Hoka vs. On Cloud Review: Which Running Shoe Offers the Cushiest, Springiest and Most Comfortable Step?

Psst: One feels like you're running on clouds

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Hoka vs On Cloud Running Shoes Review: Hoka Bondi 8 and On Cloudmonster sneakers on pink backround
Dasha Burobina for PureWow

As a commerce editor, I tend to pay close attention to what the people around me are wearing, whether it’s at brunch, the gym or the airport. Now, while I wouldn’t consider myself a “sneakerhead,” I can certainly spot a specific brand of sneaks from a mile—or treadmill—away. Lately, these two brands have been popping up everywhere I go: Hoka and On Cloud. From TSA lines to running trails, I always spot someone rocking a colorful pair emblazoned with one distinct logo or the other. It’s not hard to imagine why. Both brands are hailed by runners, fitness enthusiasts and my fellow PureWow editors for offering prime performance and comfort while you get your sweat on.

When I resolved to take my Hot Girl Walks up a notch and get back into running this year, I considered it the perfect opportunity to put both brands to the test. After consulting my peers, online reviews and two podiatrists (whew!), I decided to try out and compare the Hoka Bondi 8 (from $165; $132) and On Cloudmonster (from $170; $130) running shoes, which are both touted to be the cushiest of their respective brand’s offerings, to see what all the hype was about. So, which popular sneaker offers the comfiest, springiest and most supportive step for running, walking and other forms of high-impact cardio? Read on for my full review.

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Meet the Experts

  • Dr. Najwa Javed, DPM, MPH, AACFAS, is a board-certified podiatrist with Silicon Valley Podiatry Group and the founder of the shoe brand E’MAR Italy. Through surgical innovation, biologic therapies and modern science, she aims to mitigate foot and ankle injuries and help her patients achieve an optimal state of foot health. Dr. Javed holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry/Ethno-Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma, a Master’s of Public Health in Biostatistics/Clinical Research from the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from Samuel Merritt University.
  • Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CPT, is a board-certified podiatrist and human movement specialist with the Arizona-based Center for Functional and Regenerative Podiatry. She is also the founder and CEO of sensory technology company Naboso. Dr. Splichal focuses on functional and regenerative medicine and the role of anti-aging science as it relates to movement longevity. She holds a Master's degree in Human Movement from AT Still University and a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine.

How to Choose the Best Running Shoes

To choose the right running shoes for your personal needs and activity level, it’s important to understand exactly which features to look for. I tapped board-certified podiatrists, Dr. Emily Splichal and Dr. Najwa Javed for their insights. “Running is a pronatory sport,” Dr. Javed explains, referring to “pronation,” or the foot’s natural movement when striking the ground. According to the Cleveland Clinic, overpronation—when your feet roll in too much—can both cause and be caused by weakened arches, which may develop due to age, injury or a high-impact sport like running. "If you already have collapsing arches or flat feet, always buy an anti-pronation shoe,” she continues, adding that the key features to look for in an anti-pronation shoe are a reinforced heel counter, a denser midsole and a forefoot rocker, which can all “help control any excessive foot pronation.”

When it comes to protecting your feet and lowering your risk for strain and injury, Dr. Javed says that “a shoe with ample shock absorption, a stable midsole and a thick heel counter is best. This allows for reduced stress on your knee joints as well as on the lower back.” But while both doctors agree that extra cushioning (like what’s featured in both the Hoka Bondi 8s and On Cloudmonsters) can be beneficial for some folks, Dr. Splichal notes, “As a functional podiatrist, I favor connecting and feeling the ground [with your feet], which means less cushion in a shoe. However, if [more] cushion is desired due to personal preference or injury history, I try to offset that with a sensory insole, such as those by Naboso ($55). This can help support foot awareness as well.”

Above all, though, “the one key shoe feature is stability,” says Dr. Javed. “The more stable the sole of the shoe is, the better overall protection there is for your joints.”

