Reviews You Can Rely On

Scarpa Spin Review

A light and sensitive shoe for tackling the gnarliest terrain as fast as possible
gearlab tested logo
Scarpa Spin Review (Scarpa Spin)
Scarpa Spin
Credit: Scarpa
Price:  $149 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 1, 2019
  • Foot protection - 30% 5.0
  • Traction - 20% 6.0
  • Stability - 15% 9.0
  • Comfort - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 9.0
  • Sensitivity - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Spin is a very light shoe that combines aggressive lugs for optimal traction with a sensitive ride. With a low 4mm heel-toe drop it is stable and precise and is ideally suited to steep and technical terrain. As a light, sensitive shoe it understandably does not offer the same level of underfoot protection that maximally cushioned shoes do, so it better suits faster, shorter distance running efforts, and makes for a great racing shoe. If speed in the alpine environment is what you are looking for, the Spin is one of the first shoes you should check out.
Very light
Sensitive trail feel
Comes with two choices for insole
Little foot protection
Aggressive lugs are not the grippiest

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Spin is among the lightest shoes in this review, but also comes with a few exciting features. We enjoyed having the lace garage on the top of the tongue for tucking away our laces, so they don't easily come un-tied. Likewise, we appreciate the fact that this shoe comes with two different insoles that can be swapped out as desired. One insole is very thin and lacks much cushioning, while the other pair offers more arch support and also takes up more volume. Swapping the insoles out gives the shoe a slightly different feel overall allowing you to tailor the amount of cushioning as well as the fit to your personal preferences. This is a feature that we wish all running shoes came with!

Compared to the Scarpa Spin Ultra, which we recognize as the best overall shoe for runners with wide feet, the Spin is minimally protected and quite a bit lighter. The Spin Ultra feels far more rigid underfoot, and is better for stomping over rocks all day long, while the Spin is better for dancing over said rocks on a shorter outing. While both are great shoes, they are ideal for totally different purposes, with this shoe being the best for shorter and faster. If you are looking for a long distance trainer or ultra shoe, then definitely opt for the Ultra. The Ultra also fits wide, while this shoe fits narrow.

Performance Comparison

scarpa spin - the scarpa spin are a great lightweight shoe that allows for a...
The Scarpa Spin are a great lightweight shoe that allows for a sensitive ride and an accelerated stride.

Foot Protection

Underfoot, the Spin uses two layers of different density EVA foam as cushioning and protection from rocks. However, large cut out areas in the outsole and through the midsole foam mean that the landing surface is not uniform, and depending on what part of your foot lands on a sharp object like a rock, you may feel nothing at all or feel like you are being stabbed right in the arch of the foot. We often find that underfoot protection and sensitivity are polar opposites when it comes to assessing the feeling of a shoe, and in the case of the Spin, sensitivity seems to be greatly favored over underfoot protection. The upper is made of breathable mesh with thin welded overlays that do an effective job of covering all the areas of highest wear.

Unfortunately, the toe bumper is only lightly padded and doesn't offer a significant amount of protection from accidentally kicking a rock. Overall this shoe is not the most protective but intentionally emphasizes other things.

scarpa spin - on smoother rocks like these water polished ones we felt the spin...
On smoother rocks like these water polished ones we felt the Spin gave us more than enough underfoot protection, but at other times on sharp and broken up rocky terrain they felt a bit under whelming.


The outsole of this shoe is made with Vibram rubber, and features offset arrow shaped lugs that are roughly 4 mm deep. It also has many gaps where the rubber and midsole are cut out, revealing the exposed high-density foam insert underneath. Despite the seemingly aggressive lugs, we found that this shoe did not grip as well on steep loose dirt, or on dry rock, as we would have expected. We surmise this is because the lugs are not cut square to the ground, but are rather rounded off on some sides, angling gently back to where they join with the outsole so that there isn't as much of a sharp edge that can dig into softer terrain. It grips roughly as well as the New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Trail v3.

scarpa spin - the vibram megagrip outsole on the spin has well spaced, deep lugs...
The Vibram Megagrip outsole on the Spin has well spaced, deep lugs that do a pretty decent job of gripping most surfaces, but also a lot of cut out zones, especially in the forefoot, where you can see the orange and black patterned rockplate. These cutouts allow random sharp rocks to really zing the bottom of the foot depending on how you land, diminishing the underfoot protection.


Despite the narrow landing platform, this shoe is exceedingly stable across all types of terrain. In our dedicated side-hilling testing, we noticed that this shoe feels low to the ground with little difference in the heights of the heel and toes (4mm). The shoe does an excellent job of gripping and holding the foot securely in place with an interior sock-like fit.

