Friday, November 26, 2021

Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC 2.0 Multi Tester Review. 9 Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaski, Renee Krusemark, Jeff Valliere, and Alex Tilsley

Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC 2 ($160)


Mike P: The Ultra RC is my first running shoe of any kind from Scott - so I have no idea what to expect.  I’ve seen some of their burlier trail shoes at long, mountainous ultras in the past.  The radial lug pattern was noticeable so I figure that traction must be a selling point. The Kinabalu Ultra RC’s that I’m testing now are explicitly designed for “man-made” trails - I do run ultras on all types of terrain, so let’s see if they can go the distance. 

Alex: After being pleasantly surprised by the Scott Pursuit, I was excited to test the Kinabalu Ultra RC. Billed as Scott’s shoe for ultras and long training miles on man-made trails, I thought they might be perfect for ramping up my trail mileage around our local parks. 


Refined upper, good forefoot volume, secure from midfoot through toebox Mike P/Renee/Alex

Easy toe-flex when running/hiking uphill Mike P/Renee/Jeff

Decent lateral flexibility for such a stiff shoe Mike P

Very secure foothold:  Jeff V

Light and responsive feel:  Jeff V

Excellent traction given size of lugs:  Jeff V


Firm midsole can feel a bit harsh Mike P/Renee/Alex

Heel/Achilles collar seems overbuilt, mismatched to rest of the upper Mike P

Somewhat stiff - comes with the rockered territory Mike P/Alex

Outsole peeling off at only 21 miles Mike P

The rocker can get in the way if you get thrown off of  straight-line motion Alex

I found forefoot width to be a bit narrow, even for my narrow foot.  Not a problem for me, but those with wider feet take note:  Jeff V


Approx. Weight: men's 9.7 oz/ 275g (US9)  ::  women's 8.71 oz  / 247g  (US8)

  Samples: men’s  9.45 oz / 268g US8.5, 10.4 oz / 294g (US10.0)  

women’s  L: 8.89 oz / 252g R: 8.54 oz / 242g (US8)

Stack Height: 29mm heel / 21mm forefoot


First Impressions and Fit

Mike P The Ultra RC has a noticeably firm feel when first putting them on, as well as a feeling of a distinct ramp from the heel to  toe. I’m not used to running in as high of a stack as these. Also, there’s a distinct sensation of falling forward from the toes when taking a step forward. The rocker seems to be right at the front, as opposed to a more rolling rocker from front to back. The upper seems to have quite a bit of volume, becomes snugger in the forefoot, slightly pointed in the front, but is ok for me. Sizing is right for me at 10.0 w/ ¾ thumb width in front.  

There are two slits in the upper tongue which the laces are threaded through.  Immediately I realized that those don’t work for me - they are too wide.  I have a lower volume mid-foot, so sometimes I have to cinch the sides of a shoe close together.  This causes the tongue to bunch up, so I took the laces out of the slits right away.  There seems to be a bit of extra volume/space in the heel.   This could be an effect of the shoe’s stiffness, I’ll need to see how it feels on the run. 

Renee: My first impression was that the RC Ultra have a great fitting upper. “Fit” is definitely a matter of a person’s unique foot shape and size, and the Kinabalu Ultra RC fits me well (read the upper section for details). My second impression was the weight. My right shoe weighed 8.54 ounces in a women’s size 8, which for an ultra capable trail shoe is a decent weight (not light, but not heavy). My left shoe weighs  about 8.9 ounces, which is getting into the weight category of the maximum cushion trail shoes in my size (the NB More Trail v1 weighs 8.9 ounces). I can feel the difference in weight between the shoes if I hold them in hand, and I’m guessing the discrepancy has to do with the rock plate. My left pair feels heavier at the heel. For sizing, I recommend true-to-size. For runners  between half sizes, I suggest the longer of the two sizes. 

Alex: Mike may have found these to be wide, but my first impression was that these looked narrow. The insole is the same width as the Scott Pursuit, which fits me fine, but the upper of the Kinabalu Ultra RC seems more structured, making it feel tighter across the forefoot. Lengthwise the women’s 6.5, my normal size, fits fine. 

