Scarpa Spin Ultra - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Stable, protective, wider fit, technical terrain
Cons: Expensive, doesn't bode well on slippery surfaces
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Scarpa Spin Ultra trail runner stands out for its fabulous stability and performance over rocky and unpredictable terrain. Its wide fit accommodates all types of feet, while its ample cushioning provides sufficient protection for the long run.
This shoe offers excellent foot protection in the form of super-responsive cushioning, a hard toe cap, and a TPU insert that acts just like a rock plate. The underfoot cushioning is stiffer and quite responsive. This, in conjunction with the rock place, offers excellent protection from sharp roots or rocks that might directly impact the sole of the shoe. The integrated TPU plate does a great job of dispersing this impact, which adds to the protection of the shoe.
The burly toe cap also does a great job at protecting feet from unsuspected stubs on the trail. The mesh has two layers that keep out small clay and sand particles while running in the desert. Around the Achilles is a harder overlay that provides additional support and protection to keep the shoe from deforming. Overall, we are impressed by the protection of this shoe all the way around.
In general, the Spin Ultra allows you to feel most of the trail but is not the most sensitive shoe out there. When trail running in the alpine environment, we are happy to report our feet felt fresh, even after 18 miles of running on super-tenuous and technical terrain. When running over rocks, we could undoubtedly detect undulations, but we couldn't feel everything underfoot.
This lack of sensitivity, in fact, makes it an excellent option for alpine running over super long distances. Our feet didn't receive the brunt of the impact, but we could still feel the trail enough to change our positioning, which increased the stability of our body on the trail. Overall, sensitivity is what it should be for a shoe that is built for ultra-distances. If you like more protection and less sensitivity, this is a wonderful option!
The Spin Ultra utilizes a Vibram rubber outsole with roughly 40'ish lugs that are well-spaced apart. This shoe performed best in dry conditions with trail surfaces littered with loose rocks, dirt, or fine debris (like sand or clay). The lugs aren't super deep, but the pattern offers a nice level of stability. This shoe does not perform well over super sticky and soft surfaces like heavy mud.
Designed for the alpine environment, it truly does perform best here. We tested this shoe while running up several trails, but one of the most varied provided us with the best comparison. When running up to 12,000 feet on the Bridge of Heaven trail in Ouray, CO, we encountered huge snow patches that required some serious snow travel, traversing over loose rock, and treading over packed dirt. In all conditions, this shoe did well.
However, there was a little slippage on the steep snow slopes. While it can certainly get you through these conditions, it doesn't perform as well as those with deeper lugs. That said, over the over rock-laden surfaces, it sticks wonderfully.
On steep trails, it does a great job of avoiding slippage, both on the way up and down. The wider lugs provide an exceptional level of surface area while the sticky rubber does a great job hugging every particle of dirt for enhanced friction, and thus, traction. Overall, this shoe performs well on most surfaces.
However, while testing over a trail on a super muddy day, we learned that this shoe, when laden with mud, becomes quite slippery and doesn't do the best at shedding mud well, like most of the shoes in this review. As a result, it's not recommended if you're going to find yourself running through mud fields with a clay-based (super sticky) composition.
This shoe is truly built for the surfaces you'll encounter when you travel to and get above treeline. It's perfect for the rock scrambler which finds themselves on technical rock trails or those packed with hard dirt. They perform okay for super steep surfaces but should be avoided if you know you'll be tackling soft surfaces all day long.
Wowzers! The stability is just grand, and it earns top marks in this category. Take it over all sorts of terrain with confidence and ease.
The combination of bomber foot protection with a little bit of sensitivity adds to the stability of this shoe. The toe box is surprisingly wide, while the rise of the shoe feels quite low. When running over super rocky terrain with fixed and loose rock, the shoe seemed to remain laterally intact, without falling to one side of another. The sole is fairly stiff, with the cushioning absorbing and distributing the shock of impact well. You'll feel close to the ground, while the shoe keeps you upright and safe on the trail.
Comfort & Fit
This shoe offers a good level of comfort for simple wear around town and while crushing it on the trail. The fit is wide around the ball of the foot with a well-encapsulated heel cup that keeps your shoe on, even when hiking up or sprinting down. The toe box is also wide, which allows for wiggle room and comfort for the long haul. It doesn't squish the foot, and size is true to fit. It has a neutral fit with a 6-mm heel-toe drop.
The midsole is constructed with 2D EVA-CM foam that is harder than the softer foams. This foam is much harder and feels like it bounces back quite efficiently, but isn't as springy. The cushioning underfoot is ample, with your foot molding into the midsole after just a few runs. Overall, the comfort of this shoe is impressive.
In terms of fit, it is considered a neutral shoe with a forefoot profile. The toe box allows some level of toe splay, while the widest part of your foot fits nicely against the sides. The outer mesh is pretty flexible here too, so if your foot is wider, it will push into the sides, and allow some give. There is a bit of support around the arch, and the shoe pinches in here, offering a more narrow fit, which prevents foot slippage. The heel cup is bomber and keeps your foot in place, with the more rigid construction around the back.
The tongue detaches from the interior of the shoe, allowing you to adjust it easily. The material itself isn't the softest out there, but it's fairly comfortable. The collar is well padded, while it comes down just far enough to give enough room for your ankle bones.
The lacing system features 'wing-like' structures that do a great job of completely wrapping the foot without making it too tight. Some of our narrow footed testers mentioned that it was a little roomy and wasn't narrow enough for them, so if you prefer a tight-fitting shoe, we'd recommend trying on before you buy.
Like most trail runners, this lightweight shoe weighs in around 9.7 ounces for a size nine. It's not the lightest out there, but it sure isn't heavy either. It is not waterproof but does wick away water from the upper, making it absorbent for wet weather.
After 300 miles of adventures, we noticed minor cushioning compaction and a little scraping from sharp rocks around the exterior. The lugs are pretty burly, but after this mileage, on mostly rocky surfaces, they have worn down a smidge. If you're in the market for a lightweight shoe that boasts some of the best stability that we've seen, you'll see the value in this shoe. However, if you want something a little more flexible and versatile, it won't be worth the price.
We are excited about the Scarpa Spin Ultra trail running shoe. Designed for running in the mountains, it offers fabulous stability when treading over super technical and rocky terrain. It's not the best for soft and sloppy surfaces, but our testers are thrilled with its responsive ride and overall comfort. The price is high, but if you need an ultra-stable trail runner that can perform over short or long distances, this is one to consider.
— Amber King