Roclite 315, a worthy family member?

The INOV-8 Roclite 315 is new in the Roclite family, how does it compare to my beloved 305’s?

At the beginning of December I was lucky enough to receive a test pair of the INOV-8 Roclite 315. I directly wondered if this new version could be any better than the Roclite 305 which I really like as multi-terrain trail shoe and which was one of my favourite trail shoes this year (together with the Trailroc 285) – see my earlier reviews on the Trailrun goodies review page.

I tested the Roclite 315 these last six weeks, accumulating in total 360 kilometres in very diverse circumstances including snow / sleet and rain, thick / thin / sticky and deep mud, forest / grass / road / gravel and stony paths, short / long and multi-day trails.

With these experiences I feel comfortable to write down my thoughts of the Roclite 315.

Family feeling

In the ever increasing INOV-8 Roclite family you will also find, besides the 305 and new 315:

I have no experience yet with these other versions.

INOV-8 writes that the ‘new’ of the Roclite 315 is in the ‘upper part’ of the shoes. The mid- and out-sole are unchanged compared to the Roclite 305. On close inspection of the shoes I could indeed not observe any differences other than the ‘upper’. For this I will focus my review mainly on the ‘upper’ but first …

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper, with the ‘new’ in green:
    • X-PROTEC upper for ‘ultimate’ protection and durability.
    • A reinforced hybrid tongue stops all debris from entering the shoe.
  • Just like the 305:
    • On-the-shoe gaiter hooks offer a more secure attachment system that allows you to attach the ALL TERRAIN GAITER to the shoe (it works!).
    • 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 a good grip over unpredictable terrain and the quick release of debris.
    • Stone protection utilising the Second-generation META-SHANK.
  • Numbers:
    • Fit: 3, which for INOV-8 means: the ‘middle’.DSC_0004.jpg
    • Weight: 315gm. I measured 362gm for UK size 9. So maybe a better name would be the Roclite 360 :).
    • Midsole Stack: Heel 16mm / Forefoot 8mm.
    • 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. Obviously, this is all 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 or a warm chocolate)!

Positive features

The Roclite 315 keeps the same positive features as a wrote in my review of the Roclite 305, mainly:

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

This is a truly multi-terrain shoe.

However, during this wet December month I also experienced that for truly muddy, or snow covered trails the Roclite 315 misses the lug depth and aggressive outsole design of for example INOV-8 X-Claw 275. The multi-terrain feature results in a well thought of compromise which you notice when looking for the limits.

The integrated tongues gave me the comfortable feeling that the shoe is ‘wrapped’ around my feet, leaving no room to glide or cause friction.

The lacing system may not be designed for this purpose but the ADAPTER Web gave me the option to tie the laces quite tight around my feet.

Protection. I noticed that the Roclite 315 ‘new upper’ provides more protection against getting wet feet when running through the early morning wet grass, or muddy trails. This is probably due to the change in the upper of the shoe, the so-called X-PROTECT layering. The protective layering extends a little bit longer towards the mid part of the shoe and both the top part and integrated tongue are made of a more durable and by the look of it more water-resistant mess (see picture below).

Negative features

Wear and tear. After 360 kilometres the shoes are still in good condition with less wear of the upper front mesh as I experienced with the Roclite 305 (see right picture below). However, the right shoe showed breaks on both sides in the protective layer, just at the point where the shoes bends the most when running (see two left pictures below). Maybe it has to do with my running style that only the right shoe shows this wear. I am not sure, but it was not something I expected more over not when the Roclite 315 is promoted as having a more ‘increased durability’.

After contacting INOV-8 UK they were more than happy to change the shoes for a brand new pair, an nice example of the generous after sale support you expect from a premiere brand like INOV-8. They also asked me to post the shoes to them to investigate the problem further with a first reaction being ‘unlucky to get a Monday morning shoe’. I will update this post when I have more information.

Beside what I mentioned above I do not have any other real negative issues with these shoes. The ‘new upper’ seems to protect my feet better against wet grass and mud. They perform well in multi-terrain but have obviously their limits when going into more extreme environments with a lot of mud or snow.

Only other thing, I would suggest to change the name into Roclite 360, this comes closer to the real weight and sounds even more ‘cool’ :).

Summary

I think the INOV-8 Roclite 315 is worthy new member of the Roclite family, keeping up the high standards of this sturdy designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe with a very comfortable ‘wrap around your foot’ feeling.

Would I change them now this instance for my favourite Roclite 305’s, not really. But I would buy them as replacement when my 305’s are worn out for the additional protection.

