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Review: Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes

A stylish, grippy, robust, and waterproof all-terrain shoe, that isn’t just for running

After years of looking on with envy at friends coming off the hills from wet-weather runs, with dry(ish) feet, I was eager and excited to try the fully Gore-Tex Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes. I’ve spent my whole running life in non-Gore-Tex shoes resulting in very soggy running shoes and feet. I don’t run in extreme conditions regularly enough to warrant a shoe that would flush water through, but have been after a waterproof, all-terrain, grippy, comfortable and lightweight off-road shoe for a long time. The Proton XT’s also sounded like they could become an item I’ve been searching for forever: an ‘everything’ shoe to take away in the campervan at weekends. One shoe to cover all bases: walking, running, around town, on the beach, and on the bike.

Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes: The stats

Best for:Trail running in wet/winter conditions, lightweight hiking, everyday wear
Heel drop:8mm
Weight:600g per pair 38
Waterproof:Yes, Gore-Tex

Features of the Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes

Outsole

Sole of shoeThe Protons feature a Genetic Max sole. This combines a deep lug pattern with Vibram Megagrip which results in excellent grip and stability on varied and challenging terrain.

Laces

Laces of shoeThe ghillie laces sit on top of the tongue, rather than lacing through the eyelets in the uppers. They are flat and stay well done up. Additionally, there is a storage pocket on the tongue to tuck the lace ends into.

Cushioning

heel of trainersDespite the combination of two low density EVA cushioning pads in the midsole and an ESS insert in the middle (for improved anti-torsion control), these shoes by no means feel plush with cushioning. That said, they provide plenty of protection underfoot on rough terrain, and ample cushioning and comfort.

Uppers

Scarpa Proton XT Trail ShoeThe stand-out feature of these shoes is the Gore-Tex Invisible Fit technology which provides excellent waterproofing. As well as keeping the moisture out, the Gore-Tex membrane is laminated directly to the upper which reduces the number of seams, thus minimising rubbing and increasing comfort.


Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes review

When I first put on the Scarpa Proton XT GTX, it was love at first sight. I loved how they looked: a subtle but stylish colour scheme, slimline, non-clumpy look on my feet. I loved how they felt – snug and comfortable. I loved how they were so grippy – I tripped up twice from catching my toes on the kitchen floor wearing them around the house! I was desperate to get out and use them, and my first run was not a disappointment. We headed out along a very wet and muddy Cornish coastal path for about an hour of constant up and down. The shoes were a dream. With incredible grip that I’ve not experienced before, up or downhill, over mud, rock, pebbles and even scree, these shoes made me feel like I was fully stuck to the earth and going nowhere. I had no teething issues or rubbing of any sort, and came home to my first ever pair of dry running feet – quite a feat considering the conditions outside. I was delighted.

My second run, however, wasn’t quite as successful. It was on the road. The bouncy, muddy coastal path on my initial run had not allowed me to feel and appreciate the level of cushioning and comfort that the shoes did or did not deliver. Running on the road highlighted some minor issues related to fit and comfort.

Scarpa trainers

Comfort and fit

I’m usually a euro 38 size, but the 38’s came up very tight, so I opted for a 39 instead which felt much more comfortable when walking. However, my second run (on road) was downhill at the start, where immediately I could feel my toes pushing against the front of the shoe. I stopped to tighten the already tight laces, but this didn’t make a huge amount of difference. On my third run I wore two pairs of socks, which solved this issue instantly.

The shoes are not as cushioned as I would like, but still provide enough comfort to stop the usual post-run aches and pains I’ve had from other shoes. I’ve also not once felt the discomfort of a sharp object under foot.

The shoes are more suited to a neutral foot position, and don’t offer any added insole arch support. They also come up higher towards the ankle bone than other shoes I’ve worn. This, however, is a benefit when running through puddles and damp ground as it provides an extra layer of water protection for your socks and stops regular splashing into the sides of the shoes.

There is ample space within the shoe across the top of the foot which for me, being flat footed, results in a small amount of slackness at the base of the laces, across the toes. This is especially noticeable because I need to lace the shoes quite tightly to provide enough support around the ankle and to stop my feet sliding forwards downhill. Unusually, I feel like the laces would benefit from being slightly longer, though they have not once come undone. I don’t use the lace pouch for the actual laces, as there is no need due to the lack of lace length, but I do like it for storing my house key in, threaded through the lace before tying.

