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Road • April 18, 2019

361 Degrees Meraki 2 Performance Review

361 Degrees Meraki 2

Austin: In November 2017, Thomas, Meaghan, and I reviewed the 361 Degrees Meraki. Thomas compared the first Meraki to the Saucony Ride ISO, Nike Pegasus, and Brooks Glycerin. “There will be a trainer [from 361] that you will want,” he said of the Chinese company’s ongoing engineering quest to disrupt the running footwear market. If you don’t own a 361 Degrees shoe, the Meraki 2 might be the one you want.

Erin: When I saw I’d be receiving a pair of 361 Degrees to review, I was…what’s the opposite of excited? Meh? I was meh. The Sensation 3 wasn’t my favorite shoe (trying to be diplomatic here), and the  Chaser 2 was a solid shoe albeit with limited utility (it was a speed shoe with a face for radio if you know what I mean). Was I judging the company based on prior bad acts? I was, and for that, 361 Degrees, I am sorry. Ish.

361 Degrees Meraki 2

The Good

Erin: Let’s start with the looks. Wait, no, that goes under the next section. Let’s start with the ride. The Meraki 2 is a neutral daily trainer that weighs in at 8 ounces for a women’s 8.5, which is a tad heavier than I typically go for, but it’s certainly not heavy heavy. There’s nothing fancy about the Meraki 2, which I really appreciate. The midsole, like most/all 361 Degrees shoes, is made of Qu!kfoam, which is an annoying word to type.

The technology of Qu!kfoam isn’t as weird as the name—it’s essentially a blend of rubber and EVA wrapped in PU. But it gets the job done, especially if you prefer a firmer feel underfoot (which I do). The outsole is also underlaid by a Qu!kspine carbon fiber plate. I assume this is for durability, though I’d be curious what these feel like without it. In addition, the outsole has 361’s Qu!k Flex 4Foot engineering, which is—IMO—a sort of ridiculous way of saying that the outsole is grooved to aid in a smooth toe-off.

Overall, the Meraki 2 has a firm, smooth ride without being stiff or slappy. There’s a decent amount of heel cushioning, which you’d expect in a shoe with a 9mm offset, although I don’t feel like they force a heel strike. If I was to compare these to something you might be more familiar with, I’d say they feel similar to the Brooks Ghost or maybe the Launch 5.

Austin: The Meraki 2, to quote Thomas directly, really is a daily trainer that I want. After unboxing the shoe, I wondered whether they would be too stiff or feel clunky like previous 361 models I tried, but I’m delighted to gulp down a slice of humble pie. According to 361, the Meraki 2 weighs 9.6 ounces in a men’s nine with a 9mm drop. This minimal but appreciated weight drop can be attributed to the engineered mesh upper and less overlays from the first version.

Erin covered the Qu!kfoam midsole; the Meraki also featuers a Fitz-Rite midfoot system to secure the feet. The result of all these elements results in a remarkably comfortable shoe. I’d like a touch more room in the toe box, but the toe splay spacing is adequate. The external heel counter kept my feet secure and the collar didn’t rub the Achilles tendon. The tongue quietly vanishes as it should.

Finally—the ride. Frankly, I didn’t like the ride of the first 361 models I reviewed, but the Meraki 2, like the Spire 3, is excellent. The blend of firmness and softness is ideal. Easy runs are smooth and workouts aren’t a drudge. The 13-mile workout at a hard effort didn’t destroy my feet and ended with no hot spots. Sadly, I can’t say the same for the other shoe under review a the moment, the Salomon SONIC RA MAX 2. That review is coming soon.

Shop 361 Degrees Meraki 2

361 Degrees Meraki 2

The Bad

Austin: Zilch. Continue to the riveting conclusion below.

Seriously, I figured one (or more) issues might surface in my runs in the Meraki 2, but I actually like this shoe. A lot. Believe in the Run readers know the review team scrutinizes design, so if I were to critique the Meraki 2, it’s a superficial assessment. I’d like to see 361 keep retooling the colors and layouts and patterns and logo to compete with the likes of Nike and Adidas. And be sure to shorten those laces too.

Erin: The biggest issue I had with the Sensation 3 was the fit, and while the Meraki 2 is definitely better, I still find that they run narrow in both the midfoot and toe box. I have to wear the thinnest socks I own, and I still have some rubbing, mostly along the lateral edge. The upper is a seamless engineered mesh with a midfoot overlay pattern to provide a secure fit, and I mean yeah, it’s definitely secure. Overall I think the fit of 361 shoes just doesn’t work for me.

My only other complaint is that, for $130, these shoes look kinda cheap. Maybe that’s unfair, because I do think they’re durable and you’ll be able to get a lot of miles out of them, but…I don’t know. You can make a no-frills shoe still look like a quality shoe. The tongue, in particular, is pretty terrible. It’s thin and weird and just looks like they cheaped out on it.

Shop 361 Degrees Meraki 2

361 Degrees Meraki 2
361 Degrees Meraki 2 Conclusion

Erin: The 361 Degrees Meraki 2 is one of those shoes that I think will really depend on whether you like the fit; it’s kind of a no-go for me for that reason, but if you have a lower volume foot I’d definitely recommend these as a daily neutral trainer for those of you who prefer a firmer ride.

Austin: After staring at the Meraki 2 for this review, I wondered if a 361 shoe with a full QU!KFOAM midsole is a future possibility. Would it be too soft without any EVA? Would it sink like the HOKA Bondi 6? Even if the 100% QU!KFOAM midsole shoe never sees the light of day, I’ll continue to be intrigued with 361 and their future. Why? “There will be a trainer that you will want.” Now or later.  

You can snag the 361 Degrees Meraki 2 at Running Warehouse for $129.95 using the shop link below.

Shop 361 Degrees Meraki 2

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