Sunday, November 27, 2022

361 Centauri Multi Tester Review: a traditional geometry daily road trainer with a super foam midsole 9 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum and  Mike Postaski

361 Centauri ($130)


Sam: The Centauri is a “traditional” higher drop (9mm)  flexible (not rigid rocker based) daily trainer with a supportive upper.  Most interestingly it has  a state of the art supercritical TPE foam midsole. I immediately sat up when I saw TPE in the specs as similar (and testing confirmed) lively foams are in the Xtep racers and the Craft Pro Endur, shoes among the best of 2022 for my tastes. 

Clearly designed to get a step up on other daily trainers in its category such as Saucony Ride, Mizuno Wave Rider, New Balance 880, ASICS Cumulus,  Brooks Ghost 15, and Nike Pegasus it is the first, as far as I can tell, in the category to have a truly modern supercritical foam midsole other than the Skechers Ride with its Hyperburst foam.

I was also surprised that this 36 mm heel (measured) / 27mm forefoot spec 9mm drop stack height shoe with such a stout upper and plenty of rubber came in at a reasonable 10 oz / 284g in my US9, of course helped by the lighter nature of its Engage TPE foam. 

And that they are also reasonably priced at $130 with no “super foam” mark up. I was eager to see how they rode, where they could fit in and especially if they could be a single shoe in the quiver daily trainer as most of its competitors have gone softer and less responsive. 


Classic, high drop, very supportive and versatile daily trainer with a super modern foam ride: Sam/Mike P

Very springy, dynamic, shock absorbing eTPE midsole foam: Sam/Mike P

Highly supportive upper that can make the shoe pronation control worthy without underfoot pieces (plastic/firmer foam), also a Con. Sam/Mike P

Reasonable weight at 10 oz / 283  US9 n light of burly upper: Sam/Mike P

Very fairly priced ($130) for a super foam equipped expected durable all around trainer: Sam

Sustainability: use of recycled CO2 instead of chemicals as a foaming agent.: Sam


Dense (very supportive) upper adds to weight, is warm and a bit over snug at midfoot: Sam

Upper materials seem like they can be streamlined a bit Mike P

A bit narrow platform under the forefoot - makes them feel tall Mike P

Ankle collar at the front near top eyelet is a bit rigid Mike P


Weight: men's 10.02 oz /  284g US9  /  women's oz / g (US8)

  Samples: men’s   10.02 oz /  284g US9, 10.2 oz / 290g US 9.5

Full Stack Height: men’s 36 mm heel (measured) / 27mm forefoot (9mm spec drop)

Available February 2022

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Sam: The upper is an engineered knit with a very stout high heel counter and extensive underlays at mid foot.

The fit is very secure, very secure with the upper providing enough support that I think even mild pronators can run the shoe.

 If anything, and likely adding some to weight it is a bit overdone. 

Even at a half size up from my normal in my sample US9 I was incredibly well held with just a touch too much length in the mix, with the area comfortably broad with a touch of stretch yet impeccable hold there. 

Being a knit upper it is relatively thick and not as breathable as some of the last real warm (70F) days of fall demonstrated with the midfoot with the lightly padded leatherette tongue and overlays contributing.

I’d rather have the hold they deliver and after all we are now into cooler temps. 

Mike P: I agree with Sam about the upper - it offers a quite secure fit and the foot is well held. There’s a satisfactory feeling when tightening each row of laces as the upper has a nice feel when hugging the foot. 

I initially thought they looked quite narrow up front, but that’s likely due to the fact that the midsole below the upper does not really flare out at all. These days most shoes tend to flare out and provide a wider base, even under the forefoot. 

The upper does seem like it may be a bit overdone, and it could likely be stripped down a little to save weight. But the overall weight is reasonable for a daily trainer, so not much to complain about. I haven’t noticed them feeling warm, but I’ve been testing in the 20s-30s F. 

Specs point out that the tongue is anatomically designed to reduce pressure, and that is the case. It lies nicely over the top of the foot with no lace pressure. But I do think the ankle collar near the front (behind and up to the top lace eyelet) is just a touch high. I do notice some pressure at the front of my ankle bones at times. It’s nothing too intrusive though. The flared Achilles collar is very comfortable and there’s no hint of heel slip.


