SCOTT Kinabalu Ultra RC Review

I recently reviewed the new SCOTT Supertrac RC 2 (here) and I was excited. I had been using the original Supertrac as a regular shoe when going to the mountains, particularly when on technical terrain. Although I loved the shoe, there were just a couple of niggle points. Gladly those niggle points were removed in the RC 2 and I went on to say:

“The Supertrac RC 2 is a great shoe and for anyone who loved the original Supertrac RC, I think now they will have an even bigger smile on their face. For those who were tempted by the black and yellow shoes previously but decided that the toe box was too narrow, the cushioning compromised or the feel was a little flat, you should now go back and check these out. It’s rare I compare shoes to other brands and models, however, for those who have read my reviews, they will know that VJ Sport are my ‘go-to’ shoes for the mountains, be that the XTRM or MAXx models. Now, I firmly believe that Scott have a shoe that can compete.” 

Several months on, the RC 2 has only got better and I am now looking to get another pair, I have really given my current pair some abuse. Gladly, I was able to share the workload on the RC 2 with the Kinabalu Ultra RC, also a new shoe.

I received the RC 2 and Kinabalu Ultra RC at the same time and on first impressions, it appeared they were the same shoe but with two major differences. The upper and outsole.

I was wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great similarities between both shoes and it is fair to say, if you like the RC 2 then you will like the Kinabalu Ultra RC and vice versa.

So, what are the differences?

The RC 2 is designed for the mountains with an aggressive outsole using radial traction, a new and extremely durable upper by Schoeller called Coldblack® and a 3XDRY® material. Cushioning is 22.5mm at the rear and 17.5mm at the front providing a drop of 5mm. It’s a great shoe when you need grip and durability in tough terrain. But, if you were out for a long run and trail, the RC 2 would probably be too aggressive…

Step in the Kinabalu Ultra RC.

The RC badge connects the RC 2 and the Kinabalu Ultra RC and confirms a build quality and attention to detail. RC quite simply confirms that this is the ‘best’ that we have to offer.

I have used many Kinabalu shoes by SCOTT (HERE) in the past and I have liked them. If you have tried them, you may agree or disagree? However, whatever your experience of a Kinabalu you have had in the past, please forget it. This new incarnation has nothing to do with the previous incarnations, even the Kinabalu RC 2 (here).

The black and yellow look confirms the ‘new’ shoes pedigree and as stated, on first look, it appears very similar to the RC 2.

The upper is much more breathable on the Kinabalu Ultra RC with an ultra-mesh that allows yellow to show through and the outsole is very different with a less aggressive hybrid traction. Notably, to fulfilling the ‘ultra’ intentions of the shoe, cushioning is 29mm at the rear and 21mm at the front providing a more relaxed 8mm drop.

THE SHOE

Sizing is true to size but like the RC 2 model, I use an EU 44 which should be UK9.5, on the inside of the shoe it says UK9. So, just make sure on fit when purchasing.

Interestingly, there is only 2g difference in weight between the RC 2 and Kinabalu Ultra RC with both shows just under 300g for an EU44.

Foothold is really superb. When you slide your foot in the shoe, there is immediate comfort and hold. This comes from the engineered tongue which is amazingly comfortable, the lacing which can be really pulled tight to hold the foot secure and also the way the lace eyelets are placed. There is also the option to lock-lace or similar with the inclusion of an additional eyelet. The tongue does not have a sock-like fit which surprised me, however, after extended use (400km) I have had no issues at all, on the contrary. The upper, tongue and lacing configuration hold the foot wonderfully tight. Although the Kinabalu Ultra RC is not intended for technical terrain, the shoe handles it surprisingly well, especially when switching and changing direction, a credit to the upper, lacing and foothold.

The heel area is padded, snug and importantly when climbing does not allow for any slipping.

Notably, the toe box is wider allowing a little more toe splay. Toe protection is minimal echoing the shoes intention of non-technical trail.

Cushioning is notable. Kinetic foam, eRide midsole, rock plate and a racing footbed make these shoes wonderful for long runs. SCOTT have always used eRide (rocker) to help with technique and cadence.

The outsole is a classic trail grip that provides enough traction when running a variety of terrain, be that hard pack dirt, gravel or rock. In the middle of the outsole, grip is removed. There is an emphasis here that this is a shoe that tempts you to go faster.

