Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Scott Ultra Carbon RC Multi Tester Review: 10 Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaksi, Jeremy Marie, and Marcel Krebs

Scott Ultra Carbon RC ($230)


Mike P: Scott trail running shoes have been known for their alpine mountain running orientation. A firmer ride, deep levels of protection, rockered ride design, and radial outsole traction are all hallmarks of their trail and mountain running shoe lineup . I’ve been able to test and run in several of their trail shoes and the slant towards rugged mountain terrain is absolutely noticeable. I find them great in those conditions, but a bit much and usually “too much” shoe in some regards for a lot of the tamer, more runnable terrain found in the American West.

Enter the Ultra Carbon RC - Scott’s first carbon-plated trail running shoe. Designed in collaboration with Scott athlete Cody Lind for Western States style terrain, i.e. rolling, not overly technical, and fast. The shoe has been out for a little while, and I’ve had it on my radar. I have to note that I was aware of the weight of the shoe, which is surprisingly on the heavier side. I’ve found Scott’s rockered ride design helps their shoes run lighter than their actual weight in the past. 

Now of course there’s a Carbitex plate in the mix, so I’m excited to see how that factors into the equation. 

Jeremy M. My only other experience with Scott trail running shoe offering is the Supertrac RC 2 (RTR Review), which happens to be one of my favorite light, go-fast yet protective all terrain trail running shoes. Despite being thought for technical terrain, I found it quite versatile on my tamed trails, with excellent traction and adequate protection for up to 30 kms runs

I have also reviewed the Scott Speed Carbon RC (RTR Review), their carbon-plated long distance road racing shoe , which offered a nice blend of easy-going, rolling and protective stable ride, without trying to be an all-out speed racing shoe fighting against the Alphafly or the other super shoes. I appreciated its dense cushioning and the very effective rocker. The carbon plate made by Carbitex was quite unique at the time, as it provides more flex at easier paces, gaining a more propulsive rigid flavor as the pace increases. 

The Ultra Carbon RC can be seen as the trail running counterpart to the Speed Carbon RC . The idea being to provide a shoe that excels on easy and rolling terrain as Mike described, thanks to its rocker shape and the Carbitex carbon plate. As I really appreciated the Speed Carbon RC, I was eager to review its trail sibling. 


Densely protective yet dynamic forefoot Sam/Mike P/Jeremy/Marcel

Highly secure toe box with welcome knit like top of toes stretch and give/Marcel

Comfortable fit overall, adequately roomy toebox Jeremy/Marcel 

Very, very stable if not particularly agile Sam/Mike P/Jeremy/Marcel 

Efficient, rockered ride - easy on the feet Mike P/ Jeremy 

Quality materials and construction Mike P/ Jeremy/Marcel

Good traction on majority of dry terrains Jeremy/Marcel

Runs lighter that it weighs Jeremy 


Overly rigid rear platform: the plate, heel counter, collars: Sam/Mike P/Jeremy/Marcel

Wish the foam was slightly softer and more dynamic in rebound Sam/Mike P/Jeremy/Marcel 

Weight despite the high stack of 35/30 could be lower. Sam/Mike P/Jeremy/Marcel

Ankle collar and especially Achilles collar too high and rigid Mike P

Despite the high collar, heel hold feels lacks a bit Jeremy/Mike P/Marcel

Value is in line with other “super” shoes, IF you have no fit issues Mike P


Estimated Weight 311g/ 11 oz (US men’s 9)

  Samples: men’s US 10.0 - 11.8 oz  / 334 g US 10.5 - 341g/ 12 oz

Stack Height: men’s 37mm heel (measured) / 32mm forefoot (5mm drop spec) 

Available now. $230

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Mike P: The first impression is that the shoe makes quite an entrance - the media package I received is designed so that when you open it up, the shoes slide down seemingly onto a pedestal for display. Notably included in the box is an additional Carbitex plate. Carbitex’s GearFlex plate flexes more easily in one direction while the other is a lot stiffer. More will be discussed in the midsole section below. But it’s pretty cool to play around with the plate and test the flex in hand. 