Like Mike, I was struck by how firm these shoes felt, but was curious to see how that firmness would translate to the trail. 

Jeff V:  Out of the box, I was impressed by the overall look of the Kinabalu Ultra RC, feeling reasonably light in the hand for the stack, with a somewhat narrow look and a nice tread pattern, for such low profile lugs.  Sliding my feet into the Kinabalu Ultra RC, it is clear that these shoes mean business for fast running.  Fit is race like and precise, for me very locked in the heel, an exceptionally snugly held mid foot with no nonsense lacing and a toe box with no extra room.  For my narrow, low volume foot and affinity for running fast over technical terrain , this is exactly what I had hoped for this shoe.  The narrow forefoot, for me, was an asset, but if my foot were just a hair wider, then I could see it being problematic and even if I were going to run true “Ultra” distances in this shoe, I would pick a shoe with a bit more wiggle room for swelling and splay.  Length is true to size.


Mike P The blocky Achilles collar seems to not match up with the rest of the shoe.  The rest of the upper looks and feels more precise and streamlined - then you get to the back and there’s a chunky thick square of padding.  And, visually, it just doesn’t look right with the rest of the shoe. I feel like this padding could be reduced, as well as streamlined/articulated for a better fit around the heel. Not sure if it was intentionally designed this way due to the rocker design/stiffness of the shoe? Maybe some heel slippage is inevitable with a stiff shoe, so better to at least make the heel padded enough?  Not sure what the thoughts were on this. 

The rest of the upper felt better than expected after the initial try-on. There’s not much excess material once the laces are snugged up, it feels nice and secure at the midfoot. At the same time, there’s a good amount of volume to the material, so it seems to me like higher volume feet would also be accommodated in the same way (and likely be able to make use of the lace slots in the tongue).

I had no issues with tongue on the run (without using lace slots). It is non-gusseted, but thin and wraps over the top of the foot well along with the upper - no bunching or slippage. There’s a small triangle of padding right at the top that matches up perfectly where the lace knot goes - swiss engineering I assume?

Renee: My favorite part of the shoes is the upper. The upper has enough stretch and flex for long runs but remains secure throughout. 

The upper and overall fit will work best for runners with narrower feet. I do not have a high volume or wide foot, I do not like narrow fits in the midfoot or toe box. While the Kinabalu Ultra RC might seem narrow, it has more room in the toe box than the Speedgoat and more room in the midfoot from what  I feel than in the Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, Hoka Challenger ATR, or TNF Flight Vectiv. As  Michael wrote, the heel counter and collar are high. I did not find this uncomfortable, but it might get in the way of nimble landings when running constantly uneven terrain. 

Alex: As alluded to above, the upper is a little too form-fitting for my wider-than-average feet. It has some stretch, but given that this is billed as a long distance shoe, I’d expect a little bit more room. Otherwise, no issues with the tongue or the heel, and the upper is perfectly breathable. 

Jeff V:  The Engineered Ultra Mesh upper is very streamlined, modern and looks like the shoe is ready to race.  Fit backs that up, with a very secure fit from heel to toe, with no extra room in the forefoot, even for my narrow, low volume foot.  Lacing is very secure, with a one and done, no nonsense pull that snugs up the midfoot with no pressure points, just a firm hug.  The laces are flat with a bit of stretch and integrate well with the eyelets.  

The tongue, while not gusseted, is held in place by two holes for the laces that keep it all in place.  The tongue is very thin, with light padding strategically placed, but is protective enough to prevent any lace bite and I find it comfortable.  

The toe bumper is thin, somewhat minimal and streamlined, integrating with the (thin) 360 degree rand and overlays.  While thin, I have not had any issues with protection or bumping rocks, even in very technical terrain.  

The heel collar is a touch on the high side and thickly padded, perhaps overly so, but I find it to be comfortable, secure and protective and have had no issues.  While the mesh is tight, it is well ventilated and cool, despite the black color.


Mike P The midsole feels firm - especially in the forefoot recalling we have a rock plate there. A somewhat higher heel drop into a thin forefoot seems to exacerbate this feeling.  It feels nice and supportive underfoot from the heel through the midfoot, then just feels like it kind of drops off into a harsh forefoot.  I noticed that my legs felt a little beat up the next day after a 10M, 1:30 hilly trail run. I’m not sure if they would feel as harsh for heel-strikers as I am a mid foot striker?

