Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gear Review - Scarpa Spark Trail Shoes

Ever since I wore through the last of my stockpiled Cascadia 5s I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement. It’s been a long and exhausting search for that perfect shoe (if such a thing exists) but I’ve finally found something I can live with, at least temporarily. It’s the Scarpa Spark. Most of you have probably never heard of Scarpa but the Italian company has been making quality mountaineering, skiing, hiking and trekking boots and shoes for seventy years.
  

I’ve been a traditional shoe wearer for years and have never been able to wear any of the minimalist shoes that have become so popular since the book “Born to Run” was published. Low and no drop running shoes cause my plantar fascia to flare up. The Spark, with its 6mm heel drop, is a good compromise between a minimalist and traditional shoe. It hasn’t caused any plantar fasciitis problems for me. I also like that the shoe is so much lighter than my Cascadias.


The Spark fits securely though the heel and mid-foot but has a high volume toe box so your toes don’t feel squished. The uppers drain quickly and breathe well but may not be very durable. I jammed my foot between two sharp rocks on a recent hike and damaged the shoe almost to the point of tearing a hole in the mesh. The sticky rubber sole grips extremely well on wet roots and rocky surfaces but is lacking when it comes to muddy trails. The 2.5mm lugs just aren’t big enough to dig in deep for a secure grip.


Photo credits: Trail Runner Nation


If I have one complaint with the shoe it’s with the hi-tensile fabric strike plate. Sure it saves weight, but it doesn’t offer same the foot protection as a high density EVA plate would. It may not be problem for runners/hikers without any foot issues but after a long day on a rocky trail or mountain, the neuromas in my feet become painful due to the lack of protection.  To their credit, I don’t have any foot issues on smoother trails.

Likes:

  • Lightweight
  • Roomy toe box\
  • Sticky rubber sole
  • Drains well

Dislikes:

  • Inadequate strike plate
  • 2.5mm lugs lacking in deep mud

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it with his own funds.
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