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361 Spire 4 Multiple Tester Review

The 361 Spire 4 is responsive daily trainer featuring a carbon fiberglass midfoot shank to help with propulsion. The shoe fits snug and and also breathes well during long efforts. The shoe rides very firm initially but smooths out as mileage breaks the shoe in. The midsole has a new QU!K Spring+ midsole coupled with the usual QU!KFOAM midsole to give a more springy and comfortable to ride to the 4th update of the Spire.


Specifications (per 361)
Weight: 10 oz (men's size 9)
Drop: 9 mm
Classification: Daily Neutral Trainer

HOW DOES IT FIT?

Forefoot: a hair narrow, snug

Midfoot: snug/moderate

Heel: a hair narrow, snug

David: Overall, the 361 Spire 4 has a nice snug fit. The heel and forefoot seem to be the most narrow of shoe and may not agree with those who like a wider fit. The heel cup is nicely fitted and secures the heel without any slippage or translation, but as noted earlier may be a smidgen tight for those who like a little room. The upper breathes well and has some flexibility built into it as well. I appreciate the MORPHIT midfoot portion of the upper, holding the midfoot in place nicely. I tend to like snug shoes, so this is an upper build that works for me.

Nathan: The Spire 4 fit is quite similar to the previous version: a secure and slightly narrow (but padded) heel, a moderate midfoot width, and then a slightly narrow toe box. Length wise, it fits true to size. The main difference in fit between the Spire 4 and its predecessor in terms of fit is the upper. The upper has a more firm feel, which I found accommodated the foot a little less for larger feet. For those who appreciate a more narrow shoe and have more narrow feet, this fit is perfect. The heel counter is plush, secure, and comfortable. The combination of the padded heel and the MORFIT midfoot construction really lock the foot down well without needing special lacing.  FOR THOSE NEEDING A WIDER FIT, THEY DO OFFER THIS SHOE IN A WIDE VERSION!


HOW CUSHIONED IS IT?

Forefoot: mild cushion

Midfoot: FIRM (shank)

Heel: mild cushion

David: The Spire 4 is a firm shoe overall with some mild cushioning built into the heel and forefoot. The cushioning seems to be more noticeable after a few runs, for the initial ride of the shoe really comes off as firm. This is mainly due to the carbon fiberglass midfoot shank that hardens the landing, though does make the shoe more responsive. For people who like firm shoes, this may work really well, but I do think softening the landing through the midfoot just a hair will make the shoe feel really nice for a much larger population of runners. The Spire 4 has "enough" cushion for daily training, but is on the borderline of being too firm for high mileage athletes.

Nathan: This is the first shoe that 361 has incorporated its QU!K Spring+ midsole foam, a softer EVA blend. Looking at the pictures, this foam makes up the "white" portion of the platform. Although not plush, QU!K Spring+ gives a much softer feel in the heel than previous versions, and I see as a huge step in the right direction for this high milage trainer. In addition to the new EVA, there is a full length band of QU!KFOAM (the silver foam on the platform) that is placed for both a heel strike pressure pattern as well as mid/forefoot striking. The QU!KFOAM in combination with the QU!K Spine carbon midfoot shank transition you from a slightly softer landing to a very firm midfoot and toe off. Thankfully the rigidity of the mid and forefoot lessen over the first 20 miles significantly. All in all, the Spire 4 is still on the firmer end of daily trainers despite the addition of the QU!K Spring+ EVA blend.



HOW DOES IT RIDE (TRANSITION)?

Forefoot: snappy, smooth

Midfoot: snappy, smooth

Heel: relatively smooth, clunky at first

David: The ride of the 361 Spire 4 changes for the better after being broken in after a few miles. Initially it might come off as a little clunky with how firm the shoe is but definitely smooths out with use. The 9mm drop ratio helps both heel and midfoot strikers feature the plate and responsive and springy toe off the shoe wants to feature. For the weight, the shoe can get it rolling pretty well. I was able to get this shoe down to 5:25 mile pace in a long run progression and it still felt smooth. The shoe runs faster than its actual weight.

Nathan: The ride of the Spire 4 changed significantly over the first 20 miles, which I alluded to above. I found the heel strike to be more smooth thanks to the QU!K Spring+ EVA, but I would still love to see the addition of some technology of 361's choice to smooth out the landing, maybe a rocker sole or heel bevel.  The transition to the mid and forefoot is very snappy and fast, thanks to the QU!KFOAM and QU!K Spine. As you transition form the softer heel, you roll onto a very firm and stiff mid and forefoot. The firm platform does make the toe off (again) fast and snappy. For a high milage trainer weighing in at 10oz for my men's size 9, this shoe has no problem picking up the pace for some tempo runs or progression runs.



HOW RESPONSIVE IS IT?

Forefoot: Above average responsiveness (transfer from shank)

Midfoot: Very responsive (for trainer)

Heel: mild responsiveness

David: For a daily trainer, very responsive through the midfoot and forefoot. The firm midsole and QU!K Spine midfoot shank make this shoe comfortable with higher paces. The drop and build of the shoe makes it feel pretty good at easier efforts as well. The only thing that may hold the speed back is just the weight of the shoe, but it runs much faster than the weight on the scale.

