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Scarpa Spin Ultra Review

A great choice for ultras or long distance training due to the excellent foot protection
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Price:  $149 List | $148.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very protective, stable, comfortable straight out of the box, good traction, wider fit
Cons:  A bit heavy, expensive, not very sensitive
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 1, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 18
  • Foot protection - 30% 9
  • Traction - 20% 7
  • Stability - 15% 7
  • Comfort - 15% 9
  • Weight - 10% 3
  • Sensitivity - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Spin Ultra came out in 2019 and is heavy on foot protection while featuring a very comfortable fit. Like most shoes made by Scarpa, the last is naturally a bit wider than average, so we think this makes an excellent alternative to the higher end shoes that fit too narrowly for some. With a dual-density EVA foam compound offering firm underfoot protection and a very stable landing and take-off platform, the Spin Ultra is a fantastic shoe for longer distances and ultra races. Ultras, and especially 100k and 100-mile races, require ample amounts of foot protection, and a wide, comfortable fit, and this shoe provides both to a high degree. They are also great for running in rocky areas and make for a great, durable, everyday trainer or hiking shoe.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Spin Ultra forms the long distance end of Scarpa's Spin line, which also includes the lightweight Spin and the Spin RS, which adds cushioning and protection to the Spin, but stops short of offering nearly as much as the Spin Ultra. This shoe is designed specifically for long-distance training and ultra racing, and also makes a great everyday trainer that will withstand lots of miles due to its burly upgrades. We particularly like the out of the box comfort, and greatly appreciate the firm cushioning underfoot that not only protects the bottoms of our feet but provides a very stable landing and take-off platform.

As a solid scorer in most metrics, it finishes with a relatively high overall score in our comparative testing, and makes an excellent wide fit alternative to some of the other top scorers in our review, such as shoes made by Salomon or La Sportiva.

The Scarpa Spin in in front (blue)  while the Scarpa Spin Ultra (green/grey) in in back. The two shoes  while part of the same line  feel nothing alike to wear. The Ultra is wider  while the Spin is narrow  and the Ultra is heavier and far more protective  while the Spin is light and better for shorter/faster efforts.
The Scarpa Spin in in front (blue), while the Scarpa Spin Ultra (green/grey) in in back. The two shoes, while part of the same line, feel nothing alike to wear. The Ultra is wider, while the Spin is narrow, and the Ultra is heavier and far more protective, while the Spin is light and better for shorter/faster efforts.

Performance Comparison


The Scarpa Spin Ultra are comfortable  highly protective shoes that are perfect for folks with wider feet  and are one of the best trail running shoes for running long distances in.
The Scarpa Spin Ultra are comfortable, highly protective shoes that are perfect for folks with wider feet, and are one of the best trail running shoes for running long distances in.

Foot Protection


The midsole of this shoe is made up of dual-density EVA foam that does an awesome job of protecting the foot from impacts from rocks and other trail obstacles. It is firm underfoot, and also somewhat cushioned, but does not at all have the same springy, squishy feel that many Hokas do. Ultra distance runners need protection for the bottoms of their feet, especially in the longer distances, and this shoe provides just that. This level of dense foam protection also makes it an ideal choice if you live and run in overly rocky terrain consistently.

The upper is also well protected, featuring a hard plastic toe bumper that will successfully take a bullet, err, rock before they smash directly into your toes. Likewise, the lightweight mesh is covered by protective overlays in the right places, especially the high wear areas at the crease points of the forefoot and toes, where the initial blowout most frequently happens.

The very firm and rigid midsole of the Spin Ultra is one of the most protective of any shoe that we have tested  making them an ideal choice for rough and rocky terrain such as talus fields.
The very firm and rigid midsole of the Spin Ultra is one of the most protective of any shoe that we have tested, making them an ideal choice for rough and rocky terrain such as talus fields.

Traction


The outsole of this shoe features Vibram Megagrip rubber, which we have found to be among the most consistently sticky rubbers that shoe companies use. It is also among the most durable, and we found that these shoes had excellent grip on dry rock. It has many large, rectangular-shaped lugs that are sharp and roughly 5mm deep, and are well spaced apart.

This pattern does a good job of hitting all of the needs, from deep lugs for grip on soft surfaces like snow, to large gaps so that mud sheds off without becoming overly caked on.

Trying to run in the high country before the snow has completely melted ensures lots of time tromping through snow fields. The Spin Ultra handles the task no problem.
Trying to run in the high country before the snow has completely melted ensures lots of time tromping through snow fields. The Spin Ultra handles the task no problem.

In our comparative testing, we noticed that this lug pattern is one of the more aggressive, but not quite as gnarly as the lugs found on Salomon shoes. We also found that it performs very good, although perhaps not the absolute best, when gripping dry rock and on steep, loose dirt. We have to admit that we especially like how hard the rubber compound is, thus providing awesome long term durability.

The traction pattern of the Spin on the left  and the Spin Ultra on the right. The pattern on the Spin Ultra is not as aggressive  but also seems a bit more durable. Both are made with Vibram Megagrip.
The traction pattern of the Spin on the left, and the Spin Ultra on the right. The pattern on the Spin Ultra is not as aggressive, but also seems a bit more durable. Both are made with Vibram Megagrip.

