Inov-8 Trailroc 255 Review

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Inov-8 Trailroc 255 Review

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 Inov-8 Trailroc 255.

Finding that sweet spot between the worlds of minimalism and “battleship shoes” seems to be a theme amongst shoe designs for this fall/ winter. As trail runners, especially for those of us on a budget, the romantic notion of having one pair of shoes which can handle any terrain or any racing distance keeps many of us in constant search of the next sub-ten ounce neutral shoe with a bit of protection.

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.

Upper

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.

The Inov-8 Trailroc 255’s heel and lateral upper.

Midsole

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.

the Inov-8 Trailroc 255’s medial upper.

Outsole

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 Trailroc 255’s outsole.

Overall Impressions

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?

Tom Caughlan: is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

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  • Great review! I have used the TrailRocs for several technical 50 milers this fall and love them! As you've said, they have plenty of cushioning for the longer miles, but a great aggressive outsole that has kept me upright through mud, rocks, and even snow. They will likely be my go-to shoe for a while to come.

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  • Love my 245's. They're great on the ore technical, shorter runs that are my bread and butter in Boulder. I've found they work well on wet rock and thin snow, but I think in deeper snow I'd like something that didn't let in as much water.

    I'm planning to get the 255 for my longer, weekend runs, as I think the extra protection and cushioning would be advantageous.

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  • I ran in these shoes for a while. Great amount of cushion + protection while remaining light-weight. They do not drain well (in my experience, during downpours) and have an exposed plastic tab that lines the lace guard and base of the tongue (is this the rand?) that gauged my feet pretty bad. Traction was great, love the wide roomy fit. I'm told inov-8 has fixed the problem with the plastic tab.

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  • The 245s are the best 100k and below trail shoe I've found. I wore 295s previously for long distance and have tried many other brands and styles. I see Inov8 taking the lead in the evolution of trail shoes here by leaps and bounds. They are durable, light, grip the ground perfectly, and have the right amount of protection. I could see myself purchasing the 255s for a trail 100 miler. Also, the price is much lower than some other notable other brands.

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  • I ran in the 245s for the first 50mi of a 100 this fall then switched to a burlier more protective shoe. I love the 245s and used them all over the Wasatch on both skree field "runs" and more buffed out trails. Great grip, nice weight, love the roomy toe box. My first run in them out of the box was a 20 miler w/ 6k of elevation gain and I didn't have a single hot spot or blister.

    I bought this shoe as a stand-in for the NB MT1010 while it was delayed, and once it came out, the Inov8 ended up being the shoe I liked better and seemed to be the shoe I envisioned the MT1010 being, but isn't. low drop, enough protection for runs to 50mi or more but good trail feel, and nice last fit on my narrow heel/normal forefoot feet.

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    • Great to hear as I have happily logged 50m with no foot issues in both the 110 and 1010 but am looking for a tiny bit more shoe for 100m. And I also have a narrow heel and normal to wide forefoot, which has made Inov-8s (and even other shoes like the Saucony Peregrines) a bit too narrow up front. Have you found the sizing comparable, i.e., same size in the 255 as the 1010?

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      • Andy,

        Looking at the shoes right now I see the following sizes on the tongues:

        MT 110 - US 11.5 / UK 11 / EU 45.5

        245s - US 12 / UK 11 / EU 45.5

        The 245s are a tad longer, though as I ran in the 110s barefoot, the sock took up any extra room in the 245s so they feel the same when I run.

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        • Great, thanks. Here in woeful southern New England no one stocks Inov-8s (we have lots of trails but it ain't Boulder) so I'll have to order them and take a chance.

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          • Andy,

            Runningwarehouse.com has a shoe fitting application for each model of shoe that they carry which can show you how the fit of the shoe will compare with what you are wearing now. It's very good to use for shoes that you are not able to try on in a store.

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          • Thanks Chris. I've shopped their site before for known quantities but never tried the app -- very cool! I plugged in various shoes I've worn and it seems to hold pretty true. (And it tells me I'll take a half size up in the Trailroc.) Many thanks!

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  • I really like the 255s and recommend them as well. I have run probably 300 miles in mine and recently did a 50 miler that was a mix of jeep roads, gravel road, and single track and my feet were not beat up afterwards. I felt the heel thing when I first wore these and found that tying them tighter fixed this. Because the upper is so flexible, my foot stayed put, but they weren't too tight either.

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  • Good review. I have a pair of 255s and wore them for the last half of Wasatch. It has an amazing sole for both grip and cushion - and durability thus far. But the poor fit is disappointing. My mt110s fit so much better. I'd like to try the 245 to see if it fits a little more snug.

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    • I bought the 245's in size 11 and the 255's in size 11.5. The two shoes definitely fit a bit differently. Neither, I think, is quite as wide or roomy in the toe box as my MT-110's. Both are comfortably snug in the mid-foot and hold my heel tight. I wore my 245's for a recent 50K and they performed and held up great.

