For two months, I trained frequently in the new Scarpa Golden Gate ATR ($149) and then most recently, for nearly a week running the Tour du Mont Blanc trail from Chamonix, France. It was my third time running this trail and strangely enough, each time has been in Scarpa shoes. This was not a conscious choice — purely incidental.
In 2013, I wore the Scarpa Spark — here’s our Scarpa Spark review — and in 2018 I wore the Scarpa Spin Ultra — you can also read our Scarpa Spin Ultra review. What this illustrates for me most is that while in the last decade I haven’t loved a lot of their running shoes, when the right Scarpa hits, it hits all the right notes.
In fact, 2022 actually plays out this scenario quite well; I have truly loved running in the Scarpa Golden Gate ATR, as you’ll read in this review. I haven’t enjoyed the co-released Scarpa Golden Gate Kima quite as much. I have a pair of these as well and find them quite uninspiring and with an altogether different shape. The promise of the Scarpa Golden Gate Kima — particularly the carbon plate, a first for Scarpa — was speed and cushion but for fast running, which I am most keen to do, I never reach for them.
Depending on the brand, I find a men’s size 12.5 U.S. to be the sweetest of all sizes for my feet. Because Scarpa and similar brands like La Sportiva have tended to run a little tight, after some trial and error, size 13 ended up being the correct choice. The shoes have an actual weight of 10.9 ounces (310 grams) for a men’s size 9.
Scarpa Golden Gate ATR Upper
Many brands will tout their upper’s “sock-like fit” and this indeed applies to the Scarpa Golden Gate ATR. There is a light neoprene that wraps around the ankle collar, and it is very comfortable and so streamlined that I almost never wind up with debris inside. And oddly enough, the comfort of this upper material is such that you can actually forgo socks — something I did during particularly warm days in testing this summer.
One of the best features of the sock fit is in the comfort and support over your instep. I have wide feet and bunions and the width at the forefoot is great for me while still being supportive. The breathable upper mesh is backed with Scarpa’s EXO internal support matrix, which gives it its Golden Gate name. This mesh actually looks like — and is inspired by — the structural elements of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
The shoe uses welded polyurethane reinforcements on the upper to support abrasion resistance. And while I’ve put about 150 miles into the shoes without any real issues with blowouts to the upper, there are certainly several small nicks in the mesh, which could easily develop into bigger holes. That said, the mesh used over the upper is very robust but light and translucent, so that you can actually see through it to your socks or, if barefoot, your toes.
Scarpa Golden Gate ATR Midsole
Though the 2018 Scarpa Spin Ultra represented the cushier side of Scarpa, the Scarpa Golden Gate ATR ratchets up the comfort unlike any other Scarpa to date. It truly lands just as softly as any Hoka or Brooks model.
The midsole is composed of Scarpa’s proprietary Adaptive Cushioning System— now evidently renamed the iRespond Midsole System according to new marketing materials — which is a combination of two densities of EVA: one for energy return, one for cushion.
Scarpa has always succeeded in its foam construction and composition over the last decade of my use, but the Golden Gate ATR is the absolute best. It has all of the comfort and durability of higher-profile foams like Nike’s React, which I have very favorably reviewed in the past. Though obviously much smaller and more niche a company than Nike, it’s a real testament to Scarpa’s product designers for sourcing this incredibly good foam.
The dual-density foam is firmer in the toe to help with energy return in the toe off, while there is lower density EVA in the heel, which produces an extremely comfortable landing, especially in comparison to the two other shoes I use most often in rotation: the Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 — read our Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 review — and the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar — and here’s our Salomon S/Lab Pulsar review, too.
Those shoes, while much faster and more precise than the Scarpa Golden Gate ATR, leave my feet and particularly my heels ragged and literally in pain for the days following. For this reason, I generally utilize the Golden Gate ATR for cruiser runs. They aren’t my choice for intervals or time trials; they are the go-to for easy running, recovery days, or as in the multiple-day Tour du Mont Blanc trail adventure, for long days out on relatively easy trails.
In terms of stability, the Golden Gate ATR has a moderate stack height with 4-millimeter drop (28 millimeters in the heel and 24 millimeters in the toe), making it feel moderately connected to the ground on technical terrain. But as Scarpa will admit, this shoe is really meant as a road-to-trail solution, bridging the transition from town to singletrack. As such, the midsole has a terrific and very comfortable feel on pavement, and I commonly use this shoe for running around a local lake path where I go from roads to gravel and back in a five-mile loop.
Unlike its cousin the Golden Gate Kima, the Golden Gate ATR has no carbon plate or rock plate. But the midsole EVA has been very protective over all the different surfaces I’ve run and I find it perfectly adequate without either of those technologies.
Scarpa Golden Gate ATR Outsole
The Scarpa Golden Gate ATR uses Scarpa’s proprietary new Presa technology, which is a fairly dynamic outsole configuration using seven internal impact absorption domes, which act like shock absorbers in the outsole and midsole. The 4-millimeter lug design of the outsole was very predictable and useful on the variety of terrain I wore it on, and in conditions from very dry to muddy and wet — cheers, Chamonix! And in road situations, the lugs aren’t noticeable at all.
Scarpa’s history in rock climbing makes it an expert in rubber compounds that are the right amount of sticky and precise. According to Scarpa, their exclusive Super Gum rubber compound “was developed to provide equal or better slip resistance as compared to other high-friction rubbers but with vastly superior abrasion resistance,” and reportedly offers three times the abrasion resistance in wet and dry conditions compared to similar transitional shoes.
Scarpa Golden Gate ATR Overall Impressions
The Scarpa Golden Gate ATR is my favorite Scarpa in the decade-plus I’ve been running in the brand’s shoes. Though there have been some real highlights, particularly of late with the Scarpa Spin Ultra line, this is the most runnable for folks like me who do a lot of road and mixed-surface running to get to the trails. And while there are better options for fast running, there is no better shoe I’ve used this year for recovery running or long, slow rambles in the mountains or even in town.
Call for Comments
- Have you run in this shoe? What are your thoughts?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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