[The Achilles area is very high, and also angled forward towards the Achilles. The ankle collar rises at a sharp angle towards the uppermost eyelet. Danger?]

The materials and construction of the shoe are, as expected from Scott, refined and top notch. It just gives you the feeling of a high end product - and I’m not just saying that for this shoe specifically. All of the Scott shoes I’ve run have given the same impression. 

Moving on to the specifics - yes, the shoe is objectively heavy. 11.8 oz (334g) (US 10.0) is not what I have in mind when I think about a carbon-plated super shoe. It’s definitely on the heavy end of the scale in terms of all the shoes I’ve run and tested. They do list a spec of 300g for a US 9, which does seem optimistic to me as translated from my US10 a US9 should come it at about 311g/ 11 oz.

The fit of the shoe also feels quite refined from the midfoot through the toebox (more on the rear later). 

[Good width across the forefoot, nicely squared off at the front - secure, no issues up front]

The midfoot is secure and well held, and the toebox has just the right amount of width across the forefoot to be well-held, yet not too squeezy. 

The front of the toebox sits somewhere between rounded and tapered - somewhat squarish, but totally fine - I feel no toe pressure at all.

[The part of the collar I am pointy to is extremely hard, almost like rigid plastic, and that hits right along the bottom of my ankle bone. Of the 4 areas (inside/outside x 2 shoes), some feel harder than others. There seems to be variation in how the edges of the materials overlap and are sewn/glued together.]

Moving on the rear of the shoe - when initially trying them on, I definitely feel some pressure from the front of the ankle collar near the lace eyelets. It feels rigid and stiff, and I sense some digging into the bottom of my ankle bones. 

The heel area features a ring of padding along the inside, above the heel bone. It’s not really shaped as a “cup”, but relies on the padding to hold the heel down. Also, the very rear of the shoe angles back towards the Achilles, and the collar at the Achilles is quite high. 

Fit-wise, I’m sized perfectly in a US 10, with a thumbs-width of space in front of the toes. That’s a half size over my typical true to size US 9.5. This was expected and in line with other Scott shoes that I have - they run a touch small. I could get away with a 9.5, but not for ultra distances.

Jeremy Mike perfectly described the technical aspects of the shoe. Mine came in my usual 10.5 US and it’s a perfect fit, if a hair on the shorter end of my preferences. Still I have some room in front of my toes in a moderately spacious toebox. 

The shape of the toebox goes well with my feet, as it was the case in the Supertrac RC2. It offers some space but not Altra-like space and is more in line with the latest Salomon trail shoes (Pulsar Pro). 

My widish feet are well held in the midfoot area, without any pressure point or discomfort. The laces stretch quite a bit, an interesting trait for an ultra running oriented shoe; it will conform with increasing foot volume as the miles pile up.

The upper looks and feels quite thin, with its highly perforated, see-through outer mesh, doubled by an inner sleeve. There’s not a lot of overlays or inserts to add stability: it looks like pure functional design. The gusseted tongue is moderately thick, and does a perfect job of annihilating any lace pressure.

Then, with such a pared down upper, you might ask where the weight of the shoe comes from? Because it’s definitely a heavy shoe: my 10.5US weighs in at a hefty 341g. I think the only other trail shoe I’ve tried in the same ballpark was the Saucony Endorphin trail. Not a good memory. 

First there are the heel and ankle collars. Both sit high, and I experienced the same issue as Mike with rubbing at the base of my ankle, especially on the external side. It seems that a rigid plastic piece here is way too close to the foot, and the collar could have been opened up a bit more. This was felt as soon as I put the shoes on. It might be a personal issue, but Mike and I felt the same…

Then the top of the heel collar, in the exact same manner, could have been both lower and less rigid. The heel counter is heavily rounded and its top part is angled towards the heel. The high collar, topped with a rigid piece then applies some pressure against the heel. While it’s not immediately felt as for the ankle issue, it took just a few miles on the run to become evident.

