Stability shoes have seen a lot of developments in recent years, often veering away from the traditional designs associated with sturdy support shoes. The Strata 4 is a more conventional style, one that focusses on development than reinvention.
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Like many other products from the brand, the fourth iteration of 361 Degree's line is a noticeable aesthetic shift from its predecessors, sporting an updated, sleeker look.
We've spent the past few weeks putting the Strata 4 through its paces to see if cuts the mustard when it comes to comfort as well as looks.
Price: $155 | Weight: 334g/ 11.8oz (men) 274g/ 9.7oz (women) | Type: Road/Stability | Heel to toe drop: 8mm | Sizing: Fits true to size | Alternatives: Saucony Guide 13, Asics Gel-Kayano 27, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
There's no escaping the fact that the Strata 4 is a meaty shoe. Aside from its relatively substantial weight (334g/ 11.8oz for men and 274g/ 9.7oz for women), when you're holding one in your hand it's instantly clear that its primary focus is not speed training.
Instead, all aspects of the Strata 4 exist for comfort, support and durability. Everything from the thick multilayer midsole to the stiff and heavily cushioned heel counter promotes a plush, sturdy feel ‚Äď kind of like stepping into a richly upholstered estate car.
The midsole combines 361's EVA rubber QU!KFOAM material with the addition of a QU!K Spring+ layer ‚Äď an EVA foam that's meant to deliver more rebound and less compression. There's also a chunky medial post and a generous helping of rubber on the outsole.
The upper is made from a double jacquard mesh, with varying degrees of thickness between the perforated and light front toe box to the thick, heavily padded heel section.
It also includes the addition of 361's popular MORPHIT lacing system, which incorporates interconnecting laces across the inner midfoot for a tight, secure fit.
Finally, there's a new pressure free tongue construction which basically means one side of the plush tongue is connected to the internal fabric of the shoe. The aim being to stop movement and offer a padded, cushioned feel
The first thing we noticed when wearing the Strata 4 is that it's an exceptionally comfortable shoe to put on. Slipping your foot inside is like falling back into a new sofa, and the plush cushioning that surrounds the tongue and heel makes for a hugely enjoyable experience.
The midsole, medial plate and heel counter offer a noticeably structured and stable fit. As soon as you start walking you can feel that your foot is heavily supported. One thing we did notice, however, was that the soft upper does tend to make the shoe feel like it isn't secured tightly enough around the foot and we did have to tie up the laces a few times to get the feel right.
That feeling of stability is largely the experience you gain on the run as well. Each step feels firmly planted on the ground and we noticed very little rolling or movement as we ran.
Stability is one thing for a running shoe, and it's a function that the Strata 4 serves extremely well, however, the flipside of that is how well it delivers when it comes to speed and energy return ‚Äď an area where the shoe doesn't deliver quite so well.
On long training runs of up to 20km we found the Strata 4 delivered very well when setting out fast wasn't the focus. It is by no means a shoe designed for picking up the pace though and the level of energy return we felt when upping the speed was negligible, both from the responsiveness of the foam and from the heel to toe transition.
But that really isn't what the Strata 4 is about. It's a shoe that's built for confidence on the run, whether that's to minimize pronation or to offer support for heavier runners that want a stable experience. In both cases, it does a very good job.
The Strata 4 is an all-out stability shoe in the most traditional sense. It offers an impressive level of comfort, an undeniable plush cushioning and a stable experience that makes you feel like your feet are in the right place with every step.
As with most traditional stability shoes, you can't have the best of both worlds, and what the Strata 4 delivers in support it lacks in energy return and transition.
If you're a runner who wants confidence for general day to day running, it's a great shout. It may even be a good option if your race day goals are focussed more on covering the distance over hitting a PB. But, it is a noticeably heavy shoe and although it does contain features to increase the responsiveness, it is minimal.
If you'd prefer to watch a video covering the 361 Degrees Strata 4 check out this review from our friends at The Run Testers YouTube channel.