Our Favorite Trail Running Shoes
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SCOTT T2 Kinabalu: A Shoe That Can Relate
Do you have that paranoid and slightly irrational fear that all the garish colors you wear out on the trail incite the ridicule of your fellow human beings? Are you afraid that the latest seasons’ colors, which don’t have ready antecedent in nature, will make children cry and old people sneer? I admit that even my color-blind heart wants to know that my peculiar clothing and shoe choices may occasionally impress a non-runner. But, often, the bright combinations that I wear leave my wife laughing and friends shaking their heads.
Then came the SCOTT T2 Kinabalu ($129). When I first pulled them out of their box, I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. The mykonos blue, fluorescent yellow, and safety orange combined make the Kinabalus one of the most colorful pairs of shoes that I have ever owned. Pair that with a white midsole, a Lichtenstein-esque shading on the upper, and you have the most eye-grabbing pair of shoes I have seen in any store. But, not only do they win the hearts of those who are a bit more “stylish” (I use teenagers who spend too much time at the mall as a litmus test), they are a profoundly good ride out in the mountains.
But, let’s start at the safer and blander end of things first. The outsole of the Kinabalu has an even and moderate tread pattern. They are certainly close to qualifying as “door to trail” shoes, but I found the rubber to be a bit soft for much road time. After a hundred miles, they showed a decent amount of wear in my usual strike spots. Nothing rapid enough to warrant durability concerns, but not as hard-wearing as a few other shoes on the market. The upside here is that they stick to rocks well and are not hazardous when things get a bit wet.
Scott promotes their midsole materials boldly. And, they really do have cause to be proud of the Aero Foam they have used in the Kinabalus and other models. The combination of durability and cushion it provides is excellent. At first glance, it isn’t a material that inspires thoughts of durability. It is soft to the touch and, honestly, looks like styrofoam when you get personal with it. But, mile after mile, it has refused to lose its cushion.
The composite rock plate peeks through the outsole near the midfoot. Scott labels it as a “push-through plate.” It is clearly meant to take direct impact from debris and absorb/disperse the impact as it moves upward. And, while its construction is definitely on the lighter end of things (a US men’s 9 weighs 9.5 ounces/270 grams), I have no complaints with the protection it provides and no problems with durability.
The Kinabalu also employs Scott’s “eRide” midsole style, which is meant to roll the foot forward in its strike. I can’t say that it either helps or hinders my midfoot strike. It is a comfortable designs, although it takes a run or two to acclimate to the increased thickness near the middle of the foot, while maintaining a traditional 11 mm drop.
The uppers are bright. Even a couple months worth of dust, mud, and sweat have done little to tone them down. They are also well-built. The outsole toe bumper is not very large, but it is mated with an extensive patch of protective vinyl that covers all the toes. You can certainly still stub a toe in them, but you will need to work at it. The mesh on the upper provides moderate breathability. It is reinforced with a honeycomb overlay that shows no sign of breaking down and supports the shoes well.
Scott put a shoe-lace minder/holder/keeper at the third eyelet. This quarter-inch piece of elastic keeps the laces from flopping around and untying themselves. I love it. I wish every pair of shoes had this feature. It’s so simple and effective.
A few important notes on fit for the upper: The first is that these shoes fit my narrow and high feet well. This also means that they may not fit flatter and wider feet quite as well. (I would love to hear your comments on this) Second, the toebox is moderate in size. It feels larger that what Saucony has been offering, as of late, and a bit smaller than Brook’s Pure line-up. Third, and finally, the back end of the heel cup is tall. It extends more than another half-inch up the Achilles past the calcaneus. Entirely comfortable to me, but worth noting.
After I wore these shoes out in public, I found it was just best to bring my own Sharpie along to the trailhead so I knew I could sign autographs. All kidding aside, the aforementioned bright colors attracted a lot of positive comments and attention. Even non-runners were very interested in knowing more (effective marketing?). But, beyond the flash and dazzle, Scott has a a great shoe in the Kinabalu. I will be following, and purchasing, future models with great anticipation.