Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT Multi Tester Review: Carbon Plates Go Big Mountain. Fast Ups, Agile, Dependable, Forgiving! 15 Comparisons

Article by Jermey Marie, John Tribbia, Jeff Valliere, Adam Glueck, Mike Postaski and Sam Winebaum

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT ($189/€189)

Introduction

Sam: Scarpa surprised us in 2021 with the light and fast Spin 2.0 with PEBA foam in its mix (RTR Review) and Spin Infinity (RTR Review), a heavy duty ultra focused shoe which took second at UTMB Both were superb and among the top shoes of 2021 for me. 


At the Big Gear Show in August I was shown the Golden Gate ATR (RTR Review) a door to trail shoe and Golden Gate Kima RT, a flexible carbon plate big mountains designated shoe.  Named after the Trofeo Kima a 52K sky running race with its 7 passes, 4200 meters of climbing and technical terrain the scene is set.


Scarpa is renowned for its mountain climbing, hiking, alpine touring and telemark boots so these strong new entries from the Italian company were for sure not surprising, welcome and intriguing. 


Well 2022 is here and so are both Golden Gate shoes. Where does the Golden Gate naming come from? Well both shoes’ uppers have an internal array of underlays reminding of the deck support of the iconic bridge.


The ATR proved to be a very decent max cushion cruiser but it was the Kima RT with its dual density midsole and flexible carbon plate and “fair” for a carbon shoe price of $190 which most intrigued me. 


Scarpa describes the Kima as follows:


GOLDEN GATE KIMA RT is a technical shoe designed to reduce fatigue. The carbon plate inserted into a new-generation foam heightens the plantar arch's elastic response, reducing physical effort when running, without compromising precision over uneven ground. Precise and foot-wrapping, GOLDEN GATE KIMA RT was designed and tested for maximum performance on the most technical trails, and is also effective on the easiest off-road surfaces.

On the scale, this rugged upper, aggressively lugged, low full stack 22mm heel / 17 mm forefoot shoe tipped in a 10.46 oz / 298g (US9 / EU 42), promising. I was especially eager to see how the 1mm thick flexible carbon plate handled climbing and propulsion and the shoe’s stability on varied surfaces including more technical trails. 


Pros:

Amazingly fast for its 10.46 oz / 298g US9 weight Mike P/Jeremy/Sam/John/Adam

Premium materials and construction Mike P/Sam/Jeremy/Jeff V/John/Adam

Secure fit (if you get it right) Mike P/Jeff V/Sam/John/Adam

Protection via density rather than volume of foam Mike P/Sam/Jeremy/Jeff V/Adam

Stable run due to moderate stack height and midsole firmness Jeremy/Mike P/Jeff V/Sam/Adam

Highly effective flexible carbon plate and geometry with easy smooth roll, plate impulse, great final toe off on the climbs Sam/Mike P/Jeff V/John/Adam

Outsole grip is phenomenal Jeremy/Jeff V/John/Sam/Adam

Fatigue reducing tech is effective Jeremy/Sam/Adam



Cons:

Sizing may be tricky- broad across forefoot, slightly long, but tapered Mike P/Jeremy

Narrow usage - not sure about broader market appeal (at least in the U.S.) Mike P/John/Jeff V

Not quite true to size for me, so sizing up ½ resulted in a great fit Adam/Sam

Achilles collar scoop (purpose beyond pull on?)may funnel debris into shoe Mike P/Jeff V

Some might find it too firm Jeremy/Mike P/Jeff V

On the heavy side but runs lighter than weight due to midsole and plate: Sam/Mike P/Jeff V/Adam

Missed opportunity? A lighter upper, more streamlined outsole and a touch softer foam might have created a more versatile shoe and an incredible speedster. Sam/Adam/Mike


Stats

Estimated Weight: 10.46 oz / 298g (US9 / EU 42) 

 Samples: men’s  11.5 oz  /  326g (US 10 / EU 43.5), 10.46 oz / 298g (US9 / EU 42), 330g/11.6 oz (US10.5/EU44.5), 318g/11.25 oz (US10/EU44)

Stack Height: men’s 22 mm heel (measured) / 17 mm forefoot, spec 5mm drop.

Available April 13, 2022. 189 €/$


Tester Profiles

Jeremy Marie, French, 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km - 4’30/km


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


John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost every day.


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.


Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A 2:40 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. Mike’s shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, with plenty of forefoot space, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.


Adam Glueck is a cross country ski racer from New Hampshire and graduate student at Dartmouth college. Along with skiing, he’s a big fan of endurance sports in general and does a lot of running.  He’s much faster at skiing, recently participating in the curtailed NCAA’s skiing for Dartmouth College, but can run a 4:43 mile, 16:20 5k, 1:23 half, and loves running the technical trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.


First Impressions and Fit


Jeremy: I must admit that it was not “love at first sight” for the Kima. It looked closer to a scrambling or approach shoe, with a sturdy outsole, an even sturdier upper, and was not especially flexible, I was quite skeptical of the shoe’s runnability. Even the color looked quite dull, with gray nuances just underlined by blue midsole and lace coloring.


Once on foot, these tepid first impressions vanished. The upper is way more comfortable than it looks, and the shoe doesn’t feel as heavy as in your hands. Fearing an all too tight fit, the Scarpa Kima proved to offer a nice midfoot lockdown with a spacious, but strangely shaped toe box. It’s a bit pointy around the pinky toes, and I suggest trying both your usual size and ½ size larger, as the shoe fits a bit long, but this front shape might lead to discomfort depending on your foot. 


John: At first glance, the Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT looks more like a hiking shoe, well built and ready for all mountain use with a fairly protective upper, lower profile midsole and aggressive tread. But when you put your foot inside, the shoe is incredibly comfortable, has a nice padded feel that rolls as you walk. The fit is true to size and feels perfect on my fairly narrow foot. During my brief walk around, the energy return is noticeable and appreciated. 

