Sunday, July 28, 2013

SCOTT T2 Kinabalu Review (fall update)

You may notice that most of this review is copied from my original review of the Kinabalu. All of the technical jargon is the same. However, I have included some minor updates that have been made to the shoe as well as more feedback from yours truly, as this has been the only pair of shoes I've been wearing recently.
With athletes like Korey Konga, Sage Canaday, Ian Sharman, Joe Gray , Marco De Gasperi and Meghan Arbogast sporting the T2 Kinabalus and all but one of those athletes being sponsored by SCOTT sports, you may find yourself asking "Why are they wearing those and why haven't I tried them yet?" And that's a good question. Why haven't you tried these shoes?
Weighing in at 9.5oz for a mens size 9 with a traditional 11mm heel to toe differential and an MSRP of $120: the SCOTT T2 Kinabalu.

The most noticeable change in the Kinabalu with this update is the colorway. I like both designs, but this one is definitely a little more low key, which I think will appeal to most runners. SCOTT also removed the honeycomb overlays.The triangular patterns behind the SCOTT logo on both the medial and lateral side of the shoe seem to be purely aesthetic. I've been told that the new design will give the upper a longer life.
The first thing you'll notice when you slip these shoes on is the amount of padding lining the upper. SCOTT did a fantastic job of providing out of the box comfort. The mesh upper is soft, flexible and padded very well from heel to tongue to toebox, providing a plush, pillowy feel as soon as you slip your foot inside. 
There is ample room in the toebox, but not so much that bombing switchbacks causes internal slippage. Runners who prefer an excessively wide toe box may not be satisfied with the Kinabalu's width, but I feel it's the perfect balance for a performance trail shoe.
As I mentioned above, SCOTT removed the synthetic honeycomb overlays, even so, the upper remains flexible and unrestrictive while still providing support. I have found that as comfortable as the upper is right out of the box, there is a break in period before these shoes truly shine to their fullest potential. I even opted to wear my older Kinabalus for the SOB 50 Mile because they felt that much better.
There is a lightweight toe bumper that runs around the front of the shoe and slightly up over the big toe. I have turned over plenty of rocks with my toes while not paying attention, even falling on my face during the SOB 50, and have found the toe bumper to be exceptionally protective.
The laces are very long, but SCOTT included a “lace bungy” to tuck them under so they stay out of your way. It’s not fancy, but it’s quick, easy and functional.

Ah the midsole! I love the ride in these bad boys. It’s a neutral shoe with plenty of cushion. SCOTT’s claim to fame, in regards to the midsole, are Aero Foam and eRide technologies. Aero Foam provides a plush and forgiving yet responsive ride. It is SCOTT’s alternative to traditional EVA foam. They claim that Aero Foam is “25% lighter [than traditional EVA], performs 50% better in high weight-relative peak cushioning efficiency and has 5% less permanent foam deformation (compression set)”.
It’s the perfect blend of cushioning and responsiveness that leaves me thinking about these shoes long after the run is over. The last time I felt a comparable midsole that I was this excited about was Nike’s Lunarglide 2 (up until now, the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever run in).
SCOTT also does something interesting and innovative with the their midsoles called eRide . eRide  is SCOTT’s unique rocker shape design of the midsole which encourages a midfoot strike and provides a more fluid and efficient transition from foot strike to toe off. It achieves this smooth transition by “converting impact energy into forward motion by propelling the athlete onto the forefoot as quickly as possible”. SCOTT claims that eRide provides  the following benefits:  “1. Healthy Body Position 2. [ Energy Efficiency ] 3. Natural Midfoot Strike 4. Lower Profile Heel 5. Smoother Ride 6. Minimal and Lighter weight”.
At first the rocker shape wasn't that noticeable to me, but as I clicked off the miles it became apparent that the design really was encouraging a midfoot strike, which made the 11mm drop feel more like 4-6mm drop. The eRide technology is also noticeable during fast descents; as soon as my heels hit the trail they immediately transition to toe off in one quick, fluid motion. I have to say, it feels pretty awesome.
The Kinabalu also features a lightweight composite “push through plate” to protect you from the occasional misstep onto a jagged rock. I've run on some rough terrain; technical climbs and rocky descents in the kinabalu with no discomfort due to rock bruising. One word: Protective.
There are also  4 drainage ports: 2 in the heel  and 2 in the toebox. They do a good job of doing what a hole in a shoe should do: they let water out. The drainage ports are another simple and functional feature that I think more companies should incorporate into their designs.

The outsole is comprised of multi directional rubber lugs. SCOTT calls it “Aero Foam Wet Traction Rubber”. The thing I like about the outsole is that the grip performs exceptionally well on off road terrain in various environments, but also strikes a nice balance on the road. The tread is more aggressive than a hybrid shoe, but it still manages to respond very well and ride smoothly on long stretches of pavement. That seems to be a balance other trail specific shoes have trouble achieving. I LOVE bombing down hills in these shoes and can do so without the fear of my feet slipping out from under me.

I would consider this shoe a mid volume shoe with a standard toebox.  My foot is medium volume, medium width or “normal” (whatever that is) and they fit me well. However, it's worth noting that until I broke the shoe in and got the lacing dialed in just right, the toebox felt a little narrow and there was a little slippage in the heel.
That being said, I feel they fit true to size, especially after breaking them in and lacing them up to your liking. The upper wraps the midfoot securely and the toebox leaves just enough room for a little swelling and toe splay, but not so much that it compromises performance on technical trails.
After a few runs you’ll notice these shoes set and mold to your foot, becoming even more comfortable, almost as if they are customizing to your feet.

I love these shoes. Ever since I bought my first pair they have been my main trainer and racer, including the SOB 50 mile, where my feet were the only part of my body that felt good. When SCOTT sent me the update to review, I was ecstatic! They look sharp and feel great. This is a top of the line performance trail shoe.
So, if you’re looking for a solid pair of light weight trail runners with a stable platform and a good amount of cushioning that can be used for both training and racing on various surfaces and distances ranging from 10K’s to Ultras, then look no further. These shoes are awesome.
Thank you to the kind folks at SCOTT sports for providing these shoes for review.
Here's nifty tool from SCOTT to help you find a local dealer. Trust me, they're worth finding.

The Pug Approves

Feel free to follow me on twitter @koreykonga

What are your thoughts on the SCOTT T2 Kinabalu?


  1. So noticed that the review was three years old but I just bought a pair of these on the cheap. I felt the treads didn't do so well on slick rocks. How has your experience been now that you probably wore these all over? I ask since I run in an area (New England/Upstate NY) that is slick rock city. I was just wondering if this was just me this one time.

    1. Hey Metis!
      Yea it's been a while since I've run in a pair of Scott's. I remember them doing ok on slick rock, but really haven't found a ton of rubbers that are superb on that type of stuff. I've hears La Sportiva makes a pretty good sticky rubber for slick rock and I found NB's Hydro Hesion (on the vazee summit) is also pretty sticky.
      But as you're experiencing, even a lot of "grippy" rubbers aren't awesome on that terrain.
      Happy running!

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