Sunday, June 18, 2023

361° Futura Futura Review: A Do it All Cruiser 9 Comparisons

Article by Jeff Beck and Mike Postaski

361° Futura ($150)


Jeff: The Futura is a new model from 361 that seems to be positioned as a do-it-all trail cruiser. Featuring their latest TPE midsole, Engage Foam, this is a shoe that a few years ago would be considered “max cushion” but in today’s market is more of a “well cushioned” shoe. It also boasts Vibram’s Megagrip rubber in the outsole. On paper this shoe should check quite a few boxes for most trail runners. But how does it hold up out on the dirt, rock, and mud? 


Energetic soft but not mushy supercritical foam midsole: Sam/Jeff/Mike P

Plush very supportive rear of upper with a roomy easy going toe box : Sam/Jeff/Mike P

Solid door to trail shoe given the energetic midsole (even with the big Vibram outsole): Sam/Jeff

Friendly trail cruiser ride and fit: Sam/Jeff/Mike P


Toe box could use a bit more structure/ lockdown for more technical trails use: Sam/Mike P

Outsole is a mud magnet: Jeff

Rides a bit “tall” on uneven/moderate trails Mike P

Foam feels a bit uncontrolled on twists and turns Mike P


Approximate Weight: men's 10.65 oz  / 302g (US9) 

  Samples: men’s  10.4 oz  /  295g US8.5, 11.0 oz / 312g US 9.5

Stack Height: men’s 33 mm heel / 28 mm forefoot ( 5mm drop spec)

$150 release 7/1/23

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jeff: “Is that a road shoe?” was my initial take as I took the Futura out of the box. While the outsole is clearly trail focused, or at least trail capable, the upper is reminiscent of a number of road shoes.

This is only my second 361 shoe, but so far the company is two-for-two on fit and sizing. I prefer a little bit of room, especially in the toebox, and while no one is going to confuse the Futura for something coming from Altra or Topo, there’s plenty of room up front to let the toes splay. The downside of that is there isn’t an incredible lockdown, making these shoes less than ideal for really hairy technical terrain - but the rest of the upper is kind of telegraphing it wasn’t meant for that anyway. 

The knit upper is very breathable, made of 40% recycled yarn, and has minimal overlays from the toebox back to the midfoot, taking me back to my initial reaction that it might be a road shoe. While the upper doesn’t have much give to it, instead they went with a relaxed fit that is accommodating for even my wider-than-D-narrower-than-2E foot. 

There’s solid cushioning around the heel collar to help keep the foot planted, and the internal heel counter isn’t over the top firm or intrusive, and it is capped with a nicely functional pull tab on the heel. 

The tongue is gusseted, and while it’s not the thickest tongue around, it has some strategic padding that they refer to as a “Pressure Free Tongue” and that’s largely an accurate claim. 

Further reinforcing the midfoot hold we have 2 webbing straps reaching from the yellow lace loops to the midsole.

Considering how much bright yellow is featured throughout the shoe, it’s surprising how borderline subtle the whole thing is. And bonus for fans of the Michigan Wolverines - you get to buy a shoe in your team’s colors without any upcharge!

Mike P: I was very interested in testing a trail shoe from 361 , after having a great time running in their full TPE midsole Centauri road shoe. That shoe feels great on the road - with the midsole foam feeling stable, energetic, and surely durable. I did wonder at the time how that setup would perform on the trail - but the Centauri’s outsole was way too smooth for crossover testing.

Enter the Futura - with the same full TPE midsole, this time on top of full coverage Vibram Megagrip rubber. I’ll say it’s a pretty sweet looking shoe, although a little bit heavy on the scale. But in comparison to the Centauri, the stack has been upped to a quite thick and high 38/33mm. (Centauri comes in at 31/22mm). 

