Scott Kinabalu 2018 Review

The classic returns! The Scott Kinabalu was my first ever Scott running shoe and at the time, when I was seen wearing them, I always received the comment, “I didn’t know Scott made run shoes?’

That comment continued for some time, but now, Scott are well and truly established in the running world.

One could say that the introduction of the RC range in late 2016 and early 2017 took the brand to a new level. The distinctive black and yellow really stands out and the Supertrac RC not only looked great but had great reviews – HERE

 

The Scott Kinabalu 2018 edition is an all new shoe and it is fair to say that much of what appeared in the Supertrac RC has been carried over to this new incarnation of the Kinabalu.

It has a lower drop, new upper, new outsole and different look. It may have the Kinabalu name, but the 2018 version is something different altogether!

The Shoe

 Orange is obviously ‘the’ colour for the shoe industry with many brands using varying shades or tones for 2018 shoes. My Kinabalu is two-tone orange and grey (an all-black version is available too.)

Three things stand out immediately – the seamless upper, the cushioning and the outsole. As I said above, this Kinabalu is far removed from the original so drawing comparisons are almost pointless.

It is a cushioned shoe with 29mm at the rear and 21mm at the front. For comparison, the Supertrac RC and Kinabalu RC has 22.5 at the rear and 17.5 at the front.

The RC range have 5mm drop and are out-and-out racing shoes whereas the Kinabalu has 8mm drop. This is a good thing for those who run longer or want a more relaxed shoe. Certainly, with the crossover in looks and design, RC users will find switching and alternating with the 2018 Kinabalu seamless.

 The outsole has the ‘new’ Forward Traction technology, with a multi-layer lug design. It’s designed to grip, as all good outsoles should, on a plethora of different terrain, wet to dry.


eRide is standard on Scott shoes and one of the brands USP’s. It is a rocker outsole which is designed to increase running efficiency particularly if heal striking as it helps roll the foot forward.

Cushioning comes from Aero Foam + which increases comfort, durability and rebound in the propulsive phase.

The upper is seamless with a reinforced toe box, heel box and overlays in the mid foot section leading to the laces. The tongue is gusseted and provides a sock like fit. There are no seams so in theory, the shoe should not rub or cause blisters.

There are no additional eyelets at the top of the lacing section, so, lock lacing is not possible.

 The Kinabalu is marketed as a lightweight shoe but certainly comes in a little heavier than nearly all the shoes I would consider competition at this level. It’s of course marginal, but if you are obsessed about show weight, there are lighter shoes out there! For example, the Kinabalu weighs in at 320g for standard comparable size.

For comparison*:

inov-8 Parkclaw 275g here

Nike Wildhorse 4 300g here

TNF Ultra Endurance 310g here

inov-8 Trail Talon 290g here

* all above shoes are 8mm drop and cushioned shoes.

The Kinabalu is true to size and neutral fit.

First Impressions

For me, the jury is still out on seamless uppers. Or should I say, ‘some’ seamless uppers! I get the logic, understand the benefits but some just feel a little too stiff. I had this with the recent inov-8 X Talon (Here) and I have the same feeling for the Kinabalu. Most definitely, the Kinabalu needs breaking in. When I receive new shoes, I always use them as slippers in my home before running. That way I get a feel for the shoe and I soften them up a little. I also learn if there are potential hot spots and how I should adjust the laces, so the shoe is comfortable on my instep – always an issue for me as I have a high instep.

The Kinabalu was glove like when pulled on, the gusseted tongue giving great comfort and hold on the instep.

The heel box was plush, comfortable and held well.

The toe box is wide, but not super wide. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being wide) I would say the Kinabalu is a 3. When I walked around though the shoe felt stiff. Particularly noticeable when I bent the shoe at the front, just above the toes.

The stiff seamless upper seemed reluctant to bend and the fabric creased as if folding cardboard. I must clarify this got better and better as I wore the shoes but I can only stress that for me, you need to soften the Kinabalu up. Had I run in the shoe out of the box, I am pretty sure I would have had an issue above the toes.

Cushioning felt good – a little on the firm side but I could definitely feel the benefit of the 29/21mm combination.