Too much rigid material, not really well placed: some weight could have been saved here, and some comfort gained. 

 Now, it’s not all bad at all for the Ultra RC. The comfort of the shoe is really good -  save for the ankle and heel area-, the foothold is great, materials and quality are top notch as you can expect from Scott. 

Marcel: Mike and Jeremy described all the details regarding upper and fit in all of its details, so that i will focus on my personal impressions here.

As far as the fit is concerned, it is TTS for me. If in doubt, I would size up because it runs a tiny bit short.

Even for my wider forefoot, the toebox is accommodating and leaves enough wiggle room for swelling of the foot over time. 

The toebox is not exceptionally wide, but the airy und a little bit stretchy upper so adapts well to the individual footshape.

Regarding the high (heel) collar I can report that I totally get where the issues Mike and Jeremy described are coming from. These are indeed design issues Scott should take a closer look at for the next iteration of the Ultra Carbon RC. 

For me personally, it was felt but did not have any negative implication - at least not on distances up to 25k. Therefore, this is clearly a point you should look at when trying the Ultra Carbon RC on for the first time.

The overall built quality is excellent like always with Scott. It’s for sure a premium product.


Mike P: The Ultra Carbon RC rides on a specified 25/20mm stack - this must not include the outsole, lasting board, and sockliner as I manually measure a more ultra-ready 37mm at the heel, which gives 37/32mm based on 5mm spec drop. 

As expected, the midsole is quite dense and firm, there’s no mush to the ride here, and also no sensation of rebound or bounce. The sensation is one of density and protection, and the feeling that the shoe will never bottom out. It definitely has the protection to go for 100M or more, as long as you don’t prefer a softer feel underfoot.

The Carbitex GearFlex plate is sandwiched somewhere in the middle of that midsole. Given the density of the foam itself, you cannot feel the plate at all underfoot (more in the ride section below). From the midfoot through the rear, the shoe is quite stiff, with very little flex in any direction. 

The GearFlex plate does feature a deep, forked design in the rear, so it’s a bit difficult to imagine how that translates into the ride given the stiffness of the rear overall. 

Up front, Scott’s “ER2 - Evolved Rocker Technology” is noticeable. Around the front of the ball of the foot, there’s a clear rocker which allows the shoe to easily roll onto the toes. It’s an effortless forward momentum, aided additionally by the embedded carbon plate. It does feel-energy saving and is surely efficient, as there’s less foot activation necessary to transition from landing through toe-off. 

Jeremy: The Kinetic Light foam used in the midsole seems to use the same formulation as the Speed Carbon RC, which is a blend of EVA and Olefin, in the same fashion as Nike’s React for instance, but in Scott’s own formulation. 

The result here is a very dense foam, even less bouncy and reactive than the already quite dense midsole used in the Speed Carbon RC. The good thing is that it provides an inherently stable ride, even more so with the Carbitex GearFlex plate sandwiched in the middle. The bad aspect of this is that it’s probably a reason for the excessive weight, and it might be a bit too firm. 

The GearFlex carbon plate is the new name given to the DFX plate found in the Speed Carbon. It keeps the same ability to stay flexible - in the carbon plate world - at lower speeds to avoid any unnecessary fatigue, and being more rigid, giving more pop when picking up the pace. This sounds like quite an interesting behavior for a trail shoe where some flex is still necessary on technical parts, and the propulsion provided by a carbon plate and the rocker geometry should make rolling stretches easier to manage. 

Note that in order to minimize rigidity of the shoe, the plate is forked at both ends. We’ll see in the « Ride » section that it might not be enough still.  

Marcel: While Scott is known for their midsoles being on the firmer side of the spectrum, I was still surprised how firm the midsole of the Ultra Carbon RC has been designed. 

This might be influenced by the fact that also on trails the trend goes to softer midsoles especially for those models which are targeted as ultra running shoes for flowing trails such the Ultra Carbon RC is intended for.