Hoka vs. On Cloud Sneaker Review: Pink/Beige Hoka Sneakers Next To Pink/Beige On Cloudmonster Sneakers
Hoka/On Cloud

How I Tested the Hoka Bondi 8 and On Cloudmonster Running Shoes

Although both shoes are primarily designed for running, I tested them through a range of activities (after all, who doesn’t want to get their money’s worth?). To get a solid idea of how both sneakers felt during different high-impact workouts, I took each pair out for three 3-mile road runs and two cardio boxing classes. I also wore them while engaging in light weight training, various aerobic exercises and on leisurely everyday walks.

My runs occurred outdoors on solid pavement, but on a route that featured multiple hills. My boxing classes (a mix of cardio and strength training) require a lot of foot and ankle stability, so I considered that another great way to test out the shoes (and gauge their versatility). Finally, I put the sneakers’ respective levels of shock-absorption and cushiness to the test through circuits of jump squats, jumping jacks and jumping rope.

My Hoka Bondi 8 Review


  • Appearance: 19/20
  • Comfort: 20/20
  • Stability: 20/20
  • Support: 18/20
  • Value: 19/20

Total: 96/100

Even before I started seeing them everywhere, I’ve had Hokas on my radar since my boyfriend suffered a serious Lisfranc injury to his foot and found them to be the only sneakers he could comfortably walk in during and after his recovery. (He has multiple pairs but swears by the Challengers, $145.) While I have relatively healthy feet, I did spend my entire 20s in stilettos, so these days I’m looking for a lot of cushy comfort. And that’s just what I found in the Hoka Bondi 8s.

When I first took my pair of Bondi 8s out of the box, I loved the bright, chunky look of them, but I did worry that they looked a little big. Not just height-wise, due to the thicker foam midsole, which I was expecting, but lengthwise. As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. They’re newly designed with an extended heel and flared sole, which means the base reaches past the upper part of the shoe (i.e., where the foot goes) to provide better balance and lots of stability. I easily slipped my feet in, and they fit perfectly, with just the right amount of room to let my toes wiggle. I will add here that I have pretty narrow feet. When I asked my colleague, PureWow’s executive managing editor and experienced runner, Catrina Yohay, for her thoughts on Hoka shoes, she warned, “I have wide feet and the way the foot bed is cut, I feel like the mid/inner sole of my foot isn't supported/is spilling out over the edge.” The good news is that the Bondi 8s are also available in wide-width sizing, which may take care of that issue.

Upon first wear, I was immediately impressed with the ultra-plush memory foam collar and heel counter, which I have found to really cradle my ankles during my runs and boxing sessions. Whenever I get new sneakers, my ankles always need time to adjust to the collar and counter (and will often blister before the shoes are broken in), but not so with the Bondis. There has been no uncomfortable chafing and zero break-in time. Even the tongue of the shoe is padded and pillowy. Of course, none of the comfort and cushiness quite compares to that of the shoe’s foam sole. It’s thick, yes, but so cloudlike and lightweight that it allows for effortless leaping and jumping, all while absorbing the impact when I land (jump squats have never felt better). The thick cushioning does not make my feet feel like they’re sinking in, however. Although they aren’t particularly springy, I find the Bondis to be supportive and buoyant enough to help lift my feet off the ground during my runs and other workouts. Meanwhile, the extended sole supplies fantastic stability, whether I’m panting up a hill, throwing punches into a boxing bag or doing deadlifts. 

My only complaint about the Hoka Bondi 8s is that the insole support feels to be a bit lacking in the arch area. I do have higher arches, though, so this may not be a problem for everyone. Nevertheless, I can confidently say that these are some of the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned.

