INOV-8 Roclite 305 Review

True, strong designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe

The INOV-8 Roclite 305 – a genuine multi-terrain trailrunning shoe

DSC_0191After a 1000 kilometres of trailrunning on the INOV-8 Roclite 305 I feel ready to share my experiences. You may notice in the pictures that I have two pairs, I made 800 kilometres on the red and 200 kilometres on the blue.

The trails I enjoyed where very much what I would call multi-terrain: ranging from easy going dry forest, wet grassland, muddy fields, scree slopes to challenging large boulder fields. So besides distance I can also say something about the best terrain for these shoes.

In the INOV-8 Roclite family you will also find a a little lighter version: the Roclite 290 (4mm drop),  a version with Gore-Tex: the Roclite 305 GTX and a boot-design (both with or without Gore-Tex: the Roclite 325 (GTX)  I have no experience with these other versions.

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper:
    • Strengthened rubber toe-cap shields the toes from obstructive debris.
    • Integrated tongue gusset keeps all debris at bay.
    • Standard fit ensuring the shoe allows for toe splay while lifting (and a good option for those with a normal to wide forefoot).
    • ADAPTERWEB lacing system adapts to the movement and swelling of the foot in motion.
    • X-LOCK system supports and holds the heel in place.
  • Midsole:
    • PowerFlow cushioned mid-sole together with a molded, 6mm footbed creates light underfoot comfort.
  • Outsole:
    • Tri-C rubber compound and multi-directional claw-shaped cleats, each with a wide contact area, providing an good grip over unpredictable terrain and the quick release of debris.
    • Stone protection utilising the Second-generation META-SHANK.
  • Numbers:
    • DSC_0238Weight: 305gm. I measured 336gm for UK size 9.5.
    • Stack: Heel 22.5mm / Forefoot 14.5mm.
    • Drop: 8mm (INOV-8 two Arrow indication).
    • Lug depth: 6mm (how deep are the ‘rubber points’ of the outsole).
    • Footbed: 6mm

My experiences

I will divide my experiences in positive or negative and make where applicable a comparison with other shoes, especially the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285 which I was able to experience also for many kilometres already this season. Obviously this is very much runner dependent. I will describe why I think a feature is + or –  but in the end, as always …

‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ –

Choose your own treat after running on these shoes yourself!

(Maybe Ice-cream)!

Positive features

Sturdy – Stand like a rock. The Roclite 305 is for INOV-8 a relative sturdy shoe which I liked when running trails in the Spanish Pyrenees this summer, for example during a two day trailrun following the Carres de Foc. But also during the ‘horizontal rain and hard wind‘ day three of the Ring Of Fire multi-day trail on the Isle of Anglesey I appreciated the grip and sturdiness on the small paths along the cliffs.

You basically ‘stand like a rock’ and feel more supported from all sides.

This I would like to compare with the new Trailroc 285 (see my review elsewhere) which is much more flexible in the forefoot, becoming more stiff from the middle to the back of the shoe due to the stone protection ‘plate’.

True multi-terrain. The rocky, sharp stoned trails in the Spanish Pyrenees felt all right, just as much as running through the Chilterns near my hometown Northwood.

I agree with the advise from INOV-8 that this is a true multi-terrain shoe.

Good rock protection for feet and toes whilst also enough lug depth and size of cleats for grip in mud or scree. I would say that the Roclite 305 is more multi-terrain than the Trailroc 285.

Lacing system and integrated tongue. I am a bit of a fan of shoes with integrated tongues (which Salamon is known for) so I was happy that INOV-8 applied this for the Roclite 305. It gives me the comfortable feeling that the shoe is ‘wrapped’ around my feet, leaving no room to glide or cause friction when zigzagging through the forest or running down a scree slope. Also the lacing system I liked. It may not be designed for this purpose but the ADAPTER Web gave me the option to tie the laces quiet tight around my feet

whilst keeping it a bit more loose above the last ‘ADAPTER web’.

DSC_0239Wear and tear. After a 1000 kilometres the shoes are still in good condition with only superficial wear of the upper front mesh.

Negative features

Not really. To be honest I do not have real negative issues with these shoes. They perform as promoted by INOV-8 and what I expected when using them. If anything, they are a bit more sturdy than you may expect when you have been running on INOV-8 shoes before. But that is more a difference than a negative.