Initial impressions, similar to the Centauri is that the upper appears to be a bit overbuilt. The material itself is on the thicker, denser side, and clearly this contributes to the highish weight. Clearly not designed as a svelte-racer type, the Futura does give off trail cruiser vibes. 

On foot, the feel of the cushioning is, let’s say, copious. With a very plush feel underfoot, again, it just feels like a cruiser. Jeff describes the fit of the upper well - I agree that even though it looks a bit thick, there’s plenty of space across the forefoot at my TTS US 9.5 and it feels quite comfortable, although lockdown could be better up front. 

I also noticed the yellow webbing straps on the inside of the upper - I did feel them on the sides of my foot and was initially concerned that it would be irritating on the run. But not so, while I still felt them, it was no issue or irritation on the run. I’m sure they’re aware that the stack is quite high and with the energetic TPE foam, they needed to add something to strap the foot in.


Jeff: The midsole is made from 361’s Engage TPE supercritical foam, which is the same midsole material they used in the road Centauri (RTR Review). I wasn’t in on that review, so I can’t speak to how that was executed, but in this case it is very reminiscent of adidas Boost, but softer, lighter and bouncier. That’s something adidas fans have been clamoring for for nearly a decade, so well done 361. It’s relatively low 5mm with a 33 mm heel / 28 mm forefoot keeps things balanced with the heel and forefoot both  well protected from the ground. There isn’t a rock plate of any kind, but between the robust outsole and thick enough forefoot, most runners probably won’t need one - especially if you’re using this shoe for more of a day-to-day dirt trainer.

Mike P: The TPE midsole is the main distinguishing feature of the Futura, as it was with the road Centauri. The sheer volume of it underfoot ensures that there’s not much ground feel on the run. Throw in a quite-thick Ortholite insole, in addition to the thick Megagrip rubber, and you’re pretty well insulated from the ground.

After a couple of initial runs, with the ground feel being quite muted, I wondered if swapping insoles could help give a better feel. Surely the TPE foam would provide enough cushion, and possibly a thinner, firmer insole might help. But this didn’t quite work out - with a different insole, it made the TPE feel noticeably firmer and also for some reason made the drop feel higher. It seems like the Ortholite insole with the TPE midsole is the best fit. 


Squishing the midsole foam in hand, it looks and feels incredibly soft and conforming. But on the run, it doesn’t feel as squishy and soft underfoot as you’d expect. I was surprised that it didn’t feel softer on the run.


Jeff: 361 outfitted the Futura with Vibram’s Megagrip rubber, and the outsole design has lots of v-shaped chevrons and parallelograms throughout the shoe. The result is a very grippy, and durable, outsole that digs into the dirt very well. While the lugs are pretty healthy, they don’t make road running awkward in any way - making the Futura a top-notch road to trail shoe for those who like to run to the local trailhead. 

They are so fluid on pavement, I’d recommend them to runners who don’t take them off road just as much as I would to those who live on the dirt, they are that smooth on the road with plenty of flexibiiity.

My only gripe about the outsole is its mud performance - it’s an absolute mud magnet. One of my runs was on my local neighborhood trail, which was slightly damp, but not really muddy. Before I’d gone a tenth of a mile I had cement shoes that had encased every bit of rubber, and the shoes didn’t want to shed any of it.

Mike P: That’s definitely a solid Megagrip outsole. Full coverage, no cutouts, flex grooves or anything like that. I’m sure some consideration was given to the properties of the TPE foam above it, and that more rubber would be needed to “hold things together”. 

I didn’t test them too much on the road, but that’s mainly due to the weight and not the outsole. As a lighter runner myself, the Futura just feels like a bit too much on foot for any appreciable road duty. In my quite sandy and loose trail testing, the outsole handled everything quite well, and gave nice grip in that specific terrain. I can see Jeff’s issue with the mud though - the lugs are quite tightly spaced and mud running is surely not their strong suit.


