361 Degrees Chaser 2 Performance Review
Erin: I do a lot of running, and I know a lot of runners. I have never once seen someone wearing a pair of 361 Degrees shoes. After a bit of reading, it seems the company is a major shoe and sporting goods retailer in China, having been established in the early 2000s. Former ASICS exec Jim Monahan is behind 361 Degrees’ running shoes, which is apparent in the design of most of their offering in that most of the 361 Degrees models have a similar-looking ASICS cousin and not in that Jim Monahan dresses like Guy Fieri. I’m getting ahead of myself.
You may or may not get to read my review of the other 361 Degree shoes I tested, the Sensation 3. (Shh…it’s because I didn’t like them). Aside from the fact that both shoes are made by the same company that you’ve never heard of unless you’ve read prior models’ reviews on BITR, the Sensation isn’t really comparable to the Chaser, but I’ll compare them anyway inasmuch as to say that the Chaser is a much better shoe.
The Chaser (2, to be specific) weighs 6.8 ounces. This is a racing flat, kids. If any of you have ever run in the early versions (1-3) of the ASICS GEL-Hyper Speed, the Chaser feels almost identical to that shoe, and has a similar look, too. The upper is a seamless, breathable air mesh that holds the foot nicely. Reviews of the Chaser 1 indicate that a lot of people had issues with the tongue migrating laterally, which is something that appears to have been fixed, at least I had no problems with it.
The midsole is an EVA/rubber/PU called “QU!CKFOAM”, and is pretty unremarkable. The description on the 361 Degrees website says that there are durable carbon rubber “heal” pods; I’ll assume they meant “heel” and that that is in fact where the pods are located. The shoe also has a blown rubber forefoot, which is noticeable; this is a pretty cushioned shoe for a racing flat that weighs less than 7 ounces. This is a shoe that is suited to track workouts and tempo runs, and I’d say you could even get away with racing a half marathon in them.
Austin: At 8.2 ounces in a men’s nine, the Chaser 2 provides ample cushioning for a racing flat (though an argument can be made for it weighing less since it is a flat). Speaking of trends, black, white, and grey is trending as popular color choices. In other words, running shoes are doubling as lifestyle shoes. Regardless, it’s refreshing to see a flat that is bright, i.e. incorporates neon into the palette (361 uses the word “Jolt” to describe the men’s color; the women’s color is “Hazard”). The Chaser 2 fits true to size, and toe box space is generous as many flats tend to be snug or cramped in the forefoot. The drop is 8 millimeters (23 mm in the heel and 15 in the forefoot).
As expected, the Chaser 2 ride is firm, ideal for workouts and races. It’s powered by QU!KFOAM and QDP (Quick Dynamic Performance), a combination of QU!KFOAM and EVA. The shoe also employs a carbon fiber plate (a QU!K Spine) for torsional rigidity and additional midfoot support. Carbon rubber is used in the heel while blown rubber makes up the forefoot. On a personal note, I may be coming around on the thin, “pressure-free tongue” that 361 uses in their footwear. I’ve shunned thin tongues lately across all brands, but I ran multiple times in the Chaser 2 without any pain across the top of my foot.
Erin: My first impression of the Chaser 2 wasn’t great; I took it out for a 5-mile progression run and it felt a little stiff and slappy to me. Maybe this was just due to the slower pace at the beginning of the run, I don’t know. The next run, however, they felt like a different shoe (and this run was done at a similar pace as the first, so who knows). I’ve never really had to break in a racing flat, but I guess a 5-mile break-in run isn’t too bad.
I received the Chaser 2 in the hazard (bright red-orange) and black colorway, and honestly, I think it’s a pretty good-looking shoe. EXCEPT. There’s some sort of overlay on the heel to the midfoot. What is that? It’s like…flames? Zebra stripes? Paint splatter? You know those bowling shirts with flames on them? You know the shirt. Like a Guy Fieri type of shirt. These would look good with one of those. I mean, not good. But they would match.
Austin: As a racing flat, I’d like to see the next Chaser update drop in weight. 6-7 ounces would be ideal, at least for me. Aside from this critique, I didn’t observe any major shortcomings with the shoe.
361 Degrees Chaser 2 Conclusion
Erin: At $100, the Chaser 2 is a nicely-cushioned, quick racing flat that you may or may not be embarrassed to wear in public.
Austin: Like other products in the marketplace, running shoes are susceptible to trends. Knit uppers are such a trend right now, and 361 Degrees appears to be moving towards that end as their footwear evolves. The Chaser 2, a new model by 361, incorporates a seamless mesh upper into the shoe for enhanced breathability (the Sensation 3, due out soon, exhibits a similar upper mesh). Is the knit upper in the future for 361? I suspect that it is as other companies are latching on to this manufacturing approach to enhance overall comfort in running shoes. Until that time, the mesh upper will certainly suffice as it’s an excellent way of reducing weight and allowing for more toe splay.
At $100, the Chaser 2 is quite the deal for a racing flat. I poked around the Running Warehouse site for other models, and the prices are fairly competitive. Of course, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% is the outlier when discussing racing flats and prices. Still, if you have become a fan of the 361 brand, their shoe array is robust, and it can accommodate any distance preference.buy now