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Man wearing Scarp trainers

Review: Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX Trail Running Shoes

Super comfy, waterproof trail running shoes with soles so grippy that even reluctant runners will love hitting the trail in them

When versatility is as crucial as performance and comfort, you’ll struggle to find a better option than the Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX trail running shoes. They’re fully waterproof with oodles of cushioning through the heel and a relatively stiff midsole for underfoot support making them ideal for lightweight hiking as well as off-road running. Plus, the mega grippy sole will see you screaming up (and down) tough terrain with confidence and sure-footedness, no matter the conditions. Have these shoes just converted a reluctant runner to the joys of technical trail running?

Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX: The stats

Best for:
Heel to toe drop:6mm
Weight:680g per pair (men’s UK 10)
Waterproof:Yes, Gore-Tex

Features of the Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX

Sole

Sole of shoeThe Vibram Genetic II outsole features a varied lug pattern to provide excellent traction on mixed terrain. Plus, the Megagrip rubber will keep you on your feet when the conditions are wet and slippery. For extra protection underfoot and stability through the arches, the shoes have a relatively stiff midsole . This, combined with greater flexibility through the front of the shoes makes them highly suited to lightweight hiking as well as running.

Uppers

Shoe uppersThe technical uppers comprise a tightly woven mesh fabric that is water-resistant and lined with a Gore-Tex membrane for breathable waterproofness. This is then reinforced with a PU film that is heat-sealed over the top of the mesh for extra protection and durability.

Toe box

Toe bumper of trainersThe forefront of the shoe is not especially wide but provides enough room for toes to splay and grip. Even for those with a little extra width in this area should find that there is ample space. There is also a very sturdy TPU toe cap across the front of the shoes, unusual for trail runners and another feature that makes them well suited to hiking as well as running on rough and rocky trails.

Laces

Shoe lacesThe Neutrons feature ghillie-style laces which means that they lace through loops attached to the shoe rather than looping through holes in the body of the shoe. This helps to minimise pressure on the top of the foot when tied tightly. The laces are flat, which means that they actually stay done up! And there is also a very handy hidden pocket on the top of the tongue to tuck the lace ends into.

Heel

Heel of shoeWith a ton of cushioning through the heel, and a medium heel to toe drop of 6mm, the Neutrons provide excellent support and shock absorbency on rough terrain. They are a good option for those struggling with Achilles or calf issues.


Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX trail running shoes review

As someone who has done most of their running in soccer cleats, the thought of simply going for a run seems a little mundane. Sure, you might get a bit of exercise and feel the wind rushing through your hair (those days are behind me), but playing sport does all that and more. You get to engage your brain and pit your wits against the opposition, and you end up running countless miles without even realising.

I get that for some people running is mediative, a chance to switch off the brain and just put one foot in front of the other, but I’m not wired like that. So why would you want to read a shoe review from someone averse to running? Well, it turns out the Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX Trail Running Shoes helped me to discover my running mojo.

The Neutron’s sleek black and yellow design certainly suggests that these are indeed serious running shoes, but what first caught my eye was the small pocket at the top of the tongue in which to stow your shoelace knot. As someone who consistently has to retie their laces (turns out I’ve been doing it wrong my entire life), this could be the innovation I’d been waiting for. I had to try it out.

Man wearing Scarp trainers

Embracing the trail

My indifference to running is potentially my own fault because these are the first pair of trail running shoes I’ve ever worn. Previously, whenever I’ve been begrudgingly dragged out for a ‘quick jaunt’ by my run loving partner, I’ve just worn some kind of trainer. And I’ve never had any issues really, my feet have been comfortable and I mostly stayed upright. But running in the Neutrons for the first time I immediately sensed what I’d been missing. The soft, grippy soles with their well spaced lugs made me feel much more stable and allowed me to maintain speed on downhill sections. And I could also feel the terrain better, allowing me to make micro adjustments as my proprioceptors fired off in new and exciting ways. I sensed that running would never be dull again.

A late Spring trip to Snowdonia provided a chance to really put the Neutrons through their paces. In fact, they ended up being the only shoes I took so they had to serve triple duty as running, hiking and pottering around town shoes. I’m happy to report they were more than up to the task.

Running in a puddle

For our first run we decided to try the easy going 5km Precipice Walk, just north of Dolgellau. What started as a leisurely lakeside jog soon turned into fairly narrow track with random rocks and uneven footing to deal with. I’m sure had I not been wearing the Scarpas I would have hated every moment of this. But their sure grip and excellent cushioning were making me very fleet of foot and my brain could barely keep up with what my legs were doing. I was actually having fun running.

So maybe that was the secret to me enjoying running. Go fast and don’t give my brain chance to switch off. What next then? Run up and down a mountain? Sure.

Mountain running

Cader Idris sits towards the southern end of Snowdonia National Park, in Wales. It’s a picturesque peak that I’ve hiked several times before in a variety of conditions. Armed with my Scarpa Neutrons, plus my new found appreciation of running, and buoyed by the fact that hundreds of people race up this mountain every year I embarked on the biggest ascent of my burgeoning running career.

Running up a mountain

The Neutrons handled the varied terrain brilliantly, from the spongy grass and stone steps of the lower Pony Path, to the uneven rocky scree and large formations of the upper boulder fields. The conditions were good, and the sun, combined with the constant climbing, soon had me sweating. My feet were feeling good though. Despite the Neutron’s soft and comfortable inner padding and waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, my feet were still able to breathe and never felt like they were overheating.

I’m one of those strange folk that prefers uphill to downhill and I like to power up inclines on my toes. The Scarpas didn’t let me down here, feeling flexible through the toes and gripping well, even on steep grass sections.

About halfway up the track levels out and the path becomes less defined, meandering forever upwards over grassy moorland and sections of loose rock, until it reaches the final boulder field around the summit.

The shoes coped well here too, dealing with sideways twisting and sliding as I picked my way through the scree. My footing felt firm and stable, even when the ground wasn’t, with just the right amount of ankle support to still feel quick and nimble.

A quick clamber onto the summit to catch my breath and then it was back the way I’d come, for what goes up must come down, and this was the bit I wasn’t looking forward to.

Scarpa trail shoes

I’ve never been very quick downhill, due to having long legs and a reluctance to break my neck. But the Neutrons grip and agileness were building my confidence and allowing me to descend quicker than I’d have thought possible. My brain was working overtime to find suitable landing ground for every step and the 20 mins or so descent flew by.

The excellent heel cushioning came into play here as I strode out and let gravity guide me down. There is plenty of room in the toe box and the shoe is so flexible that my feet never felt squished, even when having to apply the emergency brakes. I also noticed no hot-spots on the balls of my feet or heels, that I am prone to get when hiking long descents.

All in all the downhill was an exhilarating experience and I can now see why trail running appeals to so many people. As I jogged gently back to the carpark I don’t know what amazed me more: the fact that I had just run up and down a mountain, or that my laces had stayed tied the entire way!

Man running on coastal path

Verdict

They’re super grippy, highly supportive and they actually make me enjoy trail running! The Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX’s also double as decently protective hiking shoes in wet summer conditions, and are comfortable everyday shoes, too.

Find the latest price at:
Amazon | Backcountry

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-rob

Rob is a graphic designer and web developer, based in Cornwall, UK, and is in charge of making Cool of the Wild look fabulous! He loves camping, especially the beer drinking, fire building, and cooking parts, and is deceptively fast at running up hills. When he’s not surfing or throwing a frisbee on the beach, he’ll be drinking tea whilst playing board games.

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