What You Need To Know
- Weighs 9.8 oz. (278 g.) for a US M9 / 8 oz. (227 g.) for a US W7
- All-new Engage TPE midsole provides a surprising level of comfort and bounce
- Engineered mesh upper with an Ortholite insole
- Available February 2023 for $130
ROBBE: I rarely start a review by trashing a brand, but let me go dumpster diving first so we can get to the good stuff later. Since I can’t begin a sentence with a number, I had to type that first part you just read so that I can say 361° is a straight-up terrible brand name for writing a review. And that’s the last time you’ll see me using the degree symbol. Maybe the branding is lost in translation as 361 is a Chinese-owned company, which was also apparent from the Qu!kbone technology found in past versions of the shoe. Yes, it was called quick bone. And somehow, the exclamation point in the name made it even dirtier.
Now that we got that all cleared up let’s talk about the actual product in our hands/on our feet. Because the 361 Degrees Centauri surprised me in many ways, thanks to its Engage midsole, comfortable upper, and smooth ride that puts it against most daily trainers in its range.
When I was running in this shoe, I realized that while I’ve never been a huge fan of 361 Degrees, they have been a memorable part of my past. During one of my marathon training cycles, I destroyed a pair of the Chaser 2, which was my tempo/speedwork shoe at the time. It was basic, no doubt, but it got the job done and helped me hit all the times I needed to during my training. Admittedly, I haven’t run in a pair of 361 Degrees since then. I thought the Spire was one of the most boring shoes ever created, and though the carbon-plated Flame was interesting, I felt it didn’t stand up to the rest of the shoes in its class.
So again, my hopes weren’t high for the Centauri, but after a handful of runs in the shoe, it seems 361 may be on a new track.
SAM: If you’ve never heard of 361 Degrees, it’s time to take notice. They are a smaller company based in China that is beginning to grow its brand here in the States. It made a splash recently with the Flame, a budget carbon-plated racer that was held back by its firmness and rigidity. Enter the Centauri, the “foot of the centaur.” Does 361 Degrees have a daily trainer to compete with the big brands? Will this shoe make you feel like a half-horse, half-person? Is hay finally for more than just horses? Keep reading to find out.
ROBBE: I need a shoe to feel good. Maybe we’ve been spoiled with the absolute avalanche of quality shoes these days, but the bar has been raised with models like the Asics Novablast 3, Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, Hoka Mach 5, and more. If you can’t keep up with them, or at least come close, you don’t belong on the court.
But it turns out that 361 Degrees is onto something good with the all-new Engage midsole in the Centauri (thank God they finally found a way to distance themselves from a word with an exclamation mark in the middle). It’s a TPE midsole that provides a surprising amount of comfort, cushion, and rebound at “only” a 31 mm stack height. I have to say, I’m not a fan of mushy or soft shoes, and I always enjoy a pair of shoes that gives you that bounce sensation while not taking away from the road feel. The Centauri delivers on all of these fronts and can handle any distance you throw at it. This is probably helped partly by the Ortholite Comfort Foam sock liner, which gives you that extra layer of comfort that’s always nice to have.
As far as the upper, I had no complaints here. The engineered knit is pretty standard and provides the right amount of breathability and comfort. The plush heel collar provides a solid wrap and support, while the lay-flat tongue protects the foot from the laces while seamlessly conforming to the foot’s contours.
Put all those things together, and it’s a really solid trainer. Note on size: go up a half size in this. My US M7.5 was unmanageably tight, so I went a full size up, which was slightly too big, but runnable.
SAM: Running in this shoe is what I imagine the Clydesdales from the old Budweiser commercials felt like. Those horses are always smooth, relaxed, and graceful. I used this shoe for easy-moderate runs and relaxed long runs and found it great for all of them. The brand-new Engage midsole foam, smooth geometry, and high offset made this shoe perfect for when I needed some easy miles where I didn’t want my legs to work too hard. I often find with high-stack high-comfort daily trainers, my legs are working harder than I want to manage all of the foam, so I appreciate a lower-stack shoe that takes care of the effort for me.
