As a 361° brand ambassador, I have been fortunate enough to given a pair of 361° Ortega 2 Trail Shoes to try out and review. Rather than an quick test, I wanted to run a number of races and put some real distance into the 361° Ortega 2 Trail Shoes before giving them my verdict.
There were three races I tested them over:
- Equinox 24 – a 24 hour Ultra Race of 10km laps around the Belvoir estate in Leciestershire. Approximately 60% path/road and 40% grass routes. It remained dry throughout the course and laps (I did 50km in total over two stints in the Ortega 2s and swapped them with my 361° Stratomic road shoes for a while.
- Petzl Night Runner – A night race using head torches around Delamere forest. Around 80% was on gravel paths and 20% grass/soft surface route. Not technical, but as the run was in the dark, a lot of care and attention had to be made of the route ahead. Some of the route was through forest paths with loose bark and overgrown roots. A dry-ish course, but some soft mud and puddles in places. A short steep climb up a grass hill and a very soft last 1km loop.
- Fell Hell – A 10km fell race around Moel Famau – a total of 440m elevation across a VERY muddy trail route – 80% gravel trail with puddles and 20% soft mud/wet surface. A very technical trail with very steep up hills with climbs including muddy trails and very fast down hill sections through mud and rocks or a very rocky trail with a lot of loose gravel. I was worried I took the wrong trail shoe and thought I may have needed something more aggressive in the lugs. But apart from a few VERY muddy places (where no amount of lugs would ave helped). The Ortega 2s performed brilliantly.
After these three races, I have enough information about the 361° Ortega 2 Trail Shoes to give a verdict.
The first words that come to mind with the 361° Ortega 2 Trail Shoes are:
- Stable – I was very much at ease with the Ortega 2s in what ever terrain I was going over. They felt great underfoot and allowed me to stride quickly and without needing to worry about what was underfoot. They really came to the fore when running the two main downhill sections at Fell Hell. The firs being a very muddy section with a very high chance of slipping and falling. The second section was dry, buy much steeper and with loose gravel – I was running downhill at around 3.50m/km pace and was only able to do this as I was trusting the shoe at these speeds over this terrain. It was both scary and exhilarating at the same time!
- Sturdy – The studiness of the shoe allowed for the stability as above. Very well made, very much a precision fit within the shoe and a slim toe box. An upper and heel section which held and protected the foot without slipping or movement.
- Hard – Which really helps the sturdiness and stability of the shoe. As mentioned, I wore them for 30km at Equinox24, but I felt they were really hard underfoot. I think this was down to the terrain being less than ideal (70% was road/tarmac) and only 30% over very light trail. I did switch to the more comfortable road shoes and then at towards the end of the 24 hours back to the Ortega 2s. Note – Not great on long distance on pavement (but they are trail shoes after all).
As an obstacle racer, I generally wear Reebok all terrains for the obstacle runs such as Tough Mudder and Spartan. The 361° Ortega 2 Trail Shoes fall into the “Light trail” category which compete directly with the Merrel Avalaunch which I own. However, unlike the Merrels, the 361° Ortega 2 have a studiness to them which protects the foot. The grip is compaable, but the sole of the Merrels is much softer – giving you better feel, but not the best protection over very technical ground.
For light and medium trail, these 361° Ortega 2s are awesome, would I wear them for a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race? It’s a possibility that they would perform ok, but for some parts (Mud Mile for example) you would definitely need more grip. But if you are running through the trail, forests, hills, gravel the 361° Ortega 2 Trail Shoes cannot be beaten. They look great, feel great and perform with a sure and stable grip, giving you full confidence in your stride.