By Dan Stinton
I’d enjoyed running so much in the Scarpa Neutron 2s that I’d genuinely forgotten I was meant to be reviewing them!
Having been romping over the Peak District all summer, it’s now starting to get a little cooler and wetter and may be time to be dig out something with deeper lugs, but for trails and rocky paths these have been my go-to shoe for many months.
But I’m spoiling the surprise, it can’t be all good can it?
Looks-wise I was pretty impressed with the design of the Neutron 2s, another pair where it almost seems a shame to go out and get them muddy.
The upper is a tough microfibre in black with a “scratched-look” orange along with Scarpa branding along the sides, broken up with areas of breathable mesh. The midsole continues the orange theme and runs around the shoe leading to a fairly tough toe cap.
There’s also a blue/yellow version available, but I personally think the black/orange looks far better.
Scarpa make the claim that they’re “suitable for sky running and trail competition” and “perfect for fast paced running”. I glanced around my house for a fast-paced sky runner, but could only find me so got myself out in the hills instead.
- 6 mm drop
- Soft collar around the ankle and padded tongue
- Vibram “megagrip” sole
- Hidden lace pocket
- Available around £100
Pros: What’s good about the Scarpa Neutron 2
One of the first things I noticed running in the Scarpa Neutron 2s was the comfortable padding around the ankle/along the tongue and the wider forefoot which really suits my foot shape. These gave a really easy first run without any worries of having to “break them in”.
There’s a handy “lace pocket” at the top of the tongue, but to be honest I barely used this as the laces seemed to stay firmly in place anyway – but for those muddy days features like this help keep the laces clean and easier to undo.
There were two pairs of inserts in the box which are stiffer along the rear half/heel and much more flexible towards the front, assisting with a smooth easy movement when running.
The rubber outsole is a Vibram “megagrip” with well-spaced, but relatively shallow, lugs around the heel and front-foot. The sole certainly works giving a sturdy, robust feeling with a solid grip along most trails without feeling heavy or clumpy.
I felt in control and able to comfortably go fast in the Neutron 2s, and would choose them to for many races in the right conditions.
This may be a negative for those runners with narrow feet but if your feet are wide (like mine) then you’ll really appreciate the wider forefoot compared to the original Neutron, so should be suitable for longer running. Sizing seems just right with a 9.5 (my usual sized running shoe) working fine for me.
Cons: What’s not so good about the Scarpa Neutron 2
When you have a big bundle of running shoes but you keep picking up the Scarpas then you know something is right. Without trying to be overly dramatic, these are one of my favourite pairs of trail shoes I’ve tried. But what about negatives?
After much pondering, I bailed out on using these for an ultra – I wanted to, but for a variety of reasons decided to stick to a shoe I knew worked for me on very long distances. I’d found that on some of the longer training runs leading up to my race, the ball of my foot by the big toe started becoming a little sore.
Whilst suitable for a variety of terrain, they’d struggle in proper mud, with relatively small lugs that just wouldn’t give the grip needed in slippy conditions. I recently noticed that one of the lugs had ripped off – no idea when or where, but it’s not there now.
If you haven’t already guessed, I really like the Scarpa Neutron 2. I’ve run many miles on hard trails, roads, rocks, grassy hills and pub carpets, so they’re versatile for a variety of terrain. They were comfortable from the off and look great even after a fair bashing on various terrains.
All manufacturers fire a load of technical jargon and scientific claims which are sometimes hard to wade through, but I found the Neutron 2s a great looking shoe, with a reasonably simplistic design which, paired with a Vibram sole, performed great out on the trail.
Other trail shoes you may want to consider:
La Sportiva Akasha
Salomon Sense Ultra
About the writer: Dan is a Peak District based runner collecting mud and scrapes in and around Glossop, he likes nothing more than escaping into the Dark Peak and then writing about how difficult it was at All Hail the Trail.
All images Dan Stinton except when stated.
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