INOV-8 Terra Ultra G-260 – nooit meer nieuwe schoenen?

Zijn de GRAPHENE trailrunschoenen van INOV-8 echt zo revolutionair? Dit zijn mijn ervaringen.

Grafeen … het wondermateriaal van de toekomst …

maar ook voor de trailrunner?

Grafeen is een molecule, een kristal, een enkele laag van atomen bestaande uit het element koolstof gerangschikt in een repetitief hexagonaal patroon. Het is dun, sterk, supergeleidend, flexibel en rekbaar, poreus, transparant, zelfherstellend, ultra-licht, roestwerend en resistent tegen hoge temperaturen, oftewel … een SUPER STOF!

Midden vorige eeuw was de stof ‘in theorie’ bekend maar pas in 2003 lukte het Andre Geim en Konstantin Novoselov een enkele laag grafeen te isoleren. Hiervoor kregen ze in 2010 de Nobelprijs voor Natuurkunde.

Maak zelf grafeen? Bevestig plakband op een punt van een potlood of een potloodstreep op papier, trek die los en breng de uiteinden van de tape verschillende keren naar elkaar toe. Elke keer verdwijnen laagjes van het bulk grafiet tot uiteindelijk te eindigen in een enkele atomaire laag grafeen.

Meer weten over grafeen? Bekijk dan deze grappige ‘slide show van Meneer G‘, of dit filmpje. Dit is ook mijn bron van deze informatie.

Oftewel, super handig om schoenen van te maken! Of toch niet helemaal?

INOV-8 is het eerste trailrunmerk dat schoenen op de markt brengt

waarbij de zolen grafeen bevatten.

Dat klinkt natuurlijk mooi futuristisch en de marketingmensen bij INOV-8 hebben dan ook een prachtige campagne opgezet. Maar waarom zou je grafeen in de zolen verwerken? Volgens INOV-8 eenvoudigweg omdat het ‘50% elastischer is, 50% sterker en 50% meer slijtvast‘ is. En wie wil dat nu niet?

Zoals met al mijn trailrun goodies reviews geldt bij mij het adagium:

‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ … en dit geval dus kilometers maken!

De INOV-8 GRAPHENE serie trailschoenen bestaat uit twee modellen, te weten:

  • De INOV-8 TERRAULTRA G-260, een zero drop trailrunschoen voor de lange afstand over variabel en steenachtig terrein.
  • De INOV-8 MUDCLAW G-260, een 4mm heeldrop trailrunschoen voor het echte modder werk met een zeer grof 8mm noppen profiel.

Daarnaast is er een derde model voor work-outs in de sportschool: de INOV-8 F-LITE G-290.

De modellen zijn sinds de zomer 2018 in sommige landen waaronder de UK beperkt te koop. INOV-8 beperkt bewust de aantallen die op de markt komen, enerzijds om een soort van exclusiviteit te creëren en anderzijds om te bezien hoe de trailrunners reageren op deze nieuwe schoenen. De beperkte oplage levert wel problemen op onder trailrunners als ik de verslagen op social media lees. Want nieuwsgierig gemaakt gaat men op zoek naar de schoenen maar kan ze dan ‘nergens of moeilijk vinden’. Of het dus een slimme marketing strategie is valt mijn inziens te betwijfelen. In Nederland komen de TERRAULTRA en MUDCLAW modellen begin januari 2019 op de markt.

Ik was zelf de gelukkige om in de UK mee te doen aan de ‘voorinschrijving’ en loop daarom sinds zomer 2018 regelmatig op de INOV-8 TERRAULTRA G-260. Ik had voor dit model gekozen omdat ik vaker langere afstanden loop over variabel terrein dan het echte modderwerk waar de INOV-8 MUDCLAW G-260 voor ontwikkeld is. Ook ben ik reeds in het bezit van enkele andere INOV-8 ‘moddermonsters’.

Eerst de nummers uit de brochure.

