361 continues to be the little engine that tries and is kicking off some solid shoes, yet remains an unknown in the US. While the company is huge in China, the US team is actually a whole different org and even the shoes are market-specific. Today we check out their priciest and arguably most successful road model, the Spire and its latest iteration, the Spire 3. Past reviews of the 361 shoes have been a little flat, to be honest, and we definitely felt like they weren’t doing enough to differentiate, so when the new Spire rolled in, we wove in with some trepidation.
The upper on the Spire 3 is now a fully seamless engineered mesh and is highly breathable and gives you ample room in the toebox. The laces are big and cylindrical which feels like overkill, but it almost never loosened up in run so possibly a good thing. the heel cup holds you well and the collar itself is very well padded.
Probably the most interesting aspect of the Spire 3 is the midsole. It uses a mix of their EVA based QU!KFOAM technology along with the addition of a carbon plate at the midfoot. While not as severe and full length as other racing shoes, this plate is designed to aid with the transition. It is a little bit plush, a little cushioned, and has a touch of rebound, but not a lot. This is definitely designed to be your everyday trainer, simple, comfortable, and not all that fast.
The outsole on the Spire 3 features a ton of high-abrasion rubber, blown in the forefoot and carbon-reinforced in the heel. It definitely has significant traction across wet and dry and the chevron pattern design for the rubber does a good job ensuring too much flexibility isn’t lost. This decent amount of rubber does add weight though so again pushing this more into the everyday recreational trainer category.
Style & Aesthetics
The shoe itself is a massive improvement over the Spire 2 aesthetically. The designers are definitely taking a page out of Nike, Brooks, and others when it comes to the design. It isn’t fast looking, but definitely feels accessible to people and will compete nicely on the shelf, It comes in 2 colors for men and women.
The Spire is definitely comfortable out of the box from the fit of the upper through the softness in the mid to the tracking of the outsole. After several long runs and numerous short ones, I can definitely say this is probably the best shoe they have going for them right now, so I was impressed after going in as less than. My only real problem with the Spire 3 was that it just wasn’t much different or different enough. The EVA implementation has a different name, the outsole has a lot of rubber, and they moved to a seamless mesh upper… it just feels like everyone else. I do think it is supportive even though it is a neutral shoe and I could probably give it to a ton of everyday runners who pace slower and they would be hard-pressed to find any issues, but they need something a little more in here to get people to move away from their existing models. For example, a Brooks Ghost fan will probably love these, but their infatuation with Brooks will inevitably win out UNLESS I can tell them why the Spire 3 is better… and that just isn’t here for me. So it’s an easy run, solid for distance, but in the end maybe just a little boring for me.
The 361 Spire 3 sits in a really tough spot. It is designed to compete head to head with some really big flagship shoes from the top vendors. It does what it does well, but it probably won’t be enough to see people give up their tried and true. We do like the material choices, the construction, and even the ground feel, but it’s not a game changed yet. They have received numerous awards for these, so worth having a look, but our guess is the Spire 4 will probably be another big jump forward for them… maybe wait and see.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 10.4oz (size 9)
- Drop: 9mm heel/toe
- Cushion: 27mm
- Type: Neutral/Support Road
- MSRP: $149.95
- Available: Now