361 Centauri Review | 361° Centauri
A lesser-known brand this week, but a brand we’ve been enjoying for a little while—it’s our 361° Centauri review. The 361 Centauri is a neutral everyday training shoe. It is a little different from other neutral shoes that 361 has made. Designed from the ground up it has a brand-new midsole material and offers more forward propulsion than previous models.
The heel counter is made from a supportive plastic heel cup which holds the heel firmly in place as you move through the gait cycle. The heel cup is nicely padded to give a comfortable feel. Exactly what you would expect from the sort of shoe that is designed for the majority of your training. The heel tab curves away from the Achilles and is very soft and pliable.
The tongue doesn’t have much padding but, is a thick enough material to prevent any pressure from the laces and just long enough for the tied laces to sit on the tongue. So, there is no excess tongue to dig in or make your feet hot. The lace holes come high up the foot and there is an additional lace hole should you need to butterfly the laces to increase the tension at the heel of the shoes. For most runners this won’t be necessary as the heel is snug and the laces pull the heel and mid part of the upper into the foot well.
The upper is made from an engineered mesh which is soft and has an open weave to improve breathability. As it is a one piece upper there is no seams to cause any rubbing issues. The toe box feels very roomy. Much more roomy than any other 361 shoe that I have tried. This made the Centauri feel like a shoe that was comfortable enough for long runs and regular use. The big toe line was straighter than in other 361 shoes which added further to the feeling of wiggle room for my toes. The 361 Centauri is available in two width’s Men’s and two widths Women’s. So, even if you have broad feet you can also have a nice roomy comfortable fit.
The midsole has a look and feel to the touch of a polystyrene drinking cup. Very similar to the early Aero Foam used by Scott. The one piece TPE foam is called Engage and is a new midsole material developed by 361 to offer a softer ride than other models and still be durable enough for everyday training. I found the initial feel of the midsole to be soft but, not super soft like many of todays highly cushioned shoes. The midsole did get noticeably softer over the first few runs and now as I have exceeded the 150 mile mark offers a nice soft cushioned ride ideal for easy training runs.
The stack height is 31/22 for Men and 20/29 for Women giving a heel to forefoot drop of 9mm. I’m used to wearing shoes with much less drop (6mm or less). Standing up in the shoes I am aware of the drop. However, when running in the shoes I don’t notice the heel at all. I land midfoot and the Centauri didn’t impede my natural gait. It feels like most of the drop is lost through the midfoot which makes it easy to land midfoot. The shoes roll you through to toe off. This feeling is very suttle and although it works in a similar way to the rockers that are in a lot of running shoes today you don’t notice it when standing up in the shoes. They don’t tip you onto your toes or feel at all unstable.
The midsole is broad through the midfoot which together with the heel cup gives the Centauri a stable feel to the ride. Guiding your foot through the gait cycle. I felt this encouraged me to use my hamstrings and glutes to pull my leg up allowing me to run with a good posture and be light on my feet. The space in the toe box and midfoot landing encouraged my feet to spread on impact. Which is what they are supposed to do.
Although the Centauri doesn’t feel like a slow plodding shoe in anyway and if you just have one pair of running shoes that you use for all your running then they would do the job. However, like most everyday training shoes they lack the responsiveness in the midsole to run easily run quickly. Pick ups in the middle of runs or striders aren’t a problem but, if you are trying to sustain a quick pace then the Centauri’s soft midsole lacks that bit of a push that you get from a shoe designed to help you run quickly. This isn’t a complaint as the Centauri is designed to be used for your easy runs, long runs and recovery runs. It is just noticeable that it’s harder work to run at a steady pace.
County Durham why I live is a hilly place and I find that a lot of really soft shoes designed for everyday training runs are difficult for me to run up hill in. I feel like I am sinking into the midsole of the shoes. Like I am running up a hill in a muddy cross country or up a sand dune. Although the cushioning of the Centauri is soft it isn’t pillow soft and so I have no issues running up hill in these. In fact the roll through to toe off helps keep a quick cadence going. Which improves my form uphill. On downhills the really softly cushioned trainers can encourage over striding. They often have rockers so they through you forward and carry you down the hill. The Centauri dropped me onto my midfoot and helped me maintain a good cadence. This enabled me to maintain good form and stay light on my feet so I wasn’t aware of any jarring. It also allowed me to smoothly keep running when the gradient plateaued out.
In summary I think there’s a temptation to look for running shoes that have the ‘wow factor’ (with a huge price tag attached) when in reality most runners want a reliable, comfortable regular training shoe. The 361 Centauri is absolutely one of those.
Brooks Ghost: Similar heel to forefoot drop. Firmer ride. Not as much room in the toe box. Available in three widths Men’s and two widths Women’s. Here is a link to our review for more information: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/brooks-ghost-15-review/
Hoka Clifton 9: Soft cushioning with a rocker. Easier to run quickly in. Less foot function due to the softness of the midsole. Here is a link to our review for more information: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/hoka-clifton-9-review/
Scott Pursuit Ride: Firmer than the Scott Pursuit these have a more responsive ride and are easier to run steady in than the 361 Centauri. Here is a link to our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/scott-pursuit-ride-review/
Karhu Fusion: Firmer more responsive. Here is a link to our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/karhu-fusion-ortix-2021-review-by-northernrunner-com/
New Balance 880v12 : Similar heel to forefoot drop. The Fuelcell forefoot makes it a more versatile shoe. Although they do become less responsive as the fuelcell softens after about 300 miles. Here is a link to our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/new-balance-880v12-review/
On Cloudgo: Higher heel to forefoot with a very soft ride. Here is a link to our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/on-cloudgo-review/
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