Because of this firmness, the forged design of the Carbitex plate could not really been felt, while the ER2 rocker is very present even on slower paces which is a good thing for sure (more on this in the ‘Ride’-section.


Mike P: Scott deeps this outsole their “Ultra Traction” outsole - “designed specifically for ultra races on fast rolling trails”. You can see the somewhat radial design of the lug orientation above - the lugs are angled towards the center, mainly under the forefoot. In the rear they’re also somewhat oriented towards the center, although mainly angled for braking. At 5mm, and with not that many lugs, the emphasis is less on wet and rugged terrain, but more dry dirt, mostly smooth, and fast. Think - Western States.  

I primarily tested them on dry dirt, and found performance to be good, but nothing special. Being that there’s not much lug surface contact, I did detect a little bit of slip on very dry, loose, sandy type terrain. 

I did a few side-by-side tests with the new Brooks Catamount 2, and I found the Cat 2 gripped better in that type of dry terrain. It has more lugs, so therefore more surface area, especially under the forefoot, which I think makes the difference. Perhaps in thicker, looser, gravely/rocky type conditions, Scott’s radial design would have an edge. 

Jeremy: Departing from Scott’s usual Radial traction, the Ultra Carbon lugs follow what Scott calls a semi-radial design. The triangle-shaped lugs are oriented towards the exterior of the shoe on the sides, and facing forward in the center portion. 

There’s no flexing groove at the front, and just a very slight, almost figurative one at the heel, that I’d have a hard time calling a decoupling design. 

The center of the outsole exposes the midsole, saving a tiny bit of weight here and probably helping a bit with torsional flexibility. 

The compound used in the midsole proved to be very effective even on hard wet surfaces. On forest trails with soft ground, but not muddy, the traction was very good and I cannot criticize it for the large majority of terrain, save from the most specific ones. 

After 80kms, I don’t notice any sign of early wear.

Marcel: The radial design, my colleagues already described worked pretty for trail conditions which the Ultra Carbon RC is designed for: morely dry and flowing trails, gravel roads and similar surfaces.

Also on frozen (not icy!) trails it performed well. 

I also like the comparatively large surface area of each lugs which leads to a smooth run also on concrete passages.


Jeremy: Dense, leaning on the firm side of the spectrum, is how I’d describe how the Ultra RC feels when running.

The shoe is stable by design, thanks to a wide platform and the firm foam along with the carbon plate. It results in a very directed ride, meant to go « comfortably fast » on easy trails. 

Despite the GFX plate advertised as « flexible when you go easy », I had a hard time finding any give to the shoe’s rigidity. You will rely on Scott’s excellent rocker profile to « go through » the shoe during the gait. Once I got used to this, I found the Ultra RC to be quite easy to run, despite always feeling like a firm shoe. There’s no flexibility at all, so I’d advise to stay out of technical terrain as you won’t get any adaptability to what’s under your feet. Nor any feeling of it by the way. 

But that’s exactly what Scott has designed the shoe for: long distance easy trails meant to be run fast. And for this, I find that it excels, as soon as you’re OK with a dense and firm cushioning. I usually go well with this kind of cushioning flavor, despite the lack of « fun » or bounce we’re getting used to. 

Of course, it all could have been ok without the elephant in the room: the ankle and heel issue. It wasn’t as extreme for me as it is for Mike P., but it wasn’t comfortable at all. The heel hold is a bit loose despite all its rigidity, and it creates more rubbing around my external ankles due to tiny shoe movement. I still hope for the upper to soften a bit more but it hasn’t been the case for 50 miles still….and it’s a shame because I really like how the Ultra RC runs. 

It’s an easy rolling shoe , stable, firm, and I ended up running faster than I thought. Of course shaving 30g off  the shoe could do no harm, as the weight while sensible, is really too high by today's standards. 

