Chinese running shoe brand 361 Degrees is huge in the Asian market right now (currently the second most popular running shoe brand) and while relatively new to North America, is already establishing itself in the world of triathlon. With ambassadors like Alicia Kaye, Jarrod Schoemaker and Taylor Reid, the shoes are behind some fast pro run splits and the brand offers a large variety of models so all runners will be sure to find something that works for them. Recently, I tested the brand’s Shield 2 model — the second version of the brand’s neutral stability, high-mileage shoe that will serve you in your long runs and everyday runs and features breathable mesh panels, thus making it a good race day option, too. It’s the training shoe of choice for Reid right now, who has been laying down some incredible run splits lately.
I took the Shield 2 on all types of runs and tested them on the treadmill, gravel and the road. After more than 150 km in the shoe, I was pleasantly surprised by how little wear and tear it showed — it’s certainly a high-quality and durable shoe, in part thanks to a two-part foam system with a rubber coating that makes contact with the ground and can withstand lots of pounding.
The shoe felt well-cushioned and had enough support under the arch but still felt light and comfortable around the rest of the foot, including the heel. What sets it apart from other shoes is its special QU!kFOAM technology. Used on the insole and midsole of the shoe, this technology gives it a noticeably bouncy and flexible feel. For comparison, it reminded me of Asics’ Flytefoam. You feel like you’re getting an extra spring in each step which helps you conserve energy and stay light on your feet no matter the distance. It’s an especially helpful feature towards the end of long runs, which is why where I feel the Shield 2 gives you an advantage. I’d consider the Shield 2 as a great race day option for middle-of-the-pack long distance triathletes who want a bit of extra cushioning and support but are also looking for something that will help keep speed on the last kilometres.
Another feature of the Shield 2 that triathletes will appreciate is the breathable, mesh upper. This is especially helpful to keep your feet cool during hot summer training runs and races.
The Shield 2 weighs in at 8.2 oz (women’s size 10). It retails for $120 USD and is available on 361 Degrees’ website.