The outsole stuck to my wooden floor making a nice sticky sound every time I lifted my foot.

In Use

I put 8 hours in the shoes in my home before running. Invaluable in my opinion! As with all my test runs, I do 1-mile of road at the beginning and the end of my runs, the middle section is 6-8 miles of varying terrain that has a little of everything – it’s a great test ground.

The Kinabalu bounces along on the road well with the cushioning providing great protection between my foot and the terrain. However, I didn’t particularly feel connected. The cushioning is definitely on the stiffer side and although this improved over time, the Kinabalu certainly is a stiffer ride. Very similar to the RC in my opinion. 

The outsole lugs are close together and whilst not designed for road running, the Kinabalu can handle the hard stuff with no problems.

On the trails, the Kinabalu felt good transitioning between different terrains. The lugs are not very deep, so, it is most definitely a trail shoe for firmer and drier terrain. When I ran through mud, the lugs failed for 2 reasons – they are too close together and lack length to purchase in the ground. Not a criticism, just a notable point so that you understand what terrain the Kinabalu excels on. On rocks, grip was excellent, even in the wet. Always a good thing!

I am a forefoot striker but have always found the eRide of Scott pleasurable – no difference with this new Kinabalu, it works well. I have already mentioned that the cushioning in my opinion is firmer and I noticed this in the propulsive phase. I was getting a good rebound and return but not as much as in some other trail shoes.

The upper really holds the foot well with reinforced layers in the lacing area providing good hold and security around the instep. Two loops are on the gusseted tongue which the laces pass through, this is a new one on me and they are there to help keep the tongue in place – they work! Scott have used a ‘lace-locker’ in the past, it’s a simple piece of elastic that sits lower on the laces and it allows one to tuck the excess away after being tied. They removed it on the Supertrac RC and it isn’t on the Kinabalu – I really don’t know why? It is such a simple and effective system and adds no weight. I would like to see it back! 

The heel area is very comfy, padded and held everything nice and tight. Even when climbing I had little to no movement at the rear.

The toe box is not narrow and not wide, so, in principal it should suit many runners. The reinforcement is just an overlay, it will add protection, but it is not a solid bumper that can be found on other trail shoes.

After 109 miles in the Kinabalu, the shoe is most definitely softening up and starting to hold to my foot and provide a softer more pleasurable run. This is primarily noticeable in the upper – with a little rain, mud and use it has softened up. The cushioning has certainly bedded in too allowing more feel for the ground.

The 8mm drop for me is perfect as it sits in that ideal middle ground of not too high and not too low. The Kinabalu is a great stand-alone trail shoe for any run but I also think that RC users will enjoy the additional cushioning and more relaxed drop for training and/ or longer races. The 2 shoes sit well together. So, if you like the RC, you will like the Kinabalu.

In Conclusion

The Scott Kinabalu is a rock-solid trail running shoe that will appeal to many runners. The combination of cushioning, 8mm drop and good grip makes it an ideal shoe for any trail runner – the only exception coming if one plans to run in a great deal of mud or soft ground.

The upper is pretty much bullet proof and this brings with it some pluses and minuses. The plus is that the upper will last and last. I don’t envisage the upper wearing out or tearing, of course, it is too early to tell so I will feedback on this. But that stiff upper needs loosening up and softening to get the best of the shoe, so, wear the shoes casually and expect your first few runs to feel a little stiff. 

Similarly, the cushioning is a little like the upper. It’s a little stiff to start but over time beds in nicely.

If you don’t like spending money on run shoes, or, if you like your shoes to last once purchased, the Kinabalu may well be a great shoe for you – I can see these going for many months and many miles.

SCOTT RUNNING website HERE

Tips for the TRAIL – Shoe Choice

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Following on from Marc Laithwaites’ series of articles (HERE) that covered many aspects of our sport (butter in coffee? Posture? Hydration?) we now have series of articles on ‘Tips for the TRAIL’ –  from Marc and Ian.

TRAIL Tips 1: Choose the Shoes

We get a lot of questions about footwear for trail running. There is no single pair of shoes which will be suitable for every race. Fact! You may have to compromise grip for cushioning, or cushioning for grip and your shoe selection will be based various factors such as the following:

  1. The kind of terrain you are running or racing on.
  2. The distance you are racing and the time on feet.
  3. Your running style.
  4. Risks to injury
  5. What drop?
  6. Minimal or maximal?

