On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4 – Which is better for standing, walking and running?

Need How does Hoka's Profly midsole compare to On's Helion superfoam?

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4
(Image credit: ON / Hoka)

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4: which one should you buy? We compared these everyday trainers from On and Hoka to determine which is best for standing, walking and running. Both brands offer very distinctive technologies, and the shoes have their pros and cons, all detailed here in this comparison article. 

Hoka is famous for its max-cushioned running shoes; even the racing models of Hoka have thicker soles than other brands. Their lightweight foam and rocker design promote the natural roll forward of your foot. Hoka's Mach series has been a fan favourite for a long time for being one of the most versatile running shoes. We gave the fourth Mach iteration five stars in our Hoka Mach 4 review.

On is one of the fastest-growing sports brands. The Swiss company is well-known for its CloudTec midsole, which uses a firmer compound and a loopy design. On shoes generally provide a firmer ride than Hoka's, making the shoes snappier and more agile, but also potentially more taxing on the joints. The On Cloudswift is an excellent example of this approach: it's firm but comfortable, ideal for walking and strolling around. We awarded the shoes four stars in our On Cloudswift review

Neither brands fit the traditional running shoe mould, but they're still regulars in T3's best trail running shoe guide (popping up amongst the best running shoes and best women's running shoes). Both models have evolved to offer a cushioned landing and speedy take-off. Even though there probably isn't one shoe to rule them all, as individual comfort is so varied, the Mach 4 and Cloudswift are great all-rounders. Which is better, though?

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4 – Key differences

Both the On Cloudswift and the Hoka Mach 4 are neutral daily trainers. The Cloudswift is heavier (On 282g vs Hoka 232g) and has a higher heel-to-toe drop (On 6 mm vs Hoka 5 mm). The Mach 4 is more responsive, while the On offers a more balanced ride (halfway between responsive and cushioned). The On Cloudswift has a reinforced midsection and a roomier toe box, while the upper of the Hoka Mach 4 is plusher, featuring a narrower design.

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4 – Tech

The Hoka Mach 4 excels due to its Profly midsole, which, rather than a plate, features a dual-layer blend foam. The upper layer is softer and lighter, complemented with a more durable rubberised foam layer beneath. The shoes offer a very plush engineered upper with more padding than in the On Cloudswift. So you're getting a superior sensation of comfort as you run from the Hoka Mach 4.

The second-gen Cloudswift feature On's signature Helion superfoam plus their unique CloudTec technology. The cloud design aims to reduce muscle fatigue and compresses both horizontally and vertically, meaning they adapt to your running style. You should, literally, feel like you're running on clouds. You also get a polypropylene Speedboard and pronounced rocker shape.

WINNER: Hoka Mach 4. Both shoes' midsoles are on the firm side, but the Profly is more forgiving without losing out on rebound.

Hoka One One Mach 4

(Image credit: Hoka One One)

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4 – Running performance

Due to the one-piece upper, the On Cloudswift has an excellent lockdown. The combination of CloudTec cushioning and the Speedboard feels less structured as you run and more flexible through the midfoot than the Hoka Mach 4. However, the Hoka feels like it envelops your feet more and provides more stability. 

If we were choosing these for races, we would use the On Cloudswift for shorter, faster distances, including triathlon, and the Hoka Mach 4 for longer races – 10 miles upwards – where more support is required. The Hoka Mach 4 provides a smoother sensation.

As for walking and standing, the Hoka has a shallower drop and is lighter, which is better for both purposes. However, the firmer CoudTec midsole of the On provides more stability, not to mention the roomier upper. We enjoyed walking on the tarmac in the shoes during testing.

WINNER: Hoka Mach 4. It can be used for training and racing. For walking, it's a tie.

ON Cloudswift

(Image credit: Future)

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4 – Ergonomics

Both the On CloudTec elements and Speedboard work together to propel you forward. The Speedboard converts the energy put into the shoe when you land into an explosive take-off. It's a liquid-injected plate of thermoplastic polymer sitting between the CloudTec midsole and the upper. 

The more energy that can be transferred forward, the less you have to find to keep moving. The Cloudswift also features rubber reinforcements covering the Cloud elements on the outsole, providing extra traction, essential for speed training in wet conditions.

The Hoka Mach 4 feels less flexible in the midsole than the Cloudswift but provides more cradled support for your feet. The Profly midsole feels soft and springy, so you get a double whammy of cushioning and a firm toe-off. If you have tired legs, this model would be used. For long-term comfort on the top of your feet, the Mach 4 has a superior upper. 

WINNER: On Cloudswift. On's running trainers are a bit more malleable.

Hoka One One Mach 4

(Image credit: Hoka One One)

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4 – Aesthetics

Even though at first glance, you think the Hoka shoe is more chunky, they are both similar in stack height and design, with the Mach 4 standing out due to the extended rear design and a higher Achilles protector. Both feature reflectivity details and look smart, following the trend for white and light-coloured trainers. The On Cloudswift has more rubber on the upper, which will show more dirt, but it still probably has the design edge. Both shoes we tested had yellow flashes, which made them look fresh.

WINNER: Hoka Mach 4. Hoka's shoes look sexy both on and off the race track.

On Cloudswift vs Hoka Mach 4 – Verdict

These shoes both provide a very different feeling when you run in them. The On Cloudswift is true to its name and feels fast and secure, even in difficult conditions, due to the sticky rubber on the outsole. One negative about the On shoe is the channels in the outsole. These collect small stones that will stay wedged in until you get them out. 

The Hoka Mach 4 may suit you if you want an all-around shoe that offers a little more comfort, and it feels like they provide more cradled support for your feet, so your feet feel more stable when they are in contact with the ground. With just a small difference in price – the On Cloudswift is slightly more expensive – they are both impressive all-rounders, with the Cloudswift giving a slightly firmer feel than the Mach 4.

Tina Chantrey

Tina is fitness editor for Women’s Running magazine and published two books in 2020, The Little Book of Zen and Reflexology: Your Personal Guide. She is a UKA running coach, England Athletics Mental Health Champion and has her own running group, #runTLC. Follow her on Instagram @runtlc.uk

With contributions from