Scott Sports is a well-known Swiss company recognized for its expertise in producing and supplying sports equipment, encompassing bicycles, winter sports gear, and motorsports equipment. The company was founded by Ed Scott, an engineer and ski racer, in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1958. Scott’s innovative ideas and commitment to developing high-performance products have propelled the company to become a prominent player in the sports industry.
Today, Scott Sports continues to push the boundaries of sports equipment design. The company’s product range includes not only skiing, cycling, and motorsports equipment, but also running gear, outdoor apparel, and accessories. Based on the brand’s extensive work with carbon materials in their bikes, skis, and other outdoor equipment, I was curious to see how that expertise translated into a trail running shoe with carbon. I tested out the Scott Ultra Carbon RC ($230), which comes in women’s and men’s sizing.
Its actual weight is 11 ounces (312 grams) for a U.S. men’s size 9. The shoe has 5 millimeters of drop achieved through a claimed stack height of 25 millimeters at the heel and 20 millimeters at the forefoot.
Scott Ultra Carbon RC Upper
The upper of the Scott Ultra Carbon RC is clearly made with top-quality fabrics and components, which is consistent with my experience with Scott’s other products. There are two layers of lightweight mesh. The under layer is a bit denser and helps keep debris out, while the outer layer is more perforated and offers additional protection from the elements. I generally feel like the upper was made to get out of the way of the runner — not over-designed or over-built, but rather made to be functional. In very hot conditions, my feet feel toasty. I can’t decide if that’s because of the black material absorbing the heat or because of the mesh trapping heat inside the shoe.
The tongue of the shoe provides added safeguarding against dirt infiltration from the upper as it is affixed with wings positioned deeper within the shoe. Constructed from a suede-like material, the tongue is thin yet adequately cushioned, ensuring the laces never exert excessive pressure on the top of my foot. I haven’t experienced discomfort, irritation, or hot spots. The fabric on the upper portion of the tongue, situated near the ankle, displays some slight loss of firmness. However, this doesn’t impede performance; it has simply become softer and slightly folded forward.
The heel of the shoe is where I have experienced some slight issues, which I know are based on my own foot and ankle anatomy. I gravitate toward shoes with narrow heel cups and slightly roomier toeboxes. This heel cup is a bit wide for me. The shoe’s fit is generally uniform, not tapering too much at the heel or the toes, but consistent from front to back. I think for some, this is a great aspect of a shoe, but for me, the shoe isn’t as stable on technical terrain. However, to credit Scott, they are pretty up front on their site about where this shoe performs well and where it doesn’t. They designed the shoe for fast, smooth trail races, even stating that it was designed for a course like the Western States 100.
Scott Ultra Carbon RC Midsole
The midsole of the Scott Ultra Carbon RC features Scott’s proprietary Kinetic Light Foam technology. Scott claims that this foam material is designed to be both lightweight and highly resilient, providing runners with the energy-efficient cushioning they need for faster and longer runs. As an added benefit, it is incredibly durable and designed to withstand wear and tear. I find the cushioning to be minimal in volume but adequate enough to not feel all of the bumps and rocks on the trail. The heel area of the shoe feels more reinforced and supportive — nearly correcting some of my pronation — while the cushioning under the ball of the foot feels neutral and allows my feet to land naturally. I find myself wanting a plusher ride from time to time, namely on longer runs.
Carbon plates in running shoes are in vogue right now. The CARBITEX GearFlex carbon fiber plate is a little less noticeable than that of other carbon-plated shoes. It’s a carbon plate for people who don’t like carbon plates. What do I mean by that? It’s not overly rigid or springy. Its special design offers dynamic flexibility and stiffness, responding to the user’s speed and motion. When running, the plate will increase its stiffness for more power and efficiency, while still remaining flexible when walking to allow for ease of movement.
Scott Ultra Carbon RC Outsole
The Scott Ultra Carbon RC features their Ultra Traction outsole, specifically designed for ultra races on fast, rolling trails. With a semi-radial design, it maximizes efficiency in forward motion, while incorporating multi-directional traction elements to keep you confident on uneven terrain.
In practice, I feel that the lugs are ideal for fast and smooth summer trails of any distance, ensuring optimal performance at any speed, but as stated earlier, the looser fitting heel makes technical or overly twisty trails a little harder for to navigate. I will note that even after some high alpine and smoother trail runs, the lugs still show minimal wear and tear.
The midsole is partially exposed at the center of the outsole, resulting in a slight reduction in weight and potentially aiding in torsional flexibility.
Scott Ultra Carbon RC Overall Impressions
After testing the Scott Ultra Carbon RC on a wide range of trails — and even pavement, gasp! — it is evident that this footwear is specifically designed for fast-paced trail races. The shoe boasts exceptional materials of superior quality, and I am particularly impressed by the subtle bounce provided by the rocker and carbon plate, enhancing my running stride. Although certain aspects, such as the wide heel cup, don’t provide an ideal fit for my feet, I believe that many individuals would greatly appreciate the numerous remarkable attributes offered by this shoe.
The shoe is on the expensive side, which is why I think it would make a great race shoe. For a training shoe that would see a ton of miles and use, at a lower price point, I would suggest something like the Scott Kinabalu 2, a similar, more generalized shoe for all-around trail running, though it lacks the carbon plate.
Call for Comments
- Have you run in the Scott Ultra Carbon RC? How did you find it?
- What are your thoughts on carbon-plated trail shoes more generally?
[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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