We love trail running here at Run Deep. There are more shoes on the market than ever, aimed at trail runners of all abilities. We’ve already had the chance to test 361°’s road shoes (the Strata 3 and the Meraki 3), so we were excited to see what its trail effort would bring to the table. Run Deep’s editor, and avid trail runner, Julie has given the 361° Taroko 2 a through review. Promising to be a versatile shoe, with hybrid capabilities, here she shares her thoughts on this robust trail offering.
At the time of writing this review, the UK is easing out of its coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. I received these trail shoes earlier in the year and was very excited to start trying them out. However, when lockdown hit, it was suddenly harder than ever to get to the trails. So I had to be content with staring longingly at the attractive 361° Taroko 2 trail shoes until restrictions lifted and enabled me to travel a little further afield to run.
I’ve now been testing these shoes for a couple of months, in all conditions (thank you British weather) and on different surfaces. So here goes my 361° Taroko 2 review…
First impressions of the 361° Taroko 2
Straight out of the box, the Taroko 2 have aesthetic appeal. The midnight blue/gold colourway is right up my street, but it is the only option available. The men’s version is equally attractive in ebony/saffron. I love the colour options that 361° offers in general, but I like a fairly neutral, dark shoe. If you prefer bright or jazzy shoes, you might be disappointed.
As I’m prone to rolling an ankle on trails, I was immediately drawn to two specific features. First, the sock around the top of the ankle, which provides extra comfort. Second, the heel lock – a pull cord on the back of the heel that can be pulled tight. I’ve not had this feature on previous trail shoes, and it made a huge difference to how secure my foot felt.
The whole upper is made of a breathable and durable mesh. It’s comfortable on, but also feels like it would expel heat and water quickly on a long run. They’re a little heavier than my current trail shoe, but they don’t feel bulky or restrictive. I opted for a size 6 (UK), which is my usual size for running shoes – a size up from my day-to-day size of 5. This sizing works out just right, and the wide toe box gives me plenty of wiggle room.
Flipping the shoes to have a gander at the base, the sole feels durable. Despite seeming rigid by eye, it actually has a decent amount of flex. I can roll happily through my natural gait and respond to the fast-changing terrain of the trails. There’s a QU!KFOAM insole too, which does add extra cushioning.
All in all, first impressions are pretty good. But it’s how they run that really matters. So I took my 361° Taroko 2 review to where it should be – on the trails.
On the run
These trainers are described as a trail hybrid, so they should work well both on and off road. This is perfect for my needs, as I have to run road to get to some decent trails. Many of the long-distance events I do have a mixture of terrains, so I want a trail shoe that can handle all ground coverage.
While there is adequate cushioning in this shoe, I’m not sure I could run longer distances purely on hard tarmac. They’re less forgiving than dedicated road shoes – not uncommon with trail hybrids. But for shorter sections between trails, they certainly do the job. Usually for road running I need stability, and these offer just enough to prevent my feet from rolling.
I had a few puddles to contend with, which gave the knit upper a testing. These shoes are not designed to be waterproof – the water will go in! But it drains pretty quickly through the mesh and it wasn’t uncomfortable.
On the trails, I was quite happy with the performance. The very best thing for me is that ankle fit. I felt really secure in them, even over the most rocky terrain. I could customise the fit with the heel lock, and there was no slipping. The tongue is nicely padded – an area where I can sometimes feel pain. In fact, I didn’t find any pressure points, even in the toe area where I can sometimes feel squeezed.
Grip and performance
Traction is good in most conditions. Really hard rocks are a little uncomfortable, but gravel, sand and mud proved no problems. The chunky lugs do their job perfectly. I felt the benefit of the flexible groove down the centre line, which does help the shoe flex more than others.
The lugs aren’t deep enough for really technical trails, but that’s not the intended market for this shoe. For rugged terrain and longer mileage on the trails, 361° has the Yushan model instead at a slightly higher price point.
The sole feels a little thin at the toe end underfoot. It’s not surprising with a 9mm drop from rear- to fore-foot. It’s here that you feel any sharp or hard parts of your route. But I quite like to feel the terrain a little, so I can respond to it. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the shoes.
361° Taroko 2 review – the verdict
Overall I am pleased with these shoes. As hybrids go, they are one of the best models I’ve run in. For the kind of trails I run (forest paths, moorland and coast paths), they offer a good amount of traction and cushioning. The fact that they are comfortable enough on road makes them a good option for multi-terrain routes
At just £105, this is a very reasonably priced shoe too. There’s a lot of tech in here for the money. I’ve been running in these for months now, and the wear and tear is as expected. They are durable and they will last.
The more I run in 361° shoes, the more I like them. The brand seem no-nonsense in its approach. The shoes set out to do a job and they deliver. You can tell they’ve thought about runners’ needs with every model.
- Molded QU!KFOAM insole for plush in-foot comfort.
- MORPHIT Heel Lock, a unique pull-cord heel design that keeps the rearfoot perfectly secure while traversing uneven surfaces.
- QU!K Flex 4Foot Engineering provides for a natural and balanced toe-off and enhances ground contact for better acceleration.
- QU!KFOAM, a midsole material comprised of an EVA rubber blend with PU coating that provides excellent durability, cushioning and responsiveness
- Weight: 365g (men’s version 310g)
- Drop: 9mm
Price: £104.99 (UK RRP)
Buy from: https://store.361europe.com/
**Run Deep was provided with a pair of trainers for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions in this article are entirely honest and our own**