361 Ortega 2 Review Facts
When thinking of running shoe manufacturers, the companies that most frequently come to mind are Nike and Adidas. These are two of the most popular and prolific manufacturers of athletic apparel, ranging from footwear to tracksuits and all manners of activewear. Although they are the companies most well known for pioneering the style now referred to as athleisure, there are many other brands that design and release similar products that haven’t received the recognition they deserve. One of these companies is 361 Degrees, a lesser-known footwear designer that has created many visually appealing and high-performing shoe models. One of these models is the Ortega 2, an iteration of their trail running shoe product line that offers some very enticing features for the hardcore off-road runner.
Although the outsole of the 361 Ortega 2 feels as though it was designed as an afterthought, it still provides proper support on all types of terrain. The flexible
and lightweight forefoot, in particular, offers terrific responsiveness to a degree that isn’t often seen in trail running shoes, helping to define this model from its contemporaries. The rearfoot features carbon rubber heel pods that help balance the forefoot’s flexibility with some much-needed stability in addition to providing improved durability. Unfortunately, the lack of significant treading or lug placement means that these shoes won’t offer the same degree of traction one might find from other shoes in this category, although it does come with the benefit of a decreased weight.
An ESS Rock Plate in the forefoot of the midsole adds additional protection from difficult terrain to the sensitive forefoot area. The rock plate may provide a stiffer feel but the superior protection
it offers from rocky terrain is extremely important and ensures that runners can last longer on the trail. The midsole and insole complement each other through the composition of a full QU!KFOAM bed, a proprietary material lauded for its flexible cushioning and rebound. This adds a layer of comfort which can absorb feedback, ensure protection for the underfoot, and improve the responsiveness of the entire shoe.
The upper is made from a breathable and water-resistant mesh which helps to provide comfort and support for the wearer’s entire foot. An ergonomic
and gusseted tongue adds additional comfort while simultaneously protecting the foot from the common trail running hazard of loose debris. The precision design of the Ortega 2 also allows runners to rely on them even when running on compromising terrain such as rocks that are slippery from recent rainfall. In essence, the upper protects the foot without allowing excessive slippage or internal movement so runners will be endowed with the confidence needed to complete their trail runs in record time.
This shoe weighs 9 ounces on average. This is certainly heavier than many common running shoes but is well within the average weight
range for trail running shoes. In fact, this weight is comparatively light when held up to many other trail running shoes that use bulkier material on their outsole and upper. The result of this design decision is that excellent protection from the elements and proper support on hard surfaces is provided by the Ortega 2 without feeling heavy or adding weight to a runner’s stride. This fact alone is a reason why more runners need to be aware of these criminally underrated shoes.
Being a trail shoe, it makes sense that 361 Degrees would place more emphasis on the protective aspects of its upper in lieu of its breathability. When moisture builds up from sweating
or if water enters the shoe during a rainy running session, it doesn’t breathe or drain well. This means that excessive moisture can build up and result in a soggy run with the potential of trench foot. For that reason, it’s recommended that runners take frequent breaks to let their feet breathe during intense running sessions on warm days in order to prevent the accumulation of sweat. Additionally, running while it is raining is discouraged, although running after it has been raining is certainly doable.
The greatest achievement in the design of the 361 Ortega 2 is its all-around comfort. For starters, ample cushioning has been implemented around the wearer’s ankle and Achilles tendon
with the aid of the shoe’s padded tongue and collar. The ample padding provides some water resistance as well, which can help to provide a dry run or hike in rainy weather. Unfortunately, in the event that water enters the shoe, drainage and breathability is limited due to this comfortable cushioning. On the plus side, this shoe manages to avoid the common pitfall of excessive stiffness that commonly comes with this much cushioning. When implemented in tandem with the ESS Rock Plate located in the midsole, these shoes are some of the most comfortable when choosing to run in some of nature’s most uncomfortable environments.
One potential reason for 361 Degrees not receiving the same level of acclaim as shoes from Adidas and Nike is due to its unconventional sense of style. By no means is the Ortega 2 an ugly shoe; considerable thought has been put into the coordination of its colors and the aesthetic sensibilities of its shape
and design. However, this trail shoe is a bold departure from the common styles seen in most other running shoes, making it a polarizing pick for many. If you’re the type of runner that likes to go with the flow, you’ll likely be turned off by the colors and designs offered by this trail runner. However, those who are willing to make a bold fashion statement with their footwear will likely appreciate the Ortega 2 for its unconventional style.