Jeff V:  Like John and Jeremy, out of the box I was initially struck by the looks of the shoe, not that they look bad or looks matter that much, but they look much more like a low hiker or approach shoe.  Since I like to get off the beaten path though, I looked forward to how the Kima will perform off trail and in rough terrain.  

Fit is true to size if a slight touch long. 

The forefoot has a unique shape that I find to be a touch narrow with a tapered shape.  

While not an issue for me on shorter runs (and I appreciate how secure the foothold is), I would not recommend the Kima as a shoe for long distances and worry that on longer runs, especially on hot days, my feet would feel pretty confined.  The unusual toe box shape has not yet caused me any blisters, but even for my narrow foot, they feel a bit awkward at times and I get some minor hot spots on faster paced, more prolonged downhills.  The toe box ceiling is also very low, which I am also often aware of.


Sam: The others have described the fit well. My pair is a half size up from my normal US8.5 at 10.46 oz / 298g (US9 / EU 42). The fit is perfect in the sense that it is secure and comfortable with that somewhat narrow pointy front of the shoe locking me down to the plated front just right with enough toe clearance from the stout bumper. 

They may be a touch long but I will take that to have a bit more room up front and especially toe overhead room. I suggest sizing up a half size if you want a touch more room which as I did as for me the extra half size does not compromise security one bit. 

The mesh is dense and quite stiff but in combination with the inner “Golden Gate” array of underlays, a thin and padded also quite stiff gusset tongue.Nothing is left to chance at midfoot in terms of support while the densely padded low rear of the shoe is backed up by a stout heel counter.  


The overall fit is interestingly, despite its substance and security easy on the foot and not overly snug anywhere and is in quite a contrast to the more massively overlaid Spin Infinity at the ball of the foot even if Infinity has a wider fit.  Yes, the toe box is a bit low and pointy with a big toe bumper but I have had no top of the toes pressure issues there, often the case. I think my half size up helping in that regard.

The high narrow achilles tab? I say it’s functional. It provides a unique high hold in that key area lightly as it comfortingly stabilizes the upper achilles and yes you can use it to help pull on the shoe.

The look is the look. Purposeful, serious, quite low slung and dirt colors friendly. A bit stealth, no one will suspect you are rocking a carbon powered trail rocket. There is some long springy flex in hand promising something special on the run. This is not a totally rigid rocker shoe and neither is it a flex type shoe as the Infinity is with its easier going flex better suited to ultras. Examining all the substance of the upper, the midsole, and the full aggressive 4mm lugged outsole I am actually surprised it doesn’t weigh more than its 10.46 oz / 298g in a US9. 


Scarpa calls out a “gas foam” in the midsole and the black lower rear layer and front thinner layer of the same have a distinct sense of squish and bounce when walking in them contrasting with the firmer stable layer above. While Scarpa doesn’t confirm, it sure feels like a thin dose of supercritical something or a very light rubberized foam. One can see in the photo above it has developed some creasing.


Adam:  Like Sam, I sized ½ U.S. size up, and found that the fit although slightly long, was extremely good.  The mostly grey shoe doesn’t look incredibly flashy, but the blue on the upper stands out and this upper clearly has excellent build quality and feel.  


This looks like a trail shoe unafraid to get dirty, and there’s a small window on the bottom where the carbon plate is clearly visible.  


The upper is light and breathable while still providing the excellent lockdown and protection that I’d hope for in a shoe for mountain running.  Given the hold of the upper, density of the midsole, and deep traction of the outsole, I’m shocked this shoe is as light as it is but recall it is a low overall stack compared to many current trail shoes.  


Step in feel is cushioned but not overly soft, and it’s clear the shoe is still connected with the ground despite the carbon plate.  Kima feels like a shoe designed to be a trail shoe first and a carbon plated shoe second, which should hopefully translate into comfortable and dependable trail performance.  


Mike P: The other reviewers have touched on the toebox shape and sizing issues, so I’ll just summarize my thoughts quickly.  The fit is nice and secure overall, but the most noticeable aspect is the width across the forefoot.  They are much wider than other Scarpa shoes, in particular the Infinity.  I have a US 10 ⅓ (yes one third, as marked on the box) in the Kima and 10.5 in the Infinity.  I found the Kima much more accommodating up front, whereas I gave up on the Infinity after a few shorts runs to do uncomfortable squeezing of the forefoot.  Also distinctly noticeable when trying them on is the forward rolling sensation from the carbon plate.  You definitely feel the forward impulse, and this does give the impression that the shoe is lighter than its actual weight.



Upper

John: The overlays are well placed and I felt the upper comfortably hugged all parts of my foot. Hidden underneath the main upper fabric, there is an internal microfibre Exo cage that supports the foot and gives structure to the upper. 

The more external layer is anti-abrasion engineered mesh that provides ample breathability. The padded tongue completely eliminates any chance of feeling lace bite and wraps around the top of the foot to add more foot security. The heel has an exaggerated padded tab that extends above the achilles that I really like because it provides added security in the heel fit. 

Jeff V:  John gives a great overview of the upper, which I find to be very secure, comfortable, protective and durable.  While the materials are on the thick and sturdy end of the spectrum, I find the upper here to be flexible and comfortable, with reasonable breathability (though not particularly airy, which for an all mountain shoe, I appreciate).  


The tongue is gusseted, sturdy and gives great protection, while not plushly padded, but more dense and substantial materials that prevent any lace bite, undue pressure or discomfort.  

The toe bumper is bulletproof and integrates with a 360 degree protective rand to provide the best protection when bashing around in rocks, talus and off trail.  


The heel counter is low and not overly built, with an adequately padded heel collar, but with a very pronounced heel flair, complete with pull loop sewn in.  I am not entirely convinced that the heel flair serves any real purpose, but I have no trouble with it getting in the way.  