My On Cloudmonster Review

On Cloud

  • Appearance: 20/20
  • Comfort: 19/20
  • Stability: 18/20
  • Support: 20/20
  • Value: 18/20

Total: 95/100

I’ll admit, I’m a total sucker for aesthetics. The first time I came across On running sneakers was by way of a French fitness influencer on Instagram, so, needless to say, my first impression of them was: Ooh, très chic. Considering that the brand just launched a collaboration with high-end fashion label Loewe, I believe that assessment stands true.

As for these On Cloudmonsters, I’m happy to report that they look even better IRL. Despite their name, and the futuristic look of their “monster cushioning,” the running shoes are much slimmer and sleeker in person than they appear on the website. I don’t mind a chunky sneaker, but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened them up and discovered just how streamlined they actually are. That said, they do feel a little snug, with a slimmer toe box and a more rigid heel counter, but not in a way that discomforts me. In fact, I think the close fit adds to their feeling of structure and support, of which they offer a lot.

The first time I put on the Cloudmonsters, I was struck by how supportive they felt on my arches and the balls of my feet (aka the midfoot) specifically. As Dr. Splichal notes, striking the ground at the midfoot is ideal while running, as it “loads the impact forces in relation to the body's center of mass and has been shown to minimize stress to the joints and connective tissue.” So, having that concentrated support right where I land has been a game changer.

On the whole, the brand’s proprietary CloudTec cushioning is exceptionally bouncy and responsive underfoot, but to achieve that, it is more firm than it is plush. I personally enjoy the springiness of the cushion in action; together with the pronounced rocker design (meaning, the forefoot of the sneaker curves slightly upward), the shoes make it so that I’m effortlessly propelled forward as I run, while each step provides a burst of energy. However—and this is something Yohay has also experienced—they do start to feel heavier the longer I wear them. This could be due to their denser, firmer cushioning, or, in my case, the fact that I start off running faster in these guys due to their optimized design. The fix here may simply be learning to pace myself better, and to resist the allure of a super springy sprint too early in my workout.

While their bouncy cushioning also comes in handy when I’m jumping rope or doing jumping jacks, I find that the overall design of the shoes makes them a bit less functional for other activities. They are shaped to roll forward, and though that’s helpful while running or walking, there is less stability during more static workouts.

How the Hoka Bondi 8s and On Cloudmonsters Compare

Both the Hoka Bondi 8 and On Cloudmonster sneakers check all the boxes when it comes to podiatrist-approved features. First and foremost, they each boast generous cushioning and thick foam soles to absorb impact and keep feet padded as they make contact with the ground. While the shape is slightly more pronounced on the Cloudmonsters, both shoes also have the podiatrist-cited forefoot rocker design to promote smooth, easy strides. And, in my opinion, both models look as good as they feel—in their own ways.

Now, their notable differences: Whereas the Cloudmonsters are firm and springy, the Bondi 8s are actually the more “cloudlike” of the two, offering plush, pillowy comfort from collar to toe. And though they’re technically a speck heavier than the Cloudmonsters (the sneaks weigh in at 8.90 ounces and 8.11 ounces, respectively), the Bondi 8s maintain a more lightweight feel throughout the duration of my workouts. The wider base of the Bondi 8s also makes them more stable and grounded than the Cloudmonsters (and, therefore, more functionally versatile); but what the latter shoe lacks in stability, it makes up for in solid support and responsiveness.

So, Which Is the Better Running Shoe?

Well, it really comes down to what you’re looking for. If you primarily want cushiness, turn to the Hoka Bondi 8s. They’re the gentle parenting of sneakers, making everything nice and comfortable for folks who may be easing into more high-impact workouts due to injury or age, or are simply looking for a dependable shoe to wear for leisurely runs, walks or trips to the gym. The On Cloudmonsters, on the other hand, are made for fierce running action, driving speed and energizing momentum. In that case, I think they are ideal for a slightly more experienced runner, or someone who is really training to cut down on their pace. Personally, I discovered that I run faster in the Cloudmonsters, but I run longer in the Bondi 8s. In either case, I finally get the hype—and will certainly be making the most of ‘em both during my running journey.

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