned, On has tried to perfect each model over the years.
As a result, the Cloudflow 3 got a massive improvement in the upper construction from the original one. The ON used stretchy recycled polyester (70%) on its upper to improve breathability and comfort.
But, On-Running didn’t stop there.
In the fourth iteration, they used their latest high-tech woven upper made of 100% recycled polyester.
This engineered mesh upper is a big win for consumers and the planet.
The thin, soft, and airy construction ensures breathability, support, and adaptability. Besides, ON used a standard lacing system on the Cloudflow 4 for locking the feet in.
In contrast, the On Cloud X 3 has a 3-layered re-engineered mesh upper.
A slightly thicker than the vamp overlay (from the heel to the midfoot) ensures a snug fit. On has used the star lacing system on this trainer.
The overlay and lacing together wrap around your midfoot nicely.
Regarding the upper, both shoes take the win.
2. Design and Aesthetics: Tongue, Pull tab, Lowlight Visibility
The Cloudflow 4 comes with a stylish sneaker appearance.
This shoe has a bootie-style gusseted tongue. I didn’t experience any unwanted tongue movement in the test run.
However, it is skinny like its predecessor to keep the shoe weight low.
|Cloud X 3
Another thing they ditched to cut the weight is the pull tab.
I expected some reflective stripes on the Cloudflow 4 for low-light visibility. It’s not a huge expectation at the price it comes.
But the shoe disappointed me as it had no glowing thing.
On the other hand, Cloud X 3 features a full-gusseted tongue (both sides), which helps for a sock-like fit. The padding got thinner from the Cloud X, which is below average.
Like the latest Cloudflow, the X3 also lacks a pull tab, though it’s not a major issue.
But despite being cheaper than Cloudflow, Cloud X v3 has several reflective materials that glow in the dark. It’s appreciable from the On.
From the design perspective, Cloud X 3 takes the win.
3. Breathability Assessment
If you compare the Cloudflow 4.0 with the Cloudboom Echo 3 or Nike Vaporfly 3, which are premium marathon racer shoes, it performs amazingly in breathability.
Thanks to the shoe’s upper, which ensures optimal ventilation. The thin mesh is the crucial element here.
On a 0-10 breathability scale, I can give 8 to the newest Cloudflow.
|Breathability Rating (0 - 10 scale)
|On Running Cloudflow 4
|On Running Cloud X 3
|On Running Cloudboom Echo 3
|Nike Vaporfly 3
Meanwhile, Cloud X3 is not far behind and also offers excellent breathability.
Even though it has a 3-layer mesh upper, it doesn’t compromise the ventilation. The perforated upper has large ventilation pores that allow ample airflow to keep your feet cold and sweat-free.
However, it is not superior. Thus, I’m giving an 8 to this for well-ventilation.
It’s a tie for the latest On Cloudflow and Cloudace regarding keeping your feet cool.
Now, what magic lies in the soles of these shoes? Keep reading.
4. Sole Technology and Cushioning
The On-Running used their proprietary CloudTec technology on the latest Cloudflow and Cloud X shoes.
The Cloudflow 4 is equipped with CloudTec® in Helion™ dual-density superfoam.
It provides a softer landing to absorb shock impact. Thanks to the 32mm and 24 mm stack height on the heel and forefoot, respectively. This results in an 8mm drop.
The spoon-shaped speedboard ensures an energetic bounce to go faster and stay faster.
But what about the outsole?
Cloudflow 4 features rubber CloudTec pads on the toe and heel for enhanced traction. However, the running shoe utilizes abrasive foam with grooves under the midfoot.
This slight change can be bothersome for many.
Conversely, Cloud X 3 also comes with their innovative CloudTec technology.
The Helion™ superfoam and Speedboard® technology ensure a comfortable ride, but this shoe starts to feel uncomfortable when you go for a long run.
With multiple activities in mind, this shoe is designed for versatility.
The low cushioning works great when you go for a short run, do some workouts in the gym, or walk around the park.
Speaking of cushioning, On uses 27mm of the superfoam under the heel. It drops to 8mm and uses 24mm stack height in the forefeet.
|Cloud X 3
However, in my test run, the dropping felt slightly higher than the official stats but not that high, like the 11mm drop of Cloudflyer 4.
The rubber on the outsole works great on various surfaces.
I didn’t feel any slippage on the gym floor or roads.
5. Size, Fit, and Comfort
The On Running Cloudflow 4 fits true to size.
The toe box feels slightly narrow. So those who have wide feet can find this shoe tight. However, there is wiggle room in the toe area.
The medium or narrow-width feet find this shoe an ideal pick.
However, the paper-thin tongue is uncomfortable regarding comfort, as I felt lace bite after a prolonged run.
The heel collar is padded. The lacing and heel tab ensures a snug fit without any slippage.
