Our Favorite Trail Running Shoes
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SCARPA Pursuit Review
(By Tom Caughlan & Brian VanIwarden)
Performance footwear company Scarpa, which in Italian stands for Associated Shoe Manufacturing Company of the Asolo Mountain Area, started cobbling mountain sport’s shoes in the Alps of Northern Italy in 1938. It is with this lineage that they enter the market for trail running footwear. Not to be compared with some Johnny-come-lately’s in the industry, the Scarpa Pursuit is a rugged and very durable trail shoe that is extremely well made. Unfortunately, being an Italian shoe company, the size 9.5 was too snug for me to review. So, I recruited my friend Brian who joins me for weekly trail runs who thought the shoe fit just right.
“Great looking shoe; Flashy and fast! Light weight and rigid, just what I expect from a quality trail shoe. The shoes took a handful of runs to break in and adjust to my feet.” -Brian
From the heritage of this company you would expect a very durable and well-made shoe. It has a traditional trail look with some flashy colors thrown in, and the seams and construction of this shoe gave the impression that there won’t be any issues with holes wearing in the upper. The shoe fits true to size.
The Scarpa Pursuit’s upper is rugged, well-made, but breathable enough for summer trail running. The shoe fits snugly throughout the midfoot and the forefoot possesses an average amount of room. The toe features a rugged toe bumper for protection and the lateral overlays connect with the lacing system to provide a snug fit. While the construction of the upper on this shoe is fairly traditional looking the construction quality is not. This is a shoe that could take a beating over the long haul and would be ideal for long, rugged trail runs or thru hiking where you cannot risk a tear in the fabric.
The Pursuit’s midsole is composed of three separate layers of foam, each varying in density, giving the shoe a cushioned yet responsive feel. Heel strikers will especially like the built up heel of the Pursuit and the heel-toe transition of the shoe is fluid. Although this is a shoe for neutral gaited runners, a fair amount of support stems from the midsole and the tester, who is a mild pronator and 165 lbs., felt that it offered him more than enough support for the longest trail runs of 20+ miles.
The midsole height from heel to toe on the Pursuit is around 12-14 mm by my measurements, making it a fairly traditional midsole rise. Brain remarked that he liked the heel protection on rocky trails and descents, but the heel height made the shoe feel a bit clunky on the crushed gravel trails around town.
While the midsole was protective given a substantial TPU rockplate, the forefoot remained flexible. Brian also appreciated the lack of midfoot shank for support and felt that the triple density foam offered increased flexion and durability compared to other trail shoes made for the long haul.
The Scarpa Pursuit weighs in at 12.3 ounces and performs very well on rocky and rugged trails. It was tested primarily in the alpine desert trails of southern Colorado and Brian even wore the shoe for the Pike’s Peak Ascent, a race he does annually. Despite weighing in at over 12 ounces, he felt the increased cushioning offered by the Scarpa Pursuit led him to his second best performance ever in the race.
Despite the weight, fairly average in yesterday’s trail running market but seeming behemoth in today’s, the Pursuit feels light and springy and Brian continues to utilize this shoe as his go-to daily trail shoe for this reason.
Low Ecological Impact
This shoe is also eco-friendly and many features of the shoe are made of recycled material. The manufacturer’s description states that the following materials in the shoe are recycled including 29% recycled polyester mesh, 40% recycled synthetic leather, 100% PC recycled lining, 70% recycled stroebel, and webbing is 100% Ecosensor recycled polyester. The midsole has EcoPure EVA additive to promote degradation in landfill conditions and there’s a 25% recycled rubber outsole.
Although Scarpa does not actively promote their ecological practices, I was very impressed with the amount of recycled material in the shoe. The Brooks Green Silence is marketed as 75% recycled material and the Pursuit’s construction nearly rivals it.
Scarpa utilized nearly 75 years of mountaineering experience to build a go-to trail shoe that is both rugged and performance oriented. Rather than relying on bulky overlays and medial posts to offer trail worthy support they utilized foams of various densities to support the wearer. This shoe would be an excellent choice for trail runs on rocky terrain where protection and agility are both needed.
Call for Comments
Have any of you every run in a Scarpa shoes? If so, what did you think? Got any questions about the shoe?
Do you still run any of your trail miles in a more protective shoe?