Last Updated: July 11th, 2022
On Running Vs Nike is a comparison that is going to be interesting. Nike is one of the most popular brands all over the world whereas those who use On Running, are mostly its loyal fans.
In the below sections we have provides you with as much detail about both the brands and have highlighted the differences between the two and our analysis wherever possible…
By the end of this post, we hope that you find the brand that is most suitable for you…
On Running Vs Nike: Differences
1. The maximum drop of an On Running shoe is 11mm whereas the maximum drop of a Nike shoe is 10mm.
2. Nike produces more types of sports shoes, however, On Running also has hiking gear which Nike doesn’t have.
3. Nike has 3 trail-running models and around 48 road-running models of shoes, whereas On Running has 4 trail-running models and 11 road-running models of shoes.
4. Between On Running and Nike, surprisingly Nike has the most maximally cushioned shoes.
5. Nike has a more traditional-looking midsole, whereas On Running has midsoles that resemble clouds from the side profile.
6. In general, On Running cushioning feels slightly softer than Nike midsoles.
7. Nike has more models of running shoes than On Running combining both road running and trail running shoes.
8. On Running looks more stylish than Nike and resembles lifestyle shoes. Nike looks more like a traditional sports shoe.
9. Nike is available in India whereas On Running is not.
On Running and Nike: Similarities
- The minimum drop of both On Running and Nike is 4mm.
- Both Nike and On Running are shifting towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials.
- Both manufacture sports apparel.
- Both have running shoes in the maximal cushioning category.
- Both manufacture running shoes for trails and roads.
- Both the brands have a non-restrictive fit.
- Both use engineered mesh in the upper of their running shoes.
- Both use a foam material that is a derivative of EVA foam.
On Running has become a very popular brand among runners with its unconventional style and approach to its running shoes. Nike on the other hand is a more traditional brand that needs no introduction.
While Nike has an experience of almost 58 years of experience under its belt, On Running is yet to enter its teenage years in terms of experience.
On Running was founded in 2010 whereas Nike has been around since 1964.
However, with almost one-fifth of the experience as Nike as a brand, On Running is a formidable competitor of Nike.
On Running is a Swiss company unlike Nike, which is based in the US. Also, On is spreading its wings outside Switzerland and is quite making a mark in it.
Nike on the other hand is probably one of the most well-known brands across the world and has its presence known in almost 41 countries.
Both of these brands produce running shoes for different purposes like short-distance running, long-distance running, overpronation, neutral, etc.
But how does their performance match up?
Let’s find out…
The midsole of a running shoe is the make-or-break point while trying to decide on a running shoe. This is one of the single most important parts of the running shoe and its choice mainly depends on the kind of running you do.
With midsole, most companies go above and beyond with their midsole technologies and On Running and Nike are also no different. Throughout the years they have used different innovations to provide you with comfort and improved performance.
One of the most important and visible technologies that On Running uses is CloudTec. It is made in the shape of a cloud with air pockets.
These cloud pockets come together in a series to form a CloudTec sole that is cushiony, comfortable, and provides you with excellent performance.
This is somewhat similar to Nike whose one of the primary cushioning materials from Nike is the Air Zoom material. You can think of them as pockets filled with air in between stretched materials.
When you apply pressure, the Clouds of On Running and the Air Zoom pockets of Nike contract, and when you take the pressure off they expand, producing an explosive force that will help you to propel forward.
In general, these units are present throughout the length of the sole or in the heel region for that added shock absorption in both of these shoes.
However, Nike Air Zoom is not visible from the outside whereas, you will be able to see the clouds of On Running from the outsole. This gives On Cloud shoes a distinct look.
Apart from CloudTec another thing that is prevalent in On Running shoes is the SpeedBoard. It also uses Carbon Fibre plates extensively for more faster and resilient performance.
This imparts a kind of stiffness to the midsole that makes them more responsive. However, that is offset by the different cloud placements for optimum running comfort.
For example, the On Cloudboom Echo has a stiffer midsole than its previous version, Cloudboom. However, that is offset by adding more cushioning to the forefoot above the SpeedBoard.
This makes it more comfortable for the runners and also helps them to perform better.
