ADRIENNE: Before 361 Degrees, the only time I heard the term “spire” was in my architecture unit in my college Art History class. My professor spent a lot of time on little details of buildings for us to memorize and I would often get spires and buttresses confused. Don’t know why… anyhow, back to running shoes.
I was intrigued to take some 361 Degrees out for a spin, and I figured their performance-oriented trainer would be a good place to start. But do they resemble spires or buttresses more? Read to find out-and I’ll try not to inundate you all with my shaky-at-best knowledge of classical architecture.
Let’s start with the basics. There’s quite a bit going on with the Spire 4– this 8.2 oz (for a women’s 9), 9 mm drop shoe contains two midsole foams, Quik Spring +, an EVA designed for bounce, and Qu!k Foam, a Polyurethane encased EVA foam, placed mostly in the forefoot for a quick toe off and response. But I’m not done there, this shoe has carbon fiber. It’s 2020 and it’s just important to say that. While not of the full-length variety, Quik Spine gives the shoe longitudinal rigidity and a propulsive feel, aided by a broad, stable forefoot covered in rubber. The combination of foam types and carbon is showcased in the sole and it screams “we mean business.”
Up top, the Spire 4 provides a snug fit, especially in the midfoot (via Morphit system) that I appreciate. Its engineered mesh upper is breathable and festively designed, with splashes of color no matter what colorway you select. They remind me of little race cars with their splashy design and large number ‘3’ placed near the midfoot. This gives 361 kicks a unique look-as far as I’m aware, in a symbol-driven market, this is the only numeric logo I can think of.
The Spire 4 has an internal heel counter and the heel carries a ‘Spire’ callout in case you forget what you’re wearing. The toe box looks slightly narrow, but I was surprised to have plenty of room for splay. One of my favorite features was the subtle cushion in the forefoot enhanced by an Ortholite sock liner. Being a mid and forefoot striker, forefoot cushioning is one of the first things I look for.
Onto the ride. In short, I found it interesting– it reminded me of Nike Pegasus, Asics Nimbus, and nothing all at the same time. That makes no sense, just go with it. You take them out of the box and these bad boys are stiff. This is mostly because of the carbon shank. Rest easy, though, as they do open up and give a relatively cushioned, snappy ride. Heel and forefoot cushion are somewhat firm, but responsive.
The midfoot, over the Quikspine, is where the most rigidity is at. This isn’t a bad thing, but worth noting as this shoe seems to encourage a higher cadence that feels the best at moderate paces. Not that it feels bad (I took it on a few recovery runs without consequences), but more speed-oriented runners will appreciate this shoe’s character and mildly propulsive (for 2020 standards) feel. If you’re looking for a cush machine, you probably want to skip out on the Spire 4. Looking for something with good protection and a firmer feel and ride? 361 Degrees gives you a good option here. Oh, and 30 miles later they looked like I had never run in them, minus a little dirt. Durability appears above average.
AUSTIN: If you’d like a quick refresher of the 361 Spire, read the Spire 3 review that Thomas and I penned in July 2018. “It [the Spire 3] is a very good daily trainer that relies on proven technologies and existing materials,” says Thomas, if a quick summary is all you need before continuing to see how version four fares.
“Microchip/Ebony” is the colorway I secured for the Spire 4, which is fitting since I just started Mr. Robot (trust me, your Netflix/Prime/Hulu/HBO/Disney+ queue is just as robust as mine). The knit upper looks like hundreds of small microchips are flying through cyberspace from the forefoot to the heel. Speaking of which, the word “SPIRE” across the heel counter reminds me of the 1982 film Tron. Isn’t science-fiction fantastic? Indeed it is, though the pressing question is whether this shoe will get you out fast enough when that light cycle explodes in cinematic fashion as Daft Punk beats fill the air.
ADRIENNE: The Spire 4 to me has a good cushion to response ratio. If you’re paying attention, you can feel the road underneath you. Nowhere did I find any give or sink spots. Given the carbon shank, midfoot stability is very good, along with a nice broad base for landings and push offs. You also get a good amount of protection from impact. Since I run more on concrete than I would like, this is an important consideration for me when choosing trainers.
I can see this shoe being fairly versatile as I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on a long run or doing strides in it. Even though this shoe is stiffer than some of its counterparts, I experienced no during or post-run discomfort because of its construction. As silly and vain as this sounds, these shoes were good conversation pieces as a lot of people claimed to never have seen these shoes before. It’s a shame because these are solid shoes that a lot of people would enjoy.
AUSTIN: As a mid to forefoot striker, I loved the responsive cushioning up front. The first mile of the first run felt a little sluggish, but every additional run felt uber smooth. In my final run before this review, I managed a 5:05 pace for some 100-meter strides in front of my home (maintaining said pace for a 5K race is the equivalent of Tron—pure fiction). Durability, like the Spire 3, is stellar. Tongue padding and heel padding, two characteristics in shoes I always appreciate, were abundant. The midfoot is secure and the toe box is roomy.Shop 361 Degrees Spire 4
ADRIENNE: The midsole works; however, it tends to be a little busy, and some may not like the difference in stiffness along the length of the shoe. I didn’t see it as a big issue, but just throwing it out there. I also bet if 361 Degrees decides in the future to use a more rockered or beveled design, the shoe could really have some power. Also, given that so many models are good to go right out of the box, some midsole and outsole tweaks may make the Spire a more immediately user-friendly model. They feel a bit clunky before break-in. And obviously, for a shoe that is performance-oriented, it’s not exactly featherweight. One last thing, this shoe seems to struggle to determine exactly what kind of shoe it is. It’s quick transitioning, but it reminds me a bit of a traditional trainer from a few years ago.
AUSTIN: The Spire 4 is stiff, so if you like stiff shoes that feel stable, move this observation into the previous category. Personally, I’d prefer a little more flex. As Adrienne notes, a subsequent Spire with a rocker design will likely facilitate more power in the toe-off phase. As I noted in my review of the Spire 3, I wanted to see additional weight drop, which means that I’ll be asking for this change again in the Spire 5. Otherwise, the Spire 4 receives an A (which is surely the grade Adrienne received in her art history class).Shop 361 Degrees Spire 4
ADRIENNE: Minus a few quirks and some over-construction in my opinion, the 361 Degrees Spire 4 is a solid, durable trainer that splits the difference between a snappy fast shoe and your traditional daily trainer. This shoe appears to be suitable for most runners, but those with experience and a more efficient stride may get the most out of them. I give them an A for effort. Lighten up and tweak the flexibility, you’ll have a trainer competitive with the rest of them.
AUSTIN: At $155 (a $5 increase from the Spire 3), the Spire 4 is in the throes of heavy competition for a daily trainer that delivers softness and a touch of performance (see: the New Balance 1080 v10). Still, the Spire 4 is undoubtedly worth a look as runners of all ability levels will find it capable of handling long runs with ease.
You can pick up the at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop 361 Degrees Spire 4