Renee: I totally agree with Micheal here: the midsole is firm. While I do not think the midsole is too hard (i.e. OnCloud CloudUltra is much harder), the midsole is the reason I would not run ultra distances in these shoes. I enjoyed every one of my runs with these shoes, but never felt they were a comfortable choice past 13 miles. I think the plate more so than the midsole itself causes a lack of flex under the midfoot. Like Micheal wrote, I think some forefoot and midfoot strikers may have sore feet after 10 miles. I think I would enjoy the midsole for longer runs if the plate had more flex. My pair had a 5mm insole, but it was not enough to provide cushion to offset the firm feel underfoot.


Alex: Yep, it’s firm. I think the firmness I felt might have been more the rock plate than the midsole, but as a midfoot striker every step felt firm and unforgiving. Perhaps there is some speed or energy return benefit to this, but these shoes are a little too heavy to be a pure speed shoe. 

I also found the midsole to be so inflexible that hitting even small rocks threw me off my stride. I think this might be a combination of the rock plate and the rocker geometry, but if I  hit a small rock at an angle and it was as if the shoe was trying to move my foot forward in a way that was actually counterproductive -- I needed the shoe to absorb the impact and the slight bit of lateral motion. I was feeling every single rock, and getting slowed down because of it. 

Jeff V:  The Kinetic Foam midsole I found to be on the firm side, as Mike, Renee and Alex have noted, but do not find it to be harsh.  That said, I find the sweet spot for this shoe to be shorter runs, perhaps up to 4 or 5 hours, depending on the terrain and pace and the midsole does not necessarily lend itself to Ultra distances as the name would imply.  Despite not being a featherweight shoe, I find the performance of the Kinabalu Ultra RC to be very good.  It is responsive on the ups and rolls well on the flats and downhills.


Mike P Stated as designed for “man-made” trails - which seems appropriate. They had good traction on dry dirt/sand/gravel.  The rubber also seems to be a bit sticky so I think it would also work well in wet terrain (no rain here though).  That rubber is noticeably soft - so I would expect it to be less durable.  There are what looks to be screw-hole locations for ice studs along the outer edge.  I think it would be a good winter running shoe with some microspikes on board. I’ve been using that setup with Salomon Ultra Pros, but the Scott’s seem to have a more secure fit.  The easy toe flex would also work well for hiking in snow/ice.  I have to note that after that 10M hilly trail run I noticed the outsole peeling away a bit from the midsole on the lateral side of one shoe.  

The outsole is a single layer which looks to be glued on top of the midsole, and doesn’t seem to be embedded at any points into the foam. It seems to me like this could be an issue with the shearing forces that come along with more technical running. 

Renee: I ran in dry and wet conditions with the Kinabalu Ultra RC and thought the shoes worked best in soft, but not muddy conditions. On dry, hard surfaces (gravel roads), the firm midsole and plate did not create a comfortable landing past 10 miles. On really muddy terrain during a 20 mile run, I switched shoes at 3 miles because my outsole was caked in mud that did not fly off (and the shoes felt significantly heavier). That said, I ran on soft single track trails covered in wet leaves, and had a great 6 mile run. The traction is decent and the softer terrain provided some give from the firm feel underfoot.

Alex: The outsole is good, not great, but certainly good enough for the man-made trails this shoe is designed for. The grip was great on dry leafy downhills, but slipped once in a while on slick roots. It wouldn’t be my choice for a super technical run, but that’s not really this shoe’s forte. 

Jeff V:  I was surprised at how well this outsole performed, given how low profile the lugs are, though not entirely surprised given the effective design and sticky rubber feel.  I was limited to dry conditions during the test period, but I pushed the Kinabalu Ultra RC on a wide variety of terrain, from high speed running on buffed out single track, dirt roads, hard packed dirt, loose dirt, paved roads, steep rocky technical trails, loose off trail and short Flatiron slab rock scrambles.  

