Scott Supertrac RC 2.0 Review | Trail & Fell Running Shoes
Scott Sports launched the Supertrac RC on the 8th January 2017. In the 3 and a half years since then they have become a common site on the British fells and trails. The combination of grip and cushioning, in a lightweight responsive package has made them the shoe of choice for many runners. My last ‘A Category’ fell race was last year’s Blencathra race. The distinctive yellow outsoles seemed to be everywhere, almost like every other runner was wearing a pair. At the 2019 3 Peaks Race the winner Brennon Townshend was a Scott sponsored Athlete. There was another three unsponsored runners wearing Supertrac RC’s in the top ten. It illustrates the versatility of the shoes, as the Blencathra Race is all open fell and the 3 Peaks Race is nearly all on hard packed tracks. They are being used by top sponsored pros and first-time racers across the country.
So how do you improve on such a popular and well performing shoe? Well it’s still being made in the black and yellow colours of the Scott racing team, so there is no change there! The lugs are still 6mm long, which gives them good grip on soft ground but makes them versatile enough to be used on the firmer trods too. No change there either. So, what has changed? The first noticeable change when you put the shoes on is that the shoe is wider and has a more rounded, less pointy toe box. It isn’t broad and rounded like Topo or Altra but it does provide enough room for your feet to spread on impact and gave my toes a much more roomy feel. The upper feels a bit softer and more pliable. It is still tough and durable but hugs my foot a bit nicer around the heel and midfoot.
The lugs in the midfoot have been reduced to almost nothing and the lugs at the heel have been reduced and spread out to reduce the chance of mud clogging up the grips. The outsole is made of the same sticky rubber as the original shoe, which as you can see from my 3 ½ year old pair (below) is durable! After the initial review, when I abused them on every type of terrain, I kept them for races and runs with a mix of track and fell/cross country. They will have done more than 500 miles but mainly on the softer ground. They have a lot more ground feel now than they did originally. I am not still running in them, especially since getting the new pair(!), but it illustrates that the rubber, despite being soft and sticky, is durable too.
As it has been so dry at the time of writing, it has been hard to test the reduced clogging on the new outsole pattern. The rubber performed as well when I tested them by running over wet steppingstones. The shoes glued very well. Fortunately for an off-road reviewer, the last week or so has brought us some rain! The outsole didn’t clog at all when I hit the muddy stuff. Of course, if you are running in very clay-like mud, then the outsole will clog as this sticks to everything!
The Scott Supertrac RC 2.0 6mm lugs are a grippy but versatile length. If the lugs are too long then you can feel them through the shoes on harder packed ground. However, if you are fell or cross country racing and you tend to land heel first, then you would get better grip from a longer studded shoe like an Inov-8 X-Talon, Inov-8 Mudclaw, Walsh PB Trainer or VJ Irock 3. However, when you step off the soft ground these shoes don’t have the same comfort and smooth ride as a shoe with a slightly shorter stud. Hence the very good versatility.
The Supertrac RC 2.0 is more flexible and doesn’t have quite the same curve to the outsole as the previous version. The increased flexibility has made the shoe better on tussock-like grass, heather and open fell. This is because it bends more to the ground, so you don’t get thrown around by the terrain as much. That’s why shoes like the Inov-8 X-Talon, Walsh PB Trainer or VJ Irock are so flexible. The downside of the out and out super-flexible fell shoe is that when you hit firmer trail you want a slightly stiffer shoe to give your foot a bit more of a platform to push from and to give you some underfoot protection from rocks. The original Scott Supertrac was decent on the open fell and had a smooth ride on the firmer tracks. The added flexibility in the new Supertrac RC 2 has made it nearly as good as the specialist fell shoes on the rougher ground but it has retained its smooth ride on the firmer terrain too.
When hurtling down open fell in the original Supertrac RC, you were aware of the stiff heel. This did throw you around a little. In the Supertrac RC 2 it is still there but it is nowhere near as detectable.
All Scott trail running shoes have their eRide technology, known as a ‘rocker’. This is essentially a curved midsole that helps maintain a quick cadence and a more upright posture. The eRide in the original Supertrac was a bit more detectable. The forefoot of the shoe was stiffer. I found that for me on certain gradients (steep ones) this curve was trying to get me to lift my leg higher than I wanted and made my Hamstrings tired. The Supertrac RC 2.0 has slightly less curve and a more flexible forefoot. I don’t get the same feeling in these shoes and can quite happily trot up these climbs in the new Supertrac RC 2.0. The less curved outsole and more flexibility doesn’t seem to have affected how smooth and quick the shoe feels on firmer tracks. It seems to offer the same advantages as the previous model.
A lot of brands who have made a shoe for fell, cross country, obstacle course racing (OCR), ‘Sky Racing’ and rougher trail races have struggled to offer a broad toe box and stabilise the foot in the shoe. Altra’s King MT used a strap across the top of the foot to try to reduce movement. What Scott have done is make the insole grippy. It’s not really like Velcro, but that gives you the idea.. it sticks to your socks. It’s quite strange at first, as you can’t slide your foot in the shoe quite as easily! This is a small price to pay for the improvement in performance. Normally when you contour around a steep hill, your foot moves around inside the shoe. If the shoe is flexible, this is reduced a bit. If the fit is broad like an Altra or Topo shoe, then if you are running for long enough on a steep enough camber this can become a problem. The grippy insole inside the Scott Supertrac RC 2 coupled with a good fit at the heel and the midfoot made any movement negligible. It really is a fantastic addition.
If you are running on soft ground, then most runners will find that they could run in these quite comfortably all day. If you were pushing over marathon distance on firmer ground, you may well need a more cushioned trail running shoe. It all depends on whether you prefer a soft, cushiony ride or a more responsive ride and how light you are on your feet i.e. your form and posture.
The original Scott Supertrac RC is a very versatile lightweight trail shoe. The Supertrac RC 2 has some genuine improvements. Often ‘new’ versions often feel like a new colour and that’s it. This is different.
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle
VJ Sports Irock 3: A very grippy rubber like the Scott shoes. Less cushion, more suitable to softer ground:
La Sportiva Kaptiva: Similar level of cushion and grip. A lot narrower fit:
Inov-8 X-Talon G235: A very flexible soft ground shoe.
Altra King MT 2: A similar versatile shoe with light cushion and grip. Not as grippy as the Supertrac RC but, has a broader more rounded toe box and a more natural shaped last:
Topo Runventure 3: A similar versatile shoe with light cushion and grip. Not as grippy as the Supertrac RC but, has a broader more rounded toe box and a more natural shaped last: