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 is 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:
- 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.
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 racing 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.