Stability


This shoe presents a very firm and rigid platform considering it's made without an internal rock plate, and this firmness contributes to the overall stability, giving a solid pad to press off from. The wider platform in the forefoot also contributes to the stability by allowing the foot to splay out as needed when landing.

Scarpa does not disclose the stack height, but safe to say there is a fair bit of material underneath the foot. At the same time, the 6mm of heel-toe drop is not as significant as the 8mm found on the S/Lab Ultra 2, but is also not as slim as the myriad of 4mm or even 0mm options, raising and dissociating the heel from the ground a bit. Our only complaint would be that our heel was ever so slightly loose-fitting, but that is a subjective account that may not be a problem for all people.

With a wide platform that is rigidly protective  the Spin Ultra provide a very stable platform for landing and take-off while running.
With a wide platform that is rigidly protective, the Spin Ultra provide a very stable platform for landing and take-off while running.

Comfort


These are some very comfortable shoes. When considering the fit, it is worthwhile to know that they are only sold in European sizes, and we ordered a pair of 45 ½, which is slightly larger than a US 11. While we think they fit true to size when considering length and width, the fact that they are perhaps slightly larger than our average pair of trail runners might explain why we don't feel they lock down on the foot quite as snuggly as we might expect. Once again, however, a slightly looser fit can be ideal for ultra running as the feet swell after long distances.

The upper of this shoe is nicely cushioned with padding, especially around the ankle opening and over the heel. The tongue is also gently cushioned, which helps to pad against the laces as they criss-cross the top of the foot. While they may not be shockingly plush, these are among the more comfortable trail runners in this year's review.

How well a shoe handles water absorption is a critical component of comfort. Here wearing the Scarpa Spin Ultra as we wade through one of 14 river crossings that we did on one eight mile trail run in the Ochoco Mountains of Oregon. These shoes unfortunately absorbed more than most.
How well a shoe handles water absorption is a critical component of comfort. Here wearing the Scarpa Spin Ultra as we wade through one of 14 river crossings that we did on one eight mile trail run in the Ochoco Mountains of Oregon. These shoes unfortunately absorbed more than most.

Weight


Our pair of shoes weighed 23.9 ounces on our independent scale, making them one of the heaviest pairs we tested.


This weight is not incredibly heavy by the standards of trail runners of a few years ago, but by today's standards they are not one of the lightweight, fast turnover machines. These shoes are all about foot protection and comfort, and for better or worse, a bit of extra weight must be accepted for those attributes.

These shoes are on the heavy side for this review  which is the price you have to pay for the very best in foot protection and comfort. They are still pretty light compared to shoes we often reviewed a few years ago  and the added weight is a worthy trade-off.
These shoes are on the heavy side for this review, which is the price you have to pay for the very best in foot protection and comfort. They are still pretty light compared to shoes we often reviewed a few years ago, and the added weight is a worthy trade-off.

Sensitivity


Likewise, these are among the least sensitive shoes that we tested. We put them on par with the very thickly cushioned Hokas in terms of the dissociative effect that they induce. Once again, this is a direct trade-off for the copious amounts of underfoot protection they offer, and in this case, one has to accept that there is a distinct lack of trail feel while wearing these shoes.


This lack did not bother us much, as long as we understood the trade-off we had made, and we certainly didn't miss the sensitivity when tromping over lava fields in the Oregon Cascades. However, when running shorter distances on friendlier trails, we generally prefer a bit more sensitivity and trail feel in our shoes.

With a ton of underfoot protection  the Spin Ultra are not very sensitive. It is one of the attributes sacrificed for the best in protection  but they are still enjoyable to run in  even lacking the trail feel.
With a ton of underfoot protection, the Spin Ultra are not very sensitive. It is one of the attributes sacrificed for the best in protection, but they are still enjoyable to run in, even lacking the trail feel.

Value


These are a fairly expensive shoe, definitely on the steep side for a trail running shoe. However, we are surprised to notice that many new shoe releases are now dipping their toes in these high dollar waters. This is a durable, long-lasting shoe that can withstand those miles, easing the sting of the price tag a bit. We also think they are among the best available, so while we wish they were more affordable, we still consider them a good value.

The Spin Ultra are best used for ultra races and for long distance training runs  where foot protection is valued more than the absolute lightest weight  and comfort is greatly appreciated.
The Spin Ultra are best used for ultra races and for long distance training runs, where foot protection is valued more than the absolute lightest weight, and comfort is greatly appreciated.

Conclusion


The Scarpa Spin Ultra is one of the best trail running shoes for those who have wider feet. Most trail runners appreciate ample amounts of underfoot protection, as well as a shoe that will last through an entire training cycle before biting the dust. The Spin Ultra does both and fits more comfortably for people who don't have overly narrow feet. If you are looking for the perfect shoe for your next ultra race, or just want a high-mileage trainer that is comfortable, this is one to check out.

Running through some really incredible and large burned out trees in the Pole Creek Drainage of the Sisters Wilderness  OR  in the rain  while wearing the Scarpa Spin Ultra.
Running through some really incredible and large burned out trees in the Pole Creek Drainage of the Sisters Wilderness, OR, in the rain, while wearing the Scarpa Spin Ultra.

Andy Wellman