The heel of this trail runner was designed with the most thought put into its durability. This was accomplished by the carbon rubber pods, which carry the additional benefit of providing increased reliability during extreme weather conditions and running environments, helping these shoes to last for quite a while. The upper is made with a similar design principle, adding several layers of cushioning and protection that can withstand road hazards and repetitive impacts. The outsole of the Ortega 2 may not look as durable as these other areas of the shoe due to its lack of solid treading but it will certainly provide enough resilience to last a few hundred miles at least.
One major positive of the 361 Ortega 2 is that it feels protective from surrounding elements without causing excessive drag or burden on the wearer’s feet and legs. The upper and heel both provide terrific protection and fit just tightly enough to prevent internal slippage, allowing for running on various terrains without concern of injury. The ESS Rock Plate located in the forefoot of the midsole provides especially impressive foot protection by shielding the wearer’s sensitive toes from any errant road debris. Because of these convenient amenities, runners can keep moving regardless if the terrain they run on is rocky, gravelly, or is comprised of any other compromising material that may otherwise affect their experience.
The forefoot of this trail running shoe from 361 Degrees is lightweight and flexible. This translates into quicker strides for the wearer which means a faster running experience overall. The forefoot also provides fantastic foot-to-ground responsiveness due to this design feature, helping to reduce the lagging feeling that can often occur while wearing other trail runners. This allows runners to rely on the Ortega 2 for quick feedback when reacting to any compromising terrain.
The Ortega 2 pulls off the impressive feat of feeling supportive without also feeling excessively weighty. Part of the reason for this is the even distribution of weight along the top and bottom of the shoe. While it is common for trail runners to concentrate most of their weight on the underfoot, the lack of outsole treading and placement of additional upper cushioning provides a more comfortable weight distribution. This frees up space for additional support being provided to the most important areas of the shoe, such as the carbon rubber heel pods that ensure a supportive rearfoot. Finally, while the midsole’s rock plate was intended more for protection, its rigidity comes with a fringe benefit of increased support.
The 361 Ortega 2 Trail shoes provide excellent stability regardless of the terrain. They allow runners to quickly stride without concern about what may be underfoot. While providing support, they do have a harder run which can be a bit uncomfortable for long-distances on the pavement, but being that the shoes are designed for trail runs, this is to be expected. Don’t let the lack of significant outsole treading fool you, these shoes are up for the challenge.
When shopping for a pair of decent trail running shoes, the average price tends to be considerably greater than that for an ordinary runner or cross-trainer. This is due to the additional materials needed in order to provide the support and traction needed to safely run on harsh trails. However, the 361 Ortega 2 has a design style that is different from many traditional trail runners due to the decreased weight and more selective use of protective materials. Because of this, the asking price for this product is less than the average cost. This does come with the consequence of decreased treading on the outsole, which may dissuade some safety-minded trail runners. These are definitely a pair of shoes that are worth the price of admission.
Testers were surprised how much traction the low-set outsole provided during a running session. The Ortega 2 allows easy transitioning between terrains, such as from a road to a gravel path. For races such as the Tough Mudder or Spartan, athletes may not want to use these shoes in lieu of a model with more grip for the especially muddy portions. However, the Ortega 2 is perfectly adequate for running on trails, in forests, over hills, and through gravel; in these environments, 361’s shoes really shine and will be very tough to beat.
The shoe is reported as being rather stiff, but not to the point that it doesn't flex when needed. This is due to the selective addition of thinner material around the forefoot; with this small design feature, the Ortega 2 is saved from feeling uncomfortably rigid. After all, no one wants to run in a pair of shoes that feel like tombs for their feet.
These shoes are extremely reliable, regardless of the terrain. Whether it's used on muddy terrain or hard surfaces with loose gravel, runners report they can trust this shoe to provide the proper stability and reliability needed to quickly traverse. The sturdy design supports the stability with a precise fit and a slim toe box. The upper and heel protect the foot without slippage allowing runners to trust the shoe. The shoe has a harder run which adds to the stability of the shoe. This can be a bit overwhelming on hard surfaces such as pavement but excels on trails.
9.5mm of elevation difference between the heel and forefoot of this shoe’s midsole is significantly higher than most other trail runners, placing it closer to the average drop for casual running shoes. While this will be an uncomfortable transition for experienced trail runners, individuals used to running on tracks and fields will have an easier time adjusting to the Ortega 2 as a result of this design decision.
- Extra padding around the collar and tongue
- Rock plate in the midsole protects the wearer’s toes from road hazards
- Flexible forefoot provides responsiveness and comfort
- Carbon rubber heel cup ensures rearfoot support and stability
- Water resistant construction on the outside but poor water management on the inside
The Ortega 2 is a trail running shoe that defies tradition in many different aspects of its design and appearance. This is a polarizing pick, but those who are looking for a product that goes against the grain will find a lot to love with this product from 361 Degrees.