Gear Review – Inov8 Trailroc Series (245 & 255)

A few weeks ago we came across the new Inov8 Trailroc range, which adds another set to the already rammed full cupboard of Inov8 shoe range – I think my personal count of Inov8 shoes must be up at around 15 or so now!

Inov8s’ new Trailroc series isΒ  a much-needed addition to the needs of the Aussie 100km+ runners. Inov8 produces such a wide variety of shoes for many different styles and length of races, but I’ve always found most of the range comes up short for the likes of the longer style hard Aussie bushland events, bar some of the Roclite range. The Roclite 295s have always been my go to shoe for the 100km+ races, but as always we all want something that is lighter, yet still retains its ruggedness and sturdiness to last 1000kms+. In short we want our cake and we want to eat it, and Inov8 have come up with my favourite cake in the Trailroc series – a pure chocolate explosion.

The shoes feature various heel to toe drops depending on how much you want to blast your achilles:

The 245s
  • 235= 0mm drop
  • 245=3mm drop
  • 255= 6mm drop

Queensland-based runner and ultra coach, Caine Warburton has also provided some thoughts and insights into the 245s and myself, Dan has been wearing the 255s for the last few weeks, including the recent Altra Centennial Park Ultra.

If you want to trash your achilles in anything over a 5km race, have a crack with the 235s, but for me personally I’m sticking to a sensible ‘drop’ for now – hence the exclusion of the 235s for this review.

Pulling them on

These are what are known as a neutral running shoes i.e. no arch support, a typical innov8 design. These shoes are also slightly wider than other Inov8 shoes and very much in line with the Roclight range, allowing for foot swell and also accommodating those with a wider foot. This is long overdue for the likes of the Australian ultras for people with wider feet and means we won’t have to squeeze our feet into the narrow 212s! The shorter course Inov8s typically have quite a narrow fit and after 30-40kms you really start to feel the rubbing on the toes. Of course, they’re not really designed for those types of distances (bar the talon 190 and 195s), but the Trailrocs really fill this gap in nicely.

The upper is comfortable and the stitching is minimal meaning that you can go without socks if you like – but for the most part I’ve been (Dan that is) wearing socks on my runs. I’ve yet to take them above and beyond 15kms without socks.

Both Dan and Caine noticed that when using these on the road that the extra padding hid the usual annoying feel of trail lugs on road – which you can get from the X-Talons. But the good news is that this shoe was designed as such to be transferable from road to trail, and thus we think would make a great shoe for the likes of the GNW 100s as well as the likes of the recently run Glasshouse 100s, given the stretches of road / firetrail involved.

Despite the extra padding the shoes are still extremely flexible, and still retain enough feedback from the ground to let you run with a good foot strike on most surfaces. But if you do fancy more feedback on your foot and the sensation of the lugs pushing against your feet, then you won’t get that from these shoes I’m afraid.

Dan has been giving the 255s a thorough working over which feature great grip, but suitable for road too (picture from petesy.co.uk)

On the trails (and road!)

The Trailroc series retain a lugged sole in similar vein to the 190 and Bare X. They also utilize a tri-compound sole, meaning that high wear areas (toe – for climbing) are made from a stiffer more durable rubber, while the mid foot is made from a slightly softer longer lasting rubber, with the instep from sticky rubber. This allows the shoes to perform well on hard pack, road and rocky terrain and like we’ve said, a good addition for those summer months when were faced with hard packed ground in the Aussie bushlands.

Caine notes that while the 245 doesn’t give you the grip that the talons might on muddy slippy surfaces, the fact that they still feel comfortable after 40km+ and are kinder on the body after hours of running means it’s suited for those longer runs.

Will they last?

The age-old question with Inov8s! We all know (or should know) that if you’re buying minimalist shoes, they are generally made with materials that will last a certain amount of time. One of the big issues with the Talon 190 and 195 range is the blowing out of the sides. For this review both Dan and Caine have put in about 150-200km in these shoes with a good mix of road and trail. To date, neither of us have not noticed any unexpected wear and the lugs are holding up better than expected for the road running we have done in them. The upper on the Trailroc series is more durable than that of the 190 so we don’t expect to have any side blow out or toe holes anytime soon, however only time will tell. The Trailrocs do have reinforced rubber around the upper, so the side blow outs we see on the other ranges probably won’t be too much of an issue here. We’ll keep tabs on it.

The Final Word

This is a great range of shoes with a specific purpose…. It’s not suited to the likes of short course trail racingΒ  like much of the Inov8 range, it serves one purpose and one purpose well, to go long. In short, this shoe really is the mix I’ve (Dan) been looking for when going long. The 295 is an awesome shoe for the likes of the GNW 100 miler and you’ll be thankful for the padded and ruggedness of the shoe in those latter stages, but for the 100kms range, the Trailroc series are a great blend of minimal light shoe wear, mixed with the rugged and durable material that’s needed on our Aussie bushland. At the moment, they’re my go to shoe for anything in the bush, and likely will be for GNW too.

