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361 Strata 4 Multiple Tester Review

David: Earlier this year 361 Degrees introduced their new foam QU!K Spring+, an EVA blend designed for more rebound and resilience to temperature changes. The shoe did well for me (David) in the Pacer ST and is now introduced to the Strata 4. This stability model is a daily training workhorse that has a softened ride from other 361 models, though still firm and protective for long mileage. 


Specifications (per 361 USA)
Weight:  11.8 oz (men's size 9), 9.7 oz (women's size 7)
Stack Height: Unknown
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Premium Stability Trainer

HIGHLIGHTS

Matt: The 361 Strata 4 has continued to evolved as a unique premium stability shoe. It features a brand new, wider fitting and secure upper and a similar firm sole. With a surprisingly small medial post, there is still plenty of stability in this shoe without being obtrusive. A very sturdy and durable ride, those wanting a posted shoe that's a little different will enjoy the 361 Strata 4.

David:
The 361 Strata 4 was a very pleasant surprise for me. I was expecting it to be a really stiff stability shoe, but actually was more stable in a dynamic way. The shoe is well thought out with the different foam balances and QU!K Spine to facilitate forward motion. The posting is subtle and does not make the midfoot feel too hard in any way. Great durability as well. 



FIT

Matt: The 361 Strata 4 fits true to size in my normal men's size 10. The heel fits snug thanks to a thick upper at the heel and midfoot fits fairly normal. There is a moderate amount of room in the forefoot and the toebox does taper quickly. I had some rubbing on the ends of my toes initially that slowly disappeared as the upper stretched. The upper is very heavy, sturdy and warm. There is a great deal going on and although it is quite heavy, there is a ton of stability. A brand new tongue design fits very comfortably across the top of the foot. The Morphit lacing system works well enough that I did not have to lace lock the shoe. There is a thick heel counter that was offset by the significant amount of cushioning around the heel collar. I am usually sensitive to thick hard heel counters and had no issue with the one in the Strata 4. The heel is quite bulky and thick in the 361 Strata 4. The heel counter is very thick and looks the heel in. There is a ton of material in the heel and midfoot, although this contributes to how well the foot is locked in. The double jacquard mesh does not actually feel breathable as there is a great deal going on and my feet did get warm with these. The forefoot is better than previous versions and does not fit like a narrow B width shoe. While it does taper quickly, the mesh does stretch after a few runs a little. Over the upper is VERY thick and durable. It does keep the foot stable, although I think 361 could drop a major amount of weight just from the upper of this shoe alone.

David:
I have a love/indifference relationship with the upper. First the good. The fit is really good for me with the heel very cushioned around with a normal width and counter that is present but not overly present. The fit through the midfoot is locked in. The lacing is asymmetrical at the top with an additional piece that is separated on the medial side that further locks in the shoe. The length is normal to mildly long, but is totally good for swelling accommodation. The fit really came through when I ran a 17 mile long run and was totally happy with how the fit shoe. The toe box is normal width with just enough room to allow for swelling. I am really happy with the fit overall, secure, cushioned, comfortable. My "indifference" is actually the double jacquard upper they constructed. I was really excited initially because I loved the jacquard in the Pacer ST, but this one on the Strata is really thick. It breathes ok, but takes a little breaking in. I don't want to say I dislike it, because it continues to grow on me and is insanely durable, but I do think it might be beneficial to thin it a little. Other than that I am really happy with it. 



RIDE

Matt: There are a few personalities in the ride of the Strata 4. Like many 361 shoes, a QU!K Spine is present similar to a midfoot shank. However, the Strata 4 still features an almost full ground contact outsole. This provides a stiff and stable ride from the heel and midfoot. This then opens into a surprisingly flexible forefoot. Deep flex grooves are present at the front third of the shoe that flex very well (as the foot should). The midfoot is a little stiff from the spine and the heel is much more smooth than previous as it feels like the bevel was increased. Heel landings are improved thanks to this, although the transition into a stiff heel and midfoot can be a bit jarring until the shoe breaks in. The sole is on the firmer side thanks to the spine, heavy weight QU!K Spring+ and QU!KFOAM but does have some bounce if you push it (although this is not a shoe meant to go fast). Overall the ride is a bit more firm with a stiff and stable heel and midfoot and a flexible forefoot.