Mike P: What Scott has designed here is an ultra-protective, stiff, rockered and efficient ride - built for “speed” over the long haul. The density of the foam provides the protection - although not a softly cushioned feel. I suspect that the dense foam blend also provides a good portion of the weight of the shoe. You have to rely on both the rocker design and the Carbitex plate in order to keep all that shoe rolling along for miles and miles and hours and hours.

Given Scott’s intentions for  the shoe, I have to say that they do hit the mark. The shoe rides exactly as described above. I’ve been a fan of Scott’s rockered design, and I’ve always loved their protective feel underfoot. My feet always feel great, no soreness, or instability causing ankle issues. 

That said I have to admit though that the weight of the shoe is felt on the run. It does absolutely ride faster than any near-12 oz shoe that I’ve run, but when turning the legs over, that weight is still felt on your legs. I think there has to be a way to shave at least 1 oz from the shoe - it still wouldn’t be super light, but at least it would be more palatable.

The Ultra Carbon RC is not meant for technical terrain. The shoe does not flex or contour over anything underfoot.  You really need a stable launch point under each step to get the most out of the shoe. Perhaps some moderate terrain could be managed with close attention, but over ultra distances, maintaining that level of attention could become quite difficult. The midfoot through the rear of the shoe is very stiff - there’s very little flex to avoid having your foot thrown in one direction or another.

Now onto the bad. For me, the shoe has one big caveat - the issues I mentioned in the first impressions section about the ankle/achilles collar. Those became major problems on the run. 

Initially I thought the ankle collar would give me the most problems, but it turned out that the Achilles collar was much worse. Given the stiffness of the rear of the shoe, and the high collar at the Achilles, it absolutely grated my right Achilles. The left for some reason wasn’t as bad, but was still noticeable and likely it was just a matter of time. I did an initial 2hr10 (14M) test run in them which was uncomfortable but manageable. That first run definitely softened up the skin around my Achilles. I tried to give them an extra rest day, but still I had to cut my 2nd run short at 30 minutes with the skin on my Achilles blistered and raw. 

[In this pic you can see how the collar of the right shoe affects my Achilles. It’s digging in.]

I relieved some tension with the ankle collar near the eyelets by only lacing to the lowest of the top 3 eyelets, but that does make the shoe less secure in the heel. I’m pretty sure with normal lacing my ankles would be pretty messed up, if I could somehow get to that point without my Achilles causing me to tap out first. 

[My mods - trimmed down Achilles collar, punched a 4th upper lace eyelet to try to reduce ankle collar pressure, shorter laces. I also trimmed the ankle collar a little, but it’s not exactly the correct spot where the pressure is (circled in red - may need further mods)]

I did some further testing by heavily taping my Achilles, but with minimal relief. I then took the drastic step of taking a utility knife to the Achilles collar and trimming it down quite a bit. This did provide some relief (trust me, I would not have done this if I didn’t otherwise really like the shoe). Still, it’s a shame as I really do like the ride of the shoe - I’m a fan of firm and stable rides, and the rocker and plate really keep them rolling along. Even with my mods, I’m not quite sure if the collar issues remain too risky for long training or racing.

Marcel: With the Scott Carbon RC, the ride almost feels like running on rails. The dense and firm midsole does not provide any ground contact or flexibility. There is also no bounciness as we know it from other ultra oriented foams.

At the same time, the ER2 rocker propels you forward in a very consistent and effective manner.

For me the ride was most pleasant at faster paces around ~4 min/km as the rocker & carbonplate combination in those pace ranges really started to work together in an effective manner. Nonetheless especially at those faster paces the weight of the Ultra Carbon RC becomes really noticeable. 