As I mentioned previously, I find the upper to be very snug and precise which is advantageous when running in technical terrain.  Also as mentioned previously, the toe box shape is somewhat unique and while I have not had true issues, I am often aware of it and thus conservative with where and how long I run in them.  While not quite as pronounced, the toe box is somewhat reminiscent of the Salomon S/Lab Ultra (not the first all black one, but the first red/purple Francois edition.  


Strangely, when I ran in the snow and wet, the blue inlays color stained my foot with blue, making me wonder if I had some not painful bruising, but no and the  bleeding of color seemed to go away after several wet runs.

Jeremy: John and Jeff do a great job at perfectly describing the upper. It definitely leans to the sturdier side, true to the mountainous roots of the shoe, the Kima being described as a technical trail shoe, I  feared a very snug upper a la 2000’s technical shoes. My fears vanished as soon as I put the Kimas on. The upper is close to the foot but in no way snug, and the toebox, despite a pointy look at the very front, offers very decent space. Jeff  compared it with the first S/Lab Ultra and I might mostly agree with him about the general foothold of the shoe. But the Kima offers more space upfront. And I wore the S/Lab without any issue for a 21h ultra.


Despite its sturdy and thick look, the upper feels quite supple and even more soafter some break-in. In order to enhance the foothold, Scarpa put lots of underlays, the “Golden Gate” acting as a web, and it is effective!



The heel design is quite peculiar with its long extension. It probably serves a purpose other than helping to put the shoes on, but I can’t find any obvious. Anyway it stays absolutely quiet during the run so…It might be a way to stabilize the Achille or enhance heel hold in very technical terrain.



The tongue is semi-gusseted, thin but protective from the very long laces and reminds me of the Scott Supertrac RC2 material.


The only weird thing with the upper, albeit a purely aesthetic one, comes from the underlay color rubbing off on the upper. Not an issue at all for me though. It’s a mountain shoe, chances are that it will get some dirt on it!


At the end of the day, I find the upper of the Kima really effective in many different conditions. From the mellow paths around home to forest trail, steep ascents and descent in the Alps where I was able to test in up to three hours runs, on dirt, hard ground, snow, I had no issue at all be it with foot hold, breathability or hotspots. And save from the inlay color rub off, it still looks as new.


Adam:  I agree with the comments above, this is a fantastic upper that balances agility and breath ability with durability and foothold.  I’ve had zero issues with either slip or pressure.  It gives your feet some room to swell over the course of an ultra, and despite completely sinking into some muddy frost heaves, the high tongue, heel, and semi-gusseted tongue kept grit and mud away from my foot. 

Muddy, but unharmed


Sam: I don’t have much to add to the others' fine commentary. The upper is near perfect for a trail shoe focused on technical trails yet with no sense of a suffocating fit. 

Mike P: Jeff V. mentions that the toebox shape is “slightly unique” and I agree.  I find if very broad across the forefoot, but it then tapers and becomes quite narrow at the very front, but it’s also a bit on the long side.  Sizing may be a bit tricky with the combination of roominess width-wise, but potential toe and pinky side pressure at the very front.  I liked the forefoot width, but I did notice some pressure on my pinky toes during extended steep downhills.  It was not noticed in ascents, flats, or rolling terrain.  The toebox material to me also seems a bit shallow across the top.  I noticed this mostly in ascents when the toe was flexing - I seemed to get more pressure squeezing my foot than I typically would with such a wide toe box.  It’s likely a combination of the shallowness, plus the taper up front.  


Other than that, the standout features for me were the well padded tongue, and the comfortable ankle collar.  There’s a softer material inside that ring of gray stitching - overall the design gives the ankle cuff some structure, while keeping the top edge nice and soft.  A really nicely done collar.  It’s amazing how many shoes I’ve tested with overly and unnecessarily rigid ankle/heel collars.  I find the Achilles scoop/heel flap/tail or whatever it is to be useless and detrimental by funneling debris into the shoe.  It’s not snug against the Achilles, so it serves no functional use.



Midsole

Sam: Scarpa took extreme care in designing its Presa sole (diagram below) to deliver a platform which combines plenty of leg friendly cushion, low slung stability, flexible carbon plate propulsion and protection. At a full stack height of 22 mm heel / 17 mm forefoot the Kima is for sure not a max cushion ride yet it delivers on its promises for me.


The midsole is dual density with the black layer softer and bouncier and the top layer firmer and denser. The lower layer almost feels like a supercritical foam in its bounce and spring, taking some of the edge off what is above although Scarpa tells us it is an EVA/rubber blend but maybe with some gas processing as they do call it out as a “gas foam” as well. 


There is plenty of lively if firmer cushion here for me and of the three Antelope Island 25K I have raced, my 2022 race in the Kima had me finishing with none of the usual last miles cramps and the next day ready to run unlike any of my other efforts there. 


I found the cushion and stability just about ideal with noted vibration dampening yet never isolated from trail feel. This is for sure not the very firm heel ride of say the Peregrine 12 or the mushier ride of a Speedgoat. This said the midsole construction is not ideal for pavement and neither is the firm thick heel rubber. Door to trail is doable but not something I would prioritize as a strength here.


The embedded carbon plate as the others say provides a distinct sense of propulsion and particularly so on climbs while remaining quite stable and compliant to terrain on downhills. The shoe and its plate is somewhat flexible with a long snappy flex that is consistent from midfoot to final toe off area where it is slightly more flexible yet, just what one needs for agile climbing. There is a distinct drop in feel to toe off particularly felt on uphills with a noticeable spring. 

In I think an extremely clever move, Kima actually has less vertical sidewalls at  the medial midfoot shown above than lateral shown below. 

What you’ll say that’s the opposite of the usual where most trail shoes go for medial stability… Much as the very original Vaporfly had a distinct front pronation to get you forward to the plate and toe off, Scarpa does some of the same here and deliberately and this I think is why this relatively stiff flexing shoe is so easy to climb and rolls so smoothly on the flatter yet due to its lower stack and firmer foam is always stable.


