I was challenged by INOV-8 Benelux to test the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285
during the PirineosFIT2017 Jaca Trailweek.
Six days, six mountain marathons through the rocky Spanish Pyrenees are certainly a good testing ground for trailrun shoes called Trailroc not for nothing!
The new Trailroc do not resemble in the slightest the older Trailroc models, so it is more useful to assess these shoes as a new branch on the INOV-8 trailrun tree.
First the numbers and data – from the brochure.
- The Upper:
- Glued TPU overlays for extra protection on high wear zones.
- Padded tongue and collar for added comfort.
- Very breathable mesh lining, good in warm weather.
- Medium fit ensuring the shoe allows for toe splay while lifting (and a good option for those with a normal to wide forefoot).
- PowerFlow+ EVA cushioned mid-sole together with a molded, 6mm footbed creates light underfoot comfort.
- Combination of three rubber compounds for maximum durability and grip on all hard rocky terrain.
- Stone protection utilising the new 5th Gen Metashank.
- Weight: 285gm (strangely enough my size UK 9.5 right shoe weighs 319gm and the left shoe 303gm – unsure where the difference comes from).
- Stack: Heel 21.5mm / Forefoot 13.5mm.
- Drop: 8mm (INOV-8 two Arrow indication)
- Lug depth: 4mm (how deep are the ‘rubber points’ of the outsole).
- Footbed: 6mm
I divide my experiences in positive or negative. Obviously this is very much runner dependent. I will describe why I think a feature is + or – but in the end
‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ –
Choose your own treat after running on these shoes yourself!
Flexible forefoot. The Trailroc 285 is a surprisingly flexible in the forefoot, becoming more stiff from the middle to the back of the shoe due to the stone protection ‘plate’. I like that very much and would place the Trailroc in between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the stiffer Roclite 305.
Grip on dry stones, grass, forest ground. The trails around Jaca gave me every Comfortable fit, cushioning and ventilation. The comfort in the warm Spanish climate of 30+ degrees Celsius was the feature I was most pleased with. Enough room for your toes whilst I did not slip during steep up- or downhill and without the need to tie your shoes very tightly.
The 8mm heeldrop combined with the relative heavy cushioning gave me the comfort I needed for the daily 40+ kilometres: it is a long / ultra trail shoe.
Toe protection. The rubber toe protection saved my toes on more than one occasion during the mountain marathons, a nice feature which does fortunately not degrades the flexible forefoot.
Protection and grip on larger sharp rocks and scree. I found the protection on the limits for steep downhills on scree with sharp stones of with large sharp rocks. These sort of underground I found difficult to navigate on (realising I was still more a sturdy mountain cow than an elegant mountain goat) but was relatively common during the six days in the Pyrenees. For these sort of trails I would prefer a little stronger designed shoe, and was in my opinion passed the limits for the Trailroc 285. Maybe the Roclite 305 would have done better – there were some other runners using these shoes.
Wear and tear.
My shoes showed, not surprisingly, a relative large amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of tough terrain trail running, mainly on the sides of the shoes. This may be a result of my use of the shoes in a very harsh ‘shoe’ environment versus INOV-8 balancing sturdiness with flexibility and light weight.
The INOV-8 Trailroc 285 is an surprisingly flexible trailrun shoe with a comfortable fit and good cushioning even during steep ascents / descents and with good grip on smaller stone trails. For me I will put it between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the more stiffer INOV-8 Roclite 305.
However, when running through more rough and sharp rocky terrain I found that I was at the limits of the (stone) protection given by these shoes. Also the grip on muddy paths (due to the 4mm lug depth) and wet stones is limited. These are all features that are runner and terrain dependent.
The amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of demanding mountain trailrunning was substantial for INOV-8 shoes. Maybe it has to do with my running style but something to consider before purchase.
What are your experiences, please let me know!