IN USE

I firmly believe that SCOTT have pushed to a new level with the RC 2 and this new incarnation of the Kinabalu.

If I was only to purchase two shoes, the SCOTT’s would be high up on the list. They complement each other perfectly, the RC 2 for hard, tough, technical mountain days and the Kinabalu Ultra RC for less technical and challenging trail days.

Comfort level is high for 1-hour fast runs and day-long adventures. Feel for the ground is great. Cushioning has life and provides great energy return. The upper is breathable, light and durable.

The outsole performed as expected offering grip then required on rocks, tree roots and trail both in the dry and wet conditions. This is not a shoe for mud!

Despite the shoes intentions, they handle technical trail superbly well. This is a credit to the tongue and lacing; it really does hold the foot securely providing a reassuring hold that provides confidence.

The Kinabalu Ultra RC has wider toe box but it is not super wide. Depending on your needs, you’d have to try them on and see if they provide the room you require. In my opinion, they feel very similar to the RC 2 which is great for me, but I wonder with the ‘ultra’ intentions if the toe box could be a little wider?.

CONCLUSIONS

The Kinabalu Ultra RC is a great shoe for any trail run and I include more technical runs too. It is not for mud! Quite simply, in conjunction with the Supertrac RC 2, SCOTT have produced two shoes that cover a plethora of uses. Although the name ‘ultra’ suggests that this shoe is just for long runs, I would most definitely say no. It’s light, responsive and wonderful on 1-hour trail runs; they feel fast. When running longer, the added cushioning, rock plate and 8mm drop provides all-day comfort. I have over 400km in mine, the uppers are in great condition, the outsole is still good and the comfort level is as good, if not better than when I first used them 3-months ago (June 2020)

SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0 – FIRST LOOK

The all new SCOTT Kinabalu RC 2.0 is built for SPEED.

Run faster on rolling trails, forests and parks with Its innovative traction design.

Hybrid TractionKinetic FoamInternal Fit System

Get ya sunglasses out, the new SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0 is here! Boy are these shoes bright. Of course, the colour will divide opinion, some will love the look, and some will hate, they well be a Marmite shoe, but ultimately for me, it’s only a colour. Any good trail shoe should be covered in mud in a couple of runs, and then the shoe really takes on character.

Scott since 2012 have really made huge progress with their run shoes, in particular, the biggest transformations have come in the last 4-years with the ever-changing development of the ‘Kinabalu’ shoe.

This development has also gone in line with the ‘Black and Yellow’ apparel look and the ‘Traction Matters’ tagline.

I have to say, the ‘look’ of Scott on the trail is one of the best in my opinion. It’s classy, desirable and completely identifiable – I see black and yellow, and I know it is Scott. 

The latest addition the line-up is the SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0.

It’s easy to see the development of ‘this’ model if one looks at the last 2-years of Scott’s shoe development. The ‘RC’ shoe concept has become hugely popular and I have to say, this latest incarnation really is a highlight. 

The RC range is roughly broken down to four categories:

  • Mountain Speed
  • Mountain Ultra
  • Trail Speed
  • Road Speed

THE SHOE

Bold, brash and loud, Scott are making a statement here and quite simply, this shoe will be immediately identifiable on the trail. There is no hiding. If you are going to stand out like this, you better have the ‘goods’ to back up the looks. The SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0 does not disappoint.

Scott have not always made the lightest shoes; this shoe is a welcome departure weighing 260g for a UK9.5. Sizing is true to size, to clarify, I always use UK9.5 and this should allow a thumb nail of space above my big toe – the RC 2.0 is perfect. 

The toe box has room and allows toe splay without compromising foot hold, this is particularly noticeable when running technical trail.

The outsole has the now classic RC look which was specifically developed by Scott and their athletes. The outsole has lugs that designed for trail running be that on dirt trail, single-track, gravel, grass or rock in dry and wet conditions. However, the outsole is not aggressive enough for muddy conditions.

