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The Dirt: Fans of the Scarpa Spark will enjoy its closely related brethren, the Ion, which blends many of the popular elements of the Spark—bomber tread and a middle-of-the-road heel-to-toe drop—with a beefier rock plate.
The upper offers burly, lateral overlays for running uneven terrain, including talus slopes, and the 1.2-mm high-density rock plate will, in the words of one tester, “protect your feet like a tank.”
A well-designed, integrated gaiter over the midfoot keeps out trail debris, and adds some warmth for cold-weather runs.
Best For: Medium-distance runs on moderate to highly technical terrain, in conditions ranging from mud to snow to scree.
Traction: This shoe excels on gnarly terrain, offering excellent purchase on mucky, rocky trails.
Fit: The Ion runs about a half-size big. Male testers reported the toebox also running wide, while female testers found the women’s fit to be slightly narrow.
The Downsides: A minor annoyance, but the non-gusseted tongue has a habit of sliding down to the sides. Some testers wished for a little more cushion for runs exceeding 10 to 15 miles.
Tester-Monial: “The lightweight, streamlined design made me feel like a woodland elf—a fast one who didn’t trip on stuff.”
–Steph Jeffries, Raleigh, NC