From 361: ENGAGE is a supercritical TPE foam which uses recycled CO2 as the physical foaming agent in an attempt to continue becoming a more sustainable brand. 

The TPE is clearly an expanded pellet type foam as the similar riding TPE foam Xtep and Craft Pro Endur have

The Centauri has one heck of a fine midsole. It is on the soft side compared to its competitors listed above and by far the most energetic. While on the soft side on the way down, the energy “return” on the way back up is very distinct and quick.

 I agree with 361’s description:

 The “ENGAGE” midsole provides a much lighter package with better resiliency, durability and what we like to call “quick-twitch” recovery. What that means is, during loading displacement, deformation of the foam occurs and must get back to its most natural form at a rate that helps maintain running economy and efficiency. at a much faster rate than other midsoles. Providing a unique combination of bounciness and protection with every foot strike” 

The feel is very similar to the TPE foams in the Xtep racers and the Craft Pro Endur both of whom are also on my top top list as far as training midsole foams as they are not as mushy as FuelCell (EVA TPU blends) or PWRRUN and seem to snap back quicker than similar feeling PWRRUN PB with at the same time a bouncier feel.

Landings are smooth and forgiving, transitions quite easy, and toe offs darn pleasant.

I was particularly impressed with the forefoot feel and toe off. At  27mm up front we are a bit higher than many of the traditionals with 361 leveraging the light weight to provide more cushion there and also to a weight a bit above some of the others. The feel is energetically bouncy and at the same time springy and quick, forgiving, stable and soft (but not energy sapping soft) all at the same time It has none of the thin, tiring and  firm front feeling of competitors such as the Pegasus, Ride 14 from Saucony and even Wave Rider. As I examined the shoe more closely I do think a touch more forefoot rubber thickness or firmness might improve response as the only paces where it felt too soft were the fastest.  

There is no plate in the Centauri. One needed?  Not so sure but I am curious about how a mid foot shank extending forward as in adidas Torsion might do to increase the front response 

Bottom line: The Centauri has  a near ideal daily training midsole with plenty of flexibility and cushion and is a super fun ride that is good for 80-90% of my training with it only lagging maybe for fast tempo or intervals. 

Mike P:  I’d say the eTPU midsole is quite distinguished from other midsole foams I’ve tested. I agree with Sam (as well as the marketing materials) - it does have a noticeable “bounce back” effect. There’s a softness upon impact, but that feeling of softness tends to stop right there - on impact. There’s no feeling of squish or deformation of the midsole underfoot. I’d say it’s quite a unique feel underfoot for such a highly cushioned shoe. I’d say it’s on par with, although not as springy as Saucony’s PWWRUN PB. 

The 9mm drop is a little bit on the high side for me, but typically I can run with slightly higher drop shoes on the road as opposed to trails. The Centauri’s 9mm doesn’t feel as steep as other high drop shoes. Perhaps due to the Ortholite insole or the overall consistent impact reducing feel, I don’t get that harsh high-heel touchdown feeling that I sometimes get with other high drop shoes.

I’ve been able to log a good amount of miles in my test pair so far (close to 60) and I can confirm that the eTPU foam is also highly resilient.  The midsole feels just as fresh as it did right out of the box. Often with very softer foams, they will tend to deform a bit with usage and have a little bit of a different feel over time. Not so with the Centauri so far. I think they’ve done well to pair a quite thick 5mm Ortholite insole with the shoe. With less bedding down of the midsole material to your foot, the Ortholite insole does the job of adapting to your underfoot shape and making it feel a bit more “broken in”.


Sam: Nothing much to report regarding the outsole. Rubber in all the right places without overdoing it as its heavier cousin Spire 5 does where all the rubber points to long durability but leads to a far firmer and duller ride. 

Mike P: Yes, rubber in all the right places, and none where you don’t need it. Durability has been great so far as well as traction in quite cold conditions. I also tested the shoe out on some light trails and found traction to be adequate.


Mike P: The ride is excellent for the daily trainer category. For my purposes of just logging some miles on the roads, they’re perfect - the eTPU midsole soaks up road harshness, but doesn’t feel like I’m sinking into it or bottoming out. Forefoot cushioning in particular is excellent, and as mentioned earlier - seems very resilient. The forefoot cushion feels as fresh as it did out of the box, which I can tell you as a forefoot/midfoot striker, is almost never the case.

