The 360 is the feather light star of ZEMs barefoot collection. The design weighs in at 2.5 oz and is equipped with a pliable but abrasion robust phylon outsole ideal for runners. Integrated gecko grip rubber pods add traction & secure footing. ZEM award-winning, patented & reflective tech-bands are welded into the upper material to provide strong lateral stability and enhance nighttime safety. The split toe pattern and the high “mold-ability” of all materials maximize barefoot agility for many activities.
- Low cut around the ankle
- Available in Split Toe and Rounded Toe
- For indoor and outdoor use
- 4-way stretch elastane fabric uppers
- Rolled heel and toe bumpers
- Thermoplastic urethane stability bands crisscross feet to offer light support and stability
- Reflective Bands
- Footbeds offer anti-odor treatment to help deter development of odors
- Lightweight, thin Phylon EVA midsoles conform to the shape of your foot
- Outsoles feature traction pods made from recycled rubber
- Measured size 9
- Weight – 84 g (3.0 oz)
- Forefoot width – 100.0 mm (3.9 in)
- Stack Height – 3.6 mm (Heel), 3.6 mm (Toe), 0 mm (Drop)
- Retail – $60
ZEMgear is a smaller company that has been around for a couple of years now. ZEM stands for the Zone of Endless Motion. Their goal is to make Performance Protection for Bare Feet. They create protection for the foot while allowing it to act as it would be barefoot. Their approach is to be minimal all the way. In every aspect of their design and business practices.
ZEMgear originally made footwear for beach volleyball and has been branching out more recently to other activities. The 360 Runners are the first running model they released, and I worked with them to get a pair to review.
Testing of the ZEMgear 360 Runners took much longer than I anticipated. The reasons for this were injuries that both were from testing and others that were not. I will explain this more below. I tested the 360 Runners both inside and out. Using them from workouts, casual wear, and runs up to 5 miles.
The 360 Runners are the first running model made by ZEMgear. I am not going to call them shoes because they really are not. My best description would be reinforced aqua socks. While that may sound bad they really are more than that, and after I explain you will understand. The 360 Runners have a thin Phylon EVA midsole which is very flexible and can adjust to the shape of your foot. The outsole has recycled rubber pods with a textured surface for traction. The pods are strategically located for protection, traction, and optimum flexibility. The toe and heel have a rolled shape for better foot protection. The outsole is non-marking so it can be used both inside and out.
The midsole has been stitched to the upper along the inside of the runners. There is a rim of stitching around the outside of the midsole that can be seen in one of the pictures I took. The upper is made of a 4-way stretch elastane neoprene material. It possesses good stretch, warmth, and breathability. The upper has crisscrossing thermoplastic overlays for light support and stability. These overlays are reflective and come in different colors based on your preference. I tested the lime-green ones, and they really pop of the pinstriped black upper. The upper has a low cut around the ankle for more flexibility. The 360 Runners are available in both a rounded toe and split toe. The rounded toe has a more traditional shape while the split toe separates the big toe from the rest. This allows more natural foot movement. I tested the split toe version.
ZEMgear is all about being minimal in their design and business practices. They make their products to be minimal in design and materials. The 360 runners also use recycled rubber for their traction pods. Between their use of recycled materials and their business practices to be environmentally responsible, I gave these a 3.5 for sustainability.
Comfort Next to Skin (25%)
Foot Length (15%)
Foot Volume (15%)
Heel Width (15%)
Midfoot Width (15%)
Toe Box Width (15%)
The ZEMgear 360 Runners are made to hug the foot, and they definitely do. I am a size 9 in medium width, so I tested the size 9. The 360s only come in whole sizes. The 9 seems to run slightly short as I found it snug in the length but a 10, I think would have been too loose. I found the 360s felt good in the heel and the midfoot. They held my foot well and were not too tight. The upper stretches nicely which helped it hug my foot. While the forefoot was fairly wide, I expected it to be slightly wider for barefoot type footwear. My toes felt a bit snug, but that may have been from the construction. The split toe has pointed tip to the inside of the slit which rubbed a little for me when wearing. This may also be making them feel snug because I measured the width to be fairly wide.
The 360s are easy to put on and take off. I did have some issues with the 360s rubbing and giving me some pretty tough blisters. This actually took some time to heal from and is one of the reasons my testing took so long. The raised inner seam while feeling good just walking around, rubs my foot at the instep when I run and after only a mile it had already blistered. In my later testing, I put a piece of athletic tape on my instep and had no issues thereafter. The other thought was to wear these with Injinji Toe Socks, but the size 9 was too snug with sock underneath. Maybe the size 10 would have been a better option had I known this. Other than this internal raised seem, I had no other issues with rubbing. While it did not cause me any problems, there is a seam that runs vertically up the heel which I was surprised was so prominent. I have not read of any others having issues with this seam so it seems to be fine. I figured it is worth mentioning though.
Ground Feel (20%)
Once I got the blister issue resolved I really liked doing short runs in these. I mentioned before that I had several setbacks in my testing. The other was caused by bruising the bottom of my foot when running in another shoe. Since these are so close to the ground, I could not use them until it healed, which set me back a month or so. As I just mentioned the shoes are very close to the ground. I measured them with my calipers to be 3.6 mm thick both in the heel and toe. They are zero drop so it is just like being barefoot. When running in these you can feel every nook and cranny of the ground. I ran on some trails, grass, roads, sidewalks, and even some gravel. I must say I enjoyed running on the softer and smoother surfaces rather than the rocks and gravel. Since the cushioning is very thin, the rocks hurt if you hit them wrong. The short stretches along the gravel road were not that pleasurable. However, for those who like to feel the ground, these will definitely let you do that.
The 360s have good traction indoors and do not mark floors. This makes them great for workouts. When running the traction was enough when on roads or grass. Trails might require a bit more, but I did not find these suited for the trails anyway. The upper has reflective overlays for low light running. Since your feet are moving, they help you be seen.
I have read some others reviews where they had issues with durability of their 360s. I personally have not had any issues. They have shown a little wear on the EVA between the rubber pods, but this is expected. There is always a compromise between flexibility, weight, and durability. I expect to get 200-300 miles out of a pair of these and thus far this seems to be right.
Overall, the ZEMgear 360 Runners are what I expected. They are decent for running and excellent for other workouts. This makes them a very versatile pair of footwear. If you plan to use these exclusively as a runner, understand that they are very minimal. The 3.6 mm cushioning is enough for the advanced barefooter but may be too minimal for many. I preferred running on smoother surfaces as you can feel every painful rock. I do have lots of experience running in minimalist shoes, and I found these to have as much ground feel as anything I have run in apart from the original VFF. The fit is pretty good, but they do run slightly tight. I have read that people with wider feet have opted for a larger size to accommodate the width. I do wish the toe area was slightly wider and a bit more finished between the toes. The pointed inside of the toe felt slightly off to me. I think in retrospect; the rounded toe would be more to my liking. Other may have a different preference here. My only red flag with these was the raised stitching that connects the sole to the upper. This really tore up my instep but with a piece of athletic tape it was no problem. The good thing about the 360 Runners is the price. They retail for $60, which is not too bad for minimalist footwear. For some reason, minimalist footwear tends to be expensive. I recommend these if you want versatile footwear for workouts and running. Just remember to take it slowly if you have not used barefoot footwear before. As always, your mileage may vary.
Pros [field name=iFrame]
- Super lightweight
- Minimal material and use of recycled rubber
- Lots of ground feel
- Fairly inexpensive
- Raised seems tore up my instep
- Wish the split toe was more rounded on the inside
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