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Photo credit: Scarpa.com

Scarpa Proton Trail Shoe review

23-Aug-17

Last updated: 20-Aug-18

By Alex Cook

Scarpa, the Italian footwear company, are well known for their hiking boots and probably less known for their range of running shoes. They shouldn’t however be ignored if you are looking for a versatile tick-all-the-boxes shoe.

As stated by Scarpa, “they are perfectly suited for alpine, ultra running due to their comfort and durability”. I tested them well and truly over 76km and 9000ft of climbing, coast to coast across Snowdonia. It was 10 hours over mountain trails and rocks, moorlands, bogs, grass and roads with an additional challenge in that the shoes were soaking wet for the entire race.

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Features

  • Sole - Vibram Genesis
  • Drop - 10 mm
  • Upper - Synthetic Leather & Polyester mesh
  • Lining - Polyester
  • Mid Sole - Compression Molded EVA
  • Weight - 686g per pair 42
  • Insole - H-EVA Plate

The Proton are Scarpa’s heavier, more robust shoe and boast a dual-density EVA midsole (ethylene-vinyl acetate, a polymer) that has excellent stress and impact-resistance properties. They have a 10mm drop that will provide you with the cushioning you need for ultra running (therefore they are not for the minimalist runners out there).

They have a supportive heel cage for extra stability on unsteady trails and the all-important toe protection box which is a god send when your toes kick those pesky rocks. The vibram outsole feels tough and hard wearing and makes it a shoe that should withstand prolonged use on the trails.

Pros: What is good about the Scarpa Proton Trail Shoe

I must admit, when I first set eyes on my new shoes, I was skeptical. The Proton doesn’t look or feel particularly agile to the touch. They look almost clumpy and quite heavy. But they proved me wrong and felt surprising light when actually running. I am not one for lightweight, minimalist shoes as I am heavy-footed and over pronate (despite being only 56kgs). So, for me, they were the perfect shoe. They provided cushioning and support and were responsive enough for me to summit Snowdon only 10 mins behind the leading male.

The shoe has a medium width forefoot, meaning it was wide enough to ensure I did not get any bruised toe nails or blisters (a miracle) but not large enough to cause my feet to move around inside the show when traversing across the hills. In other makes such as the Hoka Speedgoat, the extra roomy toe box caused me problems with foot stability when on some terrain off road, slowing my pace significantly as a result.

The grip was good despite the lugs not being huge and quite spaced out. The pros to this was that it made it a good overall shoe and particularly good for the harder trails or rocky surfaces. A nice added feature is the lace pocket. It’s the little things that make all the difference and I think that is the case with this feature. I was thrilled when met with endless, long, grassy moorlands to still have my laces tied and intact when I got out at the other end.

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Cons : what is not so good about the Scarpa Proton Trail Shoe

If you are looking for a lighter, more responsive shoe, then the Proton is not for you. If you are blessed with great biomechanics, then you might find the Proton a little heavy. The square-shaped lugs aren’t very deep and therefore had minimal grip on the very wet and muddy descents (I gave up in the end and slid down on my bottom as my fastest option). Deeper lugs would improve this shoe’s agility and mean less falling on the wet trails.

The laces are thin and bad quality. Although they didn’t come untied (thanks to the lace pocket), they just didn’t feel right and I think a thicker lace would make the shoe feel more secure and not create such pressure points.

Conclusion

The Proton is a trainer to be considered if you are not lucky enough to have the budget to have a trail shoe for every terrain. In a race across Snowdonia, where the terrain is endlessly changing, these shoes were perfect. They gave me support, cushioning and mostly good grip resulting in good, confident racing.

Despite the fact that they were soaked through for the full 10 hours, there was not a blister or sore to mention (and when I have finished some races with blisters the size of grapes this is impressive). I would probably take a punt and say they are not the right shoe for your typical British muddy winter, but they are advertised as an Alpine running shoe and not one for bog trotting. They are certainly my chosen trainers for my next races (but I may invest in some new laces!).

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 8/10
Performance 9/10
Value 10/10
Total 9/10


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Photo credit: Alex Cook.
 

About the writer: Alex Cook has been running marathons since her teens and finally entered the world of ultra marathons three years ago, and has the bug. You will find her mostly having running adventures near her home in the Chiltern Hills or her favourite trails in Exmoor.

www.thesportsdietitian.co.uk

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“The grip was good despite the lugs not being huge and quite spaced out. The pros to this was that it made it a good overall shoe and particularly good for the harder trails or rocky surfaces”

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