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.

SCOTT T2 Kinabalu

The SCOTT T2 Kinabalu.


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 T2 Kinabalu - outsole

The Kinabalu’s outsole.


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.

SCOTT T2 Kinabalu - lateral upper

The Kinabalu’s lateral upper.


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.

Adam Barnhart

discovered from an early age that he loved running , but didn't like starting guns. As a result, he is frequently found wandering the area trails around Anchorage, AK, but only at races after considerable peer-pressure is applied. When not trail running, Adam keeps pace with his wife and kids, works as a pastor and, with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group.

There are 23 comments

  1. Brett

    I love the feel of this shoe under almost any condition possible! However, the only drawback I see is the durability of the upper with this shoe. Have others experienced problems with the reinforcements actually pulling apart the mesh? I only have about 150 miles on mine and they are almost shot! Makes me hesitate to buy them again if this is an ongoing problem…

  2. Andy

    I always read iRF's shoe reviews with great enthusiasm, as I (like most, I'm sure) am on the perpetual quest for the perfect ultra-shoe. As an example, Ryan's recent Helios review was great and I now own a pair which are proving to be a worthy addition to the armamentarium.

    I was a bit disappointed in this review, however, as it lacked a few esential elements: (1) weight, (2) stack/drop, (3) water drainage, and (4) opinion re the niche of the shoe (i.e., 50k and under, mid-range, enough shoe for 100m, etc.) I did appreciate the comments about upper fit and comparisons to other known quantities, which probably rules it out for me anyway. Still, inclusion of some of the basic construction data would be really useful.

    Sorry to sound critical, but really just trying to be constructive and enhance uniformity of quality in iRF's postings, which are by and large superb. If it's any consolation, the Kinabalu is definitely a cool looking shoe!

    1. Adam Barnhart


      Thanks for the comments and critique. It never hurts to have feedback!

      I sometimes omit the basic details of the shoe as they're available from the company and most online retailers. But, I'm happy to include them here:

      – Weight – 270g

      – Drop – 11mm

      Water-drainage is pretty decent, even with the moderate mesh around the upper. The midsole has side ports to allow drainage through the perforated liner.

      In my opinion, the "niche" of the shoe is highly subjective to the runner. What one person can run 100m in, another can barely manage a marathon distance. I'd hate to tell everyone that this is a long-distance shoe, when it simply won't work in that regard for some.

      Again, thanks for the comments! Hope those details help.

      1. Andy

        Great, thanks Adam. Agree about the niche being subjective/personal. At least the stats show unequivocally that it's not a lean (I refrain from saying "minimal") shoe, though judging from Dean's comment perhaps it feels like less shoe than it is. Thanks again!

      1. DH

        Here's the gist of it: [broken link to SCOTT Sports removed].

        It's a kind of 'rocker' design that Scott has used in a lot of their models… I noticed it quite readily in the eRide Grip — it's an acquired feel as the author here suggests.

  3. Dean G

    I'm no expert in shoes– but I can tell you what the effect of the eRide is on this runner. It gives the shoe a much smoother and faster transition than other shoes with this amount of heel (and this amount of drop as well). To me, it almost feels like a hint of that rocker motion that you get in the Hokas (but without all the cushion). This rocker feeling distinguishes the Scotts from other trail shoes I use.

    Basically, I think these run like you are wearing less shoe with less drop than you actually are. Which I guess in theory means you can get the benefits of more shoe, without the negatives. In theory. I don't have enough miles to speak to that though.

    Definitely worth a look. I like them. Too soon to decide if I love them.

  4. Jeremy

    I've easily got over 150 miles on Kinabalu's. I have low arches and wide feet, and have not found these to be too tight at all. I have two pairs, and both have taken a couple of runs to break in, but once they have, like Dean G. says the eRide is a smooth transition. I haven't like this much shoe since donning the Addidas XT 4's but Scott has a winner in these, and I hear they are updating the upper and color ways this fall.

  5. Todd

    With how the rocker is, it feels like much less than a 11mm drop. It's much lighter than the construction would lend you to believe. Longest laces you'll ever see.

