Scarpa Spin Ultra Review
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Scarpa Spin Ultra
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|Pros||Very protective, stable, comfortable straight out of the box, good traction, wider fit||Unbeatable fit, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, very stable||Excellent descender, very comfortable, dense cushioning||Protective upper and midsole, great energy return, lightweight||Affordable, stabile, ample foot protection|
|Cons||A bit heavy, expensive, not very sensitive||Expensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garage||Higher stack, lacks sensitivity||Stiff on advanced technical terrain, lacks sensitivity||Stiff and rigid in technical terrain, lacks sensitivity|
|Bottom Line||A great choice for ultras or long distance training due to the excellent foot protection||The finest shoe for technical terrain that gives a feeling of confidence at speed||For epic days in the mountains with lots of vertical gain and descending, there is no better shoe on the market for ripping down moderate hills||If you are looking for Hoka that has a more instantaneous response, this is our favorite for long runs on moderate to buffed terrain||Built for beginners, this model is great for those looking for an entry point into trail shoes without spending top-dollar|
|Rating Categories||Scarpa Spin Ultra||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Speedgoat 5||HOKA Torrent 3||Brooks Divide 3|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Scarpa Spin Ultra||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Speedgoat 5||HOKA Torrent 3||Brooks Divide 3|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||23.9 oz (size 11)||20.5 oz (size 9.5)||20.4 oz (size 10)||19.3 oz (size 10)||20.8 oz (size 10)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||24 mm, 18 mm||26 mm, 18 mm||33 mm, 29 mm||23 mm, 18 mm||20 mm, 12 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||6 mm||8 mm||4 mm||5 mm||8 mm|
|Lug Depth||5 mm||4 mm||5 mm||4 mm||Not Available|
|Upper||Mesh, TPU||Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner||Recycled engineered mesh||Mesh||Synthetic mesh|
|Midsole||Compressed medium-density EVA with low density EVA inserts||Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection||CMEVA||EVA||EVA|
|Outsole||Vibram MegaGrip||Salomon Contagrip MA||Vibram Megagrip rubber with Traction Lug||Rubber||TrailTrack Rubber|
|Lacing Style||Traditional with garage||Quicklace with garage||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Sizes Available||40 - 48 EU||4 - 13 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 15 US|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Spin Ultra forms the long-distance end of Scarpa's Spin line. 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 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 midsole of this shoe is made up of dual-density EVA foam that does an excellent job of protecting the foot from impacts from rocks and other trail obstacles. It is firm underfoot and somewhat cushioned but does not 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 outsole of this shoe features Vibram Megagrip rubber, which we have found to be among the most consistently sticky rubbers, which would explain why you can find Vibram rubber in the soles of many climbing shoes. 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, roughly 5mm deep, and well-spaced.
This pattern does a good job of hitting all of the needs. Deep lugs offer grip on soft surfaces like snow, and large gaps shed mud easily without becoming overly caked.
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 well, 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 excellent long-term durability.
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, we generally prefer more sensitivity and trail-feel in our shoes when running shorter distances on friendlier trails.
This shoe presents a very firm and rigid platform considering it's made without an internal rock plate. This firmness contributes to the overall stability, giving you a solid pad to press off from. The broader platform in the forefoot also contributes to 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 heel-toe drop is not as significant as the 8mm found on the S/Lab Ultra 3, 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.
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 somewhat larger than our average pair of trail runners might explain why we don't feel they lockdown 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.
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.
Should You Buy the Scarpa Spin Ultra?
The Scarpa Spin Ultra is one of the best trail running shoes for those with 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 comfortable high-mileage trainer, this is one to check out.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
These are relatively expensive shoes, definitely on the steep side for a trail running shoe. However, it 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 shoes available, so while we wish they were more affordable, we believe it may be worth it for some runners. If the price is hard for you to stomach, we can point you to the more affordable HOKA Torrent 3. If you aren't bothered by the price and want to look at other shoes with a good balance of cushion and stability, we recommend the La Sportiva Karacal.
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