Apart from the Air Zoom technology, Nike also uses rocker technology in most of the shoes with ZoomX cushioning. This is found in the forefoot and it helps in the easier heel-to-toe transition.
ZoomX is one of the most, if not the lightest, softest, and most responsive midsole materials from Nike. Apart from being one of the cushiest materials from Nike, ZoomX also has a unidirectional carbon fiber plate.
The reason for the usage of this carbon fiber plate In Nike is similar to that of On Running. It increases the overall responsiveness of the shoe, thus improving the performance of the runner.
In place of the rocker technology, On Running uses the curvature of the SpeedBoard for powerful forward propulsion.
The more curved the SpeedBoard is, the more power you will have while moving forward.
You can experience it for yourself with the Cloudboom Echo. The curvature of the SpeedBoard is increased for the sole purpose of providing you with a more powerful forward motion.
Another type of cushioning that Nike uses is the React foam. This has become a super successful cushioning after its debut in 2017 in the basketball shoes and in the subsequent year for the running shoes.
This foam is a lightweight foam that has very high responsiveness. This was a breakthrough from Nike as cushioning and responsiveness most of the time don’t go hand in hand. With react foams you will get excellent energy return along with very high cushioning.
Also, this foam is very durable and will not lose shape easily.
Another type of cushioning that you will frequently see in the lower-priced shoes from Nike is the Cushlon foam. This is a soft foam that is good with cushioning and responsiveness. It feels soft under the foot and is good for everyday runs.
Cushlon foams are not for long-distance running. However, for shorter distances they are excellent, lightweight cushioning.
Although Nike has exclusive shoes that are made for overpronation, you will not be able to find such a model with On Cloud.
To verify this, I searched almost all the shoes that they make and did not come across a shoe that specifically says that they support overpronation. The maximum thing that they say is supportive. Please let me know if you have found otherwise. This will help me to improve this article with the source.
Nike uses the medial post to handle overpronation and with such shoes from Nike, you will be able to feel that difference.
I would vote that comfort-wise, On Cloud and Nike, are almost at par. However, I felt the Nike soles to be a bit stiffer and I would prefer something with a bit less stiffness. But then again, it’s a personal preference and you can only decide if you can try this on.
However, On Cloud beats Nike by 1mm for the high drop shoes as the highest drop available in On Running is 11mm whereas for that Nike is 10mm.
However, both of them have a similar low drop of around 4mm.
Previously, On Running was making midsoles made from only foam, however, now they are blending rubber with the foam for some models to improve their overall durability.
The outsole of On Running is made from durable rubber. Rather than spreading throughout the outsole, this durable rubber is present in the more wear and tear-prone areas like the forefoot and the heels.
Here is how a typical On Running outsole looks:
For the rest of the areas, it is an exposed rubberized midsole. The overall durability of this outsole is good and is excellent for longevity.
Also, due to the natural shape of the cloud, the outsole has deep horizontal grooves. Also, since there is one pair of clouds in each row, there is a deep vertical groove that runs through the middle of the shoe.
If you observe, there is a deep gap in the center of the midfoot as well…All these combined provide good flexibility to this running shoe. Without this flexibility, the sole unit would have been very hard and uncomfortable to run in.
The above picture shows the typical pattern of the outsole for the road running shoe. However, for trail running shoes also this pattern is present. Along with that, there is a slight addition to make it suitable for the trails.
For trail running shoes On Running has used something called Missiongrip. You will be able to find this kind of outsole in running shoes like On Cloudventure Waterproof.
This improves the traction even on the wet soft ground and provides you with a reliable grip for propulsion.
The forefoot of trail running shoes from On Running has something called studs aka lugs which provide you with excellent traction and stronger push-offs, even on soft terrains.
For the rest of the outsole, you will find a combination of these rubber blocks and On’s trademark 3-D-shaped texture. This improves the ground contact and provides you with high traction even on dry surfaces.
Apart from that, it also has a closed midsole channel that prevents stone catching. This also improves durability.
With Nike, the overall coverage of rubber in the outsole is more. It looks like almost the entire outsole is covered with durable rubber. However, there are few models that are below $100 that still have that exposed midsole with a rubberized coating.
