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361 TAROKO 2 REVIEW 

    The 361 Taroko 2 improves upon the original in almost every way in this new iteration. The Taroko was designed to be a trail hybrid shoe that was comfortable and versatile enough to run in most trail conditions, while still being comfortable enough to run road miles on as well. The original did a great job with this, but had some flaws. The new Taroko 2 looks to improve on those with a completely updated upper that holds the foot much better and also provides a heel lock mechanism for additional security. 



Specifications (361 Degrees Running)
Weight: 10.9 ounces
Stack Height: not provided
Drop: 9mm
Classification: Trail Hybrid Running Shoe


HIGHLIGHTS

    The 361 Taroko 2 expands upon the original model with a completely revamped upper that increases security of the foot exponentially. The Taroko 2 is a unique yet true trail hybrid shoe that (in my opinion - David) is a bit of a trail/road shoe sandwich. The upper is a reinforced thicker mesh trail upper, the midsole a road midsole, the outsole a trail outsole, and the ride similar to a traditional training shoe on the road. Ultimately the combination works really well and I was very impressed! 


FIT

    The 361 Taroko 2 fits true to size in my normal 9.5. The fit is much more dialed in than the prior version and fits really well in nearly every dimension. The length is very accurate for the sizing and the hold on the foot is slightly snug to normal width throughout the full length of the foot. The toe box normal width and wide enough for most to have good toe splay without having the forefoot feel too wide or sloppy. The midfoot hold is solid and also reinforced well from the Morphit tongue design. The heel is a giant improvement from the original. The fit holds the calcaneus well and the shoe takes two measures to make sure it locks in well. First, the lacing is interwoven with the heel lock design for the final eyelet is an extension of the heel lock. Second, there is a pull tab at the posterior aspect of the heel that will further lock the heel in. Your foot is pretty secure in this shoe. In harsher conditions I did notice a tiny bit of movement in the early midfoot region, but overall a good upper. The upper is also more of a synthetic feel in this upper with a thicker mesh than the prior model. The prior model had a breathable, yet overly flexible upper that stretched too much and made slippage and translation present, there was hardly any of that with the new upper. 

RIDE

    The ride of the Taroko is pretty similar to most daily trainers with a slightly firm ride just because of the thickness of the outsole. The 9mm drop feels true and the shoe transitions pretty well throughout. The heel has a crash pad design to help shock absorb and the forefoot has a good flex groove that helps with toe off. Qu!kfoam is protective but does run a little on the firmer end of foams. This is a shoe that will spend a little bit more time on the ground and isn't designed to be really quick or snappy. The ride is smooth overall at controlled paces. With the weight being 10.9 ounces this shouldn't be a surprise. This is a shoe that feels very traditional yet firm on road, and rugged enough for trail without being overly firm or rigid like some trail only type shoes. In some ways it isn't a mind blowing or revolutionary ride, but it is a traditional safe ride in all the right ways. I took this through soft mulchy trails, hard packed dirt, sandy coastal trails, and also decently technical rocky trails and the shoe did pretty well overall across the board. Not an all star in any specific category but a jack of all trades and should get the job done most of the time nicely. 

SPEED

    The 361 Taroko 2 is a trail hybrid that is best used for those who will be doing a lot of road/trail miles in the same runs. The shoe isn't designed to be overly fast and does ok in some downhill technical situations, but it isn't designed for hardcore trails. The shoe is versatile in terrain and provides a smooth and consistent ride at daily efforts. It can pick up the pace a little bit if it has to, but the shoe a daily trainer that can hit a large majority of trails as well... or is it a trail shoe that can pick up some daily miles?... who knows, but the hybrid was done well. 

STABILITY

    The 361 Taroko 2 is pretty stable throughout. The heel security is levels above what the original model was and the upper is also reinforced much better with the thicker mesh. The MORPHIT lacing really holds the foot in well and I only had some minor translation in the midfoot a couple times. The outsole does a good job throughout of creating a platform that can take most surfaces. I did slip one time on a really slick road... on a steep downhill... with a decently sharp left turn... so perhaps that had absolutely nothing to do with the shoe. The platform is a little softer than other trail shoes and that will make the shoe a tad more unstable, and I did have some small translation in the early midfoot to the arch on occasion, but overall the stability is pretty good for not being a stability specific shoe. The deep lugs also help offset the softer platform with traction that can dig into the ground below it regardless if it is soft or hard.  


DURABILITY

    The outsole does have some noticeable wear on it, though it is minimal through wear testing mileage. I would expect pretty normal trainer volume out of the Taroko 2, but a little less durability than some of the high mileage trail shoes out there. The reason being that the flex groove and the softer platform create a longer stance phase on the outsole and the shoe spends more time digging into the earth. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but will cause more abrasion which can be seen. The midsole should last well, especially if ran in as it is supposed to with hybrid surfaces. The upper is really fortified and should last fine without blowing through it. 

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

    Today I want to take a look at the involvement the upper can have on the ride and stability of a shoe. In the previous version of the Taroko the upper was this really breathable and flexible mesh upper that was so soft it felt knit. The upper itself was really comfortable in static and walking situations, but ended up being too flexible and airy running where it allowed for translation and heel slippage when in serious trails. 361 did a good job of switching things up with the second version. The shoe utilized a new thicker mesh upper that was reinforced well and did not stretch nearly as much. The upper also had a built in heel lock system that further synched the shoe to the foot. What this did was create a very predictable landing platform and keep the foot responsive and receiving feedback from the ground. In the last addition sometimes the steps would be prolonged because of the stretch when ascending a hill or taking sharper turns. The Taroko 2 feels a lot more like a trail shoe, but still keeps the midsole and geometry construction that made it a good hybrid before. The foot is in a more consistent and predictable position and has a more reliable relationship with the shoe, making the shoe much more trustworthy and easier to forget about when going after technical terrain. 

RECOMMENDATIONS

    The Taroko 2 really impressed me with its trainer like ride that did really well in unstable trail conditions. I remember commenting on the heel slippage in the prior model, which was done really well in the new model with the heel lock. In this version I would like to see a tad more stability through the midfoot. This could be done by potentially extending the heel counter anteriorly slightly. One shoe that does this well is the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy, where the counter almost acts as an early guiderail while still being flexible and not overinvolved. 

CONCLUSION

    The 361 Taroko 2 is for someone who finds themselves in trail, dirt, or grass situations frequently but doesn't ever start in those terrains. The Taroko 2 is a hybrid trail shoe with a midsole that will ride well on the road and an upper and outsole that will still perform on the trail. This is for someone who is looking to spend a good amount of time in both worlds and wants a shoe that can be a trail shoe and a road running shoe to some capacity. The shoe isn't necessarily a leader in any specific category, but it is consistent and predictable jack of all trades in nearly any trail/road scenario. 

GRADING

David: 
Fit/Upper        9.5/10 (Significantly better, dialed in, still a little space in the midfoot and distal heel)
Ride/Midsole  9.5/10 (still a little unstable through the early midfoot, otherwise really nice and smooth)
Stability           9.5/10 (Minor translation in the midfoot, but for a hybrid non stability shoe it's good)
Speed               9/10 (I got some quicker paces in it on some of the downhills ok... but better at controlled efforts)
Durability        9.25/10 (Good durability, a little lower than other trail shoes, but decent for road and trail hybrid)

TOTAL: 93.5% (9.35/10: D)

TESTER PROFILES

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 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 and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. 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 60 to 70 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 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 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. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

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.

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 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 37 miles on my pair (David). 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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