Here’s our simple guide to selecting shoes:

1. Shoes can generally be split into ‘TRAIL’ or ‘FELL/MOUNTAIN’. Trail shoes tend to have more cushioning and are designed for hard packed trails such as canal towpath and forest track. Fell/Mountain shoes tend to have less cushioning but a more aggressive grip and are more suited to muddy tracks or running ‘off the paths’ on rough terrain. Wearing Fell/Mountain shoes could potentially cause problems on hard packed tracks due to the repeated impact and Trail shoes for example could potentially have insufficient grip and stability for severe ‘off track’ running.

2. Stability (how likely are you to twist your ankle) is better in Fell/Mountain shoes as they are lower to the ground (less cushioning), thereby improving balance, control and feel. However, Trail shoes don’t always need the same level of stability and control as a fell shoe  as hard pack tracks and trails provide a more even and predictable surface than rocky, ‘off track’ routes.

3. Minimalist or ‘barefoot’ shoes have been popular in recent years, due largely to the book ‘Born to Run’. There is a current shift by shoe manufacturers away from the minimalist trend, towards over-cushioning. Minimalist shoes were popular as a means of encouraging runners to land on their forefoot, rather than their heel. But think carefully before going to an ‘over’ cushioned shoe or a minimalist shoe! This article may add perspective HERE.

4. You don’t need to buy ‘minimalist’ shoes to encourage forefoot running. Forefoot running may well be natural for you but a shoes ‘drop’ will encourage and promote a running style. The drop is the difference between the thickness of the heel and the thickness of the forefoot. For example, if the heel cushioning is 12mm thick and the forefoot 8mm  thick, the drop is 4mm. The lower the drop and the more likely you are to run on the forefoot. The higher the drop, the more likely you are to heel strike. It’s not the amount of cushioning (minimal or maximal) which dictates forefoot or heel strike, it’s the difference between heel and forefoot. But be careful, don’t fall in to the trap of thinking low drop is best just because you see so many elite runners using this type of shoe. If in doubt, go for a 8mm drop shoe which sits nicely in the middle ground.

5. The current trend for over-cushioned shoes can include the ‘rocker system’. This encourages heel striking and a smooth roll onto the forefoot, rather than a harsh braking normally associated with heel striking.

6. Road shoes (and some trail/ mountain shoes) tend to fall into 2 distinct categories: Neutral V Support. People who pronate (roll in) excessively wear support and those who don’t wear neutral. Trail and Fell shoes tend not to come in both options, almost all are neutral and there are very few support options (but some do exist, the Salomon Seedcross a good example). If you are running over uneven terrain, your ankle position is rarely neutral, it’s only when you are repeatedly running on hard/flat surfaces (road or treadmill) that you can control your foot by choosing support or neutral shoes.

So when you head off to the store to purchase a pair of run shoes for off road, ask yourself some key questions.

  1. What terrain will I be running on?
  2. Do I require good cushioning or less cushioning?
  3. What drop do I want (zero, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 are standard) ?
  4. Do I require a ‘precision’ fit in the toe box which provides more control or do I require a roomy toe box?
  5. How far am I going to be running in these shoes?
  6. Do I require any stability and support?

Remember, no one shoe will do all things well. That is why so many different shoes exist on the market. However, we don’t all have an unlimited budget. So in many scenarios, we often look for a one shoe fix. Some shoes are out there that do fit that ‘one shoe does all scenario,’ you just have to remember that usually when the trail gets very wet, very muddy or very technical, this is when the biggest compromise is made.

You only need to look at the recent ‘City Trail’ shoes or ‘Door to Trail’ shoes that are available and it doesn’t take long to realise that manufacturers also want to help you with that magic one shoe does all.