John: The midsole offers anything but a harsh ride. It does a wonderful job dampening shock and vibration on technical terrain, and providing noticeable rebound. I didn’t really imagine the Golden Gate Kima RT to function well as a fast and efficient trail running shoe, but looks are certainly deceiving. 


Scarpa sandwiches a 3D carbon plate in the dual-density foam and strategically placed in the heel and ball of the forefoot; Scarpa’s research indicated these placements yield the best possible elastic response. When ascending steep technical slopes, I could feel the snap and rebound that seemingly propelled my foot forward. I didn’t have similar observations on flat or downhill, but still felt like the midsole effectively offered a stable and predictable feel.  


Jeremy: The midsole leans on the firmer side of the spectrum, but by no means it’s a harsh or firm ride per se. On tame trails, the Kima works far better than its mountain shoe looks might indicate. The dense midsole offers a noticeable yet natural rebound, perfectly guided by the carbon-plate which is not overly stiff: you still have this “natural feel with a boost” coming from the midsole/plate combination, and does not have an overly directed ride (something I disliked in the Endorphin Trail or Trabuco Max for instance). Despite its weight, it’s more than capable in those conditions.


But the Kima really shines and reveals itself in the mountains. 

I received KIma RT before heading to the Alps, and was able to test them there where they’re meant to be used: on steep ascents, descents, rock hopping, snow, dry, wet ground…I did not expect to find such an agile and efficient shoe in the Kima. The slight flex at the forefoot is immediately followed by the responsive midsole material rebound and the carbon plate reaction, everything acting as a propelling me uphill. It’s really noticeable on long uphills where the legs seem to fatigue much less.


On downhills, some might find the ride a bit too firm, especially if you’re more into a Hoka-like cushioning and bomb down all heels ahead. The Kima requires a more subtle approach as I think it can become a bit jarring going all-out.


The inherently stable ride is also confidence-inspiring, be it on technical trails as well as on longer flatter runs.


For sure, I think the biomechanical studies that Scarpa’s done when building the Kima, in order to “reduce fatigue” are more than just a marketing claim: despite my lack of recent training in the Alpine environment, and some good tempo chunks thrown in, I never felt broken at the end of the run. Even on back-to-back runs.


Another good point, after more than 100 miles in the shoes, the midsole still feels brand new, and does not show any early signs of bottoming up.


Jeff V:  John and Jeremy describe the midsole well and Jeremy especially wrote all that I was about to say, so will not repeat his observations.  I will reiterate that I was most impressed with the Kima on steep, varied terrain, with varied conditions, where traction, protection, security and stability were paramount.  Uphill performance with a clear boost from the carbon plate is appreciated, however the weight of the shoe inhibits this somewhat.  As John and Jeremy have mentioned, the midsole, while on the firm side, is not harsh or abusive and cushions adequately for runs up to several hours.


Adam:  I agree with Jeff, Jeremy, and especially John on technical terrain performance.  The carbon plate is especially noticeable climbing and provides propulsion when speeding up and lengthening my stride, but the shoe is still precise and allows for a distinct ground feel.  This is still a trail shoe I’d be comfortable leaping from rock to rock in, and is the first shoe with a carbon plate I can say that about.  The shoe runs lighter than its weight, and while not incredibly soft, is extremely smooth at reducing the harshness and vibration from impacts.  I wouldn’t wear this for a less technical trail 5km or 10km (over something like the S/Lab Pulsar), but at longer distances, the predictable smoothness and stability of this platform truly start to shine.  


Mike P: Mostly covered by everyone else, but the Kima definitely runs lighter than its weight.  I found myself absolutely flying on some moderate to level terrain, really surprised by how fast they were, especially having weighed them beforehand.  I believe their specification materials noted that the shoe was designed for Sky running type events.  To me that would be alpine, rocky terrain, but at the shorter/faster end of the ultra spectrum - think 20-40K range.  I think they absolutely hit that mark with the shoe.  The feel of the midsole is firm enough to feel stable and protected, yet the midsole does dampen the ride in rocky, alpine environments.  Then of course you add in the plate to keep up the speed you would need for those shorter distance events.


Outsole


Sam: The full coverage Presa outsole is a dual density rubber with Scarpa’s Supergum up front for high grip and wet and dry conditions adaptability and their firmer Water Lock compound at the heel for durability under stress of braking and wet conditions. The lugs are 4mm multi directional arrow shapes. I like that the lugs also have decent flat contact areas to assist with smoother ground feel and flow.



I have run the Kima on snow, dry and wet trails and some road. It has performed magnificently on trail terrain. I wore the Kima for a 25K trail race on Antelope Island in Utah with just about every trail conditions in the mix. Long stretches of new snow, dry smooth trail, a few rocky flatter sections and some mud (with no big clogging). I was confident everywhere and the outsole also never got in the way on smoother cruising sections. Relatively firm (outsole and midsole) and with the full coverage it is not the ideal outsole for pavement but it can go there too if need be. 


John: The Presa® outsole lug pattern and extremely sticky rubber was impressive on every surface I have run on: technical rocky trails, snow and ice, slush and mud, smooth cruisy trails, and off trail grass. The lugs are well placed and I never found myself needing to stay focused on my footsteps in and over technical terrain.


Jeff V:  The Presa outsole provides excellent grip on a wide variety of surfaces, which I have confirmed on snow, ice, mud, loose off trail, wet rock, dry rock, technical trails, steep gravel and everything in between.  I have yet to discover any limitations and thus far have found durability to be excellent. 


Jeremy: The in-house Presa compound and all-purpose lugs pattern results in one the best outsoles I’ve ever run. It’s grippy on rocks, dry or wet, roots, snow, even icy, and can live in slight mud without clogging. On smooth trails and even roads, it stays more than OK and doesn't make the ride too harsh.

Moreover, the durability seems to be top-notch as I can’t see a single trace of wear from my 100 miles and this despite some aggressive alpine terrain in the mix.