Jeff: The Futura has a nice balance between soft and bouncy that leans just slightly to the soft side, making this a great pick for a daily shoe. There’s enough dynamic response to make the shoe come alive when you pick up the pace, but without a super refined upper hold I wouldn’t run all out fast in them. The rocker geometry is subtle, but definitely there, helping toe-off just a bit to keep your feet moving forward.

Mike P: The Futura surely falls into the category - rides faster than its weight. The TPE midsole gives a nice energetic feel, without feeling bogged down by softness or weight. I enjoyed the ride for runs in the 1-2 hour range, but beyond that I’d probably notice the overall weight of the shoe a bit more. 11.2 oz for me is on the high side, but like I said, on the run at easier cruiser-type paces, the weight is not felt that much. 

The main issue I had with the shoe was when I tried to run a bit more technical (more like moderate) terrain, or just plain uneven surfaces. The shoes felt a bit “tall” to me on the run, and the lack of ground feel was a bit disconcerting at times. The TPE foam is quite energetic, with a bit of bounce to it. But with the pure volume of foam, Ortholite insole, and full rubber outsole, I just don’t have a good proprioceptive feel when the ground is uneven. 

My foot got thrown a couple times unexpectedly, which made me very cautious whenever the terrain became more difficult. I never tested them in truly technical terrain as there’s no way they’d be safe in that type of terrain. Twisty and turny paths were also a bit of an issue. I found that I had to be aware of steering them in a straight-ahead manner. Clearly the shoe works best in terrain that requires less attention. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff: The Futura stands out to me as one of those shoes that doesn’t really get anything wrong. And the more I run in the Futura, the more I want to run even more in it. Over the last few years most of my trail shoes have leaned much deeper into max/super max/egregious levels of cushioning, and I’m not complaining, but getting back into a shoe that has just enough cushioning for a couple to a few hours on the trail is a nice shift. Its road performance surprised me, considering how aggressive its outsole is, making the shoe that much more versatile. The upper doesn’t stand out as a top-five execution, but really I can’t find anything to complain about - or even any aspect I don’t actively like. 

Ultimately it feels like a shoe that can do everything pretty well, and runners who like to just have one shoe in the rotation (I know some of you monsters exist!) are unlikely to find a better shoe for their minimalistic quiver.

Jeff’s Score: 9.1/10

Ride: 9 Fit: 9.5 Value:9 Style: 10 Traction: 9 Rock Protection: 8


Mike P: It’s hard for me to peg the Futura as a true “trail” shoe, given its moderate and technical limitations. But, if you’re sticking to smoother stuff, gravel roads, rail trails, etc. the Futura is a great cruiser shoe that will eat up miles - lots of them. The TPE midsole will be much more durable than an equivalent EVA stack, and the Vibram Megagrip outsole will also outlast most generic outsoles. I’ve got them pegged for my slower, easy run type paces on easy terrain. The mileage you could put into them in those conditions could be virtually unlimited. It’s a solid cruiser shoe and a great value.

Mike P’s Score:  8.4 / 10

Ride: 8 - Nicely smooth and energetic - but stick to smoother terrain

Fit: 8 - Nice upper fit, maybe more security would help on technical terrain?

Value: 9 - Midsole/outsole should be extremely durable for cruiser miles 

Style: 9 - Nice and sleek looking, I like the color combo

Traction: 9 - Good in sandy & loose, I wouldn’t take them in mud

Rock Protection: 9 - Lots underfoot, but I’d stay away from rocky, technical terrain anyway

Smiles 😊😊😊

9 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

361 Spire 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff: 361’s similarly cushioned road shoe, the Spire 5 has a similar fit with an expanded PEBA pellets midsole similar to Saucony’s Endorphin Speed 1,2.. The Futura’s Engage midsole is a little softer, which provides just a little more give at landing. They’ve got nearly identical toe boxes, and the upper fits are very comparable. I’d favor the Futura for its offroad versatility.

