The Scarpa Spin Ultra is a newly released shoe for 2019 that is heavy on foot protection and features 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 Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 for those who can't enjoy narrower shaped shoes. 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. The only downsides we could find are the elevated price tag and the fact that it weighs a bit more than average — the trade-off for increased protection. Those wanting a more sensitive ride should also consider checking out the minimally protective Scarpa Spin.
Scarpa Spin Ultra Review
Cons: A bit heavy, expensive, not very sensitive
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Scarpa Spin Ultra
|Price||$98.59 at Amazon||$179.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Very protective, stable, comfortable straight out of the box, good traction, wider fit||Very protective midsole and upper, sock-like fit, grippy traction, lighter than previous version||Incredible protection for a zero drop shoe, comfortable, sensitive, extremely durable and sticky traction||Precise fit, very grippy on rock, comfortable upper effectively keeps out debris||Great traction on soft slippery surfaces, extremely comfortable, no increase in price|
|Cons||A bit heavy, expensive, not very sensitive||Expensive, durability concerns||Expensive, absorbs water easily||Narrower than average, a bit pricey, not the lightest||Midsole foam compresses out over time, easily collects rocks and debris|
|Bottom Line||A great choice for ultras or long distance training due to the excellent foot protection.||The shoe that best balances foot protection and sensitivity, all while providing an incredibly fine-tuned fit.||One of our favorite shoes that is notable both for its zero drop platform and the excellent traction.||A well-rounded shoe offering high performance for short or long distances.||Our Best Bang for the Buck winner for great comfort and traction with a price lower than the other top scorers.|
|Rating Categories||Scarpa Spin Ultra||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2||Inov-8 Terraultra G 260||La Sportiva Kaptiva||Saucony Peregrine ISO|
|Foot Protection (30%)|
|Specs||Scarpa Spin Ultra||Salomon S/Lab...||Inov-8 Terraultra...||La Sportiva Kaptiva||Saucony Peregrine...|
|Weight (per pair, size 11)||23.9 oz.||22.7 oz.||20.9 oz.||22.3 oz.||23.1 oz.|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||6 mm||8 mm||0 mm||6 mm||4 mm|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||Not disclosed||26 mm, 18 mm||17 mm, 17 mm||17 mm, 11 mm||22.5 mm, 18.5mm|
|Upper||Mesh, TPU||Mesh||Kevlar, mesh||Sock-Like knit||IsoFit|
|Midsole||Compressed medium-density EVA with low density EVA inserts||Compressed EVA||EXTERFLOW||Duel-density EV||PWRFOAM, Everun|
|Outsole||Vibram MegaGrip||Premium Wet Traction Contagrip||Graphene Grip||FriXion XF 2.0||PWRTRAC|
|Lacing style||Traditional W/ lace garage||Kevlar Quicklace||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional|
|Wide version available?||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Sizes Available||40 - 48 EU||4 - 13||4-15||38 - 47.5||8 - 14|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Spin Ultra forms the long distance end of Scarpa's new Spin line, which also includes the lightweight Spin, which we have reviewed, 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 is one of the higher scorers in our comparative testing, and makes an excellent wide fit alternative to our Best Overall winner, the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2, which is designed to handle the same ultra challenges, but fits a bit more on the narrow side. The La Sportiva Kaptiva is also among the highest scorers, but once again fits quite snug and narrow, while the Saucony Peregrine ISO comes in a wide version, but doesn't offer the level of protection we would desire for ultra distances.
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 the Hoka Challenger ATR 5, or even the Altra Lone Peak 4 have. 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 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 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.
In our comparative testing, we noticed that this lug pattern is one of the more aggressive, but not quite as gnarly as the lugs on the Salomon Speedcross 5. 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 greater long term durability than softer traction such as that found on the Saucony Peregrine ISO.
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.
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 the La Sportiva Kaptiva or either of the Salomons. 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 as shockingly plush as the Saucony Peregrine ISO, 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, behind only the Salomon Speedcross 5.
This weight is not incredibly heavy by the standards of trail runners set a few years ago, but by today's standards they are not the lightweight, fast turnover machines that the Adidas Terrex Speed, or even the Nike Terra Kiger 5 are. 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.
Likewise, these are among the least sensitive shoes that we tested this year. We put them on par with the Hoka Speedgoat 3 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.
As the name would suggest, the Spin Ultra is designed for ultra races and training, and this is where they will thrive the best. 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.
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 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.
— Andy Wellman