David:
The ride is interesting. The shoe feels more like a neutral shoe since the posting is subtle and the guidance is through the QU!K Spine underneath the midfoot. To me the shoe feels like a mild stability shoe, but the ride is pleasant. It is protective yet firm, but feels good no matter the distance. The outsole has deep flex grooves similar to the Saucony Ride 13 that allows for nice forefoot flexibility and smooth transitioning points. The posterior lateral heel has normal QU!KFOAM (the EVA with a PU coating) that is a little firmer than the QU!K Spring+. Couple the lateral heel and medial midfoot mild posting the shoe almost creates a little guide rail effect. The drop ratio is 8mm and feels right. There is a small bevel centrally at the heel that works well for me. It isn't overly large but functional. After some longer miles the QU!K Spine can become a little noticeable and firm under the midfoot, but not a deal breaker. Traction is decent and can handle some light trails as well. Overall a versatile ride for daily training. 


STABILITY

Matt: The small post and firmer ride makes the Strata 4 feel more like a mild stability shoe or even a stable neutral shoe. I could barely feel the post, which is not a bad thing and the QU!K Spine provides a high level of structure and stability to the midfoot and heel. The methods of stability are more subtle in this model, so those looking for a huge post will not find one (as with many stability shoes on the market now). The stability comes more from the thick and secure upper, stability on the medial and lateral designed into the midfoot (upper), a large heel counter, flexible forefoot and stable ride. This is plenty of stability for most people and the ride remains smooth thanks to the flexible forefoot.

David:
For being a stability shoe, the shoe does ride more like a mild stability or neutral shoe. There is posting through the midfoot and a spine that goes along the plantar side of the shoe through the midline of the midfoot but these accents are subtle and come more alive dynamically. I like this, but for those who like a large posting and "high stability" feel it is going to be different than that. Traction is good with the flex grooves and outsole, and ok in most conditions. The upper is very resilient and holds well in any turning situations. The shoe runs mild to moderate stability at the heel, mild through the midfoot, and neutral through the forefoot. 


SPEED

Matt: The Strata 4 is not a fast shoe. Coming in at 11.8 oz for a men's size 9, this shoe feels like a tank The QU!K Spring + and flexible forefoot feel like there is potential there, but the weight and stiffness in the rear make this shoe best for long miles and recovery runs.

David:
This shoe is best for daily mileage. The Strata 4 weighs in at 11.8 ounces and doesn't really "want" to push the pace. The flex grooves are nice at easier controlled efforts, making the stance phases slightly longer and comfortable through the toe off. At faster paces the transition may feel less fluid. 


DURABILITY

Matt: As mentioned previously, the Strata 3 is a tank. I have over 60 miles on my pair with almost no wear on the outsole or upper. I haven't even dented the posterior lateral heel. The upper still feels brand new and the forefoot broke in very quickly. The stiffness in the heel and midfoot have not changed so for those looking for structure that will last, the Strata 4 is one of the best.

David:
I have no concerns with durability. The midsole softened slightly from the initial firm ride but for the better.  I don't see it changing any more beyond this. The outsole had some early initial wear but has shown no signs of wear since then. The upper is probably more durable than it has to be, but no concerns with it tearing or breaking down. 




THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

Matt: The Strata 4 is an example of the decreasing presence of posts in shoes. More and more "stability" shoes are relying on geometry, ie sidewalls, midsole shaping, etc instead of posts to help guide the foot forward. I have discussed this extensively here, with continued references to many of Dr. Benno Nigg's papers on the "Preferred Motion Pathway." Despite being a premium stability shoe, the Strata 4 only has a small post in the medial midfoot. This is fairly minor and many other elements contribute far more to security. The QU!K Spine, which is a more external midfoot shank, creates stability in the midfoot without sacrificing the continuous contact outsole. The upper features engineered mesh that is essentially the upper equivalent of sidewalls, providing both medial and lateral guidance to the foot. This is great as it provides guidance on both sides of the foot, rather than assuming that foot pronation is the only thing to correct (we know that posting, structure etc may not correct motion but may influence it enough to provide a little guidance). The extremely thick heel counter (maybe a bit too thick) locks the heel down very well and while the evidence is mixed as to what influence heel counters may have outside of proprioception, provides a high level of structure in the rearfoot. I did not really notice the post throughout testing and I believe that this is where the stability world will go. While posts may not go away completely, companies are experimenting with new methods outside of the "post-only" traditional thinking. This is a great example of this transition, although we will have many more models in the coming reviews move away from this completely. This is an exciting time for stability.



RECOMMENDED POPULATION

Matt: The 361 Strata 4 is for those looking for a tough shoe with mild stability in a extremely durable, structured shoe. There heel is especially stable, so those with stability issues there may find a secure lockdown in this shoe. The width is best for those with normal to narrow feet or those used to slightly tapered toe boxes. This is not a highly cushioned shoe and is more traditional, with decent ground feel and a firmer more stable ride. The upper is quite thick and provides a high level of support without the need for a massive post. So for those who want a premium shoe with a high quality thick upper and a more traditional sole, the Strata 4 is it.

David:
The 361 Degrees Strata 4 is shoe that will agree with those who like a slightly firmer ride with some mild stability accents. The shoe will be able to log a lot of miles, even for those running high mileage weeks. It is a durable workhorse and an interesting competitor to the other "premium trainers" on the market. Many of the premium shoes are high cushion where this one is a little more firm, but still protective for long mileage. 

CONCLUSION

Matt:  The 361 Strata 4 is a mild stability, premium training shoe for recovery and training runs in those looking for a sturdy and reliable shoe. While still on the heavy side, this shoe is built like a tank and will last for a long time. The ride is a bit firmer than the softer training shoes common on the market and will provide many subtle methods of stability for those that do not do well with aggressive posting. The upper, while potentially thicker than necessary, is more accommodating and stable throughout the entire length of the foot. Another stability shoe showcasing several different methods of supporting the foot, check the Strata 4 out if you want a mild stability tank for long miles.

David:
The 361 Strata 4 is a premium daily training shoe with mild stability accents sprinkled throughout. The shoe is a workhorse and provides a slightly more firm approach to premium daily training shoes. The 8mm drop feels consistent and the flex grooves allow for smooth transitions and flexible forefoot. The shoe was a pleasant surprise for me and a shoe I will keep in the rotation for easy recovery days. Personal note: this is my favorite 361 daily training option. 

GRADING
Matt
Fit                    8.5 /10 (Thick and secure upper. Heavy and slightly tapered toe box)
Ride                 8 /10 (Flexible forefoot, but stiff in heel and midfoot. Improved heel bevel)
Stability           9.5 /10 (Mild stability works well in many different ways. None obtrusive but get the job done).
Speed               6 /10 (Not designed for speed. Best for long runs and recovery runs)
Durability        10 /10 (A tank. No wear at 60 miles).

David
Fit                     9.5/10 (Fit is very good throughout, upper is very thick -.5, otherwise great)
Ride                  9.25/10 (QU!K Spine underneath the foot noticeably firm after some long mileage)
Stability            9.5/10 (Components work well dynamically, though mild for the high stability community)
Speed                8/10 (The shoe is best as daily trainer, it can pick the pace a little bit, but not design)
Durability         9.75/10 (Mild wear early, though no concerns with long term durability)

Total Score: 88.8% (M: 8.4/10  D: 9.2/10 )

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:
Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 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

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.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

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 61 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 63 miles (Matt) and 44 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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