Scarpa Spin ST Review
We review the latest edition to the Scarpa trail running shoe line up, specifically designed for UK conditions, the Scarpa Spin ST. “Designed for UK conditions” means they are a shoe designed to give good traction on wet and muddy ground and flexible enough to take the curvature of the ground beneath you, to maintain traction even when contouring.
Often this type of shoe is labelled as a ‘fell running shoe’, but as we are lucky enough to have lots of public footpaths that give us access to many open fields of soft muddy ground, shoes like the Scarpa Spin ST can be used a lot more frequently than on the odd trip to the Lake District, for example! They are an essential addition to any keen trail runner’s armoury for when it gets muddy.
It’s fair to say that after 90 years of footwear manufacture, Scarpa know how to make shoes and boots. They don’t use one last for all of their footwear, as the fit required for one activity is often different to another. The Scarpa Spin ST is designed to be used on rough, broken and soft ground. The fit is snug and secure as a result. The toe box allows for a straight big toe line to offer a good strong toe-off to get you up the climbs quickly. There isn’t a lot of volume or width in the toe box and the fit is snug at the heel and through the midfoot. This is to prevent the foot turning inside the shoes when running on a contour or on rough ground. The Spin ST also has some torsional twist, which allows the shoe to bend with the curvature of the ground. This also stops the shoe from twisting around the foot and helps you to continue to make forward progress when you are contouring round a mountain or plodding across a wet muddy farmer’s field.
The appearance of the Spin ST makes it look a bit like a mid boot, with a high collar. It isn’t a boot. The Spin ST is a shoe with a Lycra cuff around the collar. This is designed to reduce the chance of getting debris in the shoes. The Lycra cuff is also slightly padded, which gives your ankle bones a bit of added protection. Especially when descending down scree slopes where ankles often get cut by loose rock. When running in the Spin ST I wasn’t aware of the cuff being high in any way. It didn’t restrict my ankles when climbing, descending or contouring.
The tongue is also gusseted to additionally help prevent debris from getting inside. It’s lightly padded to offer some protection from undergrowth as well as any friction from the laces. The upper is made from a tightly woven abrasion resistant fabric. It is light and thin. Within the walls of the upper are tapes that are threaded into the laces. When laced up, this pulls the upper of the shoe around your foot to give a secure, snug fit.
As you would expect from this type of shoe, the midsole is firm and responsive. This allows your feet to feel the ground and react accordingly, which makes you more nimble and efficient on rough or broken ground or descending at speed. The midsole is 22mm thick in the heel and 18mm thick in the forefoot, which is thicker than that offered by a lot of shoes of this type on the market. You will gain more underfoot protection. The 4mm heel to forefoot drop promotes a midfoot landing that allows you to be faster and more nimble. Important for negotiating a variety of uneven terrain.
The Frixion ST outsole uses Vibram Megagrip on a Litebase and large, well-spaced out 7mm lugs. The Vibram Megagrip gives good traction on wet surfaces like rock and wood. The Litebase means that the rubber that the lugs are stuck to is thinner. This makes the shoe more flexible and therefore more responsive. The large 7mm long lugs bite into soft ground well to give a good level of traction. They are well spaced out to reduce the chance of clogging, and the flexibility helps too.
The Scarpa Spin ST might appear boot-like but it’s lightweight at around 280g for men. The snug fit and flexibility of the shoes makes them feel light too.
The laces have what Scarpa call the ‘NBS Lace Lock’. This is a plastic piece that both laces thread through. When clicked, the lace lock holds the laces in place without the need for them to be tied. These worked fine but if you aren’t keen then the NBS Lace Lock can be unthreaded easily and the laces tied as normal. The tongue has a little Lycra pocket at the top to stow away the laces. This is great. It stops the laces from becoming untied by undergrowth and also prevents them from getting covered in mud which if it dries on the lace can make the laces come untied on the next outing.
I like running on muddy, soft round. I am fortunate that there are lots of little single track paths down by the river in Shotley Bridge. I can weave around and play to my heart’s content. The single tracks offer fallen trees to jump and roots to be negotiated, as well as lots of mud and puddles. Fortunately, after a very dry summer the weather has played ball and the farmers fields above the woods and around the old steelworks are a sloppy mess. Ideal for reviewing a soft ground shoe like the Scarpa Spin ST.
The increased stack height compared to other fell or soft ground shoes, I thought, I would notice. The only difference that I noticed was that they were more comfortable than running shoes of this type often are on firmer tracks and trails. It makes them a bit more versatile and suitable for longer, slightly more mixed ground outings. Initially I used them for hill efforts and hill loops where the total time on my feet was just over and hour but as the underfoot protection felt good I extended this to long runs where I tackled as many steep ascents as possible in two and a half hours. That meant using them on some resurfaced trails and I didn’t experience any underfoot soreness. I could have gone again!
La Sportiva Mutant: Similar shoe as it has a built in gaiter and the midsole gives a good level of underfoot protection. Stiffer initially and doesn’t feel as light and fast. More of a shoe for long days out in the hills. The heel to forefoot drop is also much higher than on the Scarpa Spin ST. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/la-sportiva-mutant-review-new-version-for-2023/
La Sportiva Cyklon: A lighter more flexible and nimble version of the Mutant. It also has a built in gaiter like the Spin ST. The lugs aren’t quite as long and don’t bite into soft ground as effectively as the Spin ST. The Spin ST also has a lower heel to forefoot drop and it initially more flexible which makes it feel quicker. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/la-sportiva-cyklon-review-boa-lacing-system/
Walsh: The original fell shoe in a snug fit and two widths. https://www.northernrunner.com/walsh-m8
Scott Supertrac RC 2: Lacks the gaiter but, has similar underfoot protection. The lugs are slightly shorter so not quite as good in really soft ground but, ride better on hard surfaces which together with the e-ride makes the Scott Supertrac RC 2 more versatile trail shoe than the Spin ST. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/scott-supertrac-rc-2-0-review-trail-fell-running-shoes/
Inov-8 X-Talon 260 Ultra v2: No ankle protection. Feels stiffer initially. A broader more generous fit as they are made on Iniv-8’s standard last. The grip is good in the mud but, not a sticky on wet rock or wood in my experience. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/inov-8-x-talon-260-ultra-v2-review/
Inov-8 X-Talon: The midsole of the X-Talon 255 and 212 is much thinner. Which makes them a little more flexible but, gives less underfoot protection. These are really for soft ground only. The X-Talon 255 offers a broader fit than the Scarpa Spin ST. Like the 260 Ultra they are made on Inov-8’s standard last which is Inov-8’s wide fit. The X-Talon 212 is a narrower fit than the Scarpa Spin ST. https://www.northernrunner.com/inov8-m6/x-talon-t131#sort4
Vj Xtrm 2: Similar to the Inov-8 X-Talon the midsole is thinner than the Scarpa Spin ST so they don’t offer as much underfoot protection. The studs aren’t as wide a part and clog a bit in the mud. The rubber is durable and sticky like the rubber used on the Spin ST. The fit is very narrow. VJ XTRM 2 Review
NVii Ultimate: The upper is like a sock. You pull the shoes on and then lace them up to make them secure. This prevents debri from getting into the shoes. There is no ankle protection. The grip is good but the studs can clog as they aren’t as far a part as they are on the Spin ST. The rubber is as sticky and durable in my experience. The fit is very narrow. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/nvii-ultimate-review/