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Scarpa Golden Gate ATR road to trail running shoes review: a 4mm drop and a "foot rocker” combine to propel you forward

The good-value Scarpa Golden Gate ATR is comfy and padded enough for roads and still grippy on trails with breathable uppers perfect for summertime

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR
(Image: © Scarpa)

Our Verdict

Light, breathable, grippy and comfy with a 4mm drop, this shoe is great for those looking for a lower drop shoe to take them from road to trail.

For

  • • Light
  • • Very breathable
  • • Quick draining
  • • Good grip
  • • Comfy wrap-around sock-style fit

Against

  • • Lower drop may not suit some runners
  • • Harder to get on
  • • Firm midsole
  • • Cold in winter
  • • Will the soft mid-heel area wear down prematurely?
  • • No eco-friendly production/materials mentioned

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR: first impressions

The Scarpa Golden Gate ATR is a highly breathable road to trail running shoe with a minimalist heel-to-toe drop of just 4mm. The fit is small, so we advise going a half size bigger if you’re on the cusp of a size, and the feel is very comfortable thanks to the wrap-around Sock-Fit LW, which hugs the foot seamlessly without the need for a stitched tongue-and-gusset combination. This does make the shoe harder to get on, though (see also: How should trail running shoes fit?).

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR

The durability of this soft patch on the sole concerns us (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

The ride of this shoe isn’t so much bouncy, as firm and propulsive – the lower drop heel combined with the i-Respond rocker work to push you forward making you feel light and speedy. And who doesn’t want that?

The sole is interesting, with Scarpa’s Presa rubber in widely spaced 4mm lugs, but there is an unprotected softer section in the middle of the heel that surely will wear down after a few hundred miles on trails. We’ll keep wearing them to see happens…

Specifications

• RRP: £120 (UK) / $139 (USA)
• Weight (pair UK 6.5): 509g / 18oz
• Colors: Men’s: Acid Lime & Black / Military & Deep Green; Women’s: Aruba Blue & Black / Oasis & Deep Green
• Drop: 4mm
• Compatibility: Roads and trails in all weathers for runners wanting a lower drop shoe

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR: on the trails

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR

The Scarpa Golden Gate ATR feel different to other trail shoes, as if the middle of your foot is higher than the heel and front (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

When I first put this shoe on it felt quite different from the other road-to-trail shoes I have been testing – firmer, and with a feeling of the middle of the foot being slightly higher than the back and front. I’m putting this down to the presence of the foot rocker, designed to propel you forwards, and the 4mm drop which feels like the heel sinks lower than the 8mm drop of the majority of the shoes on test. 

The fit is very comfy, with a wrap-around padded ankle area rather than a tongue and gusset, and the toe box is fairly wide but the shoe itself comes up small so you may want a half size bigger.

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR

The wrap-around Sock-Fit LW hugs the foot seamlessly without the need for a stitched tongue-and-gusset combination (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Once you’ve run a few miles in the Golden Gate ATRs the firm midsole softens and becomes more slipper-like. The Presa grip also felt good on a mix of pavement, wet rock and grass and I need more time to see whether that unprotected, soft, middle heel section will wear down prematurely.

It’s a fantastic road to trail shoe, but I question Scarpa’s statement that this shoe is “well-suited to athletes of any weight and experience level” and that it is “an extremely versatile road to trail transitional shoe” thanks to its heel to toe drop of only 4mm. Many road runners will be coming from the highly stacked heel of a traditional road running shoe which may have a drop of 10mm – maybe even 12mm – so transitioning immediately to a 4mm drop shoe from here may lead to calf and Achilles strain (see also: How to choose trail running shoes: drop, sole, grip, weight and more explained).

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.