You may be wondering what iRunFar’s Minimalist Gear Editor is doing reviewing the heaviest trail shoe from Inov-8s newest line – the Inov-8 Trailroc 255 ($120 – 9.0 oz) – rather than the lighter weight offerings. In all honesty, while minimalist shoes are downright sexy and feel great to run in, I’ve been more interested of late in shoes which could help me finish 100 miles with as little damage as possible. Loving the feel of minimalist shoes, but looking for something with a bit more protection has become little less than an obsession for me over the past several months, and with all the new offerings for 2013 I think that this will be the future large scale market for trail shoes.
The Trailroc 255 from Inov-8 was designed with running on rugged and eroded terrain in mind, and it represents the most protective end of the spectrum for Inov-8s Trailroc lineup consisting of :
- Trailroc 255 (Shoc-Zone 2) – 6mm heel-to-toe differential
- Trailroc 245 (Shoc-Zone 1) – 3mm differential
- Trailroc 235 (Shoc-Zone 0) – 0mm differential
The shock zones refer to Inov-8s cushioning system where shoes are rated from 0-4 with 4 being a maximum level of cushioning. I elected to try out the 255 after some frustrating experiences this fall ending long runs and races with beat up feet after wearing more minimal shoes.
The Trailroc 255 upper does not stray far from Inov-8s usual blend of flexible and breathable mesh with a TPU lacing system. A highly reinforced rand runs from the arch and around the toe box on both sides of the shoe which provides a great deal of protection from thorns and sharp rocks. Anatomic last provides a wider toe box than those found on many Inov-8 models and an overall roomy upper accommodated thicker socks and some foot swelling on longer runs. This has been my favorite Inov-8 last to date with one exception; a shallow heel cup which took awhile to get used to. Initially, I felt my heel popping out of the shoe during uphill running and, eventually, I did get used to this after several runs. Regular Inov-8 wearers will think nothing of this design and I don’t think that it adversely affects the performance of the shoe.
Some online research yielded complaints about the substantial rand (poor drainage) as well as glue failure around the front of the toe box, but I have not experienced either of these problems.
A softer EVA than those used in many Inov-8 models provides adequate cushioning for ultra distances. As stated before, this shoe is rated as two arrows in Inov-8s cushioning scale, and despite not possessing a fairly low stack height (22mm- 16mm), the EVA is softer on the Trailroc series than on any other Inov-8 I’ve tried. This low stack height provides a decent amount of support due to the relatively wide platform and even during fatiguing long runs where my form began to crumble, the Trailroc 255 felt steady underfoot. If you’re curious as to the rating of your favorite Inov-8 shoe, just look at the heel and count the arrows present on the midsole.
This layer of EVA is bolstered by a Metashank rock plate which provides more than enough protection and after over 100 miles on rugged terrain I have yet to feel a sharp rock poke through. A very thin midsole has perforated holes which aid in drainage.
This is where I was most impressed with the Trailroc 255, and this Tri-C compound is used on all three Trailroc models. Three different outsole compounds are used in different areas of the shoe to provide a combination of traction and durability where it is most needed. Durable rubber and larger lugs are utilized in high wear areas, and softer rubber and smaller lugs are placed in areas where traction over rocks may be paramount, such as on the arch in this case.
This very effective outsole configuration combined with the low stack height and heel drop allowed me to feel very confident on technical terrain. I mentioned some foot rolling (not ankle rolling) due to the rounded nature of the outsole, and this tended to happen when running on technical terrain and was possibly exacerbated by my late stage overpronation. In hindsight, these soft edges may have saved me from further ankle trauma and, overall, I felt very stable in the Trailroc 255.
The Inov-8 255 is my favorite long distance offering from the company and I will continue to keep this shoe in the regular rotation for some time. I think that you could throw a lot of challenging terrain and distance at this shoe and the ballistic construction would prove to be resilient.
My size 9.5 US/ 42.5 EU fit true to size and the wider toe box makes this a great option for folks who have struggled fitting into Inov-8s in the past. The only fit problem I encountered with my fairly average feet was the aforementioned heel cup which seems to bother me less with each run.
After more than 100 miles on the shoe, mostly in the form of long trail outings, I’m confident that these shoes could hold up to the demands of an ultra. With a weight of just under 10 ounces and a heel-toe drop of 6mm, these could just be your next “sweet spot” shoe.
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
Have you run in any of Inov-8s Trailroc models? If so, what did you think?