361 Centauri (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Centauri is a road shoe, but both have the Engage TPE midsole. Both have rides that are smooth and energetic, but the Futura is necessarily bulked up a bit for trail duty. I prefer the ride of the Centauri on road compared to the Futura on trail. It’s probably the weight difference between the two, and the fact that I still feel restricted to easier trails with the Futura.

ASICS Trabuco Max 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Both shoes slot in the do-it-all category very well, and from a 30,000 foot view, are very similar shoes. The 361 has more traction, better lockdown, and a slightly firmer ride. The ASICS is overall wider, both in the toebox and midfoot where it is even more relaxed in fit than the Futura, and it also has a little more cushioning underfoot. 

Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Similar shoes in stack, the Futura has a more accommodating fit, softer cushioning, and a little more bounce. The Speedgoat feels a bit dull underfoot next to the Futura, but its tight hold on the foot is much better for technical running. Traction is a coin flip between the two.

Mike P (10): The SG’s foam feels less bouncy, but the foam and the shoe itself is way lighter. If the fit and footshape works for you, the SG is much more secure, and stable on real trails. The SG also features a much wider platform, and although the stack is also high - it doesn’t feel overly “tall” as the Futura can. 361 is not yet in the same league as Hoka’s SG for real trail running. 

Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: This shoe was my immediate comparison when I first tried the Futura on. The Futura has noticeably more cushioning and room in the toebox, and it’s much softer. Traction and durability is a toss up, while the Saucony feels much lighter on foot, and has a rock plate.

Mike P (9.5): This is a good comp, and although I feel like Saucony took a bit of a step back with v2, it’s still overall a much more versatile trail shoe than the Futura. Perhaps the Futura could hold up and be a more durable long term option for pure easy miles, but the Xodus Ultra 2 could also cover those miles as well. I do think Saucony went a bit too far though in tapering the V2 toebox. The Futura has a more comfortably shaped toebox. 

Topo Ultraventure 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Another close call. The Futura is more cushioned, but it’s a firmer cushioning, and it has noticeably more traction. The Topo wins the toebox award (obviously), has a much softer landing, and the upper is much more plush.

Mike P (10.0): This was the shoe that I initially thought of as a comp when first running in the Futura. Both shoes are great for easier, long distance mileage . The 361 has a much beefier outsole, but I don’t think it’s much of a factor in easy terrain. The Topo is every bit as comfortable on foot as the 361, but its wider base does make it more stable and confident when the terrain leans more moderate. I’m much more comfortable taking the UV3 in stretches of rougher terrain than I would be in the Futura.

Craft Endurance Trail (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): The Craft has a similar, dense yet energetic feeling TPE midsole. Both shoes feel and run a bit “tall”, i.e. lots of stack and cushion underfoot, but atop a bit of a narrower platform in relation to height. The Craft’s tall feeling is exacerbated by its poor fitting upper - with not much ability to adjust or tension. The Futura in comparison feels a little bit softer, and somewhat less controlled, even though the upper has a better fit. I actually prefer the Futura, since I can’t get anywhere with the Craft’s ill-fitting upper. 

Saucony Ride 15 TR (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): Post-testing, I’d say this is the closest comp in terms of ride. The Ride TR is specifically designed as a door to trail shoe, and uses a much lighter outsole and overall the shoe is much, much lighter. Its upper feels very similar to the Futura, in that it has a nice fit and shape, is comfortable, but foothold struggles in more adventurous terrain. I really like the Ride TR when I’m mixing roads and trails - it feels so light, almost like a road shoe and handles decently well on the trails. Where the Futura has the advantage is durability - I’m fairly certain its TPE midsole will maintain a more consistent feel over the long haul while the Ride’s EVA-based PWRRUN will pack out a bit over time.

The 361 Futura releases July 1, 2023

Tester Profile

Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 20 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

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.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

Brennon said...

It's pretty hot where I live right now and I'm also looking to go camping and play trap the cat in the mountains this weekend.