Yes, I am reviewing another older shoe – the 361 Degree Meraki v1. V2 is out already and versions 3 and 4 have been slated to be released in 2021 from what I am hearing.
It has been a while since I did a running shoe review, not because I haven’t been running and trying different shoes – I have. It is more that I have been frustrated by the shoes I have been running in and didn’t feel like wasting my time and effort to write about them.
You can read more about my running shoe woes here.
Over the past couple of years, I have been hearing more and more about a Chinese brand called 361 Degrees and how their offerings were starting to be more interesting to those who regularly do reviews. Personally, I just sort of skipped over most of those reviews as “oh that’s nice” and didn’t give the brand any further thought.
While doing Christmas shopping on Amazon, I saw an insane price on a pair of 361* Chaser 2s. After looking at them, I also saw a deal on a pair of 361* Meraki v1. For just over $60, I could have both. I quickly did a search and looked a lot closer at the reviews for the shoes and came to the conclusion that they might be worth the risk at those prices to try them out and put them in my basket.
In kind of a Karma thing, my daughter texted me at the same time and we started talking about what I wanted for a present this year. I sent her a link for both shoes and told her either one — she got me both. A very fine daughter indeed. 🙂
We have a deal, she usually gets me running shoes that I normally wouldn’t get myself that are on closeout and that way I can justify experimenting with a different brand or model than usual. I had never tried on a 361* shoe or even remember seeing one in the wilds up heah in Maine, although I am sure that they are around if I had been looking.
A couple of days after I got them, I did a workout in the Chaser 2s and was blown away by how great they felt under foot. So the next day I had to try the Meraki v1’s to see how they performed. Here is a link to my first impressions from my December 2nd run. No I didn’t wait for Christmas to open them and yes I am a shoe geek, which also means I don’t like waiting to try my new running shoes.
It is now a little more than 50 miles later and I have for 12 out of the last 13 days run in the Meraki. In my world is pretty much unheard of. I typically have 3-4 different trainers going and like to use one of several go faster shoes for some easier tempo or fartlek work. Instead I have been using the Meraki for just about everything.
They are comfortable for me to run in.
Fit is true to size, I measure at just under an 8.0 U.S. and usually end up in size 8.5 in many brands due to my Hobbit feet, along with skinny heels and wider forefoot with a tailor’s bunionette on my right foot. Fit for me in the Meraki v1 is just right and I could probably go down to a size 8.0 without any issues, but I like a little extra room (some call it a sloppy fit) in the forefoot.
The best part of running in the Meraki v1 is that my feet do not hurt. I do not have that wonderful metatarsal burn going on, that seems to plague me in later stages of a run in almost every pair of running shoes I have run in this year.
I am not ripping through the heel cup – the Meraki v1 fit my narrow heels just right, they are not rubbing on the bottom of my ankles and are wide enough in the forefoot to not bother my right foot until later in a run than I have experienced for a while.
They do have good grip on light snow or wet tar roads and decent grip on slime covered (mud) dirt roads that I tend to end up on. There is some wear in on the front of the outsole where I toe-off, but about what I expect. I imaging that the outsole will last 300-400 miles for me.
The Meraki have a surprising amount of snap to them and while they are not super bouncy, they are well cushioned, but firm enough with their carbon plate to pick up the pace nicely and easily. Also when running in cold weather, it hasn’t affected them like many others I have run in – they still have a nicely cushioned feel to them.
They weigh a little more than what I would use for go-faster shoes at 9.4 and 9.2 ounces (within specs and I don’t notice the difference), but right now if I had to go run a half marathon or a full marathon, I have a feeling that the Meraki would probably be on my feet.
Yeah, the laces are too long. So what.
The biggest thing I dislike about the Meraki v1 is that they are mostly white and white shoes do not stay white very long where I run – as you can see. Color doesn’t affect performance all that much (except in our heads), so if they get dirty and look kind of nasty, well that is just the way it is. Especially during the winter.
What did I learn?
After 50 miles I am saying Wow!
I don’t do that very often and then usually am disappointed at some point over the next 100 or so miles. I have learned the hard way that many 50 mile reviews are fool’s gold and tend to be a bit jaded about them. That being said there is something about the 361 Degree Meraki v1’s that makes believe they will be different – in a good way.
They have that Goldilocks firm, yet cushioned feel that I have been looking for and my feet are not constantly complaining about how the discomfort is constantly getting worse the farther I run. Which is a big deal and you don’t realize how nice it is to run without thinking about how much your feet hurt during one, until you don’t. In the Meraki, I get to focus on running.
Let’s put it this way, after my second run in the Meraki v1, when I accidentally ran my fastest 10K of 2020, I went ahead and ordered another pair, (no, not as cheap as the first pair were and a different colorway). Those will go under the tree as a present from Bennie.
Supposedly the only difference between the v1 and v2 are changes to the upper and versions 3 and 4 are supposed to be released in 2021, so as long as 361 Degrees doesn’t screw too much with the midsole/outsole and the uppers fit decently, I could see me moving in this direction for the foreseeable future with them becoming my primary daily trainer.
I have zero brand loyalty, but…time will tell how it goes as long as 361* don’t screw up the Meraki updates and how it fits/feels underfoot. I can see me becoming a fanboy of this model and who knows maybe even end up trying others in their lineup besides the Chaser 2, which I am very impressed with as well.
Needless to say the 361 Degree Meraki v1’s are best pair of daily trainers I have run in, in a long damn time at the 50 mile review.
No, I am not saying go out and get a pair 361 Degree running shoes because I like them, this review simply shares my experiences and thoughts about the Meraki v1’s. Your experiences with them probably will be different, so use the shoes that work for you. I have no material interest or connection with the 361 Degree brand and all comments in this post are my own and no one has any editorial review authority over what I have written.