Scarpa Golden Gate ATR Review

Scarpa’s Golden Gate is a highly cushioned trail shoe. The cushioning level and durability of these shoes makes them able to be used as a road to trail shoe and an ultra shoe. It is a mix of the Hoka Challenger and the Hoka Mafate.

As Scarpa where unable to get us stock because factories where closed due to Covid-19, I have had a pair of Golden Gate to run in since August! They have therefore been in my running shoe rotation for 8 months and in that time they have done in excess of 500 miles on a mix of terrain including tarmac, disused railway lines, hard packed bridleway, muddy single track and farmers fields.

The fit of the Scarpa Golden Gate is small. I would usually be a UK 11 (Euro 45.5/46) and the pair I have been running that fit well are a UK 12 (Euro 47). The upper is a very thin mesh with a thin lycra cuff that is built into the tongue. This lycra cuff doesn’t fit tightly. It just provides a comfortable fit and reduces the chance of debri getting into the shoes. There is no plastic in the heel cup. So, it is lovely and soft around the heel and achilles. There is a good level of support as the TPU overlays pull the heel cup around your heel and your heel sits slightly inside the midsole. The toe box is rounded and roomy for a D width fit. There is a deep TPU overlay to protect the toes.

As mentioned, the upper is a very thin mesh. You can see what colour socks you are wearing through the mesh. This makes them very breathable, and they don’t take on much water and dry very quickly. The only downside is that on a cold frosty morning the cold air passes readily though the shoes. So, you do need to wear a nice warm pair of socks on the colder days. The light upper no doubt contributes to the lightness of the shoes. They weigh 290 grams in a UK 8.

The midsole is firm with a nice bounce. Similar to the Hoka Bondi but, with a bit less compression. The midsole is 28mm in the heel and 24mm in the forefoot making them a 4mm drop. The midsole has a rocker but, this isn’t as noticeable when standing in the shoes as a lot of other brands with this technology. The rocker is in the forefoot so you can feel it roll your foot back just before push off. This increases cadence and helps you run with a more up right posture. A lot of shoes with this thickness of midsole I find hard to run uphill in. They are stiff and the rocker doesn’t help. I didn’t have these issues with the Scarpa Golden Gate. There is a little bit more flex in the sole and the midsole is a bit firmer than other brands with this level of stack. So, I felt like I could trot up hills of all gradients without being aware of the stack of the shoes.

Scarpa weren’t convinced that Vibram outsoles that they use on their walking boots had the right level of stickiness and durability for a trail running shoe. So, they commissioned Presa to design a sole unit that was both sticky and would last. I can confidently say that this is what they have done. After running in excess of 500 miles in the Golden Gate the outsole still has plenty of wear. The midsole is a bit softer now than when they where new and the shoes a bit more flexible, but they aren’t worn out from a running perspective yet and have just become like a comfortable pair of slippers. Ideal for those mixed terrain recovery runs. I have even done road runs in them when the weather was wet and Icey as the outsole gripped well to wet tarmac.

The Golden Gate isn’t a fast shoe. It is designed for everyday miles and long runs. However, they don’t feel too much like a plodding shoe. So, I could pick up the pace if I wanted too. The rocker helps you descend faster. Increasing your cadence and keeping you up right.

The only drawback is that like all shoes with this level of stack height they don’t contour well. The midsole is too stiff laterally, so it doesn’t bend to take the shape of the ground. So, you are in effect running on the edge of the shoe. For the same reason they slide a bit when descending on wet grass. That said the 4mm lugs on the outsole are a lot more grippy then other shoes with this level of stack height.

I always think the sign of a good shoe is one that you can forget is on your feet. They don’t feel too soft or too hard or too stiff. I found this with the Golden Gate. Easy runs days are often the day that you are recovering from your long run or speed work. So, having a shoe that is comfortable and versatile is essential.

In summary the Scarpa Golden Gate is a great everyday training shoe for mixed terrain covering everything from tarmac to muddy single track and all distances. I normally don’t enjoy running shoes with this level of stack height but, I found the Golden Gate to be very comfortable and they remain one of the shoes in my rotation.

Other Considerations

Icebug Arcus: Similarly good grippy durable rubber outsole. Goretex upper: https://www.northernrunner.com/search/arcus

Hoka Challenger: Softer pillow like cushioned gives these less feel for the floor. The outsole isn’t as studded so isn’t as versatile working best on tarmac and hard packed trails: https://www.northernrunner.com/hoka-m92/challenger-t92

Altra Olympus: Softer cushioning. Stiffer. Broad rounded toe box. Zero drop: https://www.northernrunner.com/altra-m86/olympus-t114

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