Adam:  This outsole has been fantastic so far, it doesn’t have as many lugs under the mid foot which is helpful because the weight is reduced and traction is left where necessary.  The lugs are spaced out enough that I wasn’t able to clog them with snow and mud, but they’re still deep enough to bite into slippery roots, rocks, and sand.  


Mike P: I’ve put 50+ miles in my test pair, with no noticeable degradation of the outsole.  Definitely a highly durable shoe.  I found the outsole also hits the mark for the intended Sky Running-esque terrain.  The full rubber (plus the plate) adds to the level of protection in rocky terrain.  There are no sections of exposed midsole that would produce any surprise zingers. Also their shape, being multi-directional as well as multi-level/textured leads them to be quite smooth in moderate terrain.  In flat, dry, and sandy terrain, the full rubber did not feel stiff or uneven at all.



Ride

John: The Golden Gate Kima RT has a stable and comfortable ride. On the ascent, the Golden Gate Kima RT is a nimble and agile shoe, and did really well at navigating through technical obstacles. On the descent, the low center of gravity, secure fit, broader platform, and solid traction keeps my foot from wobbling laterally while also keeping ankle rolls at bay. 


Jeremy: Stable and predictive, the ride of the Kima is much more comfortable than the look of the shoe indicates - a constant remark with the Kima!


The plate makes for a dynamic ride, and doubled with the midsole density, it offers a nice blend of cushioning and firmness. Note that the ride is not firm per se, it just leans on the firm side of the spectrum.


Despite the plate, the ride feels very natural even on roads and not overly direct, and the minimal rocker profile of the shoe is a good indication that Kima’s conceptors didn’t just rely on this but more on a natural roll of the foot.


But where the shoe shines is on trails, where it runs so much lighter than its weight. A fatigue reduction is marketed for this shoe and I must admit that on long runs my legs felt fresh despite some good tempo chunks dropped in.


The flexible plate is not as propulsive as a road-plated shoe, and this is for the best as it’s not something you’d want on the trails. Here, the ride stays predictable, slightly propulsive on the flats, and very effective on uphills. The “rigid flex” of the shoe plays a big role for this, as you put more pressure on the midsole when going uphill, the plate flexes more and gives back more energy. 


Add the tremendous grip of the shoe and the astonishing agility for a weighty shoe and you end up going uphill way faster than expected. I’m glad I was able to go to the Alps during my testing, and the Kima really shone there, in their “natural habitat”.


On long downhills, either technical or easy ones, they proved to be secure, stable, and sure-footed, which is the result of the grip, the firm, wide platform and the effective upper.

The foot hold was perfect in these conditions and I never got any ankle rolling despite my lack of training in technical terrain recently.


Jeff V: John and Jeremy sum up the ride well.  I find it to be on the firm side, with a smooth transition and an energetic feel at toe off and most appreciate the propulsion of the plate on steep, technical climbs.  While I appreciate the lower, more predictable stable ride, I do occasionally find myself having to exercise a bit of finesse when moving fast through really rocky terrain.

Sam: Designed for the Trofeo Kima highly technical 52K sky race with lots of climbing, the ride is here is stable, on the firmer side (but not harsh), and with notable propulsion on climbs from the plate with the plate and midsole geometry letting me flow forward and then spring up on all grades. 


Descents are stable but due to the quite torsionally rigid plate, while flexible longitudinally , on occasion they can be a touch tippy on roots and pointy rocks. Despite firmness and low stack the ride, is actually quite forgiving with the platform very vibration and shock absorbing despite the relatively low stack. For the first time in 3 attempts I had no leg cramps and no soreness the next day after my 25K trail race although by the final miles I did notice the shoe’s weight.  


In conclusion the ride (and fit) should be ideal for the trail conditions it was designed for: longer sub big ultra distance runs and races on technical terrain for faster runners. For the rest of us the ride is a solid all around trail training and racing ride for moderate to more technical terrain with better choices including from Scarpa for door to trail and longer races on less technical terrain. 


Adam:  The Kima manages to be both approachable in its stability and cushion while remaining incredibly efficient and performant.  The climbs feel fantastic thanks to the fierce forefoot grip and gentle rocker from the somewhat flexible plate.  


Unlike a lot of other plated shoes, it doesn’t feel like you have to be turning over at high speed to benefit from it, but it will reward you the more energy you put into it.  I would strongly consider this for long trail races and big days in the mountains thanks to the cushion, efficiency, and dependable stability and comfort.

Testing the Kima on Muddy Trails


Mike P: 
As mentioned before I find the ride to be very fast and smooth.  As other reviewers mention, I also find them quite agile.  Though on the heavy side, they are not a high stack shoe, and with the forefoot being quite broad - they feel light on foot and I find them quite easy to maneuver around in technical terrain.  Jeff V touched on it briefly - you do need to be a bit careful or I’d say “aware” with them in uneven terrain.  They are a plated shoe, so I noticed some slight moments of tippiness here and there.  But any instability is mitigated by the fact that you are relatively close to the ground, and the agility of the shoe.  This makes them much easier to maneuver and control than a similarly stiff shoe with a higher stack. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

John: The Golden Gate Kima RT is a shoe that can take trail runners on the path less traveled, quickly and comfortably. It is a secure fitting shoe with all of the right amounts of cushion, traction, and protection for varied terrain. Although at first glance your imagination might think the shoe looks clunky and designed for hiking, it performs much better when you put it on and take it to the trails in real life! I could see this shoe working well for fast mountain attempts, fast packing, and trail to scramble adventures. 