Nike has used a computer-generated outsole design based on user input and provides you with a groove and flex pattern that is very precisely placed.
This makes the outsole durable and provides you with an excellent grip. Also, the amount of rubber and the patterns that are present on the outsole provides a bit of additional cushioning to your feet.
Nike has used different kinds of patterns on the outsole, however, one of the most prevalent patterns is the waffle pattern. This is present in the forefoot of running shoes like Pegasus.
This is nothing but a set of shallow lugs that are placed in such a way that they will add a layer of shock absorption and cushioning. When you land on these waffle lugs, they distribute the load and provide you with a firm grip on the ground.
This is how it looks…
Although the rubber is distributed throughout the outsole, it is not a continuous piece of rubber. This ensures that the running shoe has optimal flexibility and doesn’t add additional stiffness to the sole. This is because the inherent nature of durable rubber is stiffness.
Apart from the waffle structure, to improve the flexibility of the shoe, Nike uses flex grooves on the forefoot.
Mostly, there is a single horizontal groove and a vertical one for improving flexibility. Also, some models which belong to the sub $75 category, have multiple flex grooves. This is their primary feature which helps in improving the flexibility of those kinds of outsoles.
This is a similar method that both Nike and On Running use to improve the flexibility of their running shoes.
This helps in easy heel-to-toe transition and provides you with a comfortable running experience.
For shoes that don’t have flex grooves, Nike uses a meta rocker for easy heel-to-toe movement.
For trail runners, Nike uses lugs for unidirectional and multidirectional which is typical of most trail running shoes.
Nike shoes have tapering lugs that easily get embedded in the trails, providing you with a lot more stability while running on them.
Now the most important question…
How different is it to run in On Running and Nike?
I won’t say much if we are comparing the grip of these two brands. Both provide excellent grip and traction on both roads and trails.
As with most running shoes, both On Running and Nike uses engineered mesh as their primary upper material. This material is durable, breathable, and flexible. They move with your feet so that you can move more naturally.
On Running uses more than 70% recycled materials in its shoes and is creating a positive impact on the planet.
A similar thing can be observed in Nike as well and one such initiative is to replace their double-layered cardboard boxes with single-layer boxes and to make that box with 90% recycled materials.
There are overlays present on the upper of On Running shoes. However, they are minimal and are used to reinforce the lace holes.
The first set of lace holes is placed just after the joint of the toes with the foot. This helps to have a better lacing experience and support from the laces.
The laces are flat as with most of the shoes that you will see nowadays in most of the shoes.
The tongue of On Running shoes is well padded and sits on your foot properly. It keeps your ankle joint stable along with the padding of the collar area.
Also, the tongue may be gusseted/integrated or non-gusseted/free…Since the design of the tongues is anatomical, they will rarely move even if they are free.
You will not find extended pull tabs in this shoe brand. Also, you will in general not find a pull tab at all. You may think of it as a shortcoming, however, it is not. I in any case find the pull tab to be useless, but then again, this is personal to the runners themselves.
The heel counter of the On Running shoes is smooth and well padded. The helps to keep the heel stable and it does not move around. Also, you will not have to deal with heel slips which can create blisters.
The sockliner of the On Running shoes is removable and it provides you with good arch support. You will be very comfortable in these insoles as they will provide you with a lot of cushioning.
Nike uses engineered mesh as the primary type of material for its upper’s construction. This is for similar reasons like On Running and will provide you with good breathable mesh material.
However, with engineered mesh they use two primary kinds…one is the Fresh knit that you will find in shoes like Flex Experience Run and Flyknit that you will find in shoes like Pegasus.
The Flyknit material is a more premium upper material and is made from strong lightweight yarn. It is woven into a single piece material so that there is no unnecessary stitching involved in the upper.
With Flyknit another thing that comes into the picture is the Flywire cables. They are present in the lace area and provide additional midfoot stability. They also secure the midfoot.
You will find extended pull tabs in many models from Nike. This is supposed to make the wearing of the shoes easy. However, one thing that I forgot to mention above is that they provide additional support to the Achilles Tendons and also minimize the heel slip.
Also, the tongue that is present in most of the models has a padded tongue. This is a key thing for comfort as it will keep you comfortable while running.
