361 Degrees is a footwear brand that we had the pleasure of reviewing recently for their Meraki 3 model. We were sent a pair of their women's trail running shoes - the Taroko 2 - to test out on the trails. Here's our verdict.
About 361 Degrees
361 Degrees originated as a family-owned footwear business before expanding to be among the leading footwear retailers 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', and this is what is used for the Taroko 2 running shoes. 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 Taroko 2 Running Shoes
The 361 Degrees Taroko 2 women's running shoes are designed as a trail hybrid with performance in mind.
Stack: F/F 17.5mm R/F 26.5mm
361 Degrees have developed their own 'MORPHIT' heel lock which is designed to keep your heel secure and in place while running over uneven terrain. The breathable, durable mesh upper encompasses your foot and is designed provide a supportive and comfortable fit.
361 Degrees Taroko 2 Running Shoes Review
Upon first putting on these running shoes, I was hugely impressed with how comfortable they are. The sole is soft and squidgy like my Nike Zoom Fly shoes and the upper is incredibly flexible; I was able to wiggle my toes up and down with no restriction at all.
The innovative MORPHIT heel lock system is pure genius and I'm incredibly impressed at the thought that has gone into designing it - a lacing system wraps round the ankle secured with a compact pull cord at the heel which you can fasten to tighten for a completely locked-in feel and no rubbing.
When running, the shoes feel very comfortable and soft without losing the all-important energy return. I didn't suffer from any blisters or rubbing and I really appreciated the natural toe spread that the roomy toe box allowed.
The 361 Degrees Taroko 2 women's running shoes are generous with their sizing; I was hugely impressed with how well they fit on first wear. Finding the right size for running shoes can be an arduous task and if someone asked me what size I am, I would tell them I don't truly know as it's different for every model and every brand!
In general, I go for Women's UK 7.5 in Nike and Men's UK 8.5 in Asics. I have had to abandon more running shoes than I'd like to count due to squashed feet and numb toes so I am not afraid to size up and even wear men's sizes if necessary, however this is not necessary for 361 Degrees shoes which are lovely and roomy.
I opted for a Women's UK 8 for the 361 Degrees Taroko 2 shoes and found them to be perfectly spacious with lots of space in the toe box - no squashed toes here!
The 361 Degrees Taroko 2 trail shoes have fantastic grip to the soles for trail running. The MORPHIT heel lock system does indeed keep your heel in place as you run and the soft soles give just enough energy return that your feet feel comfortable without feeling like you're running through treacle.
These running shoes do feel heavy at 365g, but we don't buy trail shoes to be lightweight or speedy, we buy them to give us good traction and flexibility when it counts. However, if you're used to or prefer a very lightweight shoe, this model may feel quite cumbersome for you.
You can tell that a huge amount of thought, planning and energy have gone into designing the Taroko 2 trail running shoes, which is exactly what you want when paying over £100 for a pair of running shoes. I get the impression 361 Degrees are working hard to be pioneers and stand out in the saturated and competitive running shoe market and I'd say it's going very well for them. If they continue bringing out fantastic shoes like the Taroko 2, they are on to a winner!