Gear Review: Scarpa Spark GTX Trail Runners

Water-resistant and light, hit the trail with no rainy day excuses.

[nimble and waterproof]

Want to go fast over any terrain in wet conditions? These waterproof speedsters are light, with a low heel-drop (6 mm) and a relatively low profile (14 mm under the heel, rather than the 20-mm standard.) The close-to-the-ground feel, combined with solid traction and synthetic leather strips that connect to the lacing system to wrap the mid- and forefoot securely, make the Spark feel incredibly nimble. “They’re like an extension of my feet when I run,” our tester says. The Spark is built on a narrow last with a tall toebox, a combination that provides lateral agility (great for technical terrain) and a little extra volume for wiggle room (great for long days).

The Gore-Tex liner and gusseted tongue kept out hard rain during fast-tempo runs throughout the soggy Pacific Northwest fall. A thin, high-density EVA plate in the midsole evens out impacts and protects against forefoot bruising. Alternating synthetic leather loops and metal eyelets lace up tight and maintain tension, but slender polyester laces proved slippery against each other, so be sure to double- or triple-knot them. A lace garage would help rein them in. Best for low to medium-volume feet. $149; 1 lb. 5 oz.; m’s 39-48, w’s 36-43;