The impressive grip together with the foot rocker makes the Scarpa Golden Gate ATR a great trail shoe for bouncing across rocks and tree roots with speed and control. But the hard midsole makes road running slightly uncomfortable and the integrated collar and foot wrapping fit may not suit all foot shapes.
Breathable and lightweight
Snug fit may cause rubbing
Unreliable in muddy conditions
Feels hard on the road
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Best known for climbing shoes, Scarpa is now edging into the world of trail running with models including the Golden Gate ATR. Marketed as a road-to-trail transitional shoe for athletes of any weight and experience level, the footwear is vying for a spot in best trail running shoes.
Unfortunately, it falls short of its claim to be "perfect for running medium to long distance on mixed terrain including paved surfaces". Although the Golden Gate ATR performs well as a grippy summer trail shoe, it is less effective on roads due to its hard midsole.
So while I really wanted to love this trail shoe and it has some great unique functions and looks smart, ultimately it lacks comfort. I don't love it but I do like it.
Price and features
Sitting in the middle-to-high end of the market, the Golden Gate ATR retails at $149.99 (£130) which is a fairly standard price for a technical pair of trail shoes. Like the Hoka Speedgoat it includes a foot rocker which propels you forward but its USP is the additional wraparound Sock-Fit LW which hugs the foot snugly.
Design and technology
Available in two colours, Oasis Deep Green and Arube Blue Black, this trail shoe looks ready for action with its funky webbed design based on the architecture of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
On the base there is Scarpa's Presa rubber sole with widely-spaced 4mm lugs and longer lugs around the heel and outer edge. The centre of the sole is devoid of grip and this may explain why the shoe felt slippy on some surfaces.
The i-Respond propulsion system means there is a higher stack on the midsole particularly at the heel. This is counteracted by the integrated collar and tongue which holds the ankle in place making this a stable shoe despite the springy foot rocker.
Inside the shoe there is a Sock-Fit LW which in theory is adaptable to different foot shapes and gives it an elastic feel.
The upper is a relatively lightweight and breathable material which dried quickly when tested in the rain and through wet grassy fields.
Fit, feel and comfort
These shoes run small and a full size up is recommended. The Sock-Fit LW hugs around the foot giving a slightly suffocating fit which takes a while to get used to. During my first few trail runs across fields and towpaths, it felt like my foot was wrapped in an elastic band which was a little distracting.
Then there was the issue with the integrated collar and tongue. This is a convenient feature because there is no fiddling around trying to get the tongue in the correct position. On the downside, every time I wore ankle socks the collar rubbed my heel raw within 5k. This was resolved when I wore higher socks but I was still nervous running more than 20k. But on the plus side it was great at keeping debris out.
There is no doubting that the rocker plate is a brilliant asset off road and allows you to bounce across rough terrain. When running on uneven ground you are also less likely to notice the rocker. But on the road I really noticed that the middle of the foot felt higher than the back and front. This, together with a firm midsole, meant running on the road was always uncomfortable even during short distances.
In terms of grip, the shoes performed best on one of my canicross runs through the woods. My dog was pulling me at a rapid pace downhill while I was navigating stones across the river, tree roots and Sunday walkers yet I always felt secure underfoot. The 4mm drop meant I had a responsive run and the lugs clung well to hard surfaces.
Less successful was running in mud where the shoes had a tendency to slide and within a few strides I found the soles were caked with cloggy soil which was impossible to shake off.
Users remarked on the stability of the shoe despite the big stack height and the "highly breathable, low moisture absorbing upper".
But one runner noted the narrow toe box width, hard midsole which was "not the softest ride" and excessive weight.
Some also questioned whether it was an effective transitional shoe with one trail runner commenting, "as an all terrain shoe with marketing towards 'door to trail' the outsole clearly leans the shoe more towards trail than road. I think it could be softened down, especially the medial rubber."
This is a steady pair of trail shoes for summer runs across rocky or dry terrain which will give plenty of bounce off road. But they are less successful as a transitional road to trail shoe particularly with a 4mm drop and a hard midsole.
Merrell MTL Long Sky 2
It may not be a hybrid road-trail shoe but the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 is actually pretty comfortable on and off road. It is also a great shoe for runners with wider feet due to the spacious toe box. It is reliable, light and fairly versatile.
These On Cloudultra shoes are perfect for those running on a mix of rough and smooth terrain; they work equally well as a trail running shoe and a road running sneaker. There's a solid grip for uneven terrain and a good amount of cushioning for long distances. They earned the top spot in our round-up of the best trail running shoes.
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Lily Canter is a freelance money, health and lifestyle journalist with more than 20 years' experience. She writes about fitness for Runner's World and Trail Running magazines and focuses on personal finance for Yahoo! Finance UK, Metro, The Guardian, and the Mail on Sunday. In her spare time she is an ultra-runner, canicrosser and running coach. She also co-hosts the award-winning podcast Freelancing for Journalists.
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