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361 FANTOM Multiple Tester Review


Matt:  The 361 Spinject remains one of my favorite simple neutral trainers.  A great fitting upper, a slightly wider base and a firm but responsive QU!KFOAM sole made for a versatile lightweight trainer that kept me going for miles on trails and road.  The Fantom is not an evolution of that shoe.  Per 361 it is a new shoe that replaces Spinject moving forward (although the spirit moves on).  The Fantom is 361's newest simple neutral trainer.  QU!KFOAM pods in the heel and forefoot remain with an all new knit mesh upper that provides a snug and breathable fit.  In a world of complex shoes, the Fantom is worth discussing.

David: The 361 Fantom is a new neutral trainer produced by 361 that will hit stores soon. The shoe hugs the foot well with a light airy upper and rides smooth at virtually any pace with QU!KFOAM technology. This is definitely a fun new shoe on the market and I'll write about why below.

Nathan: For most of my running I sport various neutral trainers for training and even longer races, so I always look forward to trying new ones out. Enter the 361 FANTOM. This is technically a new line of trainers being put out by 361, but for those trying to compare it to something, it has a lot of similarities to the 361 Spinject (which I actually enjoyed quite a bit). It shares similar features in the midsole and outsole as well as a knit upper, but the FANTOM has done each better than the Spinject. Let's check out how.


Specifications (per 361 Tech Sheet)
Weight: 9.9oz (men's), 8.2oz (women's)
Stack Height: 17-25mm stack
Drop: 8mm drop
Classification: Neutral Trainer

FIT/UPPER

Matt: The 361 Fantom fits true to size length wise and snug throughout the shoe.  The upper of the 361 Fantom is made up of a redesigned knit mesh.  The mesh is completely seamless and sits extremely comfortably against the foot (even against bare skin).  The fit is on the snugger side and is more consistent with a performance trainer at first.  Within a few minutes, the mesh will adapt to your foot and give you a little more room, mostly in the forefoot.  The forefoot mesh does stretch and offsets the strong taper at the toebox.  At first my toes were crunched a little due to the taper, but with time the mesh starts to stretch.  The heel is particularly snug thanks to the fit and the heel counter.  There is a significant heel counter in the rear of the shoe that is offset by decent heel collar cushioning.  The tongue features a "Stay Put" design that does exactly as it states.  The tongue fits very comfortably against the foot and does not move or slide.  The mesh upper is also extremely breathable and has been wonderful as the temperatures are starting to rise here in Southern California.



David: The 361 Fantom is very true to size (maybe just a smidgen narrow through the midfoot, but that's it). The knit mesh upper breathes very well and provides great ventilation for the foot throughout the run. The material also gives a nice gentle hugging sensation across the entire foot front to back! Stay Put technology on the tongue helps the shoe fit snug on the foot without feeling binding. The top of the tongue is even designed to relieve pressure over the top of the foot!

Rigid heel counter with additional padding
Nathan: The upper was the most notable difference between the Spinject and the new FANTOM. The FANTOM has a seamless knit upper that had much more flexibility and ventilation than the Spinject (which to me was much too stiff for me). I typically am not a big fan of knit uppers, but this one was close to the top. The only issue I had was some overheating of my feet on the really hot and humid days, but not enough to cause any issues. It held the foot well and was flexible enough to accommodate many foot types. For a 361 shoe, it has more room in the forefoot as well, which only adds to its ability to fit a variety of feet.  There is a rigid heel counter, but as shown above, there is additional padding that made it very comfortable for my calcaneus (heel bone) and achilles. 361 added a "stay put" lacing system that, although simple, did a great job in stopping slippage of the thin pressure free tongue. There is some additional support in the upper that hugs the midfoot and holds it stable. I wear a size 9, and it felt true to size in both length and width.



RIDE/MIDSOLE

Matt: The ride of the 361 Fantom is on the firmer side throughout.  After 15-20 miles it begins to soften somewhat, but still retains the classic firmer ride associated with QU!KFOAM.  The sole is mostly EVA with QU!KFOAM pods in the heel and forefoot (similar to the zoom air bags in many Nike shoes like the Pegasus), so it is consistent no matter where you land.  The QU!K Flex 4Foot in the front provides a great deal of flexibility, allowing for very smooth toe-offs.  Although there are flex grooves throughout the shoe, most of the flexibility is centered in the forefoot.  The heel and midfoot are stiff for the first several miles but breaks in a little with time.  The additional stiffness does provide a little more stability in the rearfoot, although this is a neutral shoe.  There is a slight heel bevel in the rearfoot, which is rare for a 361 shoe.  This does provide a little smoother landing, however heel landings are somewhat jarring due to the stiffness.  After the shoe breaks in however this reduces a great deal.

