On Cloudboom Echo 3 review: On's race-day shoe keeps pace with Nike and ASICS

On's carbon racing shoe keeps pace with the competition

On Cloudboom Echo 3
(Image: © Michael Sawh)

TechRadar Verdict

The On Cloudboom Echo 3 is a great shoe for racing and running your fastest on the road, but it comes at a price that’s hard to stomach when you can get shoes that deliver similar performance for less.

Pros

  • +

    Light design is ideal for racing

  • +

    Smooth and propulsive ride

  • +

    Good outsole grip for roads and pavements

  • +

    Looks great

Cons

  • -

    It’s very expensive

  • -

    Built for racing and not massively versatile

  • -

    Already seeing outsole wear

  • -

    It’s a narrow fit

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On Cloudboom Echo 3: One minute review

The On Cloudboom Echo 3 is the Swiss running brand’s third attempt at making a running shoe to rival the ones that are typically seen on the feet of the fastest runners. The best running shoes for racing are typically the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 , Adidas Adizero Adio Pro 3, or the Asics Metaspeed Sky+, and On wants the Cloudboom Echo 3 on that list.

Whether you're looking to run a faster marathon on a specific course or you're hoping for a shoe for whenever speed is a priority, making some quite significant changes from its first two Cloudboom shoes.

The first generation Cloudboom was a miss from On, while the Cloudboom Echo felt like a step in the right direction for its pricey racing option. Now with a new midsole setup and a lighter design in play, the Cloudboom Echo 3 is the super shoe we’ve been waiting for from On.

On Cloudboom Echo 3: Specifications

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ComponentOn Cloudboom Echo 3
Weight221g (men's UK Size 8)
Upper Microfiber
MidsoleHelion Hyper Foam
OutsoleCloudtec
Heel-to-toe drop9mm

On Cloudboom Echo 3: Price and availability

On Cloudboom Echo 3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • $289.99 in the US
  • £260 in the UK
  • AU$390 in Australia

The On Cloudboom Echo 3 launched on 29th June 2023, priced at $289.99 / £260 / AU$390. 

That’s a step up in price from the Cloudboom Echo and does make it more expensive than picking up shoes that the Echo 3 is going up against. 

The Nike Vaporfly 3 costs $250 / £234.95 /  AU$330.00 for example, while the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 is also cheaper at £220 / $250 / AU$359.99. 

  • Value score: 3.5/5

On Cloudboom Echo 3: Design

On Cloudboom Echo 3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Microfiber upper
  • Helion Hyper Foam
  • Carbon Speedboard

We’ll start by saying that when it comes to making beautiful-looking running shoes, few do that better than On. The Cloudboom Echo 3 in its white and mint colourway and low-profile look feels every bit a racing shoe.

It’s very light, with our UK size 8 weighing in at 221g, though one side weighed in closer to the claimed 215g weight. Either way, it’s shaved off some grams from the already pretty lightweight Cloudboom Echo, though it’s still not quite as light as Nike’s Vaporfly 3, which weighs in less than 200g.

On sticks to the same 9mm drop as the Echo, though stack heights have changed at the heel and the forefoot, jumping to 37mm at the heel (previously 35mm) and 28mm at the forefoot (up from 27mm). 

It had a good upper on the Echo, but On’s decided to switch things up swapping recycled polyester mesh for microfiber, which is still almost papery thin in feel and does make this narrow shoe feel a bit more spacious up front in the toes, which is ideal when you need that extra room as you up the distance in them.

Below that is a midsole, which marks a new direction for On’s shoes. Its Cloudtec cushioning tech is still there, but it’s definitely been scaled back and less prominent than it was on the first two Cloudboom shoes. There’s now On’s Helion Hyper Foam, which is a Pebax-based foam and sees On join Nike, Saucony, New Balance and Hoka in embracing a Pebax-based super foam. It’s a light foam and one designed to deliver more energy back into your running time, particularly to benefit those longer distance runs in it.

That new foam is joined by a full length carbon plate or Speedboard as On calls it, along with a rockered design, which collectively aims to deliver a propulsive feeling that aims to get you through those running transitions in a quicker fashion.

The outsole doesn’t look hugely different from the one used on the Cloudboom Echo, with the larger of the grippier sections at the forefoot now reaching a bit further back to the middle of the shoe with key areas at the heel covered to make sure you get that traction from the key areas without adding extra weight.

  • Design score: 5/5 

On Cloudboom Echo 3: Performance

On Cloudboom Echo 3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Pretty stable racing shoe
  • Smooth and propulsive ride
  • Still a touch firmer than other racing shoes

We’ll start with the fit and the Echo 3 is a bit on the narrow side, which was fine for our skinny feet, but might be more of a squeeze for wider feet with no wide fit option available. Unlike some carbon racing shoes we’ve tested it does feel like you need to work a bit harder to get a secure lockdown here, with very long laces and a skinny tongue for those laces to sit on top requiring some toying around to make sure it’s not slipping around at the heel.