As far as the comfort is concerned, I can only confirm what I already stated before: I totally get where the issues are coming from which especially Mike has experienced but for me personally, it did not have a negative effect on my runs. I experienced a very slight heel slippage which was negligible because of the good overall fit of the Ultra Carbon RC.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Mike P:  The Ultra Carbon RC is a shoe I really wanted to like - and it’s a shoe that I really do like. But the collar issues are pretty much a dealbreaker for me. After running/testing literally hundreds of trail shoes, there’s only one other shoe that comes to mind in terms of such an uncomfortable collar - the Adidas Agravic Ultra (not good company). I always have difficulty understanding why some shoes resort to using stiff and tight wrapping collars. Not once have I had a shoe where I thought that a tightly wrapping collar enhanced foothold or the shoe in general. A well fitted heel cup should really dispense with any need for a stiff and tight collar at all. 

Despite its weight, and putting aside the collar issue, I really do like the shoe a lot and think the ride would be effective and efficient for a very long ultra. If the shoe’s features strike you as something that would work for you in an ultra in fast terrain - I’d recommend giving it try-on. If the collar is no bother for you, it’s a great shoe.

Mike P’s Score:  8.15 / 10

Ride: 9 - Really like the ride - for the intended fast, rolling terrain over ultra distances 

Fit: 7 - Midfoot/Front - great. Rear - especially the ankle & Achilles collar - poor for me. Hopefully the collar is not an issue for you

Value: 7 - It’s a high priced shoe for a specific purpose. I suspect most runners, especially in the US, would want a softer feel. 

Style: 9 - Not loud or overstated, but still sleek and somewhat racy looking

Traction: 8 - Ok, for intended terrain

Rock Protection: 10 - Not intended for “rocky” terrain necessarily, but ultra-protective, distance and duration wise 

Smiles 😊😊😊

Jeremy unfortunately I’ll end up with the same « missed occasion » feeling as Mike P. for the Ultra RC. I really like the ride of the shoe, its quality,  but the issue around the ankles and heel makes it quite a bet to buy without trying. 

On the cushioning side, I also would have preferred a slightly less firm midsole. I still think that the compromise found in the Speed Carbon RC was great and would have hoped to get the same here. Durability looks really great so far be it on the paper or the outsole. It’s a great shoe with a big caveat, that might not even exist for you. Let’s hope Scott finds a universal solution for the next iteration. 

Jeremy’s Score:  8.5 / 10

Ride: 9 - Easy, fast, if a bit firm. 

Fit: 7 - Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: perfect midfoot hold and toebox space, ugly rubbing around the ankle and Achilles. 

Value: 8 - Scott products are usually « premium », both in quality and price. The Ultra RC looks durable and giving its intended purpose, should not suffer much and can take lots of miles. 

Style: 9 - Classic Scott RC style. Elegantly flashy. 

Traction: 8 - Nothing particular here, works great for its intended terrain purposes

Rock Protection: 10 - almost too much, especially given what the shoe’s designed for. 

Smiles 😊😊😊😊

Marcel: While I did not experience the issues with the collar like my fellow colleagues, I still struggle to find a suitable place in my shoe rotation for the Scott Ultra RC even though the flowing trails in my area are almost perfect terrain on paper for it. 

While it performs best at higher paces, the weight seems a little high for those shorter races. On the other hand, for ultra distances I would wish for a softer ride which of course comes down to personal preferences. 

So what is the Scott Ultra Carbon RC best suited for? If you value the high built quality Scott is known for, have a preference for a firmer ride in combination with an effective rocker, you should have a closer look at the Ultra Carbon RC and give it a try before you buy to make sure you are not negatively affected by the high collars around the ankle and the achilles. 

Marcel’s Score:  8.6 / 10

Ride: 8.5 - runs smooth through the gait cycle while being a little bit firm with weight felt at faster paces which are at the same time the sweet spot of the shoe. 

Fit: 8.5 - very good midfoot hold, enough wiggle room in the toe box even for a little wider forefoots; high collars around ankle and achilles a potential issue (but not for me). 

Value: 8 - Even though the built quality is excellent, the use cases for the Ultra Carbon RC are limited; if you are looking for a long lasting shoe with a firm ride and an effective rocker, you get a good bang for your buck

Style: 8.5 - Jeremy nailed it: classic Scott Racing style. 