  • De bovenkant:
    • Ademende bovenkant verstevigd met Kevlar en redelijk waterafstotend.
    • EXTEROFIT ondersteunt de natuurlijke voetbeweging en opzwellen van de voet bij lange afstanden.
  • Middenzool:
    • Een zogenaamde EXTEROFLOW 9mm hoge zool met een 0 mm drop.
  • Onderzool:
    • GRAPHENE GRIP met een 4mm diep noppenpatroon.
    • DYNAMIC FASCIA BAND, TERRA ADAPTER en META FLEX dat de natuurlijke loopbeweging ondersteunt.
  • Gewicht:
    • Het nummer G-260 zegt het al, 260 gram per schoen. Op mijn weegschaal was dit xxx.

Mijn ervaringen.

De INOV-8 TERRAULTRA G-260 doet mij denken aan een eerdere serie lange afstand trailschoenen van INOV-8, de TRAIL TALON series (ik liep op de TRAIL TALON 275). Eenzelfde soort breed voetbed en prettig zittende bovenkant die voldoende steun geeft maar ook flexibel is. Maar daar houdt de vergelijking ook wel op.

Ik liep in de afgelopen maanden ruim 400+ kilometer op INOV-8 TERRAULTRA G-260 over allerlei soorten terrein: de harde steenpaden langs de kust van Cornwall, de bosgrond en droge of natte klei van de Chiltern Hills en natte gras / mos / veengronden van het Lake District, en allerlei afstanden tot 50+km.

Pluspunten.

Het brede voetbed, de 0 mm drop en de voor INOV-8 relatief stevig bovenkant geven het gevoel dat dit schoenen zijn waarmee je stevig ‘staat’ op elk soort terrein. Toch is de schoen flexibel genoeg om een natuurlijke voetbeweging te maken, zeker de ‘ultra afstand shuffle modus’ loopt prettig. In dat opzicht leveren alle mooie termen uit de brochure ‘waar voor hun geld’.

De schoenen zijn ook goed waterafstotend en de bovenkant is ‘dicht genoeg’ om over grasvelden te lopen vol met ochtenddauw zonder natte sokken te krijgen, toch wel prettig!

Wel merkte ik in vergelijking met bijvoorbeeld de TRAIL TALON series, maar ook de ROCLITE series dat er minder demping zit in deze zool. De G-260 EXTEROFLOW middenzool is ‘harder’ dan de POWERFLOW middenzool van de andere series. Dat is wel even wennen in het begin.

Na ruim 350 kilometer is de onderzool nog nagenoeg perfect in orde. Dat is ook wat je verwacht van het grafeen :).

Neutraal.

De bovenkant vertoonde ondanks de Kevlar versteviging toch al relatief snel wat losse ‘rafeltjes’. Ik liep regelmatig langs steen, of soms door grote stukken stevige heidestruiken maar dat deed ik ook met andere INOV-8 schoenen ook zonder dit gevolg. Het is niet een groot drama, misschien eerder cosmetisch – je kan het wegknippen met een schaar -, maar het valt extra op doordat de stevigheid van zowel de onderzool met grafeen als de bovenkant met Kevlar de schoenen een van de verkooppunten is van INOV-8.

De veters zijn lekker dik en gemakkelijk strak te trekken en ook weer los te maken. Echter, een nadeel van de wat dikkere en ronde vorm van de veters is dat ze ondanks dubbele knopen relatief snel los gaan. Je moet de vetereinden bijvoorbeeld extra vastknopen aan de kruisslagen (zie foto).

Minpunten.

Na alle kilometers heb ik die nog niet echt gevonden. Al besef ik terdege dat ‘smaken’ verschillen en andere trailrunners bijvoorbeeld meer demping verwachten bijvoorbeeld.

Oordeel.

De INOV-8 TERRAULTRA G-260 staan bij mij zeker in het rijtje van favoriete trailschoenen voor de lange afstand – zero drop, breed voetbed, multi-terrein zool.

De claim van ‘50% elastischer is, 50% sterker en 50% meer slijtvast‘ zie ik zeker terug in de zool en de ondersteuning van de natuurlijke voetbeweging. Elasticiteit is echter niet terug te vinden in de demping van de zool, deze voelt relatief hard aan.