Once you do get things locked in place, the feel of running in the Echo 3 is more in line with those top-tier racing shoes. This isn’t one you can amble around in and you won’t find it comfortable to do slow, easy runs in, but that’s simply not what they’re built for. Everything here is designed to give you that faster feel and it does that well. As we said, On’s Cloudtec takes a bit of a backseat and that’s not a bad thing at all. The new midsole is not as super soft and bouncy as rival shoes, but it’s certainly not as firm feeling as previous Cloudbooms and the combination of the new foam, rockered design, and that carbon Speedboard creates a smooth, energetic, and punchy ride. 

In our first run, a quicker 5k, on a pretty flat route, it felt like an enjoyable shoe to run in at around our typical 5k race speed. It handled an interval track session well and didn’t cause any issues during or post-run. In a 10k race test on a hilly LeeValley VeloPark course, the Echo 3 running at quicker than marathon pace with the combination of the hills made it tough going, but when we could and needed to coast at a more settled pace, it felt good to do so.

When we upped the distance and settled closer to our marathon pace, that good feeling remained and it feels like a shoe you can really roll in. That being said, it does still feel like a race shoe that’s primed for those running sub-3 hour times (we run at a 3-hour, 20-minute pace) who will benefit most from what On has to offer here. That’s no real surprise here, though we’d definitely say there are shoes that the Cloudboom Echo 3 is competing against that feels more accessible and more comfortable outside running those sort of elite times. 

From an outsole point of view, it was good on the Cloudboom Echo and it’s more of the same on the Echo 3. We didn’t get to use them in rainy conditions, but on flat roads, pavements and hillier climbs it gripped well and handled cornering with no issues either. We’ve put 50 km of running into it and we are starting to see some wear at the heel of the shoe, which tells us that the durability is likely to fall in line with other carbon racers and it’s one you will want to reserve for your fastest runs and races.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

On Cloudboom Echo 3: Should I buy?

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Scorecard
CategoryCommentScore
ValueA step up in price and more expensive than comparable shoes.4/5
DesignBeautiful, well-engineered, nicely-constructed shoes.5/5
PerformanceA perfect shoe for sub-3 hours. Reserve them for your fastest races.4.5/5
TotalA great race-day shoe. Its added expense is the only thing keeping it from five-star territory.4.5/5

Buy it if...

You want an On running shoe for racing

It’s taken a while, but if you love On running shoes and you’ve been waiting for a shoe from the Swiss brand that’s fit for racing, then that’s what you get from the Echo 3.

You like a slightly firmer feeling racing shoe

The Echo 3 does still feel a touch firmer than other racing shoes, but if that’s your bag, then you’ll have a lot of time for the Echo 3.

You love a great-looking shoe

In typical On fashion, the Cloudboom Echo 3 looks great and if you like the idea of having something stylish on your feet, the Echo 3 is dripping in style.

On Cloudboom Echo 3: Don’t buy it if…

You want the best value marathon racing shoe

The Echo 3 is expensive. More expensive than shoes like the Nike Vaporfly 3 and Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3, which are great racing options available for less money.

You want a versatile running shoe

On has built this shoe for racing, so if you’re hoping for something you can use to soak up a lot of your training miles, this isn’t the one for you.

You have wide feet

While the new upper helps to make it feel like a more spacious shoe, the Echo 3 much like the Echo definitely feels like a much better fit for narrow feet.

Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ComponentOn Cloudboom Echo 3ASICS Metaspeed Sky+Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2
Weight221g (men's UK Size 8)208g (men's UK size 8)188g (men's UK size 8)
Upper MicrofiberMotion wrap meshMesh
MidsoleHelion Hyper Foam, carbon plateFF Blast Turbo, carbon plateZoomX foam, carbon plate
OutsoleCloudtec AsicsGrip rubberZoomX foam
Heel-to-toe drop9mm5mm8mm
Image

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2

A pair of outstanding race day shoes, Nike's premier offering is one of the best carbon-plated shoes you can get. 

Image

ASICS Metaspeed Sky+

ASICS' updated shoe is another high performer designed for super snappy runs. Speed is everything here. 

First reviewed: July 2023

(Credit: Thanks to RunThrough for the race entry used to test the On Cloudboom Echo 3) 

Michael Sawh

Michael is a freelance journalist who has covered consumer technology for over a decade and specializes in wearable and fitness tech. Previously editor of Wareable, he also co-ran the features and reviews sections of T3, and has a long list of bylines in the world of consumer tech sites.


With a focus on fitness trackers, headphones, running wearables, phones, and tablet, he has written for numerous publications including Wired UK, GQ, Men's Fitness, BBC Science Focus, Metro and Stuff, and has appeared on the BBC Travel Show. Michael is a keen swimmer, a runner with a number of marathons under his belt, and is also the co-founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers.