On Cloudboom Echo 3, review in a sentence: On's latest running shoes come with a recyclable midsole and a comfortable upper, making them one of the best super shoes out there.
Super shoes are everywhere these days. Considered by many as the best running shoes, these blisteringly fast running footwear provide tons of energy return while protecting your legs from the impact force of pounding the tarmac mile after mile after mile. Every running shoe brand has its version of the super shoes; many have multiple iterations at this point.
On's first super shoe, the original Cloudboom, released in July 2020, was okay at best. I remember trying them and thinking; these shoes aren't a match for the Nike Vaporfly Next%. The upper was too tight, and the foam was as rigid as most other On shoes those days – the shoes weren't fit for the purpose. Then, in 2021, On released the Cloudboom Echo, and it was everything I hoped the original Cloudboom would be, and then some.
Since then, On released a bunch of exciting shoes, such as the fan-favourite On Cloudmonster, which features a double serving of On signature groovy foam. The success of these softer, taller shoes helped On realising that's the right way forward. And surprise-surprise, the On Cloudboom Echo 3 is an excellent running shoe because it's soft, because it's accommodating, and because it's just pure awesomeness.
(Furst reviewed July 2023)
On Cloudboom Echo 3 review: price and availability
The On Cloudboom Echo was launched in June 2023 and is available to buy now at On UK, On US and On AU for a recommended retail price of £260/ $290/ AU$ 390. I could go on about saying how not cheap this is, but I won't because I hope, at this point, no one expects top-tier racing shoes to be much more affordable than the Cloudboom Echo 3. The original retail price of the Nike Alphafly 2 was $275/ £270/ AU$ 370, and the Saucony Endorphin Elite is $275/ £280/ AU$ 380.
On Cloudboom Echo 3 review: specifications
- Weight: 215g (US M 8.5)
- Drop: 9mm (website says 9.5mm)
- Stack height: 37mm/28mm
- Midsole foam: CloudTec Helion HF (Hyper Foam)
- Plate: carbon Carbon Speedboard
- Upper: Single cohesive woven structure mesh
- Outsole: not specified rubber compound applied in key areas
On Cloudboom Echo 3 review: design and technology
The On Cloudboom Echo 3 follows its predecessor's footsteps while taking cues from other super shoes. The most significant update is the Helion HF hyperfoam midsole foam. Derived from castor beans, it's made out of 46% bio-based materials and is fully recyclable. If that sounds familiar, you're not wrong: the fully recyclable On Cloudneo also uses foam made castor beans.
Sitting in the middle of the foam is the spoon-shaped full-length Carbon Speedboard. Technically, the plate sits closer to the outsole at the front, and sort of in the middle under the heel, and sections of this Carbon Speedboard are visible from the side. Interestingly, On didn't remove any foam from underneath the plate, which is what most running shoe companies do to reduce weight.
The outsole has very little rubber placed only in a few areas. There is plenty of it under the forefoot but only little blocks under the heel and hardly any under the midsection of the foot. This is a bold choice because if your running form deviates from optimal to any degree, you'll wear away that midsole pretty quickly.
That said, most super shoes use a similar approach by applying rubber only where it's absolutely necessary. Rubber is heavy, and since everyone is obsessed with weight, manufacturers will reduce outsole coverage to keep the heft down. After all, super shoes are for racing only, so, at least in theory, the rubber should last for as long as the midsole.
Finally, the upper is composed of a single cohesive woven structure, which to me, looks like a synthetic mesh upper. There is very little information available about it; On only says it offers "deliberate zones for high breathability."
On Cloudboom Echo 3 review: running performance
I'm not the fastest runner, so I'm always a bit cautious when I have to write about super shoes. One advantage I have over fast runners is that I have tried most of the fastest running footwear in recent years, so although I won't run 2-hour marathons in the shoes, I can at least compare them more accurately.
First thing you'll notice when putting on the On Cloudboom Echo 3 is how thin and lightweight the upper is. Padding around the ankles is only applied to where it's essential; otherwise, the rest of the upper is paper thin. Nevertheless, step-in comfort is superb, and the toebox feels spacious without being too baggy. Midfoot lockdown also seems on point, and my heels weren't slipping, either.
(To be safe, I used the runner's knot lacing technique.)
The new CloudTec Helion HF foam feels bouncy and responsive. Moving forward feels effortless, and it's further aided by the rocker shape of the shoes. As a matter of fact, the rocker is so effective that it reduces the springboard effect of the carbon plate; at least, that was my experience when I ran in the shoes.
The On Cloudboom Echo 3 isn't slow, though. I felt peppy and energetic running while doing my initial 10k test run. I appreciated the airiness of the upper, keeping my feet cool as time passed. I focused hard on detecting any areas of discomfort anywhere, yet, I found none.
The grip felt firm on dry tarmac – I'm yet to run in the shoes on wet surfaces – which reminded me of the ASICS Metaspeed Edge Plus, one of my favourite shoes from last year. I don't think the running dynamics of the Cloudboom Echo 3 is quite as fine-tuned as the Alphafly 2 or the Adidas Adios Pro 3, but it's certainly good enough to be considered one of the best on the market today.
On Cloudboom Echo 3 review: verdict
The On Cloudboom Echo 3 is an excellent running shoe. The new Helion HF foam not only contains 46% bio-based materials and is fully recyclable but also peppy and responsive. Not sure how On managed to marry sustainability to performance so eloquently, but I'd like to see more of it, please.
The upper feels accommodating, with a spacious toebox, optimal midfoot lockdown and a secure heel counter. Airflow in the shoes is superb, with the thin upper allowing the feet to cool down adequately. My only grief, really, is that the shoes don't look quite as On-y as its predecessor, which had those nice sharp lines and geometric design, but that might just be the On superfan talking.
Overall, the On Cloudboom Echo 3 deserves to be considered one of the fastest, most beautiful super shoes these days. It's not the best running shoe, but it's not far from it. I'm sure the price will come down eventually, so if that's your main concern, wait a few months. Otherwise, order the shoes as fast as you can.