If you’re going to traipse around Alaska in the fall, you need more than a pair of sneakers — you need hiking boots, and good ones at that. A few days before I left for the Final Frontier state, I received a pair of Cloudtrax to test out from the Swiss shoe company On. And tested they were. In the incessant pouring rain in Juneau, on the trails in the Tongass National Forest, on the slippery boardwalk in Ketchikan, on the sunny streets of Skagway, and through airports and airplanes on my way back home. Here’s how On’s Cloudtrax hiking boots fared in all sorts of weather and situations.
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Breaking in Cloudtrax hiking boots
Regular hikers know to spend a good amount of time breaking in their new boots before going on a long trek. I hadn’t purchased a pair of hiking boots in years, however. I wore my On hiking shoes for less than a week before heading to Alaska, and only around the house or to potter around the garden. Although initially very comfortable, after only two days of wearing them constantly and walking extensively in them, both my heels got badly blistered. I do not blame the shoes for this particular issue, I blame myself for my poor planning, but know that you’ll need to break your Cloudtrax in properly like all other hiking boots on the market before you take them on an adventure.
Even with shredded heels, I kept wearing my new hiking boots with two layers of Band-Aids and thicker socks. Eventually the blisters healed, and the Cloudtrax became perfectly comfortable (I particularly enjoyed the bouncy feeling that the Cloudtec outsole produces.) All that was needed was time and perseverance.
How Cloudtrax hiking boots fit
On offers half sizes, which is nice for any shoes, but especially for ones that you’ll be hiking in while potentially wearing thick socks. I got my normal size, an 8.5, and they fit true to size.
On’s website has a great feature to help you determine your size if you’re unsure of what to order. The size finder function uses the fit of other brands for reference by letting you enter the sizes and brands of the shoes you already own, and giving you the best size to order from there. It’s a great way to maximize the chances of you finding your perfect fit right away, and avoid the disappointment of having to return your order.
How Cloudtrax hiking boots perform in the rain
The Cloudtrax are water repellent, not waterproof, but after taking them in the unrelenting lashing rain in Juneau, I can confidently say that they hold their own in wet weather. It took hours of walking for me to feel any damp inside my boots, and even then it was only a minimal amount on the bottom part of my socks, not the top. (Note that On does offer waterproof hiking boots, such as the Cloudrock and Cloudrock 2 models.)
Despite my walking in the rain on boardwalks, never-ending wooden stairs, and up and down the rough and hilly streets of Juneau, I never slipped. The promise of grip and traction delivered tenfold.
The best features of the Cloudtrax hiking boots
There are few characteristics that make these stand out from the countless other pairs available on the market.
The one-pull lacing system is one of the best things about the Cloudtrax boots. You can tighten or loosen the boots quickly and easily without having to undo anything. The laces are also very thin and made of a synthetic material that never gets wet — doing and undoing wet laces, and getting them dry after a day of walking in the rain is zero fun. This unique lacing system is not available on the Cloudrock models, the only other hiking boots by On.
Fun and unique colors
The Cloudtrax are available in two colors for women: Rose-Ivory and Reseda-Lavender, which are fancy ways of saying pink-white and green-purple. I went for the Reseda-Lavender style because they are a darker shade and less likely to show dirt, but I found that the subtle colors also make these hiking boots easy to wear off the trails and in the city with a pair of jeans, as if they were any other shoes. The cut of the Cloudtrax, which is below the ankle, helps them be more versatile for both city and mountain environments, too.
The Cloudrock models, which are waterproof and fit higher around the ankles, are offered in a variety of colors, including a soft green and a beautiful orange.
As light as, well, a cloud
The Cloudtrax are easily the lightest shoes I own. At 12.87 oz, they are lighter than my Birkenstocks. That means that while they may take up room in a pack or suitcase, they don’t weigh down your luggage excessively. More importantly, they don’t weigh you down. Hiking can be strenuous and having light boots makes going up a mountain a little easier. I wore my Cloudtrax in the airplane without taking them off once and never felt trapped in bulky shoes. Their lightweight adds considerably to their comfort level.