Scott Kinabalu 3 Review: A Versatile Daily Trail Companion?

Scott make some fine cycling equipment, they also make trail shoes. Does the quality of the Swiss company's shoes match that of their bikes?

SCOTT Kinabalu 3: Redesigned For Comfort

Silke: SCOTT Sports is a truly traditional Swiss company who have been developing a wealth of different outdoor components since 1958, ranging from bicycles to ski poles. Founding father Ed SCOTT, an engineer and ski professional, has always attached great importance to the best product quality. The brand’s cycling equipment is particularly popular. Whether it’s SCOTT bicycles, bicycle helmets, cycling shoes or cycling clothing – private individuals and professional cyclists alike trust in the manufacturer’s good quality.


The Kinabalu is SCOTT’s well known do-it-all trail running model. Now in its third generation, it has been completely redesigned to give you improved comfort, protection and running efficiency on the trails. Do the facts fit the marketing hype?


Theo: This is my first time in SCOTT shoes after a long time of wanting to try them. The reason for my interest was the feedback I had from fellow runners about the Supertrac, especially its outsole traction which is close to perfect. The Kinabalu, on the contrary of the Supertrac RC, is considered as a daily trail shoe. 


Initially, my impression when I opened the box is that they are really stylish (I find they look a bit like the Vectiv from The North Face). Furthermore, they look very classy in white (which is also a drawback on dirty trails). The stack height is also quite impressive so I expect a good cushioning. Finally, the materials seem to be high quality and they look comfy but  I felt the  weight was high.

Scott Kinabalu 3-8
Scott Kinabalu 3-6


Product details from SCOTT

Weight: 300g | 10.6oz 

Heel-to-toe drop: 7mm

Stack height: 29.5mm to 22.5mm

Price: €149.90 | £145

Scott Kinabalu 3-5
Scott Kinabalu 3-7

SCOTT Kinabalu 3 Upper: Casual Appeal

Silke: Firstly, the Kinabalu 3 looks awesome and so spring-like. For my tastes,  it would even look perfect to wear as a casual shoe. In hand, the SCOTT Kinabalu 3 felt pleasingly light. Overall, it fit perfectly in the daily trail category from my first impressions. Stepping in is easy even though SCOTT removed the pull tab from the previous version. Furthermore, the ripstop mesh upper feels breathable and comfortable. 


At the front, my toes get good protection from a rubberized layer. Secondly, the tongue is semi gusseted but the strap material feels a bit cheap to me. You can say the toe box and midfoot are made from well chosen materials the ankle and heel part aren’t. For me, the front of the shoe feels well made whereas the rear seems to be less so. Around the heel, there is no padding, just a slight bumper pad and the collar doesn’t feel very comfortable. Thankfully, I am happy to say I didn’t get any chafing from the rigid material.  


Moreover, the plastic-like reinforced lace loop parts create an even more uncomfortable feeling when having tied the laces. On the other hand,  a positive thing is the Ortholite sockliner, which is female specific, adds an extra layer of comfort to the shoe. Overall, the Kinabalu 3 has a true to size fit.

Comfortable But Hot

Theo: Personally, I found the upper to be really comfortable. During my runs, I did not suffer from any pain and it really is one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve tried.


The fit of the Kinabalu 3 is perfect and your feet are held comfortably in place in the shoe.  Furthermore, the foam is welcoming on your achilles tendons and also on the side of your feet. Nonetheless, they are not too tight so the balance between freedom and hold is close to perfection, in my opinion. Across the upper, the mesh seems to be really robust (the material is a kind of plastic). On the other hand,  it is not breathable at all so I assume that during summer these shoes will become a sauna. Right now, during cooler months, it is acceptable. Finally, the toe protection on the top of the shoes is good and you will be well protected against rocks and roots during your runs.


For me, aside from the breathability issues, there are two other problems with the upper. Firstly, there is nowhere to keep the laces stowed away. Secondly, despite my love for the fit, I did find some pressure on the front of my ankle when climbing in the Kinabalu 3.

Scott Kinabalu 3-3

Midsole: Stiff and Unforgiving

Silke: SCOTT has changed the midsole of the Kinabalu 3 completely from its predecessor. This time, the new  Dual Density Kinetic Foam is supposed to be a lightweight and highly responsive foam made from EVA.  If that is the case,  the ride should feel plush but stable. SCOTT promises you get greater energy return so you can run faster for longer. Of course, that is on the paper. Whereas, in reality, the ride feels on the opposite of cushioned and plush, but it is very stable. 


Unfortunately, the midsole geometry rides stiff as a brick on pavement. Furthermore, on softer ground the midsole doesn’t get really better. SCOTT’s promise with their Evolved Rocker technology doesn’t work for me because the rocker is placed so far in the front that it only helps with short hill climbs. It is very unlike the ride you get from a Hoka Speedgoat which is also 40g lighter in my size.

Firm and Slow

Theo: I have the same feeling as the Dynafit 100 here. People who love those shoes will also love this SCOTT. They are just a bit less responsive, more cushioned but a bit more precise on technical terrains. Also, I felt that SCOTT reinforced the cushioning on three parts of the shoe: the heel (which can help to compensate for the shocks during the downhills). Secondly, both sides of the forefoot.


I do believe that a pronator or a supinator will definitely appreciate these shoes for this because of the stability this reinforcement offers. Despite the good cushioning, I also found that the midsole is a bit firm. This means you absolutely do not feel the rocks under your feet. Nonetheless, I do not find the midsole really reactive and the overall weight of the shoe makes them feel even slower.  Finally, the midsole platform is also quite large so your feet sit on it comfortably. Once again, the midsole reinforces the comfort of the Kinabalu 3.

Scott Kinabalu 3-1
Scott Kinabalu 3-2

SCOTT Kinabalu 3 Outsole: Disappointing but Durable

Silke: The outsole seems to work in all the conditions I have run in. Pavement, gravel, mud, roots and some light technical climbing. During my runs so far, I have not noticed any wear on the outsole.


Theo: Sadly, this is where the shoe disappointed me the most. I will not say it is a bad but I expected much better especially as we know SCOTT generally make awesome outsoles.


In fact, the outsole is a classic one with inverted V on the forefoot and V on the heel.  Nonetheless, because they are too close to each other and not deep enough, the grip was not at its best. This was noticeable especially on rocks and in rainy conditions. In my mind, the outsole is best built for soft, forest trails. Added to this, I also found the outsole slippery on wet asphalt. Clearly, this is something SCOTT could improve upon in the next iteration.

Scott Kinabalu 3-9

SCOTT Kinabalu 3 Conclusion: Comfortable But Slow 

Silke: Maybe it is just that the density of the midsole isn’t suited for lightweight runners or it breaks in after 50-100k. But who on earth is going to run uncomfortably in a trail shoe for this distance when you can choose from so many other options?  No thanks SCOTT,  go and do bicycles instead. 


However, it still looks awesome for walking!


Theo: Overall, I believe the Kinabalu 3 will be perfect for the end of an ultra trail or for recovery on your favourite easy trail near your home. However, do not expect to break PBs in them. They feel heavy, especially uphill. I would not advise them for technical terrain. Here, the stack of these shoes make them imprecise and not agile. Also, the grip on rocks is not good. On the contrary – despite quite small lugs – they work well on forest trails for long runs or recovery runs. Finally, the big plus would be that they are really comfortable and cushioned, the cons are the lack of reactivity and the excess weight.


31 years old

178cm (5’8″) – 63kg (139lbs)

Midfoot striker – Stride runner



50 years old

167cm (5’4″) – 55kg (121lbs)

Midfoot strike 


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