Traction: 8.5. - Outsole does what it is expected to do in the intended use cases

Rock Protection: 10 - excellent protection on any kind of surface but at the price that there is no ground feel at all 

Smiles 😊😊😊😊

10 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Scott Supertrac 3

Mike P (10.0): An all-mountain ultra shoe designed for much more technical terrain. It features a similar firm, rockered, flexible at the toes ride as the Ultra Carbon RC. But there’s a bit less stack and more ground feel, especially under the forefoot. I am surprised at how agile this shoe feels in technical terrain for such a seemingly stiff shoe (also somewhat heavy). The UC RC has more foam/protection underfoot, a wider base, and is unstable in technical terrain. But it would surely be faster and more efficient over a long day over faster terrain. The Supertrac 3 has deep 7mm lugs, made to handle more rugged mountain terrain. A strikingly different collar design as well - the Supertrac’s is thick and poofy, with no discernable edge, yet it secures the heel better with no fuss or irritation.

Scott Supertrac RC2 (RTR Review)

Jeremy (10.5): Totally different shoes. Can be a perfect pair to cover both mountainous terrain and easy trails for long outings. High traction, flexibility, and ground feel for the Supertrac, versus loads of dense cushioning, no flex nor ground feel for the Ultra RC. 

Adidas Agravic Ultra (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): A shoe similar in many ways - deep firm cushion, stiff, carbon plated rocker oriented ride. The Adidas was curiously marketed towards technical terrain, yet I found it as similarly stiff and unstable in that type of terrain as the UC RC. Most similar is the heel collar, the highest Achilles heel I’ve ever seen and the rest of the collar around the ankle is extremely rigid. The UC RC’s are comparable, which is not a good thing. Aside from the collar, the UC RC is a much better shoe, and I’d recommend the UC RC 100% over the Agravic Ultra.

Brooks Catamount 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5):  Recently reviewed, the Cat 2 is a top shoe for me - 2023 and all-time. It features a propulsion plate (non-carbon) which similarly to the UC RC feels somewhat propulsive, but is more so flexible up front towards the toes. The Cat 2 has generally less underfoot than the UC RC, which makes it quite a bit more agile and fast feeling. The nice wide forefoot gives great ground feel and allows it to perform much better in more technical terrain. The UC RC would likely keep your feet better protected all day. I’m not sure yet how far/long I could take the Cat 2. 

Hoka Mafate Speed (RTR Review)

[Note the difference in shape/height of the heel, and ankle collars. The Hoka’s heel is vertical while the Scott’s is curved back towards the Achilles. Hard to tell, but the Hoka’s ankle collar is lower overall and also does not slope upwards so sharply towards the eyelets.]

Mike P (10.0): The UC RC feels closer to the previous version (V3) of the Mafate Speed. The V3 Mafate was much stiffer, yet still pretty technically capable over longer distances at slower ultra-type paces. V3 was also somewhat challenged with heel hold - the stiffer the shoe, the harder to lock down the heel. Overall V3 I found to be a much more versatile shoe than the UC RC. Mafate Speed 4 is much more soft and flexible, with great foothold and upper comfort. It skews slightly more towards technical terrain, and it’s not as fast as the Scott in non-tech smoother terrain. The UC RC would be a much better pick for going fast for a long time over runnable terrain.

Marcel (10.0): The Mafate Speed 4 (I did not run in the 3) has a much softer and bouncier (non-plated) midsole, but a less pronounced rocker which leads to a very natural ride. The foothold of the Ultra Carbon RC is good but the one of the Mafate Speed 4 is even better. It also has deeper lugs and a much grippier outsole (even after 200km, it still sticks to concrete like no other compound I am aware of). In addition, it is more than 20g lighter even with its extensive cushioning. If you a prefer a firmer ride with a carbon plate and a very effective rocker, have a closer look at the Scott Ultra Carbon RC, otherwise go with the Mafate Speed 4.

