Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT review: fell running racer

The carbon-plated Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT running shoe is made for fast and technical fell running, but is it worth the spend?

from Scarpa
RRP  £179.99
Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT

by Kate Milsom |
Updated on

The Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT is a trail running shoe designed specifically for fast fell running. Mountain running expert, Scarpa, has been around for almost a century, first starting out with monopolising the mountain boot and ski gear market. Now they're got a full range of fell and mountain trail running shoes and the Kima RT is made to be the best of the bunch for technical racing and agility.

With speed and agility a core component of the shoe, the Kima RT is one of only a few fell running shoes out there with a carbon-fibre plate. Slotted between two lightweight layers of foam, the 3D carbon plate adds to the explosive power of the shoe that's created from the springy foam, a rockered outsole, and lightweight last. Those aren't the only features of the Kima RT that really stand-out though, here's a closer look at why the Kima RT excels over the fells...

Pros

  • Great rebound and power
  • Improves energy and running efficiency
  • Lightweight and agile
  • Good ground feel without compromising on comfort

Cons

  • Less affordable than others

Design and features

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT
©LFTO

Scarpa says that Golden Gate Kima RT is built with 'new generation foam' (more on this later) that’s designed to optimise the ‘elastic response’ of the arch of the foot, which by extension should reduce energy expenditure during foot strike and toe-off.  With a drop of 6mm, it’ll best suit those with average foot geometry and arch height who are after a neutral shoe.

In depth, this midsole is made up of a double density layer called ‘Active Foam’, which has been produced to improve cushioning, rebound, and durability, while remaining lightweight. It is here, sandwiched between the two foam layers, that the carbon plate lives. The 1mm plate is placed at the heel and the metatarsals, Scarpa says studies show this placement produces the best rebound over uneven terrain.

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT
©LFTO

Since it’s a racing shoe, the last (shape and volume of the shoe) is designed with slightly less volume than that you’d see in an ultra trail running shoe, which need additional room for foot swelling over long distances. This is to ensure a precise and stable fit. Internally, the Kima RT has a sock-fit construction to minimise pressure points and an internal cage for lateral stability (side to side movement) while running.

To boost durability in the harsh conditions of the fells, the upper has two layers which are made to improve the structure of the shoe and durability, with the outermost layer being made of breathable, anti-abrasion mesh. Another fell-approved feature is the exaggerated heel pull tab at the back with a loop which can be used to attach a gaiter, or hang the shoes up to dry post-boggy fell run.

Performance

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT
©LFTO

The most stand-out feature of the Kima RT is the propulsion. Being used to the long-lugged and rigid fell running shoes of yore, the Kima RT is a breath of fresh air. Once on, the shoe immediately moulds to the shape of the foot. Part of the decreased shoe volume design, we were worried that this close fit would prove uncomfortable over many miles, but it's not thanks to the flex in the outsole and the many ventilation channels which allow the feet to breathe.

The mixture of a carbon plate, curved shape, and double midsole foam all combines to make the shoe feel super quick and responsive on the trails. Admittedly, the jury's still out as to whether a carbon plate is wasted in a shoe that's made to tackle softer ground. But on stretches of hard-packed trail, sections of road, and over uneven and rocky ground, we could feel the plate helping to minimise extra energy expenditure and continue propelling us forwards. At 255g per shoe (UK5), the Kima RT is relatively lightweight, and it needs to be to fully benefit from its racing features and to remain agile.

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT_shoe pull tab
©LFTO

The Kima RT's cut-down design can be seen in the feather-light tongue, which is thankfully still long enough to not feel uncomfortable or scratchy against the ankle. The toe bumper is also very thin, being in essence just an extension of the outsole brought up over the toe. It doesn't provide as much coverage as your more robust and protective winter trail running shoes, but it does the job.

The Presa outsole has 4mm lugs, which we were unsure would provide adequate grip in thicker patches of mud and on slippery terrain. Again, the Kima RT surprised with its arrow lugs, which although not as aggressive as the Scarpa Ribelle Run Kalibra ST, managed to do a much better job at providing traction than most other shoes with lugs of the same length. Perhaps this is down to the 'SuperGum' outsole rubber which sticks well to the ground and also holds its own over wet rock.

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT
©LFTO

When it comes to ground feel, this is where the experience of running in the Kima RT stands out. Not only do they make you feel agile and fast when running, they also provide excellent ground feel (if that's your bag). This is down to the relatively slim 22mm/17mm stack height, which protects the sole of the foot from more jagged trail debris, without compromising on feeling the natural undulations of the fells.

Having that ground feel allows your body to become used to naturally responding to the ebb and flow of the trail, and to start building foot and ankle strength in reaction to this. It's not for everyone, namely not for those who appreciate a big midsole chunk in a supportive road to trail running shoe to absorb impact of the road.

Sustainability

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT
©LFTO

Scarpa’s take on sustainability focuses a lot on quality, durability, innovation, and local production. Sustainability through longevity; improvement through innovation; and a largely (90%) European-based production and supply chain ensures control over a highly regulated production line. However, this mainly applies to Scarpa’s hiking range and the shoes don’t boast the use of any especially sustainable materials (but are vegan).

Price and competition

Aside from Scarpa’s winter trail running boot, the Ribelle Run Kalibra G (£240), the Kima RT is the most expensive running shoe of the Scarpa range. But there’s a reason for that. With the Kima RT, you're paying for carbon-plated, lightweight and durable trail running shoes, that are literally made to devour the fells and more uneven off-road terrain.

Though we've not seen any comparable fell running shoes when it comes to the level of race-ready the Kima RT is, other carbon-plated trail running shoes that can pack a punch in the speed department include The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro (£157.49) and the FlexPlate seen in the Merrell MTL2 Skyfire 2 (£152.99).

Verdict

The Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT stands out because they fill a gap in the trail running shoe market that very few other shoes are capable of filling. They can tackle fells and the more unruly off-road terrain, while at the same time remaining comfortable on harder-packed ground and becoming a speed machine when the terrain allows. Running in the Kima RT feels natural due to the slim stack and form-fitting last, which combines to make you feel agile and efficient while running.

How we test

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT
©LFTO

We tested the Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT over thick mud and rough, off-road terrain. We were able to see how they fared on both trail and fells. This allowed us to test the shoe across a range of seasons and see how they fared with extended distances and over different speeds.

Our tester Kate Milsom is a Digital Writer and trail running expert for Live For The Outdoors, having completed several marathons and delved into the world of ultra trail racing. Kate takes our trail running kit with her across the world, testing it in a range of climates and conditions in order to recommend the best gear for the job.

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