What are your experiences? I would appreciate if you would like to share them.

Cheers!

 

The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice

Overload – Help! – Too many trail packs to choose from. I hope my experiences may help you to make a choice that fit your needs.

FB_IMG_1508699986849Trailrunners are easily recognisable, are they not? Sturdy running shoes, probably compression tubes, double layer short running tights, a colourful running shirt, a Buff and … a trailvest!

BLUF, i.e. Bottom Line Up Front:

I prefer not to carry anything when running, but sometimes it is needed due the distance, the remoteness of the terrain, the mandatory kit list, your own multi-day trailrun plan or the stuff you need to bring into the office for work.

So what are the options? Well in the end probably 100+ if you do a Google search. All have pro’s and con’s and the price range is rather large to say the least!

During my years of trailrunning I ended up with five ‘systems’ of which I use four regularly and one, to be honest hardly ever because it just does not work for me. I hope my experiences will help you to decide what is maybe the most suitable ‘system’ for you.

So here we go,

from small to large and one to four,

adding number five as the ‘system’ I do not use.

Number one: The Compressport Free Belt

freebeltAt first I was a bit hesitant to use this but after a while I really started to appreciate the Free Belt. Main advantage I think is that it is extremely easy in design. does the job, i.e. carry stuff, and in my opinion looks rather cool. I use it for running to and from work carrying my phone, head torch, clean socks and maybe a sandwich. The Free Belt has four equal size spaces and uses stretch to stay in place around your hips and to keep the stuff inside. No zips or buckles that may irritate, get stuck or break. During a weekend trailrun I easily pack my phone, a energy bar and one or two 250ml soft flask.

The Free Belt works for me in the meaning that it stays rather well around my hips and just occasionally has the tendency to creep up towards your stomach area. If this happens all is still well packed and does not fall out.

Be aware is that when you are sweating the Free Belt gets completely wet. That may not be a surprise but you need to pack everything that you don’t want to get wet. The Free Belt dries rather quickly so when you run home in the evening after a day in the office it is dry again!

Summary: Basic, clever designed, not too expensive Belt that can easily carry the essentials for a Sunday morning 3-hours trailrun, looks cool and indeed leaves you as Free moving as possible.

 

Number two: INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 Vest / Pack

race-ultra-5This is a trail pack I really like for several reasons.

As many other trail packs it is lightweight (approx 260 grams) , has a good 5 litre storage compartment which can be compressed with a bungee cord and an emergency whistle. You can use the bungee cord to carry for example a lightweight jacket increasing the amount you can carry.

20170903_130129However, the real big pro’s for me are the two (very) large side mesh pockets and the two separate reservoir zipped pockets wich hold two 500ml soft flask with a 30cm drinking tube.

  • The side mesh pockets are ideal for storing your Buff, mittens, energy bars (or cellophane after eating them – leave nothing but your footprints behind), phone, map etc. They are large enough for all these items and stay secured around your body. Only be careful when you pull off the trail pack because than the mesh stretch does not secure all the stuff anymore that well. These large side pockets is a feature I have not seen on other trail packs. Most have smaller stretch or zipped packs, not the ‘huge’ ones on this vest.
  • The soft flask combination with the 30cm drinking tube allow you to easily keep drinking whilst running and without any bouncing of hard bottles. Just be aware to pull the drinking tube not only through the loop in the zipped pocket but also through the small loop halfway the front straps. If you do not need both soft flasks than the zipped compartments are large enough to fit a 6 inch phone.
For these very good reasons the The Race Ultra 10 litre compatriot was voted best in the performance accessories category by a panel of expert judges and named a 2015/2016 ISPO AWARD GOLD WINNER.
Unfortunately INOV-8 does not sell this type anymore but some other shops do, so please do a search on the internet. There are three successors I think in the INOV-8 inventory at the moment, however be aware of, in my opinion, real downside to two of three.
  • The first two successors are the Race Elite (4 litres) or Race Elite Vest 10 litre, equipped with hard bottles!! Something I do not understand from INOV-8. I think nowadays most, if not all trailrunners (please respond if you do not agree) would select soft flasks to prevent unnecessary bouncing. Also they do not provide the comfort of the drinking tubes. This means you need to get the hard bottle out of the mesh pocket, open the lid, drink, close the lid and put it back into the mesh pocket all the while not really looking where you are running.
  • The third, and in my opinion best successor is the All Terrain Pro 0 – 15 which has the same benefits as the Race Ultra 5 I described. Difference is that you can either have a minimalist Race Vest 0 or a larger Race Ultra 15 by adding a 15 litres pack. How the split between the vest and the 15 litres pack performs on the trails I have no experience yet but it looks a good alternative. This design won a Trail Running Magazine Best Test and reading some reviews on the internet this is a pack I definitely consider when the present is really, really worn out.
Be aware that the Race Ultra 5 come in two sizes. I surely needed the M/L with a regular chest size of 95cm.
Summary: Best Trail pack I have with great a on-the-run hydration system and well sized mesh pockets for all the stuff you want to keep quick at hand.
Maybe we should start a campaign to have INOV-8 put the soft flasks with drinking tubes in all there packs and ban hard bottles :).

