361 Degrees is a Chinese footwear brand expanding throughout the world. The brand was founded in 2003 and saw massive expansion in 2013 to cover Europe and America. I was sent a pair of their neutral Meraki 3 running shoes to put to the test.
About 361 Degrees
361 Degrees originated as a family-owned footwear business in China before expanding to become one of the biggest sports brands in China and was a key partner in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.The mission of 361 Degrees is to help athletes go 'one degree beyond' – beyond expectations and beyond limitations.
For their higher spec shoes, 361 Degrees use a technology that they call 'Magic Foam'. They describe this as a 'top secret space age material' and don't give much more information than that. Their core range of running shoes are all built with 'Quikfoam'. Quikfoam is an EVA/rubber foam combination which is encapsulated so it lasts longer, giving more cushioning for a longer period of time.
About the Meraki Running Shoes
- Upper features a seamless engineered mesh for a light, sleek, comfortable fit.
- Pressure-free tongue is designed to provide comfort and avoid irritation during flexion.
- Ortholite insoles utilise 20% recycled materials while still retaining the performance fit and comfort that runners want.
- The 'Quik Spine' is a carbon fiberglass shank that adds linear integrity to the mid-foot.
- Quikfoam, a mid-sole material comprised of an EVA/rubber blend with PU coating that provides excellent durability, cushioning and responsiveness.
The 361 Degrees Meraki running shoe is designed to be fast. It is designed to be used as part of your core running shoe rotation for everyday runs as well as speed work. For this shoe, 361 Degrees worked with Ortholite to create their own insole material blend in order to increase breathability and moisture management directly under the foot. This is an everyday neutral running shoe designed for longevity as well as speed and comfort.
361 Degrees Meraki Running Shoes Review
This is a very classic-looking pair of running shoes and I immediately noticed how thick the heel cushioning looked, very similar to my Asics stability shoes. When I put them on, I wasn't disappointed and that thick heel cushioning made my foot feel locked in and secure, which means no rubbing or slipping of the heel.
The soft, flexible upper means no squashed toes, coupled with a roomy toe box which allows for natural toe spread. The sole of the shoe isn't too hard (a problem I've had with other running shoes) so my feet weren't sore after running and in general the comfort of these shoes is excellent. After doing 100 miles of running in these shoes, I found I didn't have any blisters or discomfort as the upper is so flexible and comfortable. I'm very impressed with the comfort of these shoes.
Choosing the right shoe size for running shoes can be a minefield at times. Every brand has their own size guide and the same size in different brands and even different models from the same brand can vary drastically.
I decided to go for a UK Women's Size 8 for the 361 Degrees Meraki shoes and they fit perfectly. The forefoot felt roomy without my heel feeling like it would slip out the back. For comparison, I am a UK Women's Size 7.5 in Nike running shoes and a UK Women's Size 8.5 in Asics running shoes. In general, I'd say these shoes come up quite true to size, thought you may need to size up perhaps half a size. They are definitely more roomy than Hoka and On Running shoes.
As mentioned above, these shoes look very classic and to me are reminiscent of a pair of Asics or perhaps Saucony running shoes. As such, I expected them to perform in the same way. By this I mean I expected them to be robust, trustworthy, but not particularly exciting or innovative (like many of the new Nike running shoes or a pair of On Running shoes).
My first impression of these running shoes was that they are very soft yet still responsive with decent energy return. The biggest thing I noticed is that they are so lightweight! My Asics running shoes can feel quite heavy, so going by design alone I expected these to be the same, but they are incredibly light and bouncy which I loved.
361 Degrees say that these shoes are designed to be fast and they definitely are. I was able to do tempo and threshold runs in these shoes without feeling like they were holding me back, but I was also able to run slightly longer distances of up to about 10 miles.
Unfortunately, these shoes did not provide quite enough support for my over-pronation. In all fairness, these are marketed as 'neutral' running shoes and for neutral runners or under-pronators I'd say they would be perfect. However, for beginners who have not worked on their running form they may cause injuries and I found my feet rolling inwards very severely when wearing these shoes. As such, I didn't wear them for more than 10 miles at a time.
The 361 Degrees Meraki running shoes are super lightweight. everyday running shoes which are perfect for shorter runs as well as quality sessions. This is a neutral shoe so would only be suitable for people who do not over-pronate and are able to run with good form. I was able to appreciate the good energy return of these shoes but would only wear them for shorter runs of under 10 miles. Overall, I was hugely impressed and have added them into my weekly running shoe rotation!