De schoenen hebben wel een behoorlijk prijskaartje van 140 GBP in de UK en rond de 160 euro in Nederland. Daar krijg je dan ook wel weer een bijzonder schoen voor met bijzonder materiaal dat lang (en als het goed is nog veel langer) meegaat en in een bijzondere gewaagde kleur!

De volgende winkels in Nederland en België hebben de schoenen in de verkoop, rennen dus naar de winkel van …:

THE WALL

Nothing beats an iconic name for a trailrun and THE WALL just sounds great, and it sure was!

asterix-hadrianswall

asterix-and-the-pictsAlready Asterix and Obelix found out that the Roman Emperor Hadrian had build a Wall (128 AD) to keep the Picts out of his Empire. However, just like that small Gaul village on the edge of Brittany, the Picts kept challenging this border. When thinking about this Wall, you also realise how much easier it is nowadays with a border less EU to trade your salmon for example, but for how much longer with the BREXIT?

img-20180617-wa0042Anyway, politics aside, on a cloudy Saturday morning I started with four runners from Northwood Headquarters and about 500 other ‘lunatics’ the crazy journey of 69 English imperial miles or 112 kilometres to run along Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle in the West across England to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the East. img-20180615-wa0000The day before we went to the formal start point of the Hadrian’s Wall Trail at Bowness-on-Solway to smell the Irish Sea ‘mud’ during ebb. This Saturday the aim was to smell the North Sea at least in time to have a beer before it would turn Sunday. And maybe spoiling the plot already a little: we all succeeded – see also the movie at YOUTUBE.

 

fb_img_1529347370919

Counting down to 0700 at Carlisle Castle the long and slow shuffle began. That is the fun for me doing such an ultra long distance. You can start very relaxed, who cares for a minute later at the finish? You can start at a slow pace so no problems with digesting your breakfast, so no need to get up four hours in advance. No stress at the restrooms, you can always visit a local pub, tearoom, or a tree. Amazing views? Just 35628990_1945134698884190_3980730265805783040_opause, ask another runner or supporter to take a picture, enjoy the scenery and carry on. At an organised refreshment post, enjoy the plethora of food options available … the first of four official ‘Pitstops’ I more or less rushed through, only realising later how stupid that was … take some time, rest, do some tasting of sandwiches, cakes, bars, tea, curry (!), rice with meatballs … it just did not end. So, the next three ‘Pitstops’ I 35847088_1945135838884076_736377168010936320_otook more time and decided that I did not need any food in between, just water. That is another bonus of the ultra long distance, you can eat AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, because you will burn it anyway during the shuffle.

The ‘shuffle‘ is the ultra long distance equivalent of impatient walkers. However, I think the shuffle is less strenuous than the official ‘Race Walking’. With the shuffle you combine a high stride frequency with a img_20180616_102515small stride length floating more or less along the trail. With ‘Race Walking’ you are mandated to keep ground contact resulting in a, in my opinion, forced way of moving forward.

Knowing that I had to go 112 kilometres I needed to force myself to slow down, come in to ‘shuffle mode‘. I prefer to do this by really ‘looking’ around, more intensely than normal observing the world around me. I am surprised by the different style of runners who join such an event. Some you would not give one mile, but they just go on … some have some additional body weight, but they just go on … some have trailpacks which sloshes around with all kind of loose ‘stuffs’ and not vacuumized drinking bladders, making me seasick just looking … but they just go on …

img-20180617-wa0027Just like Hadrian’s Wall … just goes on. Unfortunately the organisation decided to follow most of the time the tarmac of the National Cycle Path 72 and not the official National Trail Hadrian’s wall walking path. I could have known if I had read the small print! So, it was not really a trailrun but more a ultra distance tarmac run where some parts had a touch and go with trail underground and the remains of THE WALL.

fb_img_1529347365393After about 80 kilometres and the last rain shower I changed shuffle mode from ‘looking outward‘ to getting into the shuffle zone and ‘looking inward‘. Dividing the last kilometres, after already two marathons, in small pieces and giving myself the ‘reward’ of walking for one minute, or a hot tea at the last ‘Pitstop’.