In contrast, Cloud X 3 also fits true to size in my US size 9.
The toe box width is at the widest part and the big toe isn’t too narrow like the Cloudflow 4 and feels average.
So it can support slightly wider feet.
The tongue is averagely padded, so lace biting is not an issue on this shoe.
Cloud X3 takes the win for a comfortable ride and fit.
6. Performance and Durability
The New generation Cloudflow performs great for forward rolling. The aggressive toe rocker, cloud pods, and lightweight woven upper are equipped for next-gen speed.
Whether it is speedwork or daily training, the 8.6-ounce weight ensures you perform your best.
However, there are other heavier shoes like Cloudswift 3, which is more than 11 ounces.
|On Cloudflow 4
|On Cloud X 3
Despite having fantastic breathability, the upper durability is top-notch.
However, I saw some wear and tear in the heel padding. The hard rubber of the outsole also shows wearing signs after 100 miles.
On the other hand, Cloud X3 is slightly heavier than Cloudflow 4, which is around 8.75 ounces.
This trainer is notably better in stability, versatility, and flexibility.
Whether you go for a temp run or light Cross Training, this shoe performs amazingly.
But, the disappointment comes in their durability. The toebox, heel pad, or rubber outsole is not satisfactory for long-lasting.
The newest model of Cloudflow is a winner for being lightweight and a long-lasting solution.
7. Price and Value
Cloudflow 4 comes slightly pricier than the Cloud X 3.
The latest Cloudflow can cost you around $160, 10$ higher than the Cloud X 3.
Value-wise, the prices are justifiable to me. They both offer versatility and are great for running and workouts.
Though there are other cheaper alternatives, if you can grab the shoes on sale, it will be bang for the buck.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Cloudflow 4 and Cloud X 3
Though both shoes are from the same boat, they have strengths and potential drawbacks to help you decide which suits you.
Below are the pros and cons of Cloudflow 4 and Cloud X 3:
On Cloudflow 4
- »Impressive energy return.
- »Less stone-catching issues in the outsole.
- »Breathable and comfortable upper.
- »Secure and stable ride.
- »High-quality materials for long-lasting use.
- »Stylish and versatile.
- »Slightly pricier than Cloud X 3.
- »Lacks reflective elements.
- »The firm foam can be uncomfortable for some.
- »First-time On-Running shoe users can require an adjustment period.
On Cloud X 3
- »Cheaper than Cloudflow 4.
- »Versatile and stable platform.
- »Snug fit with the improved lacing system.
- »Fantastic breathability.
- »Good nighttime visibility.
- »Usage of sustainable materials.
- »Slight discrepancies in shoe color issues.
- »Toe and heel durability can be concerning.
- »Heavier than v1.
- »Not ideal for long runs.
Cloudflow 4 vs Cloud X 3: Which ON Running Shoe is Right for You?
When choosing between the ON Running Cloudflow 4 and Cloud X 3, you have to consider the specific features and benefits that suit you. Also, if any features don’t meet your requirements, avoid them.
The low-cushioned Cloudflow 4 prioritizes lightweight performance and responsive ride.
It’s an excellent pick if you focus on fast-paced run and agility. The high-quality materials ensure a smooth and efficient ride. The breathability and minimalistic construction work great for long runs or intense workouts.
In contrast, if you prefer versatility and support for dynamic movements, the Cloud X 3 is your best bet.
The updated lacing system and rockered geometry enhance propulsion and help maintain a stable, secure ride. However, long-term durability is a concerning factor for this shoe.
I use Cloudflow 4 more frequently than Cloud X 3 for the lightweight and fast-paced run. Though it’s slightly costly and lacks reflective stripes, it fulfills all my requirements.
Are Cloudflow running shoes good for flat feet?
Yes. The On Cloudflow’s innovative in-sock and insole combination offers exceptional support for all foot types. The design ensures a comfortable and supported run for flat-footed, high arches, or anything in between.
Is the latest On Cloudflow or Cloud X shoe good for plantar fasciitis?
The On Cloudflow and Cloud X are unsuitable for plantar fasciitis. Both shoes can cause inflammation and are not ideal to help repair the tissue of plantar fasciitis. Instead, you should look for zero-drop shoes. Altra brand is famous for zero-drop shoes.
Can you use Cloud X 3 or Cloudflow 4 for cross-training activities?
You can use Cloudflow 4 for light cross-training activities despite being a running shoe. However, Cloud X 3 offers better support and stability than Cloudflow for a wider range of movements.
Why are ON Cloud running shoes so popular?
On Cloud shoes offer comfort, performance, distinct and stylish look. Besides focusing on durability, marketing, and sustainability is just another selling point. All this combination makes ON Running popular from athletes to influencers. Users refer to the running experience as running on clouds.