John’s Score: 9.5 / 10

Ride: 9.5 (stable and smooth ride that gives runners confidence and enjoyment)

Fit: 9.5

Value: 9 (despite having decent versatility, I think the shoe is expensive )

Style: 10 (definitely will double as a casual shoe) 

Traction: 10 (high performing)

Rock Protection: 9.5 (decent toe protection, ample cushioning, and outsole provide great protection)


Jeremy: The Scarpa Kima is much more than its looks. Under its hiking/scrambling shoe appearance, it offers a comfortable, secure, dynamic ride that excels in many situations, even the easiest ones. Of course, it shines on technical terrain where the stability, foot hold and traction allows for a sure-footed run without second thoughts. It’s agile, much more than it looks, and offers protection for many hours.


On flatter terrain, it also proved to be really nice and effective when just cruising at speed, where all the tech put into the midsole and the plate come into play. They may come in on the firmer side of the spectrum, but are not firm per se, and are not harsh. The midsole material doesn’t have much rebound, compared to the Asics Trabuco Max or even the Salomon Pulsar, but that’s a tradeoff for the predictability on technical terrain.


One slight drawback I can think of is the forefoot shape that is strange, both spacious but pointy, and may can cause issues with some foot shapes. All in all it’s a shoe that really caught me off guard, for the best.

Jeremy’s Score: 9.2 / 10

Ride: 9 (stable, natural, no matter the terrain)

Fit: 8.5 (might be tricky for some, but overall secure)

Value: 9 (Expensive, but durable, versatile)

Style: 8.5 (not really my cup of tea…and some strange color bleeding) 

Traction: 10 (eats anything, and the outsole looks new after 160kms including lots of rocks…)

Rock Protection: 9.5 (would not want more)


Jeff V:  The Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT is a legit all mountain running shoe that holds up on the roughest terrain and the most difficult conditions.  They have amazing foothold, protection, security, traction and durability, combined with the carbon plate for added propulsion and added protection.  While they are a touch on the heavy side, I find that they run a little lighter than their weight implies and while not particularly fast, they offer a tantalizing formula for speed and efficiency over technical terrain.  While the toe box is a bit on the awkwardly shaped side, I find it to be adequate for a few hours of mountain running, but would not recommend them for longer distances or faster less technical running.

Jeff’s Score: 9.0 / 10

Ride: 9 (firm, but appropriate for intended terrain)

Fit: 8 (secure, but toe box is unusually tapered)

Value: 9 (durable and competent on technical terrain)

Style: 9 (subjective, but the approach shoe grew on me) 

Traction: 10 (excellent traction everywhere)

Rock Protection: 10 (I have never felt a zinger no matter the terrain)


Sam: Loaded with a highly effective carbon plate, secure and comfortable upper and an appropriately stable and carbon plated, responsive and well enough cushioned midsole the Kima RT is a versatile, fun, energetic and reliable choice for more technical trail running, sloppy conditions, big vertical and especially uphill. 


Despite its quite firm ride and low stack, it is surprisingly leg friendly during runs and after. and while I don’t fully understand the bio mechanics, the plate as Scapa claims for sure does seem to: “heighten the plantar arch's elastic response, reducing physical effort when running” , especially climbing.  


It is also an excellent cruiser on smoother terrain helped along by the smooth flow and impulse of the plate but it is not the best door to trail option, pavement not being its strong suit and that’s OK. 


At 10.4 oz / 298g it is reasonable in weight for all its substance. I wish it was lighter but to get there Scarpa likely would have to lighten the upper and its durability and reduce the excellent all mountain terrain outsole’s profile. I think a variant with a Vibram LiteBase type outsole, slightly softer foam and a lighter upper with weight under 10 oz would extend the excellent platform’s versatility to other types of training and racing on the more moderate terrain side of things.


All in all the Kima RT and its technologies deliver as promised with an energetic stable carbon plated ride that shines on uphills and handles everywhere else with agility and a leg friendly if firmer ride.

Sam’s Score: 9.19 /10

Ride: 9  (for its intended technical trails purpose delivers. I wish for a slightly softer ride and lighter weight 

Fit: 9.1 ( again for intended purpose superb comfort and security when sized up a half size)

Value: 8.6 (durability should be excellent and carbon is pricey but I wish for a touch more smoother terrain ride softness versatility which would help value considerably

Style: 9 (no flash, all business and that is fine)

Traction: 10 (grips everywhere/everything but a bit too firm on firm and road at the heel

Rock Protection: 9.5 (so far nothing penetrates with ground feel is not lost but plate is a bit tippy on pointy obstacles 


Adam:  The Kima is a fantastic trail shoe that takes modern foam and plate technology and successfully reimagines it for dashing through the mountains.  While I’d love an even lighter and faster version, the dependability and versatility of this design had me grabbing it every time I wanted to go for a somewhat technical trail run.  I would strongly consider this for long trail races and big days in the mountains thanks to the cushion, efficiency, and dependable stability and comfort.

Adam’s Score9.35/10

Ride: 9.5 (Very much an ultra-style somewhat firm trail shoe, but with propulsion and protection of a carbon plate)

Fit: 9 (had to size up by ½ and slightly long, but no blisters or slipping)

Value: 9 (I’d compare this shoe to the S/Lab Ultra 3, and $10 more for a carbon plate is not a bad deal)

Style: 8 (Not a bad looking shoe, but I wish it had more of the lovely bright blue and less grey) 

Traction: 10 (Excellent)

Rock Protection: 10 (Can still feel the ground, but provides excellent rock protection, best of both)


Mike P:  A highly versatile shoe in mountain/alpine terrain.  This shoe will definitely go with me on my next trip to the Bavarian Alps.  They are as advertised in Sky Running type terrain, and I find them great for medium to long runs duration-wise.  The plate makes them highly efficient in that range, but for the very long haul, the weight would become noticeable as well as the firmness.  That’s no knock on them though, as that’s likely beyond the limits of their design. 