We noticed very little to no propensity for this shoe to roll to the side, and no discomfort around the ankle bones from the shoe catching our feet on steep side-hills. Our feet pretty much never slipped forward, either. We rated this shoe near the top of the pile, the same as the the very low to the ground and stable Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5.

scarpa spin - despite fitting rather narrow, we were surprised at how stable the...
Despite fitting rather narrow, we were surprised at how stable the Spin felt while running, and never dealt with any tendencies to roll an ankle in these shoes.


This is a very comfortable shoe, although folks with wide feet may be discouraged to hear that the fit is particularly narrow throughout, especially in the forefoot and the arch. The sock-like interior sleeve does a great job holding the foot firmly in place with no discomfort, and we love the choice of footbed inserts that allows one to choose whichever one leads to a more comfortable fit.

scarpa spin - showing the lace garage on the top of the tongue. while we like...
Showing the lace garage on the top of the tongue. While we like these features that keep the laces out of the way and prevent them from untying on the trail, we would have liked this one to be a bit bigger, and live a bit above the highest lace crossing, as it was hard to get this garage to work right.

We enjoyed wearing the Spin with the thicker insole in place better as it gave us more cushioning underfoot and slightly more arch support as well. In the water bucket test, we discovered that the Spin was slightly above average when it came to absorbing water, meaning that it absorbed less water weight than most. However, it was one of the poorer choices at drying out quickly. All told we think this is a comfortable, if quite snug and narrow, shoe.

scarpa spin - an awesome feature of the spin is that it comes with two choices for...
An awesome feature of the Spin is that it comes with two choices for interior footbeds, the thinner one that is closer comes already in the shoe, but you also get the fatter, more supportive one if you like it better, which we did.


Weighing in at a mere 19 ounces for a pair of men's size 11, these were the second lightest shoes we tested, behind only the Hoka Evo Jawz. Lightness is one of the main reasons that people will be interested in purchasing this shoe, making it a particularly fitting selection for uphill oriented running where every ounce counts.

scarpa spin - at 19 ounces per pair, these are the second lightest shoes in this...
At 19 ounces per pair, these are the second lightest shoes in this review, an attribute that really enables one to push the speed with them on.


As we mentioned when discussing the underfoot protection, this shoe has a pretty decent amount of dual density EVA foam in some places. In others, the lighter, thicker foam has been cut out, leaving large voids in the outsole where the pointy end of a rock can really cut through the protection. Overall this shoe is far more sensitive than it is protective, and it is also extremely flexible.

Held in the hands, one can very easily bend it and twist it from side to side. Prospective purchasers should be desirous of a nimble, flexible, and very sensitive ride or they will likely feel disappointed. Comparing it to others that we tested, it is most similar to the thin and flexible Topo Athletic Runventure 2.

scarpa spin - the spin are very flexible and super sensitive, ideal qualities for...
The Spin are very flexible and super sensitive, ideal qualities for uphill climbing on off-trail terrain such as rocks and roots.

Best Applications

The Spin strikes us as a borderline specialty shoe with short, steep, and technical terrain serving as its bread and butter. Think SkyRunning, vertical kilometer races, or a race shoe up to half marathon distance. Of course, this isn't to say that some people won't enjoy running in it as an everyday shoe, but it likely won't live up to that level of abuse for long. If you want the perfect shoe for your best effort at the Pike's Peak Ascent, this is the one.

scarpa spin - the scarpa spin are a very light shoe that are ideal for running...
The Scarpa Spin are a very light shoe that are ideal for running fast, whether that means on smooth and flowy trails like this one at Silver Falls State Park, OR, or steep and rugged mountain terrain.


Retail price for this shoe is $130, making it about average these days for a high end trail running shoe. While we think this is an excellent shoe for the right person and purpose, we think that the majority of runners will find better value from an everyday, rugged trail shoe that has a wider range of use and can handle more miles.

scarpa spin - running can take you to some amazing places, like beautiful water...
Running can take you to some amazing places, like beautiful water falls! Happy to have seen this one while wearing the Spin shoes.
Credit: Andy Wellman


The Scarpa Spin is a very light and form-fitting shoe that is ideal for running your fastest on race day, especially if the hills are steep. It is quite comfortable and gives one the choice of two different footbed insoles to customize the fit, but in general is on the narrower side of the spectrum. It makes for a great, high performing addition to any runner's quiver, but wouldn't be our top recommendation for a one-shoe-does-it-all shopper.

Andy Wellman