This website has many shoe reviews and here is a few of our most recent favourites:

  1. Salomon S-Lab 4 SG HERE
  2. Salomon S-Lab 4 HERE
  3. Salomon Sense Mantra 3 HERE
  4. The North Face HERE
  5. Scott Supertrac HERE
  6. Scott Trail Rocket HERE
  7. Montrail HERE
  8. inov-8 212 HERE
  9. inov-8 Terraclaw HERE
  10. inov-8 Baregrip 200 HERE

Minimal, Maximal or the curious question of Drop

Back in the day, I would go to a run store, ask for a neutral shoe and then try several models. I would pick the shoes that felt good and if they all felt good, I would pick by criteria such as brand and/ or colour. Job done. I would then go and run. Initially I played safe (looking back) picking shoes with a little more cushioning. However, as I got fitter and faster, my shoes got lighter. Seemed to make sense. At no point did I know what ‘drop’ the shoes had. I didn’t even know what drop was and in all honesty, I probably only considered drop in 2009/ 2010.

Ian on Bike

Coming from a cycling background, running was not something that came natural but I improved through triathlon. Eventually ultra running attracted me; I was looking for something new. I wanted something that intimidated me… running long always intimidates me!

I had big legs; plenty of muscles from cycling and triathlon, so, the longer I ran, the more muscle problems I had. Just part of the challenge I thought. Then I saw Hoka One One whilst running races in France and I thought, maybe all that cushioning will help?

Hoka Mafate Waterproof

I started using Hoka One One way back in 2010. I was using the original Mafate when pretty much nobody in the UK even realised what these shoes existed. I had all the comments, clown shoes, platform shoes, ridiculous and so on.

Of course, most people were correct. They did look somewhat ridiculous but considering I had been introduced to the shoes on ‘local’ terrain (France) I found the acceptance across the Channel more acceptable. Particularly in mountain races when running down long and/ or technical descents was the norm.

The plush ride from maximal shoes was something quite unique. Like running on marshmallow I would say. I loved the feeling and I started using the Bondi B for road runs in addition to the Mafate for trail. Cut a long story short, I sold Hoka One One in the UK and really pushed them. Yes. I loved them that much.

I listened to warnings from minimalist runners and other brands and then one by one, I would see runners switch and then other shoe brands ‘add’ more cushioning to shoes. Hoka One One were ahead of the times…

Ironically, as ‘maximal’ took hold, I defected.

Yes, in 2012 I walked away from maximal and never looked back. For me, it all started with niggling knee injuries. At first it was nothing I could pinpoint. At the time I was racking up the miles and running twice daily. I put it down to ‘just’ run pain. You know, the pain we all get and ignore… I won a race in Turkey (60km) but struggled in the closing stages with severe knee pain and later, when I toed the line at Lakeland 50 (looking for top-10) the knees gave in and from that moment, I stopped racing.

Of course I made a few errors. I didn’t address the issues early enough and I stuck my head in the sand and thought the problems would go away: no!

Stopping running for a while was the only way and in time I addressed many issues and points. My knee issues were caused by running in maximal shoes; the added cushioning, the ‘roll’ and the softness all combined with 100’s of miles in training equalled failure!

Turns out maximal shoes were not for me, or my knees.

Of course, this is a little controversial.

Maximal shoes are a new technology and therefore I don’t think we currently have full feedback on the pros and cons of this type of shoe. I guess I had a 2/3-year head start. The initial benefits touted to consumers were:

  • More comfort
  • Less impact
  • Plush ride
  • Run downhill quicker
  • And so on…

The opposition said:

  • Lack of feel with the ground
  • Too much roll
  • Too cushioned
  • And so on…

In time, I had to agree. For me, I was in the latter camp. Having said that, had I not had issues, maybe I would still be running in maximal shoes, who knows?

In the past 2-years I have in many ways learnt to run again. Getting a feel for the ground beneath me, trying to run with better technique and I have run considerably less. I am not a minimalist runner… I didn’t go down the Vibram route. But what I did do was use less cushioning. I actually just went back to shoes similar that I used in my running/ triathlon days… I used to call them ‘flats.’

Many people don’t realise, but Hoka One One and other similar brands use ‘low-drop.’ Altra for example use zero drop. So, I was already adapted to low drop running. I wouldn’t say my technique was perfect, but I have always been a mid to forefoot striker so basically I just needed to feel the ground again.

In my opinion, maximal shoes caused 3-key issues FOR ME. And I stress here, for me.

