On Cloudboom Echo 3 Review

Have On created a shoe to knock the big boys off their perch?

The Cloudboom Echo 3 – a potted history

The story of the On Cloudboom Echo 3 is the story of competition and innovation. How do you address your competitor’s advantage in a highly competitive market? How do you level up? Actually should you simply try to level up or do you need to innovate and try to overtake your competitors? These are questions that On faced or is still facing.


The Swiss shoe manufacturer was created in 2010 and its impressive growth was largely supported by good decisions in the sport style segment. But running, which was On’s primary focus, couldn’t quite live up to the expectations. Their shoes featured the Cloud technology, an innovative way of constructing midsoles, but they were also outdated from some other perspectives. EVA based foams were their primary midsole compound and the brand’s detractors criticised the lack of softness, cushion and responsiveness in their shoes. Not only did On have to face criticism regarding their traditional line of shoes (meaning daily trainers), they were also facing some serious delay in the performance area.


Their performance shoe was the On Cloudboom Echo, a shoe featuring Helios midsole and Cloudtec – although it was very far from the competitors modern foams and geometries. But in early 2022, another model was seen on the feet of many On sponsored athletes. The clouds looked much smaller, the stack height seemed higher and, most importantly, the rumour was that the foam was finally something else than an EVA-based compound. This shoe was the early version of the On Cloudboom Echo 3, which we are reviewing today.

Specs: the Adidas Boston 12 is lighter and lower 

At 286g in my size US11 / EU45, the Adidas Adizero Boston 12 is much lighter than the Boston 10. Note that I did not test the Boston 11 (and that was on purpose as I didn’t see much changes compared to the 10). My Boston 10 came in at 333g which added to the clunkiness of the shoe. 


The Boston 12 also gets closer to the ground with a 2mm reduction of stack in the heel. It moves from the 39mm heel in the Boston 10 and 11 to 37mm and changing the 8mm drop for a 6.5mm one instead. This remains quite far from the Boston “standards” but it definitely helps on the weight side of things. 

A narrow platform and an upper which could be improved

I got my pair early this year after the Boston marathon weekend, where On organised a test event for the Cloudsurfer and the Cloudboom Echo 3.

First impressions

The first thing that I noticed was the unstructured upper and the weird fit of the shoe. Let’s start with the upper. The material is a thin engineered mesh, that hasn’t been much reinforced by underlays. This gives the upper a very unstructured feel. Mine creates some wrinkles but they don’t cause many issues. The tongue is lightly padded and given the relatively low volume in the midfoot, it stays quite well in position. The heel cup is lightly padded too. I would like to see a touch more padding in the tongue maybe. With the thin laces On chose, the tongue could benefit from some more padding in my opinion.

Funky fit

The real concern with this upper is the fit. The shoe runs really long and I could imagine it working best at least half a size down for me. That being said, if you have wider feet, the platform is narrow – especially in the midfoot – and playing with sizes may become an issue width wise. I don’t really mind the narrow platform, I think that it contributes to the snug midfoot lockdown and that race ready sensations. Looking at weight, the On Cloudboom Echo 3 weighs 249g in my size US 11 / EU 45. For a men’s sample size US 9, the announced weight is 215g on On’s website. This makes sense with the 9g per half-size I use for scaling.

On Cloudboom Echo 3 Upper
On Cloudboom Echo 3 Midsole

The CLoudboom Echo 3 is different: PEBAX finally makes it to an On shoe!

As I wrote in the introduction, the first observations that were made of this shoe noted a much higher compression of the midsole. Every shoe geek out there thought that On had finally introduced a new generation foam to their performance line up. And it’s actually the case!


The On Cloudboom Echo 3 comes with a new Helion HF midsole, which is made out of a Pebax compound. Pebax, also generically known as Peba or TPE-A, is the most advanced foam in performance shoes. It was first introduced by Nike in the very first Vaporfly around 2016. This new type of foam, combined with carbon plates, is what revolutionised the running industry these past years. On introducing it to their racing shoe is of course a big deal as it means that they’re at least catching up.


When testing the shoe, my main question was not whether the Cloudboom Echo 3 is a competitive shoe. My main focus was whether it was any better than the established racers.

Tier 1 or Tier 2? Where does the Cloudboom Echo 3 belong?

Let’s start with some specs before addressing the ride itself. The On Cloudboom Echo 3 comes with a 37mm stack height in the heel and a 9mm drop. 9mm is a touch more than most carbon racers offer nowadays. Does it make a huge difference? Probably not but I’d argue that it helps to drive the footstrike and gait cycle to something quite efficient, and more oriented towards longer distance like the half marathon or marathon.


When it comes to the stack height, I actually discovered it only after filming the Youtube review. In the latter, I indicated that the shoe was probably maxing out the 40mm World Athletics limit. When running the 37mm feels like more underfoot. Further good news is that On still has some room to manoeuvre on that side of things.


The ride itself is efficient, to the point, quite agile. The heel is much softer than the forefoot and the compression of the foam comes with a very solid and snappy decompression too. The shape of the plate is designed for heel and midfoot strikers to sink into the heel and then feel the rocker push them forward after going through their midfoot stance. The forefoot is firmer, much more aggressive and while the plate suggests a long and gentle rocker, the toe spring is actually quite steep, which helps to propel you forward even faster. Again, the ride feels very efficient and while less soft than other top shoes, I think it puts the On Cloudboom Echo 3 in the first tier of supershoes.

Cloudboom Echo 3 Ride road shoes of the year 2023
Cloudboom Echo 3 Degredation

Durability is a real concern with the Cloudboom Echo 3  

Durability being a concern almost sounds contradictory from a company like On that puts a clear emphasis on becoming more sustainable than any other shoe manufacturer. Yet the On Cloudboom Echo 3 is concerning from that perspective.


I ran 150km in my pair to date and the midsole and outsole wear has the appearance of four times that distance. The Pebax wear reminds me of what was happening in the early days of Pebax, like on the OG Vaporfly. The outer skin deteriorates and the midsole itself starts crumbling.


As I wrote above, I got my pair from a test event and therefore I received no box. It seems that the box of the Cloudboom Echo 3 mentions that the shoe will last for 4 marathons. To a certain extent I like seeing the company acknowledging the low durability of the product. On the other hand, no shoe should last only for 4 races. Even if it remains a good training companion afterwards. Looking at the price point of $289/€299, this durability is simply not acceptable.


I love the efficiency and performance level delivered by this pair, but I simply struggle to recommend it when cheaper shoes also fall in that tier 1 category, but at a lower price and with a longer lifespan. With that, thanks for reading!

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Alex Filitti Meta Circle


28 years old

183cm (6′) – 68kg (148lbs)

Mid/Forefoot striker – Stride runner

Moderate pronator


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