The upper on the Centauri is supportive and plush and provides support in all the right places. Printed overlays keep your foot in place while the elf heel takes the pressure off your Achilles as you run. I got the Centauri to fit right after some tinkering, but if 361 Degrees dipped this shoe in the River Styx to make the ideal daily trainer, the upper and overall fit are what they held it by. More on this in a moment.Shop 361 Degrees Running Shoes – Men Shop 361 Degrees Running Shoes – Women
ROBBE: Shit, never mind, I just realized 361 Degrees threw in another absurd naming convention with the Qu!kflex 4Foot outsole engineering, one of the dumbest technology names I’ve ever been a witness to. According to 361, flex groves mimic the natural motion of the foot, which may be accurate, but it’s hard to say for sure. I can definitely say that the actual outsole rubber is one of the few weak points of the shoe. I took these out on a rainy run, and the traction was sus when cornering or going downhill. Not all rubbers are made the same.
Look, the design of 361 Degrees is not exciting (except for the Flame, which lives up to its name). In every colorway that has been made and that is coming, this shoe has all the personality of a cinder block wall. For most people, this probably doesn’t matter. But if you’re going head to head with something as beautiful as the Novablast 3 or even the Ride 15, and all things are equal, I’m picking those other ones every time on aesthetics alone.
Lastly, this shoe runs heavier than the listed weight. It does not feel like a sub-10-ounce shoe. It’s not overbearingly heavy, it just feels a tad clunky and is a bit hard to pick up the pace if needed (though the energy return helps balance that out).
SAM: To borrow from 361 Degrees’ tagline, I found the Centauri one degree too heavy. While the upper is extremely plush and comfortable, I felt it took away from the bounce of the midsole and dragged the shoe down in the mud. To hit another Greek God reference, even though Hermes’s winged sandals had no upper to protect his feet, I’m sure he would still like his shoes light enough to help him move freely throughout the world. Balancing the fun midsole with a lighter upper would allow this shoe to compete with the Novablasts of the world and would allow you to deliver the messages of Greek Gods in comfort.
I also found that the fit of this shoe was not great at first. The elf heel did not match the laces, and I experienced heel slippage on my first run. After switching to a runner’s loop, the heel slippage went away, but I ran into the issue of the “pressure-free” tongue being too short. This caused the laces to put pressure on my ankle, completing the Sisyphus-like loop of unavoidable discomfort with the fit.Shop 361 Degrees Running Shoes – Men Shop 361 Degrees Running Shoes – Women
361 Degrees Centauri Conclusion
ROBBE: I mean, no doubt 361 Degrees is going in a good direction with the Centauri. Which is great because I had kind of written them off. I think this shoe can easily stack up against most daily trainers and even surpasses some legends in the game, like the Brooks Ghost 14. Its price point is also a bit lower than most shoes these days, so if you’re looking to save that 9% inflation premium, you can do that with this shoe.
I do want to say one more thing in this review because it does make 361 an outlier to those of us in the West: 361 Sport, the parent company of 361 USA, is a Chinese-owned company, and does source from the Xinjiang region of China, which has come under fire over the last two years for its oppression and labor abuses of the Uyghur people. Most Western companies pulled out of the region in 2020 (including Nike, Adidas, and Asics), and currently, there is a US import ban on any cotton from the region.
However, 361 USA and the shoes in this review do not use materials sourced from that region. Whether that’s important to you or not, I’m not sure, but I thought I should mention it because it has been in the news before.
In any case, the Centauri is a solid shoe that can give you some solid comfort over long miles. The 361 Centauri will debut at the Surf City Marathon, presented by 361 Degrees in Huntington Beach, CA, on February 1, 2023.
SAM: 361 Degrees’ Centauri is highlighted by their new TPE midsole material, Engage foam. This foam is designed for bounciness and protection to give you a comfortable and peppy ride. 361 Degrees can cross that goal off the to-do list because they succeeded with this shoe. The Centauri is not swift enough to make you feel like you have the four legs of a half-man half-horse, but it is a daily trainer that can soak up the miles and will not slow you down. You could say it excels at putting hay in the barn.
You can pick up the 361 Degrees Centauri for $130 on February 1, 2023.Shop 361 Degrees Running Shoes – Men Shop 361 Degrees Running Shoes – Women