Hoka Tecton X (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): Another top pick for me - the Tecton X blends the best qualities of the Mafate Speed 3 and 4, with exceptionally low weight. It’s so light on foot, with so much soft cushion, is decently fast given its parallel carbon plates, yet is still flexible enough to handle most terrain. I’d definitely favor the Tecton X in most mountain terrain, but I think the Ultra Carbon RC can possibly be faster for more straight-ahead runnable terrain. It would come down to how you feel about the weight of the UC RC. Tecton X is nearly 2.5 oz(!) lighter in a US 10. Count me as being on the fence at this point - I’m just not sure how much the added weight would be a negative factor over an extended run. 

Marcel (10.0): The Tecton-X was my trail shoe of the year 2022 which says a lot. It’s bouncy, propulsive and incredibly light. Foothold is excellent too. Its nly weakness is durability of the upper in some cases, especially if you have a wider forefoot. This issue should be fixed with v2 which uses a new Matryx® upper. Both shoes feature an outsole which is geared towards dry conditions. If you prefer a firm ride have a look at the Ultra Carbon RC. Everyone else picks the Tecton-X.

Norda Satisfy  001 (RTR Review)

Jeremy(10.5) The Norda Satisfy 001 came as an incredibly good surprise for me. Lighter than the Scott, more flexible, more versatile, I think it covers way more situations with more success. Its fit is even better, and that’s without taking the ankle/heel collar issue of the Ultra RC into account. I think the only time where I’d choose the Scott over the Norda would be in the specific case for which the Ultra RC has been designed: long easy trail running, where its propulsive rocker geometry and plate are definitely very effective. 

Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro (RTR Review)

Jeremy (10.5) at the cost of a bit less cushioning, the Salomon brings you a more flexible platform yet one that is still very propulsive thanks to its Energy Blade « forked » plastic plate design. It is more than adequate for technical terrain, has equally as good traction, and a less firm midsole (while still on the dense side), with more bounce. And you’ll save a hefty 60g per shoe. That’s close to 20% of the weight. 

Saucony Endorphin Edge (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Another Carbitex-plated shoe. Interestingly, the Edge’s plate is more deeply split up front, while the UC RC’s plate is mainly split at the rear (slightly split up front as well). Honestly it’s really hard to determine how much the split plates affect either shoe. The UC RC is so stiff in the rear that I can’t imagine it flexing very much at all. The Edge is so explosive and bouncy, with ground contact time feeling so short that I wonder again how the split affects the ride. Perhaps it would be un-runnably unstable without the split that it does have. The Edge is a much lighter, softer, bouncy, go fast ride - you need to be on your toes to control them. The Scott is much smoother, stable, and efficient - and more foot friendly over longer distances.

Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The ride of the new Xodus Ultra 2 feels vaguely similar to the UC RC, except softer cushioned, and without the efficient plated smoothness of the UC RC. Due to those factors, the XU 2 also handles technical terrain better, and is a more versatile pick for training and most general trail running conditions. The UC RC is a specific tool for a specific race-day job. The XU 2’s upper is nicely secure and comfortable (except for a bit too much taper towards the toes). The perfect upper blend of the two shoes would be the XU 2’s rear and midfoot with UC RC’s forefoot width and toebox shape.

Tester Profiles

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 recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

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 more 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. He has an un-official marathon PR of 2h54 (solo) and 10K PR of 36’25. He does few timed road races.

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Jeff Valliere said...

Ouch! Bummer on the collar issues and the weight sounds like a bit of a drag. Hopefully they pay close attention to the feedback (as more and more companies seem to be doing).

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much longer Scott will be in shoe business.

Jeff Valliere said...

Anon, Scott makes some amazing shoes, it just sounds like these need a few key revisions. It happens to the best sometimes.

Mike P said...

They're not as known in the US yet since they mainly focus on alpine terrain (very different). I'm a fan of Scott for sure, and haven't had this type of fit issue with other Scott shoes I've run in.

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