Inov-8 Trailroc 235
The latest addition to the ever expanding Inov-8 range are the three Trailrocs. Reflecting Inov-8’s transitional philosophy to more minimalist footwear the 255’s, 245’5 and 235’s offer 2 arrow, 1 arrow and zero arrow cushioning respectively and 6 mm, 3 mm and 0 mm of drop. I opted to put most minimal 235’s through their paces and have so far, after a month or so and about 100 Dark Peak miles, been very impressed.
Starting with the outsole, it’s a blend of their performance and endurance compounds to maximise grip where you need it but to increase durability. The square profile studs are at the aggressive end of the spectrum for what is by name a “trail shoe” and inspire confidence climbing and descending on all but the steepest and muddiest terrain. With most trail on the market seemingly designed for dry, dusty and hard pack US condition, it’s refreshing to see some that can cope with some gloop. They’re not in the same grip league as full on fell shoes such as the Mudclaws, Baregrips or X-talons but blow away most other trail competitors. The high flexibility of the minimalist sole certainly enhances the grip compared to more cushioned and supportive trail shoes, such as the Roclites and I even noticed a marked difference between the 235’s and some 245’s I tested in this respect even though the outsoles are identical. It’s like dumping some air out of a mountain bike tyre as, with more flexibility, the sole can deform and grip to more trail features. Being low slung they contour brilliantly and you always feel stable and connected to the trail.
On hard-pack trails or road sections, there’s none of the squirm you get with a studded pure fell shoe but, to opt for this minimalist shoe, you do need to be a fore or mid-foot striker. Heel striking in these for any time on the road would be a deeply unpleasant and bruising experience. Weighing in at a reasonably lightweight 293 g for a UK 10.5 they encourage a fast and light foot strike and good running technique.
Back to the trails and, although the midsole is very minimal, with the 6 mm footbed there’s enough cushioning and protection there so that you can attack rough and rocky sections. I’d never compete in Baregrips if I knew there was a hard rocky descent, as you can’t really let go in them but there’s no such concerns with these. The balance is spot on, making these very versatile minimalist shoes.
The mesh uppers drain and dry well and the inner around the heel is wonderfully plush and soft. I’ve had heel blister issues with both Roclites and Mudclaws in the past but these gave a perfect and blister free fit straight out of the box. A big minimalist tick is the generous toe-box that allows your toes to spread and behave naturally. It’s on a par with the roomy toe-box of the Merrell Trailgloves but, for UK conditions, the Trailrocs are a far better shoe.
Durability is always a concern with lightweight shoes but, with only 100 miles covered, it’s a bit early to pass a conclusive judgement. There’s no obvious stud wear despite a fair few miles on dry trails and at least a mile each day on the road to a from my local trails. The uppers seem to be bearing up well too despite the corrosive qualities of Peak District mud and my lack of rinsing them post-runs. I’ve had problems, even after a relatively low amount of miles, with the uppers of some of the lightweight Inov-8’s in the past. The outside of the shoe where my little toe joins my foot has worn through but, so far, there’s no hint of this weakness. There is a lightweight rubber coating that extends from the toe that covers part of this area and a rubber web that comes down to the rand from the laces. Whether this is a design response to past issues I’m not sure but it certainly appears to have added more robustness. I’ll let you know in another couple of hundred miles how they’re holding up but there are no early warning signs of premature wear.
£110 is obviously fairly pricey for a pair of running shoes but it’s about on a par with other brands and not excessive. These are genuine all-rounders that’ll allow you to run nearly as nature intended on a broad range of trail conditions. Inov-8 have produced a minimalist trail shoe that works in the real world and, more importantly, off the beaten track in the UK. I’ll probably dig out my Baregrips and Mudclaws when winter really bites but, for three seasons of the year at least, I can see the Trailrocs being my go to shoe.
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