So, before I start talking about the Strata 3 shoe I should probably give you a bit of info about who 361 Degrees actually are. Because being completely honest, I didn’t know a great deal about them until a few months ago. There’s a reason for that though.
We’re all familiar with the big running shoe brands in the UK. That list of shoe manufacturers may seem pretty normal to us and for people over in the US. The running marketplace looks very different if you head over to China though, where a load of companies I’ve never heard of dominate the running scene.
According to the Wikipedia page, 361 Degrees had 5,543 authorised retail outlets in China in 2009. The brand name itself means “Go One Degree Beyond” – which is a nice simple sentiment. They’re now putting more effort into launching across other countries. Which is why I’ve been testing them.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the Meraki when I gave them a go about a year ago. It wasn’t that it’s a bad shoe, it just didn’t didn’t do a lot for me from a design or a comfort perspective. I also thought it felt a bit stiff in comparison to some of the other shoes I’d tried out. I ran in them a few times, I just didn’t feel any major love for them.
So what are the Strata 3?
The second iteration of 361 Degree’s stability shoe has been updated to improve upon various factors from the previous model. As always, when reviewing a shoe, I find the easiest way is to look at what it claims to do and see if that’s actually the case. So here’s what it says on the US website:
- MORPHIT Upper Lacing System – a multi-dimensional lacing design that comfortably harnesses the foot securely during dynamic movement.
- QU!KFOAM midsole is a proprietary EVA and rubber blend that provides an amazing combination of cushioning and responsiveness. Proven to maintain the same high level of energy return and long lasting comfort throughout the lifetime of the shoe.
- Medial post paired with external TPU QU!K Spine provides dynamic stability and integrated support.
- Fitz-Rite midfoot utilizes a distinct pattern of soft internal webbing to hold the foot secure.
- Lightweight and seamless double jacquard mesh for maximum ventilation and comfort.
- Pressure Free Tongue designed to provide comfort and avoid irritation.
- QU!K Flex 4foot engineering provides for natural and balanced toe off and enhances ground contact for better acceleration.
Are they any good?
I’ve used them for a couple of runs as well as a race and I actually do quite like them as a comfortable support shoe. I was initially worried that they’d be a bit stiff when I first took them out of the box (like the Meraki) but they were fine straight away.
I do only tend to wear support shoes for mileage training, and that’s where the Strata 3 seem to do quite well, coming in as a tough, comfortable shoe that feels built to last for a while. Under race conditions they felt a bit too clunky for my liking.
Running through the product list of design features, I’d definitely say that anything focussing on a nice tight secure fit (the Morphit lacing system, the pressure free tongue and the Fitz-rite midfoot) all seem to tally up nicely with how I felt wearing the shoe. Specifically, they feel really secure around the central section where the laces are, whilst retaining an extremely loose feel around the toes.
However, being used to the foam developed in shoes like the Nike Pegasus or the adidas Ultraboost, I didn’t feel like the QU!KFOAM midsole matched up particularly well. They weren’t unpleasant to run in by any stretch of the imagination, but they didn’t feel like anything special. Based on what I’ve read about the Strata 3, this may well be their goal for the shoe, hoping to mix a rigid, supportive base with elements of QU!KFOAM. A nice concept, but not bouncy enough for me.
In terms of design, it appears that 361 Degrees have started to understand that their previous models across the range had a tendency to look dated, especially when you’re up against the likes of Nike and adidas for beautifully designed products. Whether the design requirements of trainers varies massively between continents, I don’t know. But the Strata 3 are definitely starting to look a hell of a lot more aesthetically pleasing. Again, if you’re in the market for a beautiful looking pair of trainers, they’re probably not at the top of the list, but at least they’re on it now.
The QU!K Flex 4foot didn’t really seem to do anything for me as I definitely didn’t feel any benefit in terms of acceleration, but the stability and support elements from (referenced from the QU!K Spine feature) do seem to hold true.
Who are they for?
I’d say that the Strata 3are a good all round shoe for people that want a lot of comfort and stability, care about design but also want something that’ll hold out for a good while.
How much are they?
Disclaimer: We received a test product from 361 Degrees for the purposes of this review