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May 22, 2012

Scarpa Spark Trail Running Shoe Review

5 miles on the schedule today.  I decided to take an extra rest day today.

The Scarpa Spark Trail Shoes
I've had the Scarpa Spark Trail Running shoes for the last couple of months now.  As you know, I've been getting into trail running.  Not only is it better on your legs and knees, it's also more scenic and there are no worries about getting hit by a car.

Before I even discuss the shoes, as many of you know, I love when companies consider the environment.  These shoes have 29% recycled polyester mesh, 40% recycled synthetic leather, 50% polyester recycled lining, lace and webbing is 100% Ecosensor recycled polyester, the midsole has EcoPure EVA additive to promote degradation in landfill conditions and 25% recycled runner outsole - how's that for protecting the environment!  Of course, I'd expect nothing less from an outdoor company like Scarpa.
Click for website
I've really tried to put the shoes through the paces even though I'm relatively new to trail running.  I've run with them on all surfaces including cement, asphalt, dirt roads, sand, grass, smooth trails, technical trails, and muddy trails.  I've also run all the elevations so I've put them through lots of hills.  The only thing I really did not put them through is stream crossings and frankly, I'm not sure I would do that often anyway unless it came up in a race.
My first impression when I received them?  Wow!  What a great looking shoe!  I mean, if you are going to run on trails, why not look good while you're at it.  Ok, ok, I know that's should not be a high consideration on the list of why you buy trail running shoes but it is a bonus.

The first time I tried on these shoes, I could not believe the instant fit.  They are incredibly comfortable.  For the record, the sizes are European sizes.  I wear an 8.5 shoes size and these were a 41 1/2 - they fit true to size.  In addition, they are light at about 9.5 oz.  While I have run in many different brands of shoes, most shoes usually take some time to get used to before you are comfortable doing any kind of higher mileage on them.  In fact, I don't think I've ever run in a pair of new shoes for least several times of three mile runs or less before I start upping the mileage.  I felt so comfortable in these that my first couple runs in these were six miles.  With the Spark, I had an instant connection to the shoe which is very rare for me.  The comfort was awesome!

The shoe has a wide toe box which I think really helps with the comfort.  I didn't feel like I was trying to push my feet into them.  The upper felt very comfortable and wrapped nicely around your foot without a tight feeling to it.  I also like the laces on the shoes.  The laces have a type of pattern in them to help them grip better.  Even though I alway double tie my shoes when running, the grip on the laces felt strong.  One thing I did notice was they do take a little extra work to tighten up the shoes.  The lacing system is a little different from other shoes in that they have a couple different lace holes from traditional lacing holes.  Personally, it did not bother me but I could see some of you not liking this.  The other concern was on that lacing system.  Was it going to be strong enough to endure all the running you would do on the trails?  The shoe performed exceptionally well and has withstood all the running I've put them through without any issue.

I would say that these are trail shoes, they are made for the trails and should be used for trails.  I used them on concrete and asphalt to see how they would perform.  They seemed to perform well but there is less cushion on the shoes and I would not be comfortable running any distance on them on hard surfaces.  This shouldn't be an issue for you because you should be buying these to run trails.  The drop on this is also closer to a minimalist shoe with a midsole 6mm drop.
The 6mm drop was easy to transition from "typical" running shoes
Compression molded EVA midsole for great wear
I personally don't consider the shoe minimalist unless the drop is 4mm or less and perhaps why I could transition to these so well so quickly.  I typically run in shoes with a 12mm drop for the roads but it does seem like every manufacturer is moving towards a lower drop.  I've also run in zero drop trail shoes as well.  Those take getting used to and cannot be transitioned so quickly like these shoes.  As I discussed, these were no issue getting used to.  I was able to transition from my regular road shoes to the Scarpa Spark with little difference in running mileage.  My calves could feel the extra work but not so much that you could not get out there and do your run right away with them on longer mileage.

In regards to trails and dirt roads, they performed really well.  I ran with them at my last half marathon which was mostly trails and the large knobs on the sole dug into the ground well and kept me stable going up hills.
Nice grip on the sole for all kinds of terrain
In parts of the trail, where there were medium sized rocks, you could feel the rock - perhaps a little more than I would like but the cushion overall worked very well for all trail conditions.

The front of the shoes also have protection for your toes and did it's job well.  The company uses a "Hi-tensile fabric forefoot strike plate" that worked quite well.  Check it out:
Toe protection - check!
I was able to put them through a trail half marathon this past weekend(along with countless training runs) and they performed really well.  The race gave me the best test of the shoes to get a feel for whether I would continue to race in them going forward.  The answer is absolutely I would!  They were comfortable, kept my feel in place, kept my feel cool, had a great grip when needed and even performed well on the short paved areas that I ran.  If you are thinking of getting into trail running and/or are already running trails, check out the Scarpa Spark.  Thanks to Scarpa, I'll be out on the trails much more this year.
The half marathon finish in the Scarpa Spark
Interested in learning more?

Check out their website:  HERE

Check out their Facebook page:  HERE

Check out their Twitter page:  HERE

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

* Note:  I received a complimentary pair of Scarpa Spark for purposes of this review.  All opinions in this review are my own and I was not required to give a particular opinion.


  1. I want to see a picture of these shoes now after being all battered and abused!!! They look like really cool shoes. I definitely have been motivated to get into trail running but I don't even know where there are trails nearby.

    1. Haha. Sorry, while I've run through mud, not enough to look battered and abused yet but I'm working on it.

  2. Great review. I have to admit...I love the way they look so if they are a good pair of shoes too well that's just a bonus.

    1. Spoken like a true woman runner Michael. :) I do think they need to have style or people will not consider them even if they are good(which they are)