The tongue of Nike models may be gusseted or non-gusseted depending on the models and will provide you with excellent comfort.
On Running and Nike, both produce running shoes that are very well made and race-ready. They provide you with durability, comfort, and ease of running.
Also, most of the shoes of these two brands are true-to-size with only a couple of exceptions. However, the numbers with which they represent the shoes are not exactly the same.
To match them up, you will have to use a more universal number like the cm or the inches. This way you will be able to map the sizes of both of these shoes.
We have compared the main things of On vs Nike running shoes. However, if you are trying to purchase, these are not the only thing that needs to be considered. You will have to compare other things, like the durability, price, fit, etc.
These things we are taking up in the next sections so that we have a more wholesome comparison of the two brands.
On Running shoes are very durable. They will last for around 300-500 miles or around 482 to 800 km. This is a bit longer than Nike and may tilt the purchase decision in On Running’s favor.
This is good news as these shoes are expensive. If they lasted much lesser then it will be a problem as spending so much on a less durable shoe is not worth it.
According to Nike quality engineers, an average Nike shoe lasts for 200-300 miles. This is a lot less than that of On Running. This is not a good thing as the difference in the length of the durability, certainly is something to consider.
The pricing of Nike shoes is also high if you want to run in a more premium shoe from Nike. So if they wear out faster then the cost per mile comes up almost double that of On Running. So, you will be spending a lot more on your running shoes which may not be desirable.
Actually, this was a bit surprising for me as I thought being a newer brand, On Running may be less durable. However, since Nike is the one whose durability is a bit less, I would prefer to go for On Running.
Related: New Balance Size Chart Vs Nike
The main cushioning material that On Running uses is the Cloud. These are air pockets made in foam or for some versions, foam combined with rubber. These provide you with excellent comfort and durability. Also, due to the nature of cushioning it also provides you with explosive movements.
Also, there is a carbon-fiber plate included that improves the responsiveness of the shoes.
There are different kinds of cushioning materials that Nike uses. The most used cushioning material is the Air Zoom. The other one is the Cushlon Foam. They provide you with good cushioning and shock absorption.
Comparing the comfort between On Cloud running shoes vs Nike, I found that they are at par. I think this is partly because they use similar materials and technologies.
Overall Fit And Comfort
The overall fit of On Running is true-to-size. I won’t go into a sizing comparison of these two shoes as that is a huge topic and I won’t be able to cover that in this post. I’ll post a separate article explaining all the differences and similarities between the sizing of On Running and Nike brands.
Not all the models from On Running is available in wide fit. Currently, at the time of writing this post, only On Cloudflow, On Cloudrunner, and On Cloudflyer are available in wide fit.
Nike running shoe models are also true to size if not all, most of them. However, for all of them, not all the models have a wide fit available.
If you wanted to try On Running or Nike, then the models that are available to you may not be as per your liking, if you have a wide fit.
I didn’t like that and probably this is the only complaint from me for these two brands.
The starting price of Nike road running shoes is around $40 and in the range between $40 to $100, you get many models. Also, the trail running shoe Nike Juniper Trail falls into this category.
However, the minimum price that you need to pay for an On Running shoe is around $140. This is a huge price gap in the starting prices and may deter runners to try them on.
However, if you check out the more premium models of both brands, the price point will be somewhat similar.
Actually no, the prices of the most premium shoes like Nike Zoom Alphafly Next Nature will cost you way more than the most premium running shoe from On Running which is On Cloudboom Echo.
Basically, Nike gives you way more options in terms of price and you can choose something premium or not based on your requirement. However, such an option doesn’t exist for On Running and you will have to shell out a lot of cash just to try out this brand.
Comparing Nike Vs On Running, we found that they have a lot of similarities and differences. In some cases, Nike scores the point, whereas in other cases, On Running scores the point.
As a whole, you cannot choose a brand that is better than the other. So, ultimately, it will come down to your comfort.
Choose the brand in whose shoes you feel most comfortable and by that I mean it can be anything, like, you may like a softer shoe or maybe a stiffer shoe. You may want more style or a more traditional-looking shoe…
Whatever, it is, based on your preference choose the shoe.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.