David: The 361 gives a very pleasant ride for those who are looking for a responsive shoe with just a skosh of cushion. The QU!KFOAM pods in the forefoot and and heel give a smooth uniform level of cushion for any type of striker. A feature I am very fond of is the QU!K Flex4Foot. This feature helps with the toe off portion of gait and provides the shoe a propulsive like sensation. With the shoe being on the lighter end, the shoe feels amazing when the pace is moderate to moderately fast. I find myself actively reminding myself to slow down in this shoe.

Nathan: I consider the FANTOM a "no-nonsense" shoe, particularly in the ride (which isn't a bad thing!). Given that the midsole is primarily made of a consistent foam with QU!KFOAM pods, it is a slightly firmer ride. However, compared to the Spinject it does have a softer foam (which you can feel even when pushing on it) and I found that it only grew softer as I ran in the shoe. The full contact outsole, slight heel bevel, and QU!K Flex created a stable and smooth ride for me at most speeds (I'll get into this in the speed section). The ride only got better over time with this shoe, but didn't pack anything remarkably groundbreaking in terms of propulsion or responsiveness. The 8mm drop in combination of the placement of the QU!KFOAM pods made this a suitable shoe for running with a heel or mid-forefoot strike.



STABILITY

Matt:  As a neutral trainer, the 361 Fantom has no posting or specific stability measures.  The heel counter is quite thick in the back and does a great job of stabilizing the heel/calcaneus in the rear of the shoe.  The stiffness in the heel and midfoot also provide a stable place to land.  Outside of that, this is a simple neutral shoe.

David: The 361 has no formal stability features (as it is a neutral shoe), but delivers a sense of stability very well throught the QU!KFOAM. The hindfoot has thicker portion on the medial end, controlling excessive pronation moments upon the loading response portion of gait while providing a smooth transition across the other foot. This is a neutral shoe with just the right amount of stability to keep neutral runners happy. No posts, relatively rigid with some flexibility and no messing around.

Nathan: This is a neutral shoe, but the 361 QU!KFOAM has always provided a more stable cushioning system for transitioning from the rear to forefoot, and that is no different with this shoe. Combine that with the rigid heel cup for rearfoot stability, full contact outsole, and slightly wider forefoot, you have yourself a neutral shoe that is a stable platform to operate off of. Of note, the upper did a great job of holding my foot in place during sharper turns on the trails I run around town.



SPEED

Matt: For a neutral trainer, the Fantom can definitely pick up the speed when necessary.  Although not the fastest shoe and not something I would choose to race in, the Fantom has been my go to shoe for workouts when my body is beat up.  A great shoe for uptempo long runs, easy runs, fartleks and tempos when you are not ready to go all out.  This is not a shoe I would use for fast intervals or racing however given that there are far lighter shoes on the market.

David: I like to run fast and this shoe lets me do it. It loses some snap at the highest of speeds (faster than 5 minutes/mile) but rides incredibly smooth at moderately fast speeds. This shoe is great for tempo runs or fartlek style workouts, and can also double as a daily trainer.

Nathan: When I first put on this shoe, I thought it was going to be a new addition to my performance training rotation. It just had that feel to it. However, as I ran in it more, I found I enjoyed it much more at more casual tempos. After the shoe broke in, the best feel the shoe had was when I was running 8-9 minutes per mile. I could feel a good amount of cushion and it would stay consistent throughout even longer runs. The shoe still did well with tempo workouts (for me between 6:30-7 minutes per mile), but by mile 8-10 of a tempo run, I would start feeling the weight and it would get slightly more clunky, particularly at heel strike. If I used them for any speed workouts or race paces (sub 6 minutes per mile), the weight of the shoe held me back a bit.


DURABILITY

Matt: Despite the amount of exposed EVA, the 361 Fantom has a decently durable ride.  Thanks to the additional rubber in the heel and forefoot, my pair has barely any wear after 70 miles.  I fully expect to get 300-400 miles out of these and others will likely get more (as I am pretty hard on shoes).  The ride has remained similar if not slightly softer since the initial step in.  The cushioning remains consistent after the shoe breaks in.  I have not experienced any loose ends in the upper and expect the knit mesh to continue to give a breathable snug fit.

David: This is a very durable shoe for knit neutral trainer. I was expecting the upper to breakdown but it is holding strong. With 70 miles on the shoe, the sole shows hardly any wear. I am very impressed with the durability of the 361 Fantom. The shoe can easily handle mild trails. With a knit upper I may be nervous to take it into serious trails where it may rub up on really course surfaces frequently.

