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)