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    • The 245 does have a better fit due to the different upper construction. I don't have heel slip, but the foot tends to sit lower in the 245 upper than the 255, making it feel slightly more secure. Putting standard wide laces in the 255 may help with the fit.

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  • The 245 has been our best selling trail shoe this Fall. Customers have loved it for everything from short, fast and technical to races like Wasatch 100. We have very technical terrain in our mountains here in Vancouver and most minimal shoes don't provide enough protection. The Trailroc 245 and 255 are both great. Thanks for the review.

    Dave

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  • Love mine, and the 245 as well. My 255 got unglued in the first run, in the front area where te sole meets the toe bumper. I just used some dual component epoxy to glue it together andthey are holding well. Apart from this, it is a well balanced shoe, a good middle ground between protection and minimalism.

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  • Tom, you may want to give the Asics Gel Fuji trainer 2 a look. I think it has all the criteria you are looking for. I just bought mine so can't give any recommendation yet other than it appears to be a good long distance technical kinda shoe. Seems stable laterally with good traction and good cushion, 6mm drop, secure heel fit. I tried on the 255's and immediately felt the heel slippage.

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    • Kelly,

      After reviewing the Fuji Racer and feeling it was great for shorter distances, but I probably would wear it for anything over a marathon, I was excited to see the Fuji Trainer come out. Maybe we'll get one here at iRF to review. The fit on the Racers was great!

      I have started to get over the heel slip, and it especially effects me when I wear thicker smooth wool socks. Its mostly just annoying but after a few miles I forget about it.

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    • Hi, Kelly. I've been going back and forth between the Trailroc 255 and the Fuji Trainer 2. Both trail shoes with 6 mm offset and sub 10 ounces. The only thing that makes me hesitate about the Fuji Trainer 2 is the toebox, as I prefer it to be wide. Can you comment on that?

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      • Johnny, the toebox is not narrow but it is more narrow than my Merrell Mixmasters. I would not call it wide by any means, however it is not constricting for my foot.

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  • Great review.

    I love my 245's. I ran Wasatch in them this year from start to finish, after only having about 3 weeks to try them out.

    Best shoe I've found.

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  • Have you tried and reviewed the Altra Superior yet? If not consider it. I used to run in Inov-8 and now run exclusively in Altra. The new Superior, with zero drop, foot-shaped toe box, and a revolutionary removable rock plate is the most amazing shoe I've ever worn. Think about it.

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  • How do the Trailroc 255 compare to the Roclite 295? Is the cushioning about the same?

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    • The 295 is a 3 arrow shoe, compared to the 2 arrow of the 255, but many runners with 295's are replacing those with 255's. In general, the Trailroc midsole and outsole gives similar cushioning to older inov-8 models with one more arrow. The one arrow 245 has similar cushioning as a 285 or 212, for example.

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      • Perfect, thanks!

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  • I was running the whole year no other shoe than the MT110, really loved that shoe but couldn´t help to purchase the Trailroc 235 since the 0mm drop was simply too appealing. It´s a great shoe, there´s no doubt about that, still the NB is the better shoe in my opinion.

    My main concern is the fit, at least for my feet the anatomic fit does not work on technical terain (and I´m on 2E at NB!). For example, when descending or traversing steep inclines the NB feels like a second skin which never happens with the Trailroc.

    I got the Flite 195 as well and it´s performance fit is great. In my opinion Inov-8 should stick with this fit for all trail shoes while the performance fit is fine with running shoes for the street.

    Under dry conditions the grip is great, in wet conditions it might still be above average but the NB is better.

    That the NB is USD 40 cheaper is not a real argument but it does not hurt either.

    Would I buy the Trailroc again ? You can bet I would - but only if for whatever reason NB stops to sell the MT110.

    Best wishes from Austria

    Wolfgang

    (who´s eagerly waiting for the Trailroc 150´s release)

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    • Hi Wolfgang, like you i think the 110 are the best trail shoe i've tried, but the upper sucks,it breaks all the time, i suppose that's why all 110 lovers that write here are searching for another shoe (?). No other New Balance is similar to 110s or has better durability and I was thinking of buying these inov8 (245 or 255). Have you already found another shoe that feels the same that 110s? with better durability?

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  • I'm through my first pair of 235's. I run mainly on very rocky alpine trails:

    * I also had the black toe cup come off.

    * Fit: I do not have particulary wide feet. One foot is slightly wider than average but I never needed 2E shoes. However, despite those shoes having an anatomical last my big toe rubs. According to some other posts on the internet I'm not the only one with this observation. Around the footballs the shoe is very rooomy. Like previous models Inov8 is more tailored towards people with narrow feet. The anatomical last extends it to average feet but not beyond.

    * the outsole is very durable, however, I haven't really noticed Tri-C. Lug pattern is probably the best out there for general trail running.

