The best Scarpa trail running shoes for every type of terrain

Although it is best known for its climbing footwear developed in the foothills of the Italian Dolomites, Scarpa is now breaking ground in the trail running shoe world.

The Scarpa trail shoe collection comprises five models, including two with a Goretex option, designed in conjunction with world mountain running champion Marco de Gasperi.

The range which includes the highly technical Golden Gate Kima RT and the hybrid Golden Gate ATR, are designed for everything from ultra distances, to fell running to transitioning from road to trail.

The brand is sponsoring top sky runners in prestigious races, such as Transgrancanria and the new Montaine Spine Challenger North, in which Scarpa UK athlete Simon Roberts took first place earlier this year.

But how do Scarpa men's and women's trail running shoes stack up when worn by mere mortals? A team of trusted RW testers took to the UK trails to try out the new range. Here are our top three picks.

Spin Infinity

Best for: Long easy runs and ultra races

  • Weight: 255g (for women's UK 5)

  • Drop: 4mm

  • Type: Neutral/cushioned/trail

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A firm favourite of ultra runner Simon Roberts, the Spin Infinity is built for distance. The design focuses on stability and cushioning and felt the spongiest of all of the Scarpa trail running shoes.

The sole is dual density midsole with a foot stabiliser control system and adaptive cushioning in the heel and forefoot. In practice this means these are comfy shoes ideal for long, easy runs. Out of the whole Scarpa range these tested best for trail runs over four hours long.

The shoe's comfiness can also be attributed to its forgiving, wide toe box (much more so than the Golden Gate ATR), which will compensate for swollen toes if you are on your feet for hours, or even days. The shoe is also designed to 'allow greater freedom on the forefoot area' and the collar and tongue are made of an anti-shock mesh to protect more sensitive areas. However, in testing one runner found that an unintended consequence of the wider fit across the midfoot was the shoe let in more debris.

But overall the shoe fit well and was true to size, so half a size up should be about right for most runners. There is also a handy little pocket to tidy your laces into, preventing them from becoming caked in mud.

'It is like running in a pair of cosy slippers,' said our tester. 'I think these are an ideal training shoe, particularly if you are on your feet all day. I have run for five hours in these across fields, woods and roads and never had issues with sore feet or blisters.'

The Infinity Spin also have an impressive 4mm-lug grip, thanks to the Vibram MegaGrip outsole, which easily handles hard and soft terrain in all weather conditions.

The tester concluded: 'I'm going to wear these for my next 50-mile race because, although they are slightly heavier and less grippy than my usual favourite, the Saucony Peregrine 12, the comfort is excellent which is more important for that kind of distance.'

The model also comes in a Goretex version, which was tested by another runner. While these were lightweight and gripped well on a range of surfaces, our tester found they caused her to run with a heavier gait.

Spin Ultra

Best for: Multi-terrain longer runs

  • Weight: 250g (for women's UK 5)

  • Drop: 6mm

  • Type: Neutral/cushionined/trail

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The extremely funky red-white Spin Ultra are designed for moderate to ultra distance and have robust upper protection for hardier terrain.

This model is even lighter than the Spin Infinity and comes with a light TPU toe cap to prevent stubbing toes while scrambling up rocks or flailing down fells.

They are also built with comfort in mind with medium density EVA midsole for stability and cushioning. And for additional propulsion, the Spin Ultra has a shock-absorbing ESS forefoot inset.

Our tester found this pair 'incredibly comfortable although they come up slightly small' and they were impressed with how smooth they transitioned from road to trail runs.

'The sole did feel a bit stiff when I first put the shoes on, but as soon as I started running I didn’t notice that at all – probably thanks to the ergonomic design. The 6mm drop and the rocker style sole is probably the reason these feel so smooth to run in. My feet felt very supported particularly around the ankle but the material is quite soft without being super padded and there is no rubbing from the tongue,' she added.

The outsole is Vibram Megagrip, designed for great traction in all weather conditions, and it works a treat as our tester discovered. 'A very lightweight feel, they felt very stable and gripped well on loose paths. They were great on road, gravel, rocky path and woodland trail. I also felt well protected when running over pointy rocks. Despite them being snug around the foot, they felt quite cool and breathable. I would 100% recommend these for those longer trail runs especially if you’re moving between terrain with a bit of road or hard path thrown in.'

Ribelle Run

Best for: Short technical runs

  • Weight: 260g (for women's UK 5)

  • Drop: 4mm

  • Type: Neutral/trail

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The Ribelle Run is an award-winning trail shoe so it's no surprise to find it stood out in our tests. The trail shoe is designed for short to medium runs on highly technical terrain.

The lightweight design had minimal cushioning and is akin to a barefoot running shoe – promising 'precision on tough terrain'.

'I really like them because I like barefoot running trainers. I felt really in contact with the ground and my toes felt like they were spreading nicely. I also found I preferred to run in them without socks,' said our tester.

The lightweight breathable upper means it is a great summer shoe and there is a harder, Goretex version which is the ideal switch for the wet winter months.

The shoe is built to wrap around the foot with precision and comes with drawstring laces making it extremely stable, albeit a little tricky to put on. 'They are very difficult to get on and it takes a while to muster the technique,' said the tester.

And unlike the other Scarpa models, the Ribelle Run wears large with our testers ending up with a pair the same size as their everyday shoes.

When it comes to grip the PRESA sole has standard 4mm lugs which tested well on wet and dry surfaces but were also comfortable on the road. 'They felt really stable, had good grip, and I didn't feel like I was going to slip when running up a muddy hill or going down a grassy verge. And they are great going around corners fast because you have good contact with the ground,' concluded the tester.

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