361° is a company with an interesting future. First seen on US radar on the feet of Kevin Love in Minnesota, the basketball division had trouble taking off (most do). However, back to the war room. 361° has come back with a strong running segment, utilizing leadership and designers reaped from asics. Already winning awards — Runners World Best Buy for the Sensation model — and with models catering to all levels of runners, 361° seem to be taking the right roads. But everything sometimes isn’t as it seems. Does the Volitation keep pace? Let’s roll…
MATERIALS – Kind of fitting that the Volitation designers were culled from asics – the upper is very reminiscent of asics runners from three to four years ago. Big open mesh, overlays around the toes, strong heel cup, and fat padded tongue and heel cup. If you took the asics symbol off of a Kayano 15 and put it on the Volitation, you would never know the difference. There are some fuse overlays on and around the toe area for some added support and durability, but overall, very comfy with only one real problem – the toe rand is STIFF to start. For someone coming from knits and weaves, it was a shock, but after about 25-30 miles it was good and broken in.
FIT – A little short if you like some toe wiggle, especially with the hard toe rand. If you go barefoot, which I did for a couple runs with no problems, or wear thin running socks, you should be good. If you like a medium or thick cushion, go up a half size. This normally can make a shoe feel sloppy, but the thick heel padding and tongue take up most of the empty space given by the larger size. The forefoot is also cut narrow; my normal width feet did feel a little constricted on longer runs, but on 2-4 milers I was good. It seemed like the pounding of a couple of extra miles really took a toll on my feet and I could feel the sides closing in. Heel fit is awesome, again thanks to the extra padding around the heel notch, and the lacing system locks down and holds tight. I didn’t even need to use the last lacehole for that good heel lock.
TRACTION – Seems strange to grade traction when dealing with a runner, but it is vital. If you don’t think so, take the Ultra Boost out on a wet paved road and tell me how comfortable you felt. From the box the soles of the Volitation were squeaky on my wood floors (no brag). A little strange to hear that from a runner but it told me I should be good in any condition. After my first 12-15 miles this went away but the rubber still performed and does last. I have about 120 miles or so on the soles you see in the pics and the pads are still going strong. Thicker, stiffer, harder rubber can make a shoe feel clunky or slappy, and these aren’t the fastest feel around, but if you are a fan of classic runner feel then you are in the right area.
CUSHION – I love – LOVE – when companies bring new technology to the table, whether it sucks or not – at least we are getting something new and exciting to try and test. QDP is not the best foam out there, and it’s not the worst, but at least it is different.
First off, the details: QDP stands for Quick Dynamic Performance – it’s a three-layered beast. The first layer is the insole which is a softer layer of QuikFoam, the main component of QDP. The insole itself feels very Ortholite-like. The midsole top layer (the blue above) is a denser version of the same QuikFoam and feels very much like a full-length adiprene+ midsole from the adidas running line (not the basketball J.Wall stuff – the high-end running line from before Boost). It is dense and low-riding but has little noticeable response or feedback. I have been concentrating on mid-and forefoot strikes but on the off-stride heel strike, when I should get a little impact jarring up my spine, the Volitation took care of me. Again, I have around 120 miles in these in two months and the cushioning still feels new, so it’s built to last. I do wish the forefoot had a little more bounce or response underfoot. Maybe Boost has ruined me, but I like the feel of my foot popping back into the next step.
SUPPORT – Not categorized as a support shoe, the Volitation still offers plenty for the category. A higher-than-normal (for today’s crowd) heel cup gives great lockdown help as well as holding your heel up and giving a little pronation help for slight ankle-rollers (like me). Up above you can see the TPU shank under the arch. Luckily it doesn’t run completely across the midfoot and is just right where it is visible, letting the rest of the shoe flex properly while keeping your arch from dropping. The fuse overlays provide the upper with some lock in and they hold tight when you have to hit the ditch for off-roading when those drivers don’t move over (I run road). Overall, I need a little support in my runners, and I got a little support.
OVERALL – For a “new” company, pretty good effort. Again, with the experience in the design and research department, I shouldn’t be surprised, but any time a new company can come out of the gate and produce a good performer I am impressed (see BrandBlack, Ektio). The 361° Volitation brings low-riding dense cushioning with good impact protection to a durable upper and outsole – nothing groundbreaking but solid in all categories.
If you need a moderately priced runner that covers all bases, the Volitation could be for you. Priced at $110, it falls in the medium priced technical runner, which is a strange fact of life. Definitely a company and line to keep an eye on, as I have seen some very interesting looks from their trail line. With a couple of tweaks (upper design and materials) 361° could make an impression quickly.