Mike P’s Score: 8.9 / 10

Ride: 9  Smooth and fast, yet also maneuverable and agile in the tech stuff
Fit: 8.5  Great security, but less taper up front would be welcomed

Value: 9  Though expensive, materials are premium and durable

Style: 9  Solid Alpine look, great looking as a hiker too 

Traction: 9  Great and versatile outsole & lug design

Rock Protection: 9.5 Great impact protection, would be firm over longer durations


12 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Scarpa Golden Gate ATR (RTR Review)

Sam: About 0.2 oz heavier and much higher stacked, the ATR is slotted as a more “door to trail” Golden Gate yet has almost as aggressive traction as Kima and about as secure if lighter upper. Unlike the Kima it is a rigid rocker shoe and is not as agile. Its midsole, while more cushioned in stack is on the firm side. Big mountains stay with Kima, more mellow trails some door to trail and up to moderately technical and longer distances Golden Gate but for me, for those purposes, I would go Spin Infinity. 


Scarpa Spin Infinity (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Infinity feels quicker, more lively and more suitable for longer distances with more cushion and a more accommodating toe box.

Sam:The Infinity is  a 4mm drop flex based shoe with considerably more stack height and forgiving cushion weighing ½ oz more and its weight not really noticed. I don’t find it quicker or more lively than our carbon plated Kima or to have significantly more accommodating toe box but for sure it is more suitable for longer distances and overall is a more versatile choice and $50 less.


Mike P (10.5):  Infinity has a nice and lively ride, and definitely suited to longer distances (100K +), with more cushioning.  The Kima more suited to running faster in rockier terrain.  Unfortunately for me, I found the fit of the Infinity way too tight at the forefoot, to the point of being unrunnable.  The Kima is much wider at the forefoot, although still on the overall snug side.


Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0):  The Agravic has a similar plate-based forward propulsive feel. Both shoes are on the stiff side, but with the Agravic being higher-stacked, the Kima’s are much more agile in technical terrain, while the Agravic’s are more cushioned.  The Agravics are more built for cruising speeds over ultra distances.  Unfortunately the Agravic suffers from a terribly stiff Achilles and ankle collar.  Both Nils and I suffered from similar rubbing and blister issues.  The Kima has a much more well-designed collar (despite the Achilles flap).



Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra  (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5, 10.0):  My current all-time favorite trail shoe, I have them in 2 sizes.  The 9.5 is comparable in sizing to the Kima in size 10 and one-third.  I ran a 50 miler in my size 10.0s, so I’d say the Adidas are better suited for a bit longer distances, but on more moderate terrain.  The Adidas feels a bit more agile due to being a full 2 ounces ligher, and has a similar impulse from their Torsion insert as Kima’s plate.  They are not as protective underfoot in rocky terrain though as the plated and thicker Presa rubber of the Kima.  I’d prefer the Speed Ultras for almost anything except for very rocky terrain (for the entirety of a run/event). 


Saucony Peregrine 12  (RTR Review)

Sam: Similar technical focus with great outsoles the Peregrine 12 is almost a full ounce lighter, has a more comfortable if not quite as ruggedized upper and instead of a carbon plate has a flexible woven rock plate. It’s single density PWRRUN midsole is firmer at the heel than the Kima’s. The Peregrine 12 likely will out run the Kima on shorter technical runs but as things get longer the substance and superior cushion plus carbon propulsion of the Kima will win out for me despite the weight difference. 


John: I find the Peregrine 12 to be more protective and firmer compared to the Kima RT.  Moreover, the Peregrine’s traction profile is more aggressive while the Kima still performs really well on most terrain. The outsole of the Kima is very sticky and excels at navigating through rock features. If I’m planning a long adventure peak bagging day, the energy return, cushion, and overall stability of the Kima makes it a top choice; for most other trail running, the Peregrine 12 is a perfect option.


Mike P (9.5):  A good comparison, I find the fit of the new Peregrine to be better, in fact, one of the best of any trail shoe right now.  But the upper materials of the Kima are more durable and protective.  Protection levels underfoot are similar.  Peregrine’s woven plate is more flexbile, and therefore more agile than the Kima.  But the Kima plate makes the shoe feel faster even though its quite a bit heavier.  The geometry of the Peregrine feels more oriented towards agile, technical running than pure straight ahead efficiency/speed.


Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

John: I feel like I say this everytime, but it is always worth reiterating: The Sense Pro 4 is one of my all-time favorites. The Sense Pro 4s are sock-like and form fitting in the upper, while the Kima RTs have more cushion and better energy  provide more play and more midsole cushion. If I am going fast and short in more technical terrain, I’ll go with the Sense Pro 4s, but I will put the Peregrines on for anything else.


Mike P (9.5):  Similar secure fit to the Kima, but the SP4 is narrower across the forefoot, uncomfortably so for me (along the lines of the Spin Infinity).  But others do find the fit amazing.  I agree with John - SP4s for fast and short, but they do feel a bit flat in anything non-technical.  The Kima’s have a smoother ride and better overall running geometry.


Saucony Endorphin Trail (RTR Review)

Sam: The Endorphin Trail is a rigid rocker based shoe with a state of the art PWRRUN PB midsole wrapped in a stabilizing net. Targeted at similar terrain, the Endorphin is less agile but more protective and considerably more cushioned. On a long slow run or hike on technical terrain the Endorphin Trail, for moving faster with not quite the deep protection Kima.


Adam:  I actually really enjoy the Endorphin Trail.  I find it much more cushioned, and an excellent hiking shoe relative to the Kima, but it doesn’t have the stability to hold up to aggressive mountain running.  For easy trail runs on less technical terrain or hiking, I’d pick the Endorphin Trail.  For racing, mountain running, and mixed terrain, I’d pick the Kima.  


Speedland SL:PDX (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Both have carbon plates, but the plate in the Speedland has more lateral flex and is more compliant on technical terrain.  The Speedland also has greater versatility, softer cushioning, is lighter and more responsive and has the best upper out there with dual Boa.  I do think the Kima has better traction and outsole durability.


Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Speedgoat is lighter, faster, has comparable grip, a more accommodating upper while being very secure and is quite stable for the stack height.  Also is much better suited for longer distances with softer, more cushioned midsole.  That said, the Kima is a bit more nimble and agile in technical terrain, with slightly better grip.