Summary

The INOV-8 Roclite 305 is true, strong designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe with a very comfortable ‘wrap around your foot’ feeling. A bit sturdy but you really stand ‘like a rock’. For me I will use these when going into more demanding rocky or unknown terrain, leaving for example the INOV-8 Trailroc 285 or the even flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 for the faster trails.

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What are your experiences, please let me know!

 

INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell and Racepant Review

Keep Calm … Carry On … Wear the Stormshell and Racepant!

Sometimes you get what you do not hope for …

Horizontal rain for eight hours, from all 360 degrees, 54km long, 1000m+

However, no way better than to test raingear!

IMG_0432I felt very lucky when I received the INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell (Full zip) and matching AT/C Racepant just before I headed out to the Isle of Anglesey for the Ring of Fire three day trailrun covering 216km and 4000m+ . The trail follows the coastline via the stunningly beautiful Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path (see my running experiences on my weblog).

I felt very lucky because I always like to new trailrunning gear, it makes me smile like a ice-cream-aholic (which I am also!) in a all free ice-cream shop.

But the proof of the ice-cream is in the eating and for rain-gear you need

… indeed rain!

IMG_0433Who wants rain when running around Anglesey? Nobody I think. And for two days we were treated with great sunny weather but the last day was different! Horizontal rain from the west with no shelter for in total 54km to go along the northwest part of the Island including a climb of Holyhead mountain, it could not be better test weather.

To be honest to all you who are reading. I received the clothes from INOV-8 UK when I asked them if they wanted to support me in this trailrun. Their response was extremely generous and I really appreciate that, but it does not withhold me to be critical. I do not think INOV-8 UK expects anything else when they promote themselves as the ‘World leaders in trailrunning gear’.

So here we go … what are my thoughts after 8 hours of rain?

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • 20170909_120254.jpg
    Small, light weight (171 gr)

    The AT/C Stormshell Full zip:

    • Designed for lightweight racing and intense training runs in wet conditions – and it was wet!
    • Roll away hood with wired peak and single multi directional adjustment.
    • Packs away small into its own pocket.
    • Lycra bond cuffs with integrated thumb holes for when it is really cold.
    • Pertex Shield: a 2.5-layer waterproof fabric with 20,000 HH creates breathability.
    • Taped seams, full length zip opening and internal stormflap, aquaguard chest zip pocket.
    • 175 grams (I measured 171 grams, size M).
    • Fulfils all the criteria when race organisers rule a waterproof jacket must be carried as part of mandatory kit.
    • Provides 360° reflectivity.
  • 20170909_120119.jpg
    Small, light weight     (175 gr)

    The AT/C Racepant:

    • The two layer waterproof fabric creates the same breathability as the Stormshell.
    • Stretches to all sides.
    • Soft inner for warmth and comfort.
    • Rolls up to a small pack using an integrated loop on the waistband.
    • Knee high zips for easy put on/take off.
    • 176 grams (I measured 175 grams, size M).

My experiences

I will divide my experiences in positive, negative and where I think INOV-8 could improve the product even more. As always, these observations are very much runner dependent but I hope I can describe clearly enough why I think a feature is + or -.

BLUF (Bottom Line Up front)

It does it job very well!!

It does not let rain in, lets sweat go out, light weight, small package, feels really comfortable even on bare skin and the Stormshell has a great hood.

Improvements could be an even more athletic cut and adjustable waistband of the Racepant and securing the hood cord to avoid ‘wind flapping’ of the Stormshell.

Positive features

 

Does not let rain come in and lets sweat get out . It does what it states on the package! Maybe not a surprise but always good to know. During the day it was relatively warm, approx 13 degrees Celsius, which is not the best temperature for breathable clothing whilst you create more sweat the warmer it is. Underneath I had a long sleeve INOV-8 merino wool shirt, short tights and tubes on my calves. I also wore a buff. Enough to keep me warm and due to the breathability not got wet inside.  After the whole trail I still felt warm and dry. The softness of the Racepants ensured indeed that I did not even realise I was wearing rain trousers.

Versatile design.

The hood is really good!

With just one draw-cord at the back you adjust the whole hood easily around your head.

When needed you can fully secure your face when running head-on into the wind and horizontal rain. The full zip can be opened and secured just below the chin with a button, good when running with the wind in your back or uphill when you tend to sweat more.

The design of the Racepant is straight forward, basic and does the job. The zips are indeed long enough to easily put them on and off with your shoes on. There are no zip pockets or anything else.