The upper is seamless and is noticeably a departure from other RC editions that Scott have produced. The upper is lighter with more breathability. There is reinforced section to add structure to the shoe and allow a firm hold. The toe box has a good bumper for rocky and gnarly conditions and will provide adequate protection in most scenarios. The heel box is cushioned, holds the foot well. The tongue is ‘free’ and does not have a sock-liner fit. That is a disappointment for me – Integrated tongues nearly always provide me with a much better feeling and more secure hold. Having said this, the RC 2.0 holds my foot really well. Lacing is pretty standard, nothing new here and no real surprises. The cushioning of the shoe is notable. I really feel comfort in these shoes without losing feel for the ground and the shoes have ‘life,’ something that was missing at times in previous Scott shoes. Drop is 3mm so designed for an efficient runner.

In a nutshell, this is Scott’s best shoe so far. 

IN USE 

The shoe has speed written all over it, but it is not at the expense of comfort. It’s a trail shoe that would work amazingly well on any run when conditions are not too muddy. The outsole has grip but it’s classic ‘trail grip’ and not UK mud grip – for example.

RC 2.0 will also be a fantastic mountain running shoe, especially in skyrunning (for example) when the transition from trail and rock is constant and of course, snow or ice may make an appearance.

One noticeable feature was how well the RC 2.0 feels on the road. It’s too early to say what impact on the outsole road running would have, but in regard to comfort, I had no issues. I am sure Scott would not recommend the RC 2.0 as a road running shoe, but ‘road sections’ can appear in any run, it’s good to know that comfort is there. The Kinetic Foam kicks in here.

There is little not to like about the RC 2.0 and for sure, I would say that past Scott RC users are going to love this shoe – it’s a lighter, faster, cushioned and more responsive shoe than previous incarnations. If you are a Salomon Sense fan and are looking for a change, I would immediately recommend trying out the Kinabalu RC 2.0. The Salomon and Scott have very different feels, but I draw comparisons. Notably, those who wanted to use a ‘Sense’ but found them too narrow will be pleased with the RC 2.0’s wider toe box.

Scott say, “We recommend it for any sort of speed workouts, fast running sessions, and non-technical mountain races up to marathon distance.”

HOW DO THEY FEEL

Well, light! That was my first reaction, particularly after testing and using previous Scott shoes. I was immediately impressed by the feel the shoes gave, even on a first run. I had a cushioned ride but still with a real feel for the ground. The grip is spot on in wet and dry conditions. I had no issues at all other than being caught on a very muddy steep hill after heavy rain, then, I was sliding all over the place. No surprise really as the lugs are just not long enough.

There are little negatives with the RC 2.0, but I did have two points of question. The lacing holes for me feel as though they could have been spaced better? I actually think an additional eyelet would have been beneficial. It’s a personal thing. Also, on my right foot I found that I constantly had a slight tight spot when I tied my laces. I tried many configurations and options but could not eradicate it? I didn’t have this with my left foot, so, I should add here that this maybe more to do with my right foot than the shoe. Just worth noting. 

CONCLUSION

This is Scott’s best shoe so far in my opinion. I have seen and witnessed the evolution of ‘Kinabalu’ and ‘RC’ over the past years and although they always came close to greatness, there was always just a little missing. With the RC 2.0 the main points of: 

  • Comfort
  • Lightness
  • Traction
  • Feel

Are all there and I can ask no more from a shoe.

This is a fast shoe and depending on the runner and ability, the RC 2.0 is great for a 5km blast, a classic technical skyrunning race or a trail race.

“We  started 4 years ago up high in the mountains, designing shoes to move fast over technical terrain, and the Supertrac RC was born. Then we stayed on the same mountainous environment but to run at a slower pace and for much longer. The Supertrac Ultra RC was created to deliver more comfort, protection and cushioning than its older sister. This year, we’re coming down from our mountains with the same approach. Start with a shoe designed to make you tackle more rolling and hard packed trails at faster speed. Whether it’s on flatter terrain or for mountain running races where trails are often mixed with road, Sierre Zinal being the perfect illustration of that hybrid terrain, the Kinabalu RC 2.0 will deliver.”

It’s a really versatile shoe and one thing is for sure, with that flu yellow look, it’s going to be really easy to see who is using the Kinabalu RC 2.0 in 2019 and beyond!

Do you want to be one of the lucky 10 people to win a pair of these mysterious yellow shoes?
Check out this page: https://www.scott-sports.com/kinabalu-rc

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