Approaching Newcastle, following the River Tyne embankment, the thrill of getting really close to the finish created another shuffle mode change: ‘Satisfaction, Jubilation, Shivers, JIPPIE!‘. The finish was really in the town centre, people strolling along the boulevard whilst I was shuffling / struggling to move forward supported by cheers from people on terraces drinking a beer or wine.

img-20180616-wa0003Finally across the Millennium Bridge, which every decent city in the UK must have, to HMS Calliope, the Royal Naval Reserve Unit Centre. A prime location along the Tyne with for us the bonus that within 100 metres of the finish line there are showers, a bar with a view on the city, beer, curry and our bunkbeds!

After 13 hours shuffling I layed down for a half hour enjoying the rewarding feeling of completing this madness (which I voluntarily signed up for, no old fashioned navy recruiting, so no moaning!).

The beer and curry tasted delicious but at 2330 we all are done with … than the last bonus of HMS Calliope … the room with the bunkbeds had no windows … so in complete darkness we slept until 0800 the next day.

IMG-20180617-WA0004Sunday … the legs feel OK … WHAT? … yes they feel OK … a bit stiff, but much less than the Innsbruck Alpine 85km, or a fast marathon … one more benefit of ‘The shuffle’ in non mountainous terrain … you feel really tired but the total strain on muscles and joints is less. But I will still enjoy my full week of no running at all, that’s for sure!

For he who wants to know some crazy facts and figures!

Some Training & Preparation

img-20180617-wa0009I did not have a very specific preparation. However, on average I am running about 100 – 130 kilometres per week of which at least one is a longer run of 3 to 4 hours. So the endurance base is already exists. From January this year I first trained for a fast marathon and made 2.43 at the Manchester Marathon beginning of April. April and May I stopped with training for speed and more for the slow speed ultra ‘shuffle‘. In some weekends I ran both days a longer run of 2.5 – 4 hours letting my body getting used to the distance without pushing it too hard. The last May Bank Holiday weekend I ran three consecutive days clocking in total THE WALL distance of 112 kilometres.

Some Gear

img-20180617-wa0047The weather forecast was not great: rain, drizzle, rather fresh. As a ‘cold’ person I decided to run in an INOV-8 3/4 quarter tight with an INOV-8 merino longsleeve shirt as base layer. During the rain showers I used the INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell Jacket, but directly changing it for a short sleeve shirt when it got dry because in the end it was still approximately 14 – 17 degrees Celsius in the sun. And as most times the weater forecast was worse than reality, in all four larger rain showers of about 30 minutes, some drizzle but mostly dry and at the end of the day even sun! All the usual mandatory gear fitted easily in my INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 litres trailpack.

img_20180616_112053As I wrote above, I expected more trail than tarmac and started therefore on one of the multi-terrain trailrun shoes of INOV-8, the Roclite 305. In the end maybe even a road shoe would have sufficed but for me the Roclite 305 gave good comfort to finish without any blisters or pains. I normally ‘grease’ my toes and use a lot of talc.

Some Numbers

I ran the 112 kilometres and 1200m+ in 13.04.32. More than 3,5 hours (!) after the first man finished, 27th male and 30th overall. At the ultra distance the physical differences between male and female are definitely not important anymore. The last person finished in 25.30 as 447th, what an achievement!

The Wall (1)My average overall speed was 7 min / kilometres, i.e. 8.6 km/h. I told you: ultra running is ‘walking for impatient people’. According to my watch I spend approximately 1 hour at the four ‘Pitstops’ making my average ultra shuffle speed between stops an amazing 9.3 km/h, wow 🙂

 

 

 

The Absurdity of Ultra Trailrunning, or not?

Some ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts I had during the 85km and 2900m+ trailrun as part of the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18).

Reading the book ‘The age of absurdity – Why modern Life makes it Hard to be Happy’ by Michael Foley (2010) I couldn’t stop wondering why I was actually running 85 kilometres around Innsbruck including 2900 metres of climbing and descents during the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18)?

