Scarpa is certainly more widely-known for climbing and mountaineering footwear, but has been creeping down the mountain in recent years. The new Spark trail runners are their best entry into the trail running category to date. It’s won accolades already and has proven to be a great addition to the market.
Want more weather protection? Checkout my Scarpa Spark GTX review.
Scarpa Spark Features:
- Upper: Recycled synthetic leather and polyester mesh
- Lining: Recycled polyester
- Plate: Hi-Tensile Fabric Plate
- Midsole: Molded EVA
- Outsole: Speed Lite
- Last: TR2
- Sizes: 39 – 47, 48 (half sizes)
- Weight: 260g; 9.2oz (1/2 pair size 42)
- Color: Black/Green Apple
- MSRP: $115
Scarpa Spark Trail Running Shoes Review
Buying a pair of trail running shoes used to be as simple as selecting your color preference. A lot has changed in the past few years as the old chunky adapted road shoe designs (or worse, adapted hiking shoes) are thankfully going away. Scarpa’s latest entry into the trail running scene is the much-heralded Spark. This sub-10 oz. trail shoe sits comfortably between ultralight and ultra-chunky — right where I’d say the sweet spot lies.
To go along with its lightweight design, the Spark has a modest 6mm drop. It’s not quite zero-drop, but 6mm is really about right for most runners who are looking for low-profile treads, but have been running in traditional trail runners. If you go from a traditional, ramped shoe design directly to a zero-drop minimalist shoe, you’ll have a long and painful break-in period (yes you, not the shoes).
The more miles I’ve put on the Spark’s the more they’ve grown on me. I love the lightweight design. In many ways, they are similar to the Patagonia Fore Runner shoes I tested earlier this year. As I mentioned above, the Spark’s really hit the sweet spot between minimalist and traditional in a package that will appeal to a variety of runners.
Lacing them up, you’ll find your foot cradled in the flexible, but supportive uppers. The ribbed lace design keeps its tension and doesn’t even have a chance of wiggling loose. The all-mesh uppers are complemented by a minimal exoskeleton. Looking at them, you’d think that they would be ultra breathable, but the uppers are a bit thicker than I’d like which turned these shoes into miniature ovens on the hottest runs. I found that going with an ultralight sock was the only way I could run with these during the heat of the day.
During my experience with the Spark’s, I never once felt the need to swap out the stock insoles. Foot-cradling comfort has remained from day one. No question, these shoes are some of the most comfortable I’ve worn and have adapted perfectly to my flat feet. Both long and short runs with extended climbing and descending are met with straight-up comfort.
All that comfort does come with a price as these shoes aren’t quite as zippy as others. I feel like the midsoles rob me of a bit of energy with every step, but the comfort level makes these perfect for training.
Uphill traction is excellent except for the loosest of conditions. I feel like I can get traction and confidently skirt through sketchy conditions without flinching. On the down, these things have cat-like traction. They provide the utmost confidence while descending.
- Super-comfortable right out of the box
- Laces up evenly and cinches up
- Low profile tread runs well
- Sticky rubber grips all terrain
- Respectable weight sits perfectly between minimalist and traditional
- Midsole could be a bit too squishy and inefficient for fast-paced racing
- Uppers are a little thick (especially the tongue)
The Bottom Line
My time with the Scarpa Spark’s has been excellent from the start. I do have a few gripes with them, but the overall package offers solid performance for long-distance training. If you’re looking for miles and miles of lightweight comfort, these are your shoes.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com