Even on loose and steep terrain, I rarely felt a slip and when I did, it was minor.  At 50 or so mostly rough and rocky miles, I have not had any issues with outsole durability Treadwear seems to be average to slightly above average, with only minimal wear in the most forward lugs where I toe off.


Mike P As mentioned earlier, the ride does feel a bit firm to me. This feeling of firmness can partially be attributed to the stiffness from the mid to rear. In all honesty I’m not 100% up to speed with Scott’s rocker design geometry, but I’ve heard something along the lines that they try to reduce ankle flexion as part of the design in order to increase running efficiency. 

Based on my experience, I guess I would have to agree that is how the geometry is functioning . The shoe really tends to keep your ankle in a certain position, then roll you forward into that more flexible toe rocker. At times it does seem to be smooth and efficient - mainly on flatter trails or more rolling terrain. When I got to more steep ups and downs I felt like it exacerbated the feeling of firmness - the ride just felt more harsh. I think personally I prefer a more flexible shoe, especially in more technical and steeper terrain. 

Renee: I 100% agree with Mike: the ride is firm and the stiffness from the mid to rear of the shoe make the Kinabalu Ultra RC a non-choice past 13 miles for me. Otherwise, I have a great fit with the upper and enjoy the 8mm drop and rocker on single track runs at moderate to fast paces. I thought the ride felt better on single track trails with at least 150 feet of gain per mile. I do agree with Michael that the rocker and 8mm drop seem ideal for buffed non-technical trails. However, I found the firmness and lack of flex not ideal on gravel road/rolling hills. Without a rock plate, the shoes might work better for me on country roads. I enjoyed my runs under 13 miles with these shoes, but I would need a bit more flex underfoot to use these shoes for anything close to an ultra distance. 

Alex: The Kinabalu Ultra RC is definitely a firm ride, bordering on harsh. On buffed out trails, I found the ride pretty snappy, and the rocker seemed to keep me rolling forward. But when I encountered even small rocks, the firmness through the midfoot seemed to be trying to push my foot forward even when I needed it to roll around the rock a bit. And I felt every rock, despite the rock plate. I could see these shoes running well on gravel roads, though I haven’t tried it, but I still think they’d be too firm for me for much more than 5-8 miles. 

Jeff V:  While the ride is on the firm side, I found the Kinabalu Ultra RC to be fast and fun on just about any terrain, for my daily 1-2 hour runs. Cushioning, while not at all plush or quite up to par for longer distances, is adequate and predictable for mid to shorter distances over a variety of terrain, although I think the sweet spot is uptempo running on smoother singletrack and more gradual inclines where turnover can be maintained.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Mike P Ultimately I find the range of this shoe is a bit narrow. I find it to be quite secure, comfortable, and efficient - on more flat or rolling moderate terrain. But even then, as a midfoot striker, the harsh ride limits the distance and duration for me.  

They’re also not working for me on steeper terrain, even if non-technical.  On steeper terrain, it does feel really good to me as a hiker - the toe rocker really helps to keep your forward momentum going. I hope I’ve qualified my assessments throughout the review properly - if you are generally more comfortable in higher stack shoes, and generally like a firmer/rockered ride, then the shoe would work better for you.  Also- with the rocker plus the firmness of the forefoot, these are definitely better suited to heel-strikers. Fit-wise- due to the well-designed upper (quibbles w/ the heel aside), it should work well for a lot of foot shapes, aside from very wide. I will definitely put some microspikes in them and try them out this winter - I think they will work well in those conditions.

Mike P’s Score: 8.3/10

Ride: 8 - Overall a bit harsh, stiff in the mid/rear

Fit: 9 - Refined and secure, heel/achilles collar could be improved

Value: 6 - $160 is a lot for a narrow usage range. Most comparison shoes below are less with a wider range. Also rubber durability is probably not high.

Style: 9 - Like the streamlined look with the sharp yellow

Traction: 9 - Works well within its intended terrain

Rock Protection: 8 - Debatable, but the firm ride does not seem to dampen hard surfaces

Renee: The upper fit is awesome and provides a great balance between security and comfort for performance runs. I do not consider the Ultra RC high stack at 29/21, and they might appeal to runners who, like me, generally do not like max cushion options. 

