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361° TAROKO Multiple Tester Review


The 361 TAROKO is a new trail/trainer hybrid with a durable knit/mesh upper that shines across nearly all terrains.  The trail shoe market is full of shoes that span from minimalist to maximalist, but the TAROKO finds a happy medium that makes it versatile and fun to run in. When in the market for a trail shoe, finding one that is comfortable and is going to suit the needs of trails around you is important. This shoe may be one of the more versatile options out there, so let's check out how.

Specifications (per 361)
Weight: 10.7 ounces
Drop: 9 mm
Classification: Trail + Trainer Hybrid

HIGHLIGHTS

David:
The 361 Taroko really shines in canyon and foothill style trails.  The shoe is lightweight and runs like a trainer while still maintaining stability on turns and holding traction across various terrains.  The shoe's upper is incredibly breathable and still maintains durable structure.  Though it is not waterproof, it does a good job of keeping moisture out of the shoes.



Nathan: The 361 Taroko was a pleasant surprise to my trail shoe rotation. A lighter weight, versatile shoe that hits a sweet spot of cushion and responsiveness. A breathable yet protective upper held up great throughout running in different conditions and kept the foot comfortable and dry despite not technically being waterproof (thanks to the upper's porous nature that allowed quick drainage). The outsole allows for good traction and stability on most surfaces and the midsole provides a smooth ride on both tame and more technical trails. A great option for a hybrid shoe.

FIT

David:
The Taroko has a knit mesh upper that is designed to help keep the midfoot in place (Fitz-Rite) and keep pressure off of the dorsum of the foot with a pressure free tongue.  The upper is incredibly breathable and has been tested through 100 degree weather (thanks SoCal) and some good technical trails. The knit upper has a little stretch to it late in runs, which I have noticed may loosen up the lace hold over the foot in later miles. This can be avoided by lacing tight initially, or creating a slightly more snug fit on the upper. Otherwise, it breathes well and keeps moisture out.  The heel cup could be a little stronger at the distal portion of the calcaneus to help hold the foot better.  I have noticed with steep inclines I begin to experience some heel slippage, more so when the upper stretches.  I love the upper, I just wish it was a little more snug to start with, then stretch a little.


Nathan: The Taroko fits true to size and has a typical toe box for 361, which means that it runs just slightly more narrow. The knit upper is adaptable, which will help accommodate wider feet both in the midfoot and forefoot. I am not typically a fan of knit uppers, but the Taroko has done it right. It is robust enough to protect the foot if running through tougher terrain, but remained very breathable and comfortable. The only issue is that the upper stretched over the first 10 miles and the midfoot was a bit more loose than I would like. All other areas, particularly the toe box, felt fantastic. Consistent with most 361 shoes, it has the pressure free tongue, which disappears on your foot and feels great. However, it was a bit short (not an issue I've had with any other 361s) and I did have to pull it up a few times before heading out on runs.

RIDE/GRIP

David:
The Taroko gives a very different ride than other trail shoes on the market. With the Qu!kfoam midsole, the shoe provides more cushioning than the average trail shoe, but still maintains the classic rigidity and stability that most trail shoes provide.  The lugs on the shoe provide great traction across all terrains, for I have yet to slip in this shoe testing it on rocks, packed dirt, and muddy surfaces. The 9 mm drop is in line with the daily trainer feel this shoe gives.  The ride is lighter and more fluid than other trail shoes so it is a great option on and off the trail.  When off the trail it still rides more firm than a daily trainer, but not so much so that you are landing on hard surface (like how many trail shoes feel on concrete in my opinion).  This is truly a hybrid and shines across most trails you will encounter.


Nathan: The Taroko is very versatile and hits the sweet spot between cushion and responsiveness for a trail shoe, and also allows it to function well over pavement when needed. The Qu!kfoam midsole provides just enough cushion to bring these on the road to get to the trails. It has a traditional 9mm drop, but given the thickness of the outsole, heel striking on pavement felt a bit more harsh. Once on trails, everything from heel strike to toe off felt smooth. The grooves in the forefoot of the outsole lead to a smooth toe off as well. The outsole is made of a thick blown and carbon rubber, which has lugs that provided good traction on all the terrain I went on (wet, dry, loose, packed). Grip is important, and I had no issues with the Taroko. Given the lack of a rock plate, the use of blown rubber, and the lower stack height, you will feel some looser rocks from time to time, but those features also are what make the ride so smooth and allow it to function well as a hybrid shoe.



STABILITY

David: The 361 TAROKO again shines as a hybrid in the stability category.  With how rigid the outsole is, it adds stability.  In the picture below you can see that there is a small arch moment to help with navicular lift, without being formally posted.  The shoe is more stable than a neutral trainer and probably just a hair behind a pure trail shoe. The heel cup holds the calcaneus well for the most part, but probably could be just a little more snug.


Nathan: The Taroko is a neutral shoe, so there is no formal stability mechanisms. The thick outsole and the firm nature of the Qu!kfoam do add inherent stability. Overall, very stable. The slight loosening of the upper does create some instability when making sharper turns.

SPEED

David:
The TAROKO does well as a training shoe and could potentially be used for ultra racing since it is so breathable and a little lighter than some of the other trail shoes.  I have been able to bomb through some trails at 6 minute pace without any problems.