Mike P. (10.0):  Also agree with Jeff.  I wouldn’t do any fast & agile running in the Speedgoat.  SG for super-long ultras, Kima for short & technical ones. 

Sam: Concur with Jeff and Mike here.


Hoka Tecton X (RTR Review)

Sam: A direct duel of carbon plated trail shoes here. The Tecton, coming May weighs 1.5 oz / 42g less on a broader higher stacked platform. Its midsole is a springy supercritical foam. Its outsole is less aggressive but none the less effective Vibram LiteBase. It's dual plates are less flexible and less ground conforming but snappier on flatter terrain while Kim's more flexible plate and geometry shines best on uphills Tecton X's upper is lighterbut almost as equally secure but not quite.  Clear choice Tecton X for fast smoother trails and it is superb on roads, and for really any distance, while Kima the choice for wet conditions steeper and more technical trails.


Nike Terra Kiger (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Kiger is much softer, better cushioned, more flexible, with a normal fitting upper that borders on spacious, making the Kiger more appropriate for longer distances.  The Kima however is firmer, more secure and protective and has superior grip.

Jeremy: The Kiger now clearly leans towards long distance comfort with a hugging upper and a respectable amount of cushioning underfoot. The React foam is very springy and it makes the shoe perfect for long moderate terrain trail runs. The Kima as Jeff perfectly described is much more suited to mountain running with its far more secure upper, incomparable grip, and the sole firmness makes it very precise and effective on technical terrain. Thelma plate tech and dual midsole material combination are still also very effective for more tamed trails. I think that even for 4h trails I’d lean on the Kima, no matter the terrain. 

Mike P (10.0):  Agree with Jeff V. on all accounts.  In the realm of longer distance shoes, there are much better picks than the Terra Kiger.


Puma Voyage Nitro (RTR Review)

Jeremy: the Puma voyage is much softer underfoot as well as springier due to the Nitro foam core. The fit is nowhere as secure as the Kima’s, but it’s not the point of the Voyage. It’s clearly aiming at everyday, all-day comfort trail shoe that can handle a variety of conditions due to the low profile lugs and it’s great PumaGrip compound. It can also double as a hiking shoe as it’s upper is so comfortable. The Kima is a functional, effective technical trail running shoe.

Adam:  The Puma is softer underfoot, and is a better hiker.  The Kima is more technically inclined, much faster, and has more of a propulsive rocker forward from the plate and sole geometry.  

Mike P (9.5):  I, like the others, also tested the GTX version.  For me, the Kima is head and shoulders above the Puma in all aspects.  The Puma may have more cushioning, but the Kima is more protective with the plate, outsole, and denser foam.  The Puma takes pointy toeboxes to a new level.


Scott Supertrac Ultra RC (RTR Reviewd)

Jeff V:  The Supertrac is much lighter, more agile, more flexible, equally, if not more secure and with a more “normal” fit.  While the Supertrac does not have a carbon plate, it is reasonably protective for shorter runs.  The Kima however has better overall protection and might be a better pick for slower, above treeline adventures.  The Kima outsole also has slightly better grip and durability.

Jeremy: As much as a like the Supertrac, I think that except for short trail runs(<2h)  or faster ones where one would  favor agility, weight or flexibility, I’d take the Kima everyday. More comfortable, as secure an upper, even better grip especially on wet rocks or roots - the Scott will be better in muddy conditions with the Kima's carbon plate tech making it more effective on long climbs, and less demanding on the legs. 

Mike P (10.0):  To be clear, I have tested the “Supertrac Ultra RC”, not the regular “Supertrac RC”.  I find the SURC has a more protective feel underfoot - the midsole has a similar firm feel, but the SURC has a denser array of thicker 7mm lugs.  Those really serve to eat up any sharp rocks underfoot or other impact.  Also traction is better in looser terrain with the Scott.  I find the SURC also runs lighter than its weight - but due to its rocker design, as there’s no carbon plate.  The SURC does feel slightly heavier on foot though than the Kima.  The SURC is narrower across the forefoot, but there’s more volume across the top, so I actually find the SURC toebox more comfortable.  Both taper a bit at the front, so be sure to size correctly. 


VJ Ultra (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Ultra is way lighter, faster, more nimble, better cushioned, softer, more flexible with a secure, but normal fit.  The Kima is much more firm, protective and durable, and is better on slower outings above treeline, where the Ultra makes a very fast race shoe.

Mike P (10.5):  Agree with Jeff’s assessment.  The big difference is that the Kima is much more protective, while the VJ really gives a lot of ground feel since it’s so soft and flexible.  Kima for sure is much more durable.  I find the VJ more comfortable across the forefoot, but on the other hand the VJ tapers more sharply.  I had issues with pinky side pressure during longer races, but they’re fine for shorter stuff.  Take note of the sizing difference though - I had to go ½ above my normal size range with both the VJ Ultra and the Spark. 


Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 (RTR Review)

Adam:  I find this shoe quite similar to a plated S/Lab Ultra 3.  Cushion feel and outsole grip are similar. The S/Lab Ultra 3 is slightly better on super technical terrain because of the flexibility of sole to conform to rocks and roots, but the propulsion on any slightly less technical terrain and in climbing is much better in the Kima due to the plate, foam, and geometry. 


Brooks Catamount (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5):  The Catamount features a somewhat plate-like ride effect - but utilizes a ballistic rock shield vs. the carbon plate in the Kima.  I’d say the Kima has a smoother ride geometry while the Catamount has a more energetic foam and lighter weight.  Both are equally protective due to their plates and firm feel.  Both can also be slightly tippy and require care in technical terrain.  The Brooks more suited to moderate terrain, mid-longer distances.  The Kima more suited to technical, shorter-mid distances.  


The Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT launches globally April 13, 2022

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. 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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