When picking up the pace, the ride feels smooth and quick, although a bit disconnected from the ground underfoot. But that’s to be expected with a 36/27mm stack including a thick Ortholite insole. I’d peg these as your easy/aerobic/endurance run shoe. Any faster than that, and I’d prefer a bit more of a stable ride. 

That leads me to perhaps the only downside I can point out about the shoe. The platform under the forefoot feels a bit narrow to me - perhaps it could be widened just a touch to add some stability to the ride, especially at faster paces. I’m thinking of a shoe like the Saucony Tempus which has a nice, wide and stable forefoot which feels great - especially for forefoot landings. The Centari, at 27mm up front, being so narrow, can feel a little bit tall at times. 

Sam: The Centauri has a classic daily trainer ride (and fit) with modern superfoam cushion and impulse and does it better than most, if not all others, in its class for me.  I agree with Mike to a certain extent that the softness and bounce up front gets a bit shakier at faster paces but on balance, and again compared to its competitors, for most of my miles I will take the non harsh front feel here trading up for the Centauri’s softer feel and friendly and lively cushioning. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: With a state of the art super foam midsole,  the Centauri livens up the more traditional higher drop daily trainer category with a fun to run new option due to its eTPU super foam midsole.  I wished it weighed less than its quite reasonable 10 oz in my US8.5, with the weight coming from a quite thick and dense knit upper, overlays and underlays, and big heel counter. The upper is a plus for its support and stability but also a bit of a negative, not only for the weight it adds to the shoe but for being a bit overdone, thick and on the warmer side.  

At $130, they are a very solid value not only for their exciting pleasant ride but also for their expected durability and versatility, only getting a bit shaky soft upfront at fastest paces. A bit firmer rubber and maybe a bit more of it upfront might tune this fine shoe.Well done 361! 

Sam’s Score: 9.43/ 10

Ride: 9.5  Fit: 9.2 Value 9.7  Style : 9.2

😊😊😊😊 Fun, lively non punishing ride in a classic more flexible higher drop shoe. A rarity!

Mike P:  The 361 Centauri is an excellent daily trainer option with a standout eTPU midsole that you need to start paying attention to. For me, it soaks up easy road miles - especially cushioned and protective under the forefoot which is great for me. The durability and non-compression of the eTPU is a distinguishing factor for the Centauri - you can expect the same underfoot feel for many, many miles. My only slight gripe as mentioned earlier is that perhaps the platform could be widened slightly to add a bit of stability. But the value for $130 given the level of cushion and expected durability can’t be beat in the daily trainer category.

Mike P’s Score:  9.08/10

Ride: 9 - Smooth, cushioned yet non-mushy ride - eats up road miles

Fit: 9 - Solid foothold, front of ankle collar perhaps just a touch high

Value: 9.5 - Extremely impressed by the durability of eTPU midsole

Style: 9 - Solid look for a daily trainer


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Triumph 20 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Triumph matches the Centauri in softness and stack height. It weighs 0.3 oz less. While its new PWRRUN + EVA/TPU foam feels quite similar to Centauri’s TPE on the way down with forces, it is less decisive and quick returning. The Triumph’s rear geometry is a bit smoother flowing but it lacks the quick flexing, more dynamic toe off of the 361. Both are true to size with the Triumph upper more polished and less overwhelmingly secure at the rear, a factor I think contributing to the weight difference.

Saucony Ride 13/14 and 15 (RTR Review)

Sam: The 361 is actually somewhat closer to the Ride 13/14 than the 15 sharing a flexible thinner forefoot with the Saucony more responsive and firmer up front due to its denser PWRRUN foam and more extensive front outsole. The Ride 13/14 has a more uptempo fast feel but not as pleasant an overall ride and not as pleasant as Centauri at slower paces. 

The current Ride 15 got a big makeover, dropping in weight and broadening its platform.  It is 1.3 oz / 37 lighter than the 361 at the same stack height. Its PWRRUN EVA/TPU blend is now softer (and lighter) but cannot match the distinct energy return of the Centuari but does provide more forefoot cushion, if duller for sure in feel. The Ride’s upper is highly supportive, lighter and more breathable and is just more polished. Tough choice I would pick the Ride for its upper fit and considerably and noticed lighter weight and the Centauri for its.. Ride.