Nathan: This is a responsive shoe, primarily through the midfoot. The carbon plate and QU!KFOAM combination help you transition quickly and give back to your stride, which allows this shoe to be surprisingly responsive even at high paces. For casual days, I have found the rigidity of the shoe and firm nature to decrease the amount of responsiveness you get. In the end, very responsive at faster pace, lower responsiveness at slower pace.

HOW STABLE IS IT?

Forefoot: above average stability

Midfoot: very stable

Heel: above average stability

David: For a neutral trainer, this is about as stable as it gets. 361 tried to soften the ride a little bit in the midsole, but it still comes off pretty firm. The midfoot shank and firm midsole doesn't give to torsional or exterior forces when landing. The MORPHIT build also hugs the midfoot and holds it in place without allowing translation. This stabilizes the shoe pretty well and allows efficient runners to really get into a rhythm through varied terrain.

Nathan: The Spire 4 is a neutral trainer, but there is a lot of integrity and stability built into the shoe. The full contact outsole, more firm nature, and secure lock down give this shoe inherent stability over the long haul. Great support on days where you are feeling beat up.


HOW DURABLE IS IT?

Forefoot: Highly durable

Midfoot: Average durability (foam)

Heel: Highly durable

David: The foam and outsole of the Spire 4 is very durable. After wear testing the ride of the shoe has only improved and the outsole has shown normal wear and tear. There is a lot of outsole to burn through in this one so I am not worried about durability. The midfoot is foam without durable rubber, but this is ok because it may cushion the landing on the plate a little bit. This is a shoe that can take high mileage.

Nathan: Most importantly, the midsole foam and carbon plate are possibly the most durable of any on the market right now. The QU!KFOAM and QU!K Spine have stood the test of time in countless other models, and this shoe is the same. The outsole has thick enough blown rubber to maintain its integrity over the long haul as well. I have found (possibly due to the fast transition) that I get the most wear of the outsole just distal to the midfoot. But again, it is thick enough where it has not impacted the shoe whatsoever.

41 miles

THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

David: The 361 Spire 4 is biomechanically pretty sound. The rigidity of the shoe adds intrinsic stability to a neutral shoe and helps contribute to why it is as responsive as it is. I am a fan of the midfoot shank and 9mm drop combination as well because it makes the midfoot rocker portion of gait fluid and snappy at the same time. With this set up, the runner literally "drops" into the carbon fiberglass shank and then uses the momentum to carry over into the forefoot and toe off portions of gait. Even though the firmness of the shoe contributes to above, in the recommendations you will see that I would like to see it softened just a hair so the landing is more enjoyable without giving up the responsive nature of the shoe. Though 361 has softened the midsole from prior models, I do believe just a hair more adjustment could make this shoe a big winner down the road.

RECOMMENDATIONS/WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

David: The 361 Spire 4 is a very intriguing shoe that will work well for those who like a more firm ride. The shoe is built with every intention of being a durable daily trainer and does deliver with durability. The ride smooths out after some use and has no problem picking up the pace. This shoe is surprisingly versatile for the weight that it yields. I do have a couple recommendations for the development of the shoe going forward. The heel and forefoot fitting of the shoe may be a little narrow for many and might come off as a little tight for some. The ride is very firm. Though it does smooth out with some miles, I would like to see it soften a little more. I think that would be good for all types of runners without giving the firm nature of the shoe. Despite the recommendations, I still like this shoe and will keep it in rotation!

Nathan: The 361 Spire 4 is a shoe for someone who is hoping to log some long and slightly faster miles, enjoys a more firm and narrow shoe, and wants their shoe to last a long time. The durability of this shoe is fantastic, and although it retails for $155, there is potentially the value there (because of the durability) for you to get more milage out of this compared to some other $100-$130 shoes. Some little recommendations were mentioned above were mainly to smooth out heel strike.

Here is my main wrestling with this shoe. I'm not griping, promise, I'm just musing about this. The Meraki 2 (see review HERE) and Spire 4 are quite similar to one another. Slightly firm ride, like to pick up the pace, durable, more narrow, can easily go marathon distance, etc. Yes, the Spire 4 introduced the QU!K Spring+ EVA and has a uniquely shaped QU!KFOAM layer that doesn't exist in the Meraki 2, but the functionality and feel of these shoes seems so similar, with the Meraki 2 coming in about an oz lighter and feels even faster. Honestly, the shoes just don't feel different enough to serve different types of runners or fill different spots in a shoe rotation. I personally would love to see the Spire (or a new line) come out from 361 to be a high milage trainer that is smooth at slower paces and has even more soft cushioning. Maybe a shoe without the carbon shank that has the softer QU!K Spring+ would do the trick. Or maybe something different. I'll leave that up to the shoe engineers. 

OVERALL SCORE: David 89%, Nathan 83%

TESTER PROFILE

Dr. Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs of 3:54 1500m, 14:56 5k, 31:06 10k, 1:08 for half marathon. He typically runs 40 to 50 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 19:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:33 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 8-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon.


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.


David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science

Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at 361 Degrees for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 41 miles on my pair. My 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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