    Due to lack of alternatives I probably get another pair.

    Just one more note: I find this Inov8 shock system really confusing. Do the arrows only refer to cushioning in the heel? Or is there a difference under the forefoot, too (e.g. more/less cushioning)?

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    • Stephan, as I understand it the arrows refer to differential. All three shoes in the Trailroc range have the same level of cushion (6 mm). I have the 255's and love them.

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      • Hi Conrad,

        Checking the Inov-8 webside it´s claiming "6 mm footbed". Does that really refer to the cushion ? My guess that´s the insole (even if mine arrived with the 3mm version).

        First I got the 245 but sent it back since the cushion was too much for my liking, the 235 got considerably less.

        (Make no mistakes, compared to other shoes the 245 certainly got very little cushion, only if you´re used to the MT110 they feel.....I don´t know, like a Hoka maybe :-) )

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  • I've had issues with the heel slip on inov 8 shoes in the past namely the mudclaw. I found that removing the insoles helped a lot. Obviously you reduce some of the cushion by doing this, but you also reduce overall stack height as well - not a bad trade off.

    Also try the lace lock system as recommended on inov 8's website, this really helps to keep the heel in the shoe.

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  • To my knowledge 6 mm refers to the insole. However, despite this claim all shoes come with the 3 mm insole (haven't heard otherwise). Mine came with a 3 mm, too.

    Runningwarehouse lists a forfoot stack height of 13 mm for 235, 15 mm for 245, and 16 mm for 255. I assume the outsole height will be the same for all models. Is there a rockplate in 245 or 255? None ist mentioned. Measurement error? Different cushioning?

    What I don't like about Inov8 marketing is that they forget that not everyone is transitioning from heel to fore/mid. I'm a natural forefoot/midfoot striker, no need for transitioning. And since I'm just an average guy I assume that there are many like me out there. But apparently Inov8's marketing links differential with cushioning. Or at least they communicate it that way. And not every fore/mid striker wants to run in zero cushioned shoes (at least not me).

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    • Most of the shoes now come with the 3mm insole. The level of cushioning, due to midsole thickness, is different in each Trailroc model. Cushioning is indicated by the arrows, 235 is a 0 arrow, 245 is a 1 arrow, and the 255 is a 2 arrow midsole. Both the forefoot and heel thickness increases with each level of cushioning, with more of an increase in the heel, as noted. Stefan, the optimal solution would be to double the number of trailroc models, and that may happen if it looks like there is a market for that. At this point, they are going with the transition model of midsole differentials rather than assume that everyone has transitioned. Personally, I find that increases in both cushioning and differential are advantageous in longer races. The cushioning helps offset the cumulative pounding on the quads, and the slight increase in differential eases the cumulative strain on hamstrings, and everything else on the back of the leg.

      There is not a rockplate, but the combination of the outsole and a thin plastic segmented shank, the meta-shank, gives a good amount of protection while not compromising flexibility.

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      • I think there is already a market. There are shoe companies like Altra and others that make zero drop cushioned shoes. Changing the transition concept and making zero drop cushioned shoes, means that more cushioning isn't necessarily more heel to toe drop. That means to change the whole marketing and it isn't easy.

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  • I ran Oil Creek 100 in these shoes early October, with 8 miles to go, rain came down hard and night lights were on. Those last 8 miles contained the two longest and gnarliest rocky climbs/descents in the whole race. I WAS FLYING.... and never second guessed a single step, I passed Nick P. on the final bit of the last climb and trashed the final descent in the pouring rain for the win. THEse shoes ARE wonderful, rugged, light, and built to endure... A trait Ive been looking for in a shoe for a long time.

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  • Shoes are such a personal thing. I used to wear Inov8s mostly, but the only one still in my rotation is the xt190. I also wanted something with a little more foot protection than most minimalist shoes offer but keeping the zero/low drop. The 255 has too much heel-forefoot differential for me, so I tried the 245. Seemed like a nice shoe, but the anatomic last was a big disappointment. The shoes are still too snug in the forefoot / toe box. Otherwise they seem well made - but wide-footed folks be warned - this is not really a wide shoe. The shoefitter app at Running Warehouse is really good, by the way. If you have a shoe that you know fits and it is in their database, you can get a pretty good idea if another shoe in their database will fit. FWIW I found the Altra Superior a superior choice for my foot shape, although I'm sure they don't have a good traction as the trailroc sole.

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  • Don't need the 255s for ultras mate :)

    Just completed the GNW100 108miles in the 235 and they performed perfectly, no blisters or foot issues whatsoever (navigation is another issue).

    For someone who usually runs barefoot or in FiveFingers, these are truly luxurious and just the perfect blend of feel and protection. I think the lack of rockplate makes them better on technical terrain as your foot have better ground feel.. Brind on the Trailroc 150 :)

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