Mike P (10.0): Ride 15 TR (trail version) I’ve run a lot of miles on the TR version, including road miles. Also similarly high stacked - the Ride TR is a bit wider and therefore more stable, likely designed that way for the trails. The foam, while soft, is less responsive than the Centauri’s eTPU. It feels more absorptive compared to the Centauri with its noticeably quicker rebound.

Saucony Tempus

Mike P (9.5): The Tempus has been perhaps my favorite road trainer ever. I love the inherent element of light medial stability. But also it has a wider base in comparison to the Centauri which also makes it feel more stable for me. I think Centauri would be served well to widen out the base under the forefoot - similar to the Tempus. The ride of the Tempus feels a touch firmer, perhaps due to the standard-EVA carrier foam. I feel a bit more connection to the road, whereas the Centauri really blunts ground feel. When I want to go for a bit of a “quicker” easy run, I’ll take the Tempus, but when I just want to cruise and go truly easy, the Centauri’s (still responsive) cushion is preferred.

Craft Pro Endur Distance (RTR Review)

Sam: Identical in stack height and sharing a similar feel TPE midsole these 2 differ in weight.  Uppers, midsole geometry, and  outsoles. The Craft Pro Endur is lighter by 0.7 oz, its thin upper just supportive enough but almost the polar opposite of the hyper supportive dense knit, while a flexible shoe the Craft also has some rocker effect, and its outsole is considerably beefier and I have found light trails worthy.  While similarly soft due to the TPE foams here the Craft has a bit more forefoot pop and more roll than the more traditional flexing 361.  The “weak point” of both are their uppers: too much for the 361 and borderline not enough for the Craft.  All of this said I will take the Craft in this match up. 

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 ( RTR Review)

Sam: The Peg 39 has a lower stack of cushioning at 33 mm heel / 23 mm forefoot with a dated duller and firmer (especially up front) combination of React foam and Air Zoom unit  the Pegasus 39 leans shorter and faster runs than the Centauri in this match up and  is not nearly as pleasant and fun a ride as a single shoe daily trainer.  It is lighter by 0.75 oz due to its lower stack height and more svelte upper. The Centauri’s all TPE midsole is softer, more dynamic, and easier on the legs although the front of the shoe is not quite as snappy quick in feel.  The Pegasus upper is superior in fit and finish and both are true to size for me with the Pegasus toe box lower and more performance oriented.  Given a choice of a single trainer for all my running I would pick the 361 or if it has to be Nike the Pegasus Trail 4 with its softer React midsole. That said if your runs involve dirt roads,s now and light trails the outsole of both Pegs is superior in grip. 

Mizuno Wave Rider 26 (RTR Review)

Weighing exactly the same as the Centauri with about 3 mm more heel cushion as a 12mm drop shoe with about the same forefoot stack the Wave Rider unlike the 361 includes a rear to mid foot Wave plate. The drop is much more noticeable in the Mizuno with a distinct forward dropping flow. While its heel is more cushioned and more stable in feel its forefoot is thinner and firmer due to its fine but less reactive Enerzy foam and more copious outsole coverage. If you need a touch more stability in your neutral daily trainer and don’t mind the pronounced drop go with the Mizuno otherwise the Centauri has a superior more fun ride. I personally lean Centauri here.

Brooks Ghost 15 (RTR Review)

Sam: Another clear competitor for the Centauri. As with the Pegasus, the Brooks has a lower forefoot stack height, 4mm less and as a 12mm drop shoe (9mm for Centauri) shoe a touch less heel stack height of the new (to Ghost) DNA Loft v2 foam. Very similar ride and softness shoes here with the Centauri clearly more energetic and dynamic due to its TPE foam. If you are a long time Ghost fan and like a higher drop all around daily trainer you would be well served to check out the 361 for its more lively fun ride. . In terms of uppers both are true to size with the Ghost’s a bit less secure and more comfort oriented.

The 361 Centauri will release February 2022

Tester Profiles

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he is very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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1 comment:

Steve said...

Comparison with Novablast 3 thanks :)