361 Degrees Spire 3 – The underestimated underdog?

361 Degrees is a fairly new brand on the European market. But they are already a well known brand in China. I had heard of them before, but I hadn’t tried any of their shoes yet. So, when I had the chance to try their new Spire 3, I obviously said yes.

The 361 Degrees Spire 3 is a neutral running shoe with a 9mm drop, a 12mm forefoot stack and a 21mm heel stack. It weighs 241 grams. Surprisingly, those are the same statistics as that of the 361 Degrees Sensation 3, although that one weighs 238 grams. The difference between the two models seems to be in the amount of Qu!kfoam used and the Sensation 3 is a stability shoe rather than a neutral running shoe like the Spire 3. Qu!kfoam is an EVA foam and rubber blend that 361 describes as cushioned and responsive. While the Sensation 3 comes in an array of bright colours, the colours of the Spire 3 are a bit more subtle. But I do actually like the look of them.  

Upper

The Spire 3 has a seamless knit upper and I haven’t experienced any hotspots while running in them. The Fitz-Rite Midfoot technology wraps around the midfoot to provide stability and keeps the foot locked in place while running. It eliminated unnecessary movements of the foot while running. There is ample room in the toe box, but it isn’t super roomy.  

The tongue is slightly padded and has a bit of a velvet kind of feel to is, just as the laces of the shoe. However, I do find the tongue too short. If you lace your shoes all the way up to the top or even use the extra shoelace hole, the laces end up higher than the tongue.

I found that the upper was actually a bit warm, which I actually didn’t mind during those colder runs. At least my toes didn’t get cold. I did find that the top layer of the upper does take up a bit of water while running in wet conditions, but the smoother second knit layer seems to prevent the water from actually getting into the shoe. Obviously the knit fabric won’t keep your feet dry in a rainstorm (the shoe also doesn’t have a drainage system so your feet will definitely get wet), but it also doesn’t seem to soak up all the water like some other shoes do. 

I found the heel counter to be nice and comfortable, with a nice amount of padding on the collar of the shoe. I did not experience any hot spots in the heel area of the Spire 3. 

Midsole

The midsole contains a carbon fiber plate which 361 Degrees calls the Qu!k Spine. This made me think of the carbon fiber plate in the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%, which is there to capture the energy and then return it back to you. Only 361 Degrees seems to use this feature more for stability purposes rather than energy return. The shoe also doesn’t feel super responsive or that it would be capable of making you run 4% faster (I wish).

Outsole

The outsole of the forefoot is made out of blown rubber, while the heel is made of carbon rubber. It does provide a nice amount of traction on the road and the shoe does perform alright on easy trails.

The front of the shoe has a slight rocker shape that helps you toe off, but the sole itself isn’t very flexible. This could probably be fixed if they would put flexibility grooves over the entire width of the sole.

Performance

The Spire 3 actually reminded me a bit of the older type of running shoes, before brands came up with interesting sounding new materials and flashy new designs. The design is pretty sleek and simple, and although the midsole does absorb the shock it does have quite a firm feel to it and isn’t that flexible. It doesn’t feel like a very plush ride, you don’t sink into the material, probably due to the amount of rubber in the sole.

The insole is surprisingly thick. It also seems to be made out of Qu!kfoam. Probably in order to provide extra stability and cushioning, while trying to keep the bulk of the shoe to a minimum, but it does leave you less space inside the shoe, especially in the front. I like the overall stability of this shoe, the structure of the shoe gives you enough lateral stability, while the insole provides good medial stability.

Fit

The Spire 3 isn’t a very wide shoe, but it does have an upper that does adapt easily due to the knit fabric, so the width of the shoe didn’t form an issue and I didn’t experience any hotspots in this shoe. I wore my regular size.

Conclusion

The Spire 3 is actually a very comfortable shoe and I actually could see myself run a marathon in them. And there actually aren’t that many running shoes on the market in which I would consider running a full marathon. The Spire 3 is a neutral running shoe, but if you need a little bit of extra support, the Spire 3 will give it to you. It provides enough medial and lateral support. The Spire 3 has a nice seamless upper and good stability, but there are still things about this shoe that I would change if I had the chance. The shoe does have a nice amount of cushioning, but is also quite firm. Personally, I would prefer it if the shoe would feel a bit more plush and a bit more flexible. And although the responsiveness of this shoe is good, it isn’t great and therefore it also isn’t a super fast shoe. Not like the average Nike running shoe. It is a comfortable training shoe, but not a fast racing shoe. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this shoe and I am looking forward to trying out other 361 Degrees products in the future. 

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