While I had opportunities to wear them for 20 mile long runs, I always switched shoes after 13 miles. Given the firm midsole and rock plate, the shoes worked best for me on softer, dirt trails. For runs past 20 miles, I would prefer a shoe with more flex and give underfoot. For shorter, faster runs, I would choose a lighter shoe with a lower drop. That said, I do think the Kinabalu Ultra RC has advantages as compared to similar shoes in its category (read the comparisons below for details). 

Renee’s Score: 8.8/10 (-.20 narrow use, -1.0 firm, unflexing midsole/ride)

Alex: Like Mike and Renee, I struggled a bit to find a use case for the Kinabalu Ultra RC. It’s too firm and too narrow for big miles, but a little too heavy for shorter, faster stuff. For runners who like a firmer ride and tend to run non-technical trails, I think this shoe could be worth a spot in your rotation. But ultimately for me, I struggled with the harsh ride and the inflexible rocker geometry, even on runs as short as five miles. 

Score: 7.3/10 

(pros: style, fit, traction on man made trails; cons: harsh ride, no real fun-factor, steep price for a shoe that doesn’t quite fill any niche)

Jeff V:  I really enjoy running in the Kinabalu Ultra RC and for many of my daily training runs, it does a great job.  That said, it sort of falls into a no man's land.  Not quite light and responsive enough for a dedicated shorter distance race or PR shoe and if the going is really rough, more pronounced tread would be nice.  On the opposite longer end of runs, the cushioning is a bit too firm and not quite substantial enough for true “Ultra '' distances, at least for me.  Even if the midsole met your needs for distance, I think the narrow toe box would turn most away on its own for long distances, with no extra wiggle room for splay or swelling, even for those with narrow feet.  Either way though, I really enjoy running in them on my daily runs and will continue to use them beyond the review period.

Jeff V’s Score:  8.5/10

Ride: 8, Fit: 8.5, Value: 8.5, Style: 9.5, Traction: 9, Rock Protection: 9

9 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Scott Kinabalu 2 (RTR Review soon)
Sam: I have more time in the Kinabalu 2 than the Ultra RC and can say while the stack heights are identical they are very different riding shoes.  The K2 has a dual density midsole with a slightly softer heel area than the front whereas the Ultra is all the single density firmer foam. This is noticed. The Kinabalu 2 has a non stretch upper with TPU overlays and underlays and lots of them delivering a very secure if stiffer feeling and fitting upper. It has a considerably higher toe box with plenty of foot splay room Unlike the Ultra RC the Kinabalu 2 has no rock plate and is one of the most flexible trail shoes I can recall. Its outsole pattern is a dense series of bars and I was surprised how well it sheds mud, likely due to the flexibility.  The ride is more agile up front but a bit thinner in feel with a touch less but still plenty of protection from the outsole and midsole. It is a superb uphill running shoe and very stable on the downhills but I do wish the upper was a touch more pliable.

Asics Trabuco Max (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): Similar idea in terms of providing a rockered ride -the Trabuco is definitely well into the max-cushion arena,  and is much more cushioned, especially up front, but only 0.5 oz heavier. It has a more even-feeling ride from the heel through toe-off.  The Asics has a somewhat dated, bulky upper, while  the Scott is more refined and secure. I prefer the Trabuco Max and it’s better cushion and smoother ride, even on moderate terrain.

Jeff V:  Mike sums it up well.  I would prefer the Trabuco Max for longer distances on smoother terrain (found them tippy in technical terrain) and would go with the Scott for shorter, more technical runs.

Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Terrex Speed Ultra and the Kinabalu Ultra RC are very similar. Both are 8mm drop, ultra race option shoes that are not high stack or max cushion. The Terrex has a distinct rocker and does not feel like a 8mm drop shoe. The ride feels more nimble with better ground feel as compared to the Kinabalu Ultra RC. The Adidas is lighter and runs lighter in comparison. The Terrex felt narrow in the midfoot for me. I could run 20 miles in them, but would hesitate to wear them for an ultra for that reason. The advantages of the Kinabalu are the slightly better upper fit and more comfortable width at the midfoot. Otherwise, the Terrex Speed is the all around better shoe, particularly because the midsole is not as firm or uncomfortable. I wore a women’s size 8 in both. 

