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Scarpa Spin Ultra - Women's Review

A stable, protective, and lightweight trail runner designed for tackling tough terrain
Scarpa Spin Ultra - Women's
Photo: Scarpa
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Price:  $149 List | $148.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stable, protective, wider fit, sticky rubber does well on most surfaces
Cons:  Expensive, slips in mud
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 28, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 16
  • Foot Protection - 25% 8
  • Traction - 20% 7
  • Sensitivity - 15% 6
  • Stability - 15% 9
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Weight - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Spin Ultra is protective and lightweight with fantastic stability. It features a wider fit with ample cushioning underfoot to protect from unforeseen trail hazards. After running over 500 miles in mountainous terrain, we can confirm that this shoe is built for just that; it performs well on roads, dirt-packed trails, rocky scrambles, and steep slopes. Unfortunately, it has a hard time biting into super slippery mud and snow but offers remarkable stability over loose trails. While it's a little pricey, it has shown a decent level of durability. This is one of our favorites and offers amazing all-around protection, stability, and performance for the long run.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
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Pros Stable, protective, wider fit, sticky rubber does well on most surfacesLight, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stableLightweight and streamlined, durable elements, very sensitive, precise fit, protective upper, stable on technical terrain, fun color optionsProtective, comfortable, wider toe box, excellent beefy traction for soft surfaces, huge valueSticky traction, protective, rainbow design is fun, great value, all surface capabilities
Cons Expensive, slips in mudNarrow fit, runs small, rigid construction takes time to break-inExpensive, no extra room in the toe box, tongue requires readjustment, zero drop design is best for only someNot ideal for roads, huge sizingLess stable than most, harder midsole is less comfortable, narrower fit
Bottom Line A stable, protective, and lightweight trail runner designed for tackling tough terrainStable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alikeOur favorite for its low profile and zero-drop design that feels like an extension of the body, ready to tackle technical terrainA great all-around trail shoe with high value that's superb traction on soft surfacesThis rainbow contender has the ability to tackle all kinds of trail with excellent protection and sticky traction
Rating Categories Scarpa Spin Ultra -... Dynafit Feline SL -... Inov-8 Terraultra G270 Supercross Blast Merrell Antora 2
Foot Protection (25%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Sensitivity (15%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Stability (15%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort And Fit (15%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
6.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Scarpa Spin Ultra -... Dynafit Feline SL -... Inov-8 Terraultra G270 Supercross Blast Merrell Antora 2
Measured Weight (per shoe, size 9) 9.7 oz 9.8 oz 8.3 oz 10.5 oz 9.6 oz
Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 8 mm 0 mm 10 mm 8.5 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) Not disclosed Not disclosed 12 mm, 12 mm 29.3 mm, 19.3 mm 28.5 mm, 20 mm
Upper Mesh, micro nubuck, TPU toe cap Mesh, continuous nylon Mesh and TPU Continuous ripstop nylon Mesh and TPU
Midsole 2D EVA-CM Feline SL midsole Powerflow Max EVA Foam EVA
Outsole Vibram Megagrip Sticky Pomoco Outer Graphene Grip Contragrip TD Vibram TC5+ rubber sole
Rock Plate? Yes Not disclosed Not disclosed N/A Yes
Wide Version Available? No No No No Yes
Sizes Available 40 - 46 5 - 11 5.5 - 11 5 - 12 5 - 11

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Scarpa Spin Ultra stands out for its fabulous stability and performance over rocky and unpredictable terrain. The wide fit accommodates all types of feet, while the ample cushioning provides sufficient protection for the long haul.

Performance Comparison


A look at one of the most stable trail shoes we've tested, the Spin...
A look at one of the most stable trail shoes we've tested, the Spin Ultra from Scarpa.
Photo: Amber King

Foot Protection


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.

A look at the cushioning element in the forefoot that helps to...
A look at the cushioning element in the forefoot that helps to protect the foot, in addition to an awesome rock plate.
Photo: Amber King

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 places like 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.

The toe cap is pretty bomber and protective.
The toe cap is pretty bomber and protective.
Photo: Amber King

Traction


The Spin Ultra utilizes a Vibram rubber outsole with roughly 40'ish lugs that are well-spaced apart. This shoe performs 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.

A look at the bomber outsole that is constructed of a Vibram rubber...
A look at the bomber outsole that is constructed of a Vibram rubber compound. The lugs are well spaced and do an okay job of shedding mud.
Photo: Amber King

Designed for the alpine environment, the Spin Ultra truly does perform best here. We tested it 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 okay.

While this shoe does slip a little on snow, it still kept us upright...
While this shoe does slip a little on snow, it still kept us upright to keep running. It does really great on drier trails with any slope steepness.
Photo: Amber King

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 longer lugs. That said, 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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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. To be fair, this is true of most of the shoes in this review. However, 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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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 who 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.

Sensitivity


In general, the Spin Ultra allows you to feel most of the trail but is not the most sensitive shoe. 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.

Here we test sensitivity over a super rocky trail. We compare this...
Here we test sensitivity over a super rocky trail. We compare this to the Nike Terra Kiger, a much more sensitive shoe. A trade-off for great stability and protection sometimes comes in the form of a lack of sensitivity.
Photo: Amber King

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.

Stability


Wowzers. The stability is grand, and it earns high marks in this category. Take this shoe over all sorts of terrain with confidence and ease. It sidesteps well and is a more rigid design. Over time, the shoe packed out and became less stable, but that wasn't until we had put almost 500 miles on it.

A look at the stability system that connects to the fit of the shoe...
A look at the stability system that connects to the fit of the shoe that provides great lateral stability on uneven and unstable terrain.
Photo: Amber King

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, theSpin Ultra seemed to remain laterally intact, without falling to one side or 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 helps to keep you upright.

Comfort and 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 6mm heel-toe drop.

The Achilles is padded and well supported with a little rigidity...
The Achilles is padded and well supported with a little rigidity which adds to its enhanced stability.
Photo: Amber King

The midsole is constructed with 2D EVA-CM foam that is harder than softer foams and feels like it bounces back quite efficiently without being 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.

The material lining the shoe is soft and a little bit plush, adding...
The material lining the shoe is soft and a little bit plush, adding to its comfort elements.
Photo: Amber King

In terms of fit, this 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 and comes down just far enough to give 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 it on before you buy.

A look at the interior architecture. The lacing system connects to...
A look at the interior architecture. The lacing system connects to the harness, which is breathable and does an amazing job at drying quickly after getting wet. We tested this while traipsing through snowfields and small creeks.
Photo: Amber King

Weight


This lightweight shoe weighs in at 9.7 ounces for a size 9. 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.

This shoe is lightweight for how stable it feels! 9.7 oz for this...
This shoe is lightweight for how stable it feels! 9.7 oz for this size 9 doesn't feel like much underfoot.
Photo: Amber King

Value


After 500 miles of adventures, we noticed the interior of the shoe has completely packed out. The lugs are pretty burly, but after this mileage, on mostly rocky surfaces, they have worn down quite a bit. If you're in the market for a lightweight shoe that boasts excellent stability, you'll see the value in this shoe. However, if you want something a little more flexible and versatile, it may not be worth the price. That said, we put 500 miles on it before we felt like it was time to retire them.

Conclusion


We are excited about the Scarpa Spin Ultra. Designed for running in the mountains, it offers great 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.

Jo enjoys this shoe for everything that trail running has to offer...
Jo enjoys this shoe for everything that trail running has to offer. Steep surfaces, zoomy single track, loose or fixed rock, snowfields, and more. Trust it to perform wherever your mind and body wanders.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King