  6. Kristin Z

    I wanted to love these, but the curve on the lateral aspect of the forefoot was too sharp for the width of my met heads and 5th ray/toe… Super bummer. Sizing up = way too big. Back they went. The feel of the shoe around the house was intriguing but my 5th toe would never have forgiven me. Guess I have a Salomon/Birkenstock foot.

  7. Chris Cawley

    I want to like these shoes as they look perfect in person, but I find them extremely wide. I wear a B width when its available, and have had the best luck with shoe fit in Salomon Speedcross and Sense.

    Has anyone tried sizing down in these?

    1. Korey

      I tried sizing down and the toebox was too narrow for me, it pushed against my 5th toe, like Kristin Z said. My normal size fits great, but I do have to wear a slightly thicker sock than I prefer (midweight instead of lightweight).

  8. Ian Sharman

    Am loving this shoe and will be using it for all my trail races in the next few months. Lightest and most flexible and comfy shoe that I've found that can still run over anything and not hurt the underside of the foot. Admittedly Scott is my sponsor, but I picked them because the shoes are so good.

    The only minor issue I found is that the grip on the sole is the first thing to go, but that's after a lot of miles of full effort downhilling on technical trails so I find that wrecks most shoes I've ever tried.

  9. Sage Canaday

    The designers at SCOTT are addressing the upper. A new "truss-like" upper design will replace the honeycomb shape (which does crack/crease over time and looks bad but doens't compromise structural integrity as much as it looks…unless the mesh in fact gets large holes). I'd say the fit of the toebox is also a little narrow for some people (more pointed than the T2C EVO road shoe) but it really depends on the shape of your foot!

  10. TrailClydesdale

    I love these shoes. My feet are a bit wide, but I find the eyelet position allow the lacing to accommodate them well. Traction = great, Shock absorbtion = great. A few small criticisms; tread pattern in the forefoot is a pebble magnet & the tongue is thick and tends to slip. For trail running I use these most of the time nowadays, except when I'm feeling a bit tender – I opt for my Hokas. Haven't had an issue with the upper and I've worn them for 100km so far.

  11. Chris

    I also agree that the Kinabulu's feel much lighter than they look. Very grateful for the add'l support underneath too. This shoe is a home run for what it offers, and totally worth trying if you're on the fence!

    My small criticism is the laces . . . they are crazy long! After I tie them up, I need to "tuck" them in under the furthest-away lace and then reverse tuck them under the "minder/holder/keeper" thingy (which, for the record, I like and wish more shoes would consider).

    This wouldn't really be a problem but, disagreeing with this review, the "minder/holder/keeper" thingy does not keep my shoes tied all the time. I just ran a 50k in them this weekend and actually needed to stop running, sit down at an aid station, and re-lace them because they had come un-tied. My guess is that this problem is related to the length of the shoelaces somehow.

    Anyways, not sure how Scott decided on their length, but just know that you need change out the laces after purchase . . .

  12. Jeremy

    I am currently running in a test pair of the red T2K #2's. I agree with Sage that the upper is superior to the current version, with a better mesh and slightly more space in the toe box. Though, I have had no issues with the teal 2013 edition- with two 100 mile finishes in them.

    I would describe the T2K as the perfect 100 mile shoe. Enough cushion and tread to deal with varying mountain terrain, with the eRide rocker that you can truly feel and appreciate when everything is shutting down and you are beyond 50 miles.

  13. Terry Shields

    Does the new color ..I think it is green for fall have the new material.. I love this shoe but have had issues with the upper.again this is the best shoe I have used recently


  14. Akira

    I know this thread is now three years old but I can now ask you about what you thought of these shoes, since i just bought a pair of these old ones for dirt cheap. I have the Kinabalu HS’s and they feel great but I have noticed that they are not good at all on wet slippery rocks, which is what I usually run on. I know some of you will say that that’s par for the course, but these seem far worse than anything else. Am I just imagining things or did you guys notice this as well?

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