Alex: These shoes have very similar profiles, but I find the Terrex Speed Ultra fits better and runs better. It is lighter, more cushioned, and more flexible than the Kinabalu Ultra RC, and has better traction. Rocks don’t bother me as much in the Speed Ultra as in the Kinabalu (likely because the ride is not as firm), and generally the shoe feels more nimble. Both run true to size for me. While I struggled to find a use case for the Kinabalu Ultra RC, I’d happily pull out the Terrex Speed Ultras for a race of 15 miles or less. 

Brooks Catamount (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Both have firm cushion and utilize a somewhat rockered design.  Scott’s rocker is more about locking the ankle and being flexible up front at the toes.  Catamount uses a more consistent, though slight rocker throughout.  Catamount also has a rock plate, although it does not feel harsh as the Scott does. Brooks Flash midsole material is more responsive and the shoe is much faster.  Scott wins on upper security and lockdown, but I still prefer the Catamount all day.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Mike on all points, Catamount is faster and a more responsive smoother ride, but the Catamount upper struggles a bit when the going gets rough, so Kinabalu has the edge there, as well as traction.

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 (RTR Review)

Renee: I ran with the ATR 5, not the ATR 6. The ATR 5 felt narrow under the midfoot for me, and I stopped running  them. The ATR is a lighter weight shoe, but it still has enough cushion for long distances. For comfort on buffed trails, the ATR is probably the better choice. The Kinabalu is the better choice for more technical trails and it has a much more secure and comfortable upper. I wore a women’s size 7.5 in the ATR and a women’s size 8 in the Kinabalu. 

Mike P (9.5 EE): ATR 6 is more cushioned throughout  and much more comfortable for longer runs than the Scott. Also much better for extended (non-technical) descents.  The Hoka upper is a bit generic, tough to lock down, but good enough for moderate running. Scott is way more secure and well-fitted. Hoka’s cushion as well as meta-rocker can leave you feeling disconnected from the ground, while with the Scott you will definitely feel more connected. 

Jeff V:  Agree again with Mike, the Hoka is better for longer distances with the added and softer cushion and more relaxed upper, but Kinabalu superior for quicker running and more technical terrain.

Nike Terra Kiger 7 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): TK7 does not rely on a rockered ride, is much more flexible all around, much more cushioned, with a much more plush upper. TK7 is definitely suited for very long days out on the trail, although traction is suspect, as with all Nike Trail shoes.  TK7 may feel like a bit much for just a short run, in that case go with the Scott. 

Jeff V:  Mike nails it, but I find the TK7 pretty great for short or long runs, but traction is not quite as reliable, nor is the upper as precise fitting as the Scott (great for longer distances though).

OnCloud Cloudultra (RTR Review)

Renee: The Kinabalu Ultra RC has a firm midsole, but the midsole of the CloudUltra is just plain hard. CloudUltra is unrunnable. I found the hard midsole too uncomfortable for even short distances. While I do like to wear the shoes casually, I do not run with them. For runners who had a good fit with the CloudUltra but needed a slightly less hard midsole, the Kinabalu Ultra RC is a good choice. The shoes fit very similar, with the Kinabalu having a more secure and more comfortable upper. The Kinabalu is much lighter in weight as well.  I wore a women’s size 8 in both. 

Jeff V:  Agreed with Renee, the CloudUltra is a very harsh ride, with a blocky feel and not at all fun to run in.  That said, the CloudUltra is a decent hiker and a classy looking day to day shoe.  The Kinabalu vastly outperforms on all fronts, except for wearing to dinner.

Salomon Ultra Pro (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Similar styles of shoe. I found the Ultra Pro upper difficult to get a good fit with given its quicklace. They’re definitely on the wider side of previous Salomon offerings, but still a bit pointy at the very front.  I find the Scott upper more secure and comfortable. Level of cushioning is similar. Salomon is more flexible throughout the shoe, while, as mentioned throughout - the Scott flex is more up front.  I actually use the Ultra Pros as my snow running shoes with microspikes, I will try the same with the Scott’s this winter. 