Number three: The Compressport ULTRUN 140 Grams Pack

CC Pack frontThis is I think one of the lightest Trail packs at the moment using stretch fabric all around to keep stuff in and save weight. It fits very comfortable and combines a lower clipbelt with an easy to use knotted stretch cord to keep the pack in place.
It has enough room to store the same amount as the INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 but has in my opinion some disadvantages which makes the Race Ultra 5 my favourite when needed to pack just a little more.
CC Pack back
The disadvantages are in my opinion:
  • No bungee cord to add that additional jacket. The Compressport stretch does not need the bungee cord for compression, the design will do that for you. However, you miss that extra storage capacity.
  • Only two small mesh side pockets which hardly fit a 5 inch mobile phone.
  • The pockets on the IMG-20170703-WA0004front straps are just too small to fit two fully filled 500ml soft flasks without the danger that when running and jumping downhill they accidentally drop out (which happend to me in the beginning so now I only fill them to approx 350ml). Also adding drinking tubes is more difficult because there are no loops to keep the tubes in place.
  • The way running poles are stored created chafing at my ribs just where the handle of the poles touch your torso.

Summary: very lightweight and comfortable trail pack. However, the design has some disadvantages with respect to side pockets and soft flask storage. They promote it as a trail vest that will keep you going for 100+ kilometres. I have some doubt with respect to the amount of storage space. I use it for shorter distances or when I do not need too carry too much stuff.

One thing that is really good with this trail pack is the promotion video on YouTube in which they compare a trailrunner with a infantry soldier packing up for field day. 

Number four: INOV-8 Race Elite 24

ultr 24I bought this pack when I planned for a multi-day self organised trailrun with overnight stays in for example a B&B (Ridgeway Trail, Christmas 2016), or a mountain hut on the Etna (March 2017) or in the Spanish Pyrenees (Summer 2017). I also use it sometimes when running to work when I need to bring clean clothing for example.

I like the large zip opening which gives you quick overall access. There is a small zip pocket inside for credit cards etc. The bungee cords enables to compress the pack to the size you want . The pack can be strapped close to your body with adjustable front straps and two straps on either side. The

DSC_0212

front straps also contain two large zipped pockets just like the above described Race Ultra 5. The pack does not come with soft flasks or drinking tubes but you can use them if you want to.

Only disadvantage I have with this pack is that it is really has only one compartment pack. No outside mess side pockets as with the Race Ultra 5. Also no compartments within the large pack itself, for example a mesh zip that could either split the pack in two parts or if zipped open make it one big one. Maybe something INOV-8 can consider with there next design.

At present INOV-8 do not sell this pack anymore but other store do, just take a search on the internet. INOV-8 successor is the All Terrain 25. However, looking at this design it missed the option to pack two soft flask with drink tubes and also does not have large quick stow-away side mesh pockets but two zipped side pockets. In all it is more a small backpack than a trail pack, I am not really convinced (yet). Probably the All Terrain Pro Vest 0 – 15 would perform better in my opinion. A little less volume but all the benefits of mesh side pockets and a on-the-run hydration system.

Number five: INOV-8 RACE ULTRA 1 WAIST HYDRATION PACK

INOV8RACEULTRA1-2I have an older version of the All Terrain Pro 1. My version is not sold anymore by INOV-8 but some shops still offer them besides the new All Terrain Pro 1.

I never really got comfortable with this belt. Main reasons were that it always ended around my stomach area whatever I tried. The belt bounced too much for my liking when carrying two 500ml hard bottles. And there was only minimal room to store stuff like a phone, energy bars etc. Also there was no ‘safe storage’ using a zip compartment of with the Free Belt several stretch compartments.

Looking at the new INOV-8 All Terrain Pro 1 I think this would solve many of the above issues due to the use of soft flasks (which create a vacuum when drinking) and more, and secure compartments.

Summary: A waist pack with hard bottles that does not fit me, sorry. Advise to test it well before considering buying.

Hopefully my experiences are of help, just let me know your experiences!