Both Stormshell and Racepant indeed pack very small and fit easily with all your other stuff in your trailvest.

Negative features

Not really. To be honest I do not have negative issues with both Stormshell and Racepants. They perform as promoted by INOV-8 and what I ‘hoped’ when, unfortunately, I needed to use them fora whole day.

Possible improvements

No negative features but I have some possible improvements to make the Stormshell and Racepant even better, or if you wish to balance your decision what you may like to wear yourself in the end.

  • The AT/C Stormshell Full zip:
    • The single draw-cord at the back of the hood works really well. However, when running into the wind the cord itself begins to ‘tick’ on your head. Not very hard, but like a metronome following your running pace. This can become annoying after a while. I think it is not that difficult to add a small securing ‘band’ which stop this.
    • Inform the customer that when the jacket gets wet it turns from the original colour (for me green) into a greenish / black. It is as if the jackets opens it pours to let the sweat out but at the same time showing the colour of your shirt underneath (in my case black). It does not inflict the utility of the jacket at all but when I noticed it at first I was a bit surprised.
  • The AT/C Racepant:
    • With my length of 1.81m size MEDIUM was good for the length of my legs. However the waist was too wide. Although there is stretch in the waistband for me I needed to fold the top of the Racepant into the top of my short tight in order not to have it slowly ‘sink’ down. I think it would be easy to add a small draw-cord to make the size of the waistband adjustable, especially with most runners probably have a smaller than usual waist size.
    • Although the cut is already ‘athletic’ I would prefer an even more tighter cut. When I was running full in the wind I still felt as if the pants ‘flapped’ around a bit more than needed.

I hope this review helps you to decide if the AT/C Stormshell and Racepant are what you are looking for. I am completely satisfied and will take them with me whenever I think the weather may turn sour or when it is part of the mandatory kit list during an organised trailrun.

What are your experiences, please let me know!

 

Ring of Fire 2017

The three day round Isle of Anglesey Ring of Fire trailrun was a great experience and ticked many boxes!

√ 135 miles / 216 kilometres / 4000 m+ beautiful and continuously changing scenery (90% through AONB):

  • Day one: rugged coastline with steep gullies.
  • Day two: more gentle farmland, villages, sandy beaches and forest
  • Day three: stunning rough rocky coastline with gorse and heather ending in a climb of Holyhead towards the finish.

√ My longest overall distance in three consecutive days and my first 100+ km day distance.

√ Sunshine, nice and warm on day one and two – horizontal rain and wind on day three.

√ Very relaxed and friendly organisation plus a super personal support team!

To be honest I was a bit frightened when I realised in full that I had entered a three day trailrun covering 216km with a 104km on day two. Maybe I need to read the fine-print earlier before entering,, just like reading the operator manual before trying to use something. However,  I was directly inspired by the name ‘Ring of Fire’ – that caused positive goosebumps! – the place; the Isle of Anglesey, the most northwestern point of Wales, and the whole idea of circumnavigating the island in three days (that is where islands are for, just like there are mountains in order to climb them).

Anyway, so there I went, supported by my whole family, camping at a lovely small, still Wifi free campsite Pen-y-Bont, which I could use for a toilet break at day three because the trail passes the campsite near Four Mile Bridge.


The start was on Friday 1st September at 13.00 from Holyhead Breakwater Country Park, all very relaxed, with 119 people of which 87 had signed up for the full circle and the others for only the ‘Firelighter‘ (great name), i.e. the one day trail option. I wanted to keep a slower than normal trailrunning pace in order to save my self for day two and three. A multistage trailrun is very much about balancing your energy and recuperate ASAP. I only partly achieved this I think, still feeling full of energy, enjoying the great coastal scenery and joining two other runners who had a nice pace we trailed and chatted along. The finish was at Amlwch (a more Welsh is probably not possible), 58km and 6.16 hours later. I felt rather tired, more than I wanted, and quickly changed focus to recuperation.

IMG_20170827_140806_984Back at the campsite a warm shower, huge plate of pasta, a litre RECUPRO (optimal mix of proteins and carbons) from TriSportPharma every hour and six hours of sleep should be enough – but the test would be tomorrow!