1: The added cushioning didn’t allow me to feel the ground. I therefore was ‘hitting’ the ground harder with every foot strike. Of course the cushioning masked this. So, to get feeling, I hit the ground harder, the cushioning compressed and then recoiled. Think about it, my muscles and my knees were working harder but in a different way. All those foot strikes, all the accumulated minutes, hours and miles.

2: The height and cushioning of the shoes caused me to roll. On flat surfaces the cushioning would compress and I would roll inward. The more cushioning, the more I could roll. Again, times this by all the foot strikes… not an issue for isolated runs but when you run day after day and twice a day, that builds up! On technical terrain, the cushioning offered more protection for sure, but again I was rolling and twisting far more than in a less cushioned shoe. My knees were being taken out of align all the time.

I like to equate the roll to the comparison of an F1 car and a bus. Take an F1 car around a corner at speed and it won’t sway or deviate. Take a bus around a corner and it will lean and possibly tip over. This is how I look at run shoes… or more importantly less cushioning in comparison to more cushioning.

3: I also feel that the cushioning made me a lazy runner. I was carefree because the cushioning masked so much. I also became weaker in my legs… I let the shoes do the work.

I think I could only really appreciate the above once I stopped using ‘maximal’ shoes and returned back to basics. I have spent the last 2-years running in shoes with normal or less cushioning and I have tested shoes with various drop; typically 4mm to 8mm.

Now many of you may question many aspects of what I mention above. That’s good! This article is not meant to give you hard facts. I want you to question and assess your running, your form, your contact with the ground and your running well being.

I am not promoting barefoot, minimalist, low drop or maximal. I am giving you scenarios and experiences that I have accumulated over time.

I could say, ‘do this!’

But ultimately, that is when issues arise. Doing ‘this’ is perfect for one athlete but not another. Sometimes you have to get it wrong to find out if you are doing it right.

Maximal is a current trend. Ironically, I went maximal just when most people went minimal… ‘Born to Run’ has lots to answer for! As Vibram clad warriors ran around me, I bounced along like Tigger.

Was I correct? NO!

Was minimalists correct? NO!

To some extent, we had both followed fads. For many, going minimalist and ‘learning to run again’ over a constructive and gradual period was and may very well be, the best thing they have ever done. But for every converted sole, we have a runner (or maybe multiple runners) who are broken at the side of the trail with stress fractures, damaged calf muscles or achilles problems.

But, going maximal (for me) was no better. I didn’t ease into maximal, I went in head over heels committed myself and the cushioning allowed me to get away with it… for a while!

If I learnt one lesson, GRADUAL is a key word. Be that maximal, minimal low drop or whatever…

Fads will come and go.

This conversation will continue in years to come and without doubt, we will be looking at a new aspect of run technique. It’s the nature of things.

But, running and the ability to run is god given. We are designed to run. So in future, when you have children, maybe nurture your child from the feet up. Start from the ground and let evolution do its work.

In retrospect, Chris McDougall was right, we are ‘Born to Run’ the problem is, we have actually devolved as runners.

Fashion and fads will come and go.

Take your time and if it aint broke… don’t break it! Otherwise it may well take you 2-years to get back on the right trail.

Like me!

The North Face Single Track Hayasa

TNF Single Track Hayasa

Fresh out of the box, The North FaceSingle Track Hayasa‘. I am a real fan of TNF products, the ‘Flight Series‘ in particular offers a great range of products that transfer to so many disciplines. Light, functional, well fitting, breathable and ultimately great quality. It’s nice to remove them from the packaging, put them on knowing that they will do the job.

In regard to run shoes, The North Face I guess are still ‘newbies’ and in the past they have received mixed reviews about the footwear they have created. I have to say I had the original ‘Single Track’, you know, the really great looking shoe… black, red & white. Not only did it look good but it felt good.

The ‘Single Track Hayasa‘ is a shoe designed for speed. Greatly influenced by TNF athlete  Tsuyoshi Kaburaki from Japan, Hayasa actually means ‘Speed’ in Japenese.

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

It is a shoe ready for racing and as such sits low to the ground with a 10mm heel to toe drop (8mm toe /18mm heel). Weighing in at just over 8 oz for such a lightweight shoe protection has not been compromised.

