361 is very new to the running shoe world, but they have gained the attention of runners with the release of the Meraki. This is a neutral, high-mileage trainer features a full ground contact outsole and promises the runner a comfortable ride, no matter how many miles his training run takes him.
Although other 361 shoes were received with less enthusiasm, all levels of runners were impressed with its cushioning, fit, 361 patented technologies like Fitz-Rite and Qu!k Spine, and pressure free tongue, among many other features. But, just because every other runner likes this shoe doesn’t mean you will. Keep reading our wear-tested review to determine if the 361 Meraki should be the next shoe you add to your closet.
The full ground contact outsole of the Meraki is made of high abrasion rubber. This material is extremely durable and offers a smooth ride and plenty of traction. Qu!k Flex engineering is used to mold the forefoot for enhanced ground contact, improved acceleration, and better toe-offs.
The midsole is constructed with 361's unique Qu!kfoam and QDP technology. This gives the midsole layers of foam that include a standard, firm foam on the bottom, then a thin TPU shank, and then a final layer of gel-foam. This combination provides enough cushioning yet firmness to support your feet through longer mileage training
. The Fitz-Rite overlays create a unique pattern, but the exoskeleton they create keeps the foot securely in place. The rigid heel counter prevents heel slippage but doesn't cause irritation along the achilles. The removable insole is made of a thin layer of Qu!kfoam and is easy to remove.
The upper has a seamless open mesh on the top forefoot area, which is also called the vamp, with a unique synthetic overlay design on the midfoot area called the Fitz-Rite midfoot, which is designed to help hold the food in place. The upper provides a good deal of flexibility
, especially in the forefoot area, but is secured down with 361's unique midfoot overlay design. Also on the upper is 361's unusual flat thin tongue which they refer to as the "Pressure Free Tongue." Some runners felt the provided laces were extremely long and had to replace them to prevent tripping.
While its not a lightweight
shoe, the Meraki, which weighs in at 10.2oz in the men's version and 8.5oz in the women's version, is a reasonable weight.
The Meraki uses a seamless open mesh upper predominantly in the forefoot area which allows for a good amount of air flow. The overlay system fortunately did not take away from the breathability of the shoe. Runners felt that this shoe allowed their foot to stay well ventilated and cool
, even on long runs, and appreciated the thin tongue in regards to this aspect as well.
Be prepared to make statement (or not) with the Meraki. I received a pair of the Meraki's in the Diva Pink/Tart color combination and they certainly stood out. This hot pink purple combo though shockingly bright
were a color combo that I enjoyed. Not interested in making such a loud statement? The other choice for women is Sleet/Ebony which is simply light and dark gray and from the picture, looks something straight from a black and white movie. For the men, there is also the Sleet/Ebony color option and a brighter (albeit not as bright as Diva Pink/Tart) True Blue/Black combo.
The overall design is very reminiscent of other more popular running shoe brands on the market, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Obviously the market speaks to this type of design and personally, I had no problem with it either. I found the Meraki to be a fun running shoe.
After more than 50 miles in these shoes, I have not seen any premature wear anywhere on the shoe. The outsole is holding up great. The midsole, if nothing else, is even more comfortable than when I first got the shoe. There are no tears on the upper either. The Meraki is doing great in terms of durability, and I don't see it breaking down anytime shoe. This is due to the durable materials used in its construction, such as high abrasion rubber, seamless knit, and foam that doesn't break down easily.
Though the Meraki is not a stability
shoe, it is surprisingly stable due to the intricate overlay system holding the foot down in the midfoot area and the stable, but snappy midsole which 361 calls the QDP System. This makes for a very solid base and in turn, prevents any unnecessary movement. The cushioning also does a good job of absorbing shock which helps prevent joint related injuries.
A highlight of this shoe is excellent responsiveness. Like other 361 shoes, this shoe comes equipped with the QDP system, which is a 3 layer midsole consisting of QU!CKFOAM and a stable rebound EVA. This combo makes for a stable but snappy responsiveness. Also adding to the overall responsiveness of the shoe is the QU!K Flex forefoot, which is what it sounds like: a flexible forefoot. This allows for natural foot movement and a better connection with the ground in order to push off more efficiently.
The Meraki will do a great job supporting the neutral runner
that's planning to pound many, many miles on the pavement. The midsole and outsole provide plenty of cushioning that makes this a great choice as a daily trainer
or for those looking to train for longer distance races
. There is no pronation control in this shoe, but the overlay system and midsole provide a really stable base.
The Meraki was designed for roads
, pavement, and other smooth surfaces. While a little bit of trail won't hurt, the outsole will provide the best traction for road running. This is especially evident in the outsole construction. It is made of high abrasion rubber which can withstand the wear and tear caused by asphalt and cement, and has tread patterns that offer greater protection in high wear areas.
The Meraki is priced very fairly. This shoe was recently released, so you will most likely find it at full price. However, when the newer version of this shoe, along with the 361 spring line, are released, the price will most likely drop.
I took the Meraki on mostly smooth surfaces, such as roads and pavement, and it did very well. While I took it on some mild, non-technical trail which it did perfectly fine on, you'll get the best traction on smooth surfaces. And I even got a chance to run on both wet and slightly snowy
surfaces without any problems.
The midsole and outsole of the Meraki keeps the shoe on the stiffer side, but it proves to work to its advantage as far as energy return and responsiveness go. Even the upper isn't overly flexible as there is a good amount of overlay securing the foot down. And having a super flexible shoe isn't necessarily a good thing. The "snap" in the midsole and the slightly more flexibility in the forefoot area made this shoe probably seem more flexible than it really was.
Like mentioned before, this is not designed to be a stability shoe, but it did provide a stable ride. The stability is mostly in part by the Fitz-Rite midfoot system which locks the foot down. The heel counter, which is rigid but not restrictive, also keeps the foot in place and helps provide stability as you run.
The Meraki has a 9mm drop which is just a little under an average 10mm drop. This drop will feel comfortable to most runners used to running in a traditional running shoe.
Fitz-Rite midfoot design
QU!KFOAM and QDP System midsole
QU!K Flex forefoot
Pressure Free Tongue
The Meraki is the first shoe released by 361 that has received an overwhelmingly positive response. A new brand to the running shoe market, 361 is improving their offerings with every release. The Meraki is intended for high mileage road running, and offers athletes a solid platform, great traction, a secure fit, and a well-ventilated workout experience. Pick up a pair of Meraki's if you are in need of a daily trainer- you will definitely be impressed.