Athlete Greg Boswell takes the Atom S Evo into the the saturated wilds of Scotland to push the limits of this pure trail-running shoe.
So, I’ve been using the Scarpa Atom S Evo for a month now. Since getting them I’ve done roughly 140km of hill running in them, including one race and a whole lot of mud squelching. I’m loving using these lightweight and responsive shoes, and as we go into the winter months, I can see me getting a lot more use out of them and especially their protective Outdry uppers.
Out of the box
My first impression of the Atom S Evo was, wow they’re bright! But whether you love or hate the bright colour scheme (I’m a lover), you can’t help but notice how well these shoes have been designed. The integrated ankle length gaiter with its inventive and minimal Lace Protection System (LPS) give the shoe a sleek and protective look, whilst the feel on the foot is super snug and supportive without it being too tight. The shoes ARSG last makes the foot feel like it is being cupped in the forefoot which gives a responsive and comfortable fit, and even though I have very broad feet, the sleek design of the shoe fits me superbly well and I haven’t had any issues with heel lift whilst on the long hills.
Flip the shoe over and you’ll find a very colourful and confidence inspiring Vibram Fixion sole unit, but I’ll touch more on this later.
So all in all you have a bright modern looking shoe that is obviously aimed at weight reduction and protection from the trail and the elements. But how does it perform?
My first thought was that for a 4mm drop shoe, there was a good amount of cushioning and comfort provided from the sole unit, whilst still being super responsive as I moved through the different sections of the trail, hopping from trail to boulder etc.
It was a particularly wet and muddy day when I took my Atom S Evo’s on their maiden voyage, and I was very pleasantly surprised on how well the Outdry upper coped with being submerged in Scottish gloop for 80% of the 18km run. As a hill runner in Scotland, you don’t expect your feet to stay dry for the duration of your run, regardless of what world-class technology has been injected into them, but the Atom S Evo’s did an impressive job at holding their own on this front.
The grip was outstanding on the initial flat riverside trail but also didn’t miss a beat on the saturated steeper grassy climbs either, and I was looking for the sloppiest sections to test these babies out.
I did notice a bit of slippage if you teeter around on the descents, but if you lean forward and attack whilst going downhill, these shoes come into their own and you feel like you have tank tracks on your feet from the amount of traction you get.
Since that first run, my Scapra Atom S Evo’s have firmly been my shoe of choice, and I have a fair few different shoes to choose from! I love running in the rain and that usually means squelching through deep mud as well, and the protective upper that keeps your foot snug and cozy, always spurs me on to don my running kit and head into the hills no matter what the weather.
A couple of weeks ago I did the Two Breweries Race in the Scottish Borders, which takes a rather direct route from Traquair House to Broughton, some 30km away and over 1500m of ascent. Some of the route is on trails, but most is via boggy quadbike tracks or thick purple heather drenched hillside. The Atom S Evo’s were perfect for the job. The light and aggressive shoe was ideal for keeping up some sort of race pace along this hindering route, and the Fixion sole gave good traction on the long descents when every second counted and slipping or hurting an ankle was out of the question. Having the Outdry upper and mini gaiter was also perfect to keep out the mud and stones that littered the trail, and I saw many a racer fishing out pebbles or heather twigs from their shoes at the finish line.
I was super impressed with their performance in this harsh event, and have been using them on pretty much all of my runs since.
If you like to run on the harshest of terrains and in the wettest of weather, but don’t want to substitute warmth and protection for weight or technicality, then the Scarpa Atom S Evo is probably the shoe for you. Obviously, no shoe is going to keep your foot 100% dry during the winter months if you run off road through mud and slop, but these do a brilliant job of keeping your foot protected and cozy even when you push them to your limits. I say “your” limits, as I think you’ll struggle to find theirs!
Click here for more information on the Atom S Evo
And to learn more about Greg check out his page at the SCARPA® Team.
Photo Credit Marc Langley