I have a slightly wider foot than average, and these shoes provide ample toe-spreading room. Plus, I’ve had zero rubbing from the shoes, no heel lift whatsoever, and from day one felt like they had already been worn in for me.

Woman bounding along

Grip and stability

When it comes to grip and stability, I feel completely bomb-proof in the Proton XT’s. My running terrain varies greatly from rocky cliff paths and muddy footpaths, to rutted farm tracks, greasy bridleways, and even sandy, grassy dunes and hills, with some road running in between. I can power uphill on any terrain (even mud), and not feel like I’m going to slip backwards. In fact the traction is so good that wearing these shoes has definitely improved my uphill running technique and speed. Going downhill I feel much more relaxed and confident, and even on the most uneven ground I’ve not once had a slip or slide or even come close to an ankle roll. The slightly higher ankle fit and the higher lacing holes allow me to custom tighten the shoes around my ankle with ease and comfort. Plus, the Vibram soles give me the confidence I feel in my hiking boots, especially on rock, wet or dry. This makes these shoes great for day hiking and low-level hill walking, too.

Feet standing in water

Waterproofness

As this was one of the key features that I was most interested in with the Proton XT GTX’s, I have been nothing but delighted with the shoes ability to keep out water and to keep my feet dry. Often I’m running in and out of shallow streams along the beach, or straight through deeper muddy puddles on the cliff path, and I now do so without a second thought as to whether I should be leaping over or around said water. Instead, I blast straight through it without a moment’s hesitation, and always come out the other side feeling particularly smug about my new dry feet discovery! The shoes fit so tightly enough around the ankle that even if significant water splashes up over the shoe, very little is able to dribble down into the shoes interior. I’ve had zero water coming in through the fabric from the top of the shoe, even on runs when the rain simply has not stopped the whole time.

Versatility

For the right person, these shoes are brilliantly versatile. They look good with jeans for around town, offer brilliant grip on my mountain bike pedals, and are comfy enough to wear for a whole day of city exploring. Personally I would like a little more cushioning for that extra level of comfort and cosiness, but this is by no means a show-stopper. They have definitely become my ‘everything’ shoe for campervan life, and day-to-day beach living too.

What I love the most about the Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes

I love how these shoes look which, admittedly, is very important to me when spending over £100 on a pair of running shoes. My favourite performance features are their grippiness and support and the confidence they give me and their waterproofness. Additionally, I love how robust they are and I feel like these shoes will last more that just one season. They feel very well built, reinforced in all the important areas (particularly across the toes and around the heel) and feel like they are made to last.

What I don’t love so much about the Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes

My only negative of these shoes is that, (now that I’m over 40!) I would appreciate a little extra cushioning, comfort and bounce throughout the soles and under the heel. A small amount of arch support would be nice too, but that is only because I am flat-footed. For a neutral foot, this wouldn’t be an issue. If I were to be very picky, I would rather less room across the top of the foot, so that when tightened, the material didn’t bag slightly.


Verdict

If you are looking for a versatile, waterproof, grippy, comfortable and well-built shoe that also looks great, the Scarpa Proton XT GTX Trail Shoes are definitely for you.

I recommend trying a couple of sizes before you commit to one as the sizing is a little irregular. And if you want ultra cushioned all-terrain runners then you may want to compare them against other options.

For the money, I love the fact that I am getting several shoes in one, all boxes ticked for my campervan weekends. No more packing 4 pairs of shoes for 4 different activities. These shoes are the go-to for anyone who loves being outdoors and enjoys a multitude of sports and activities.

Find the latest price at:
Scarpa | Amazon

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 Janey Whatley

author-janey

An athlete by nature, Janey can't help but throw everything she has at whatever pursuit she takes on, including her whole body, more often than not! Having represented GB at Ultimate on many occasions in the last 20 years, she now spends her 'downtime' trail running, mountain biking, surfing and exploring the Cornish coast where she lives. She's also partial to a spot of tennis, is a highly competitive spikeball player and is a rather talented musician.

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