Nathan: I found that this shoe felt great at all paces. I could plod along for long casual trail runs and the shoe felt fresh the entire time. Given the lighter weight for a trail shoe and the responsive nature of the Qu!kfoam, I had no problem pushing the pace both on and off the trails. Again, versatility is the word with this shoe, and it could be an options for some longer races, assuming you aren't an elite racer.

DURABILITY

David: The TAROKO is just as durable as any other trail shoe on the market.  The outsole shows hardly any wear after 40 miles through trails and roads.  The Qu!kfoam ride has maintained well with no signs of degradation. Even though the upper is of the knit nature, I have no concerns with it tearing. Potentially a couple hundred miles down the road I could see this shoe potentially breaking down a little quicker just because of the Qu!kfoam midsole and spacing on the outsole when compared other more firm trail shoes, but the shoe does a great job in the durability category.


Nathan: The Taroko has held up great so far. The upper shows no signs of wear besides the bit of stretching that occurred early on. The Qu!ckfoam midsole is tried and true, and has not changed a bit since testing these. The outsole is one area that is a bit less durable than other trial shoes that have an outer dedicated purely for trails (such as Continental tire rubber for Adidas), but given its thickness it still will last a long time.

THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

David: As a DPT I feel that the TAROKO is a trail hybrid that many will enjoy.  The word that comes to my mind is safe.  The 9 mm drop is a familiar feel to many other trainers on the market and the Qu!kfoam midsole cushions and smooths out the ride where other trail shoes leave it firm.  For not having any formal posting, the shoe is as stable as a neutral build comes! The outsole of the TAROKO has a small lift in the midfoot that forms an arch like pathway to help with navicular lift and intrinsic foot stability.  I appreciate the "arch" comes further back just anterior the calcaneus near the talonavicular joint.  Though this is not a formal stability posting, the build of this will help prevent any dangerous pronation (note: some pronation is a GOOD thing) moment at the subtalar joint without locking the foot up with proximal and distal posting.  It is subtle, I like it, and I think most people out there are going to like this design.

RECOMMENDATIONS 

David:
The TAROKO does a great job of blending together trail running and daily training (which can overlap a great deal).  My main recommendation for this shoe would be making the upper a little more snug on the foot.  The upper is amazing and has a little stretch to it which can really help out in later miles with swelling, but the way the shoe fits statically is about how I would like to see it dynamically (post-stretch). This is a small recommendation for an otherwise great shoe.  The heel cup also could be made either a little firmer or more narrow at the distal calcaneus to ensure no heel slippage.



Nathan: I love this shoe as a hybrid trainer and I hope it continues to be improved without making it specialize too far to trails (that's what the 361 Yushan is for). The one area I'd love to see improved is the security of the midsole. Currently it stretches just a bit too much despite the internal layering for security. Secure up the midfoot and this shoe will shine even more. A slightly bigger heel bevel may also smooth out heel striking and negate some of the effects of the thick outsole.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

David:
This might be my favorite section for this shoe, because it is so diverse.  This is really a shoe that will work for nearly anyone.  The shoe is more stable than pretty much any other neutral shoe out there, but not so much so that the shoe locks the foot out.  The 9 mm drop is familiar for most and should work for all types of foot strikes.  For those who enjoy high stability and formal postings, this may be the one population that might want to look for something a little more rigid. As stated earlier, this shoe shines in foothills and canyon trails (though it can definitely handle rugged mountain trails) and the upper breathes incredibly well.  For those who may have canyons and mountains in warmer climates (I live in Southern California) this is a great option, though it will still do great in nearly any other climates except for maybe heavy consistent rainfall. If I did a 23 and me on this hybrid I probably give it 70% trail, 30% trainer (for those wondering to what degree of hybrid).  For $110 dollars I think this is in must try category for those who are looking for a hybrid shoe.



Nathan: For someone looking for a shoe to primarily take on the trails but may need a bit of versatility for some pavement running to get there, this is a great option. A lightweight, comfortable shoe that allows for longer slow runs but also pick up the pace, the 361 Taroko gives the versatility to handle any training surface or trail.

GRADING

David
Fit                     9.25/10 (great upper, would like to see it a little more snug and a tighter heel cup)
Ride                  9.5/10 (occasional heel slippage with large inclines, light, Qu!kfoam is great)
Stability            9.5/10 (would like a more rigid heel cup that hugs more snug)
Speed                9/10 (good trail/training weight. Potential ultra racer but not super light)
Durability         9.5/10 (outsole and upper durable, Qu!kfoam may break down farther down road)

Nathan
Fit                     8.5/10 (-1.5 for slight loosening around the midfoot)
Ride                  9.25/10 (-0.75 for slightly clunky heel strike with thick rubber)
Stability            8.5/10 (-1.5 for movement in midfoot)
Speed                9.5/10 (high marks for versatility, -0.5 lacks top speed for some trail racing)
Durability         9/10 (-1 for initial wear on outsole)

Total Score: 91.25% (D: 9.3/10 N: 8.95/10 )

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.

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
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 35-50 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently we have 36 miles (Nathan) and 45 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.

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