We’d like to thank Caine for his input into this review and offering his thoughts too.

*The shoes featured in this review were bought and paid for by the reviewers.

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Dan
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

21 thoughts on “Gear Review – Inov8 Trailroc Series (245 & 255)

  1. Hi Dan, great review!

    Coincidentally I just got my hands on a pair of 245s from barefootinc.com.au and have just come back from a run on them. They feel absolutely great and agree that these shoes are probably going to be much more comfortable over 100k than the 212s (this says a lot, I’m a diehard 212 guy through and through).

    I was fortunate enough to get a pair of the 0mm differential (got to be careful of terminology here), 235s some time ago and have run in them quite extensively. They definitely suit the shorter race format that encourages a front foot strike and where speed is of the essence!

  2. I just had a 50km very technical trail race down in the south of France, and I was using the Trailroc245s. The shoes behave on an excellent way on any terrain. I felt confident on any angle up and downhill. This is the first Inov that I can run fast with on technical terrain, due to the built in rockplate. I can jump on any sharp object, and I can be sure that it won’t penetrate into my sole.
    Durability – issue —> the toe bumper is already separating from the mesh. The outsole is going to stay grippy for a long time though. Highly Recommend them

  3. Is the trailroc last the same as the x-talon? Been very happy with the talons for the shorter/faster stuff. For me I think the 255 would be perfect for more than 21.1 on the trail. If the fit is the same as the talons I’ll just order a pair.

    1. Hey there – the fit is pretty similar to be honest, although I’d say the toe box is wider than the Talons, and you have the protective rubber along the outside too. That restricts the flex a little compared to the Talons, but it’s not an issue. Fit is very similar.

      1. Thanks Dan. Just spoke with the guys from Footpoint, seems the 255 is not being brought to Aus which leaves internet purchase the only way to go. I had the 255 in mind for 6 foot as my Talons will probably start to feel pretty firm and uncomfortable by the end. Am put off by the rubber that wraps all the way around the front and side of the 255 though as it looks like it will really hamper draining though the mesh, have you had the chances to test the 255 out in puddles/rivers?

  4. Great review Dan, I am interested in the comparison to the Rocklite 295s. I loved the 295s but found them uncomfortable when there was any bitumen to be covered. Particularly until the shoe warmed up, it felt mildly like I had football studs under my shoes. There are mixed reviews on how the 255 deals with sections of road, what’s your opinion?
    Also mixed online review on water drainage, can you add any thoughts, I found the Rocklite 295 drained brilliantly. Not sure an extra minute for the shoe to drain is really a problem or just people looking for something to complain about.

    1. Hey Scott, good to hear from you mate. Much also depends on the heel to toe drop you’re used to as well. The 295s are 9mm from memory, the 255s are 6mm, so the transition to road in the 255s will make you feel it more for sure. Both shoes really are designed to be run on trails for sure with those ‘studs’ underneath, so any prolonged running on bitumen will probably result in you feeling it. If I had a choice, I’d go 295s all the way and have completed a number of long events in them 100kms+ I’d stick with those for now. Don’t worry about drainage I’d say, it’s one of those things I think runners talk about, but really does it make any difference to your running in a race over a significant period of time? Shoes get wet, some drain and dry quicker… I wouldn’t worry too much about it πŸ˜‰

      1. Thanks Dan, your memory is correct-9 mm drop for the 295 but more recently Inov8 have changed them to 6mm. So on a par now with the 255s. The commercialisation of trail running gives us too many choices sometimes and makes it hard for retailers to carry them all, so can’t try them in Brisbane. Will have to take a punt.

  5. Hi there, Great review, helped me a lot in finding a new trail running shoe. How is your experience regarding the durability of the sole? Is it good for over 600k? I had some bad experience with the Salomon Sense Mantra that only lasted for 300k.

    1. I love technical downhill single trails and have become a Xtalon 212 die-hard fan. Would not use them for more than 50km (except with an extra sole), because the low number of rubber teeth mean that impact on the feet on hard surfaces is quite hard. I tried the 445 in a shop: it definitely a wider shoebox (a bit too wide for my liking), but I was concerned about only having a 3mm drop for downhill on old bitumen roads. My other concern is the mesh on the 445 takes a lot of the shoe, there is no rock guard, and I had the impression I would have punctured through after a few ultras. I ordered the 455 online for the 6mm drop and rock guard, and cannot wait to try them on!!! Note that the Roclite 285 (discontinued) has a similar narrow fit to the Xtalon 212.

  6. Hi, thanks for the review, great to find an aussie perspective on the web. Can you give any notes on the volume/height of the toe box area, and the shoe in general? I have to put inserts into my shoe for a leg-length differential, and sometimes it can get a bit cramped with the flatter shoes. thanks for any help!

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