At the front of the shoe we have a puncture resistant toe cap and on the tip of the shoe, you do have additional rigidity. This will add some protection from kicking rocks etc. But in real terms and in comparison to other brands the toe bumper is relatively small. When we move to the rest of the upper, we can see that there is basically a lot of mesh. The shoe will drain really well and breathability will be excellent as you might expect.

TNF Single Track

Seams are extremely low in the upper and the TNF have used welded seams. The lace loops attach to an internal cage (see the silver/white). This fabric is on both sides of the shoe. When you lace up, it pulls on the fabric in and it wraps around your foot to create support.

The shoe when on with laces adjusted feels very snug and the tongue is gusseted and attached to the upper. It is very padded and in conjunction with a plush heel box the shoe is a pleasure to wear.

The toe box is wide and has plenty of room. Maybe too much room for some so it would be wise to check on sizing to ensure that you get the correct feel. I personally went a half size larger but I do wonder if I may well have been better going ‘true to size’.

TNF Hayasa

Starting just behind the toes and going to the back of the shoe is the ‘Snake Plate‘ (green). The snake plate is an alternative method to the standard ‘rock plate’ that you find in many trail shoes. Instead of one large plate, as the name suggests this one snakes in and out. The idea being increased flexibility. Ultimately, protection and flexibility combined that also means a saving in overall weight. The rear of the shoe has a ‘cradle‘. The cradle is created, like a bucket I guess for your foot to sit in. It provides stability and security. I have to say this is one key feature I initially like. Just walking around you immediately notice a firm hold.

Without doubt a neutral shoe with a 10mm drop. You have 8mm of foam at the front and 18mm at the rear of the shoe. In this ‘low drop’ and ‘minimalist’ environment 10mm may very well be snubbed by many but this shoe sits low to the ground and as such provides a very natural feel with protection and cushioning.

My initial concerns with this shoe are with the outsole. It has low profile lug which is ideal for road, hard pack trail and/ or rocky trail but in any mud they will be pretty much useless.  The front of the shoe has directional grip so when going uphill you have traction as and when required. In the heel the lugs are reverse facing which will add grip when going downhill (if required). The middle of the sole is void of grip.

Testing?

Well, that is to come.

I have been provided with these shoes to test in a Jungle environment so please keep an eye on my blog for an update in February. Until then I will be running on some road, hard trail and even some mud to see how the Hayasa perform before heading deep into a rainforest…

SPECS

Upper:

  • Lightweight, minimal upper construction
  • TPUwelded support overlays
  • Lightly protective toe cap
  • Perforated EVA Northotic™ footbed

Bottom:

  • TPU and EVA CRADLE™ heel-cushioning and stability technology
  • 18 mm/8 mm heel/forefoot heights
  • Dual-density, compression-molded EVA midsol
  • Blown rubber forefoot
  • High-abrasion rubber heel
  • TPU Snake Plate™ forefoot protection

Shoe Technologies:

NorthFit: The mission of NorthFit™ is to scientifically provide the outdoor athlete with the most precise fit between the human foot and a footwear last, as they both relate to the demands of the specific activity for which the shoe is worn

Snake Plate: The Snake Plate™ consists of a plate that winds back and forth in the forefoot, allowing the foot to flex in a natural manner while delivering protection and rigidity.

Northotic: Biomechanically engineered Northotic™: The North Face® has taken the conventional footbed and elevated it to a superior level with enhanced stability, support and cushioning.

Cradle: The North Face® CRADLE™ technology is engineered to naturally absorb impact, stabilise the foot and promote an anatomically correct stride by supporting the perimeter of the heel and ensuring the fatty tissues under the bursa are biomechanically positioned. CRADLE™ achieves the perfect balance of protection, control and comfort to inspire confidence for any foot on any terrain.

Tenacious Grip: Tenacious™ Grip is a high-abrasion, sticky rubber designed for maximum off-trail traction that will also withstand the rigors of rough off-trail surfaces.

X-Dome: X-Dome™ functions as a heel-cushioning and propulsion mechanism that propels the foot from heel-strike into the subsequent stride stages.