20170901_111801Alarm at 0440, children still asleep in the caravan, I quickly get dressed and jump in the car. While my spouse Lonneke races over the Island I eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. A ‘pacer’ guides us at 0600 through sleepy Amlwch back to the Isle of Angelsey Coastal Path. The path is well sign posted and combined with a GPS-track on my watch I hardly needed the printed maps during the three days,

DSC_0250
Honesty book

other than to see where the next Check Point is or Honesty Book (in order to proof you have reached an outpost you need to tear a page out of book – all ‘love stories’). These points became my motivational focus points. I counted the kilometres to the next ‘food point’ where I could enjoy with heart delight from many different bars, sometimes soup or coffee and on day three a breakfast bun made at the coffee shop of the parents of one of the organisers at Rhosneigr, Sandy’s Bistro (great place!). It is funny how you can motivate yourself with a wine-gum every kilometre, or chocolate bar when only 30 kilometres to go.

Day two showed another side of the Island: more gentle, more rural and near the end some larger dune and forest areas. Again sunny and warm, I enjoyed the views at a definitely slower pace than day one, trying to keep an average of 7.5 km/hour.

Other motivators this day are certainly my family who show up at unexpected places. With the GPS tracker they can easily follow my progress, find a good spot for a cheer, a cappuccino (mjam!) or big piece of brownie (double mjam!!).

Just before real darkness kicks in I luckily reach the finish at Aberffraw, 104km and 14.40 hours later. We quickly go back to the caravan to go through the same recuperation schedule which worked fine the first night. The good thing about the long distance and slow pace is that you can eat solid food much easier so I am able to keep eating and drinking (using electrolyte tablets to ensure enough mineral intake) to keep a relative steady energy load in my body.


IMG_0438Day three, again alarm at 0440, but what is that? Rain and wind, a completely different world today with horizontal rain from the west. So no cover from the land side with the trail following the western part of the island. Following the coast I sometime go head-on into the wind and rain. Luckily it is not too cold, 13-15 degrees Celsius so I dress in a long-sleeve merino undershirt, buff, short tights, tubes and my rain running gear which I got from INOV-8 to test (I will write a review later). I hoped that the weather maybe would not let me to test it :), but the weather gods decided differently, so it became a worthwhile test for 54km and 8 hours.

The atrocious weather made the rough coastline even more dramatic and after a (even) slower start than yesterday I got into a rhythm and actually enjoyed the rain, wind and views. Big swells let wave surfers do their tricks in some stunning bays.

I found out these days that I preform best at these long distances by continuous running (or maybe a better word for it: shuffling) at a slow speed of 7 – 8 km / hours.

Other runners have different methods I observe, for example changing regularly between walking and running.  Almost all of us decide for a swift (ahum) walk when going uphill. In the end you keep the same runners in view almost the whole day.

Towards the finish, after the climb upto Holyhead it even dried up a bit. Under the tones of Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash (the link will bring you to the original soundtrack – for every finisher they started the song again, it is engraved in my memory now, with very good memories). I crossed with my biggest smile ever the finish, full circle back to where I started three days ago. Writing this I am still smiling, feeling lucky, proud and privileged that I was able to join and finish … with great help of all the supporters, the organisation led by ‘Bing’ and ‘Q’and most of all my ‘private’ support team … THANKS!!!


Some statistics:

  • On day one 87 persons started with the Ring of Fire, on day three 51 finished.
  • I ended 11th overall and 9th men.
  • First runner finished in 23.15 hours, the last just within 40 hours (total cut-off time was 40.5 hours), first female became 5th in 26.37 hours.
  • My timings:
    • Day one: 58km, 6.16 hours, average 6.31 min/km.
    • Day two: 104km, 14.40 hours, average 8.27, overall average 7.43 min/km.
    • Day three: 54km, 8.09 hours, average 9.06, overall average 8.04 min/km.
    • My average speed was slowly rising every day, and showed that especially day one I went a ‘little’ too fast to be able to keep a steady average over three days.

On day one and two I wore my Compressport Trailrunning clothes (see my review elsewhere on this weblog). On day three, as already written I wore a long-sleeve INOV-8 merino undershirt, Compressport Buff, short tights, tubes and my INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell and Race pants (to test!).

I ran day one and two on my INOV-8 Trailroc 285 which did well of the winding, sometimes rocky but also dune sand trails. Most part of the trail was relatively hard ground so I enjoyed the cushioning and flexibility.

On day three I ran on my INOV-8 Roclite 305, more to have a different shoe and therefore slightly different use of leg and feet muscles than anything else. In the end I appreciated the more sturdiness of the Roclite 305 when battling into the wind and rain.