Nathan: Up to this point I have not seen any significant signs of wear or breakdown of the outsole, cushioning, or the upper. There is the break-in period for this shoe, but after those 20 miles or so, the ride has remained consistent without decreased responsiveness or cushioning of the foam. There is slight wear of some of the exposed EVA at the point of transition between the mid and forefoot, but otherwise has minimal wear. I do want to speak to one design issue I've had with this outsole. You can see the full contact is made of individual pods. I often am running on packed gravel trails, and it is common for small rocks to get lodged between the lugs. A lot of times it isn't an issue and I just take them out after the run. However, there are times where the rock is large enough where it is felt with each step, so I have to stop and take it out. It isn't a deal breaker, but something to consider if you are primarily running on gravel trails or rail to trail paths.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

Normal (or at least what we define as normal) walking and running gait typically involves landing at the posterior lateral (back outside) portion of the heel for a heel strike pattern (Perry, 1992).  Forefoot strike patterns in running (don't do that while you are walking) typically will land on the lateral aspect of the forefoot.  As most people transition forward, they will toe off in terminal stance optimally over the big toe or centered over the 2nd-3rd toes (some people who resupinate excessively and lack adequate peroneus longus activation or strength will toe off the lateral aspect of the forefoot).  This is something that is well known to medical professionals, biomechanists and those who study movement.  Yet for some reason it is extremely rare to see outsole rubber placed on the lateral aspect of the forefoot.

Every company puts more outsole rubber on the lateral heel because most runners are heel strikers.  75-90% of runners in race situations are observed to be heel strikers (Hasegawa, et al., 2007; Kasmer et al., 2013; Larson et al., 2011). Most of these people land at the lateral aspect of the heel. Thus it makes sense to have extra rubber there since people will wear that out. When it comes to the forefoot, most rubber is placed on the central or medial forefoot. While that is where a good number of people toe off, that is not where people typically land who are forefoot strikers. Most runners will land on the lateral side of the foot because they are setting themselves up to pronate. By allowing pronation to occur, the body is utilizing the midfoot, subtalar joints and more as a way to attenuate shock. I am a broken record when it comes to reminding people that pronation is normal (except when you can't control it) and incredibly important. Those who forefoot strike also pronate and to do so must land on the lateral aspect of the foot. Anecdotally, there typically will be far more wear and tear on the outsole where people land vs where they toe off (remember, there is next to no literature on wear patterns). I understand why most companies put outsole rubber primarily on the medial side. For many people, that is where their natural gait patterns goes through during terminal stance. However, when it comes to landing, it would really help if they would start adding some additional outsole rubber on the lateral side of the forefoot or even midfoot. The durability is great in the 361 Fantom, this is just a comment that has been building up for a long time based on the observation of footwear design over many years.

-Matthew Klein PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt:  In a world of crazy tech, meaningless catch phrases meant to dazzle consumers, the 361 Fantom does a great deal right by being simple.  A great mesh upper provides a snug and slightly adaptable fit while a smooth sole provides firmer cushioning for long and uptempo miles alike.  This shoe does take some time to break in, so a little patience is required to get the optimal fit and ride.  For a durable slightly lighter weight workhorse, take a look at the 361 Fantom.

David: I am a fan. A big one. This is a neutral trainer that provides just enough stability to keep my form from breaking down late into a run, while also being highly responsive to me pushing the pace. It is light, breathable, and can tackle pretty much every scenario possible. I do pretty much everything in it besides racing or running on intense trails where I know it will get roughed up. This shoe is for a runner of any foot strike looking for a firm responsive ride with just a little cushion.

Nathan: The FANTOM took everything I liked about the Spinject and made it all a bit better. For neutral runners primarily running on road who are looking for a consistent, stable, and slightly firmer ride, this is a great shoe to pound out miles upon miles. It performed best for me in the 8-9 minute per mile range on long and short runs alike, but also is light enough to perform really well for mid range tempo runs as well.

361 FANTOM (left), 361 SPINJECT (right)

GRADING


Fit/Upper          7.7/10 (M: 7/10  D: 8/10 N: 8/10 )
Ride/Midsole    8.3/10 (M: 8/10  D: 9/10 N: 8/10 )
Stability            8.3/10 (M: 8/10  D: 8/10 N: 9/10 )
Speed                8/10 (M: 8/10  D: 8.5/10 N: 7.5/10 )
Durability          8.5/10 (M: 9/10  D: 8/10 N: 8.5/10 )

Total Score: 81.6% (M: 80%  D: 83% N: 82% )

Doctors of Running Youtube Review of the 361 Fantom

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
PhD Candidate APU: Rehabilitation and Movement Science
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy


Dr. David Salas DPT PTLA CSCS
Physical Therapy License Applicant
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at 361 for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently we have 70 miles (Matt), 50 miles (Nathan) and 70 miles (David) on our pairs. Our views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

References
1. Hasegawa, J., Yamauchi, T., Kraemer, W. (2007). Foot Strike Patterns of Runners at the 15-Km Point During An Elite-Level Half Marathon. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: 31(3): 888-893.
2. Kasmer, M., Liu, X., Roberts, K., Valadao, J. (2013). Foot-stroke pattern and performance in a marathon. Int J Sports Physiol Perform: 8(3): 386-92.
3. Larson, P., Higgens, E., Kaminski, J. Decker, T., Preble, J., Lyons, D., McIntyre, Normile, A. (2011). Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race. Journal of Sports Sciences: 29(15): 1665-1673.
4. Perry, J. (1992). Gait Analysis: Normal and Pathological Function. Thorafare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated.

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