Jeff V:  Agreed with Mike.  Ultra Pro for me was a much more casual shoe, where I feel quicker in the Kinabalu.  Long distance vs. short.

Saucony Mad River TR 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): TR 2 has one of the widest forefoots of the shoes I have - it’s wide, and difficult to secure.  It’s also one of the heaviest at over 11 oz, and the midsole and ride just feels dull.  Scott is lighter, more secure, and has much better ground feel. 

The North Face Flight Vectiv (RTR Review)

Renee: Initially, the Kinabalu Ultra RC felt like the shoe I expected the Flight Vectiv to be. The Flight Vectiv’s upper was too voluminous for me and I had to tighten the laces so much that the material folded over itself. The rocker of the midsole on the Flight did not work for my foot landing, and I hardly ever felt/benefited from the carbon plate. While the fit and the security on the Kinabalu is far better than the Flight, the midsole is not as comfortable. I found the Flight slightly narrow in the midfoot. I wore a women’s size 7.5 in the Flight and a women’s size 8 in the Kinabalu. 

Mike P (10.0): I had the Vectiv Enduris for about 30 miles and returned them.  I just couldn’t get along with the full-on rockered ride - you really have to manage your gait and try to roll along with each step.  Scott has a more traditional feel of a higher drop shoe, no sense of having to alter your stride.  The Scott definitely has a firmer ride. The Vectiv upper was very loose around the forefoot, but pointy and uncomfortable at the very front.  I could see the Vectiv working well and being very efficient for heel strikers.. if the fit is ok for you.

Jeff V:  Agreed again with all of the above.  The Vectiv is tough to run in on most trails, too challenging to really enjoy and fit is terrible.  The only time I got into a good groove in them was on moderate downgrades (less the 5%), in a straight line, they can be fast.  Other than that, the Kinabalu performs much better in every way.

Tester Profiles

Mike Postaski Born and raised in New Jersey, moved to Boise, ID in 2019, mainly to have better and easier access to outdoor adventure.  I have no formal running training, have never run on a team at any level, and can count the times I've run on a track on one hand.  I actually grew up inline speed skating - both indoor short track as well as roads.  Picking up running in my early 30s , starting on roads, progressing to marathons (PR 2:40, Boise 2019), eventually I discovered trails. I love going fast and running all distances, but I especially love long mountain ultras.  My three 100 milers so far have all been in the 25k vert range. I also enjoy the challenge of looped/timed trail races, and even the backyard ultra format. I am definitely a gear junkie - I have gone through more running vests than I can remember, and my trail running shoe collection currently sits at 38 pairs (all tracked via spreadsheet)!  My wife does not appreciate this. 

Alex Tilsley is a displaced trail runner, currently living in DC and finding dirt wherever she can. Alex discovered running in college and was a happy 3-miles-a-day hobby jogger until her mom tricked her into running a 10k and it was all downhill from there. She has since run several marathons (PR 3:38) and dabbled in triathlons, but her true love is the trails, whether running, mountain biking, orienteering, or long-distance backpacking. When she’s not running or riding, Alex works full-time in education policy and part-time putting on trail races with EX2 Adventures

Renee Krusemark is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Jeff Valliere runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content

The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Jeff Valliere said...


silverm said...

How would you compare this shoe to the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3? I've been trying to decide between these two shoes for marathon+ distances. Thanks!

Mike P said...

I haven't run in the S/Lab Ultra 3, but I did have the Ultra 2. I have heard the Ultra 3 is an improvement, especially with the fit. The Ultra would be a far superior shoe for trail running, especially technical. They are well equipped to go beyond the marathon distance. The flexibility of the Ultra is way better then the Scott, and while the ride is "Salomon-firm", it is still less-so than the Scott. Security is similar, with a bit more room in the forefoot of the Salomon (I did try on a pair of the Ultra 3). The Scott I would say is a very specific ride that you have to be looking for - pretty firm, and you have to like a stiff rocker.

Jeff Valliere said...

silverm - I would say these two shoes for sure fall into the same category, but the Salomon would be a better pick for longer distances with more forgiving cushion and a little more flexibility for fit notably a bit more breathing room in the forefoot.

Joe Radzif said...

Kinabalu is a mountain in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Proud of the name....