P.S.1. I got the great tip about BBC Radio 4 ‘The Digital Human’ which discusses the difference between a life with friction and a friction less life. It talks about the same feeling I describe in this blog. Maybe nice to listen to as a podcast during your trailrun.
P.S.2. Why are we doing this? That is the question I want to answer in this article. And I am definitley not the only one. A inspirational movie is ‘THE WHY, Running 100 miles‘.
P.S.3. The GUARDIAN published an interesting article about ‘What running does to your brain?‘. So now it is official: scientific proof that it is absurd but also good 🙂

 

Nobody forced me up those Alpine mountains and said, ”Only come back when you are finished. And by the way, an overnight stay is not included, the idea is to do it all in approximately 12 hours’’.

So, whilst the ‘normal people’ slowly woke up I ran on Saturday morning 28th April with a head torch through Innsbruck, climbed the hills and zigzagged into the forest. The air was still fresh and crispy but it would not take that long to warm up. It would become another sunny and warm day, up to 25 degrees without any clouds. The sunrise was beautiful, at first a red blossom, but quickly with full force enlightening the blossoms in the trees, making the grass in the alpine meadows even more green and the still sleepy and very tidy Austrian villages even more part of a scene out of the romantic Sissi movie.

 

 

That is when my brain wandered off to the question of the absurdity of this all. Or is it absurd? Michael Foley writes about the ‘present age of entitlement’ where people only think and act as if they only have rights and no duties, entitled to a continuous stream of the pleasures of life … and if something is not correct than it is somebody’s or society’s fault and surely not you own or just ‘bad luck’. The call upon entitlement however does not provide a deeper sense of satisfaction and ability to cope with life’s setbacks. For this you need to put in effort and detachment. Effort, setbacks and the like precedes satisfaction, happiness. Detachment provides the ability to observe and think about what is actually going on around you in the world, creating paradoxically more intense engagement …

‘The fool doth think he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool’

(Shakespeare ‘As You like It, Act 5, Scene I – I have not seen this play but the quote posits very eloquently the humbleness in which we can, or maybe should look at life).

The meaning of life is in my opinion most famously stated as to ‘always look on the bright side’. However we are not ‘just’ entitled to be always at this ‘bright side’, we need to find it. To find this ‘bright side’ we need detachment. Micheal Foley writes that …

‘… Real detachment requires ‘Solitude, Stillness and Silence’ instead of the present ‘Commotionism’ (constant company, movement and noise) …’.

 

 

Whilst enjoying the sun, the extremely well stocked refreshment posts, the beautiful scenery, and the many friendly spoken Austrian ‘servus’ I realised that this absurd undertaking of me running 85km in half a day brings for me the pursued solitude, silence and stillness that Michael Foley writes about. An ultra trailrun (i.e. at least a few hours running) by definition goes at a slow pace. The mediating rhythm of running and the physical pains which slowly materialise bring me in a ‘sort of nice flow’. Together with the consciousness that it is my own personal responsibility to start in this event is enough for me to allow my mind the time to detach and wander off.

The K85 followed similar paths as most trailruns I have run both organised and just self-made: as much as possible away from the busy world, through wood, across fields and along river beds. Solitude is not difficult to find in these circumstances, most trailrunners experience their run rather solitary, although there are always those who have the ability to talk for hours. No worries, just drop back a few 100 metres and your are on your own together with the pleasant Silence of nature (although the birds and cow bells are not creating a complete silence, there is a pleasant form of ‘calm’). Stillness may be a strange connection to trailrunning, but not for me. I find stillness in the moments when passing for example a ‘kissing gate’ on the right of way paths in the UK, or during the K85 when passing a corner in the forest and suddenly have a breathtaking view on the snow capped mountains … than I just stop.

received_1939705929375997So what does all these ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts bring me? The realisation that I am very lucky to run in the sun, a little holiday, whilst it is cold and wet at home. That the rest of the family allows me to this instead of coming directly back home after my work abroad was done. Intense enjoyment of the day. A spontaneous pose besides two traditionally dressed Austrian ladies whom picture was just taken that moment. The transition from being in the ‘running flow’ to a feeling of great satisfaction during the last few kilometres ending in euphoria after the finish. Than Solitude, Silence and Stillness are exchanged for sharing stories, memories and ‘thoughts during the trail’ with the other runners. Made even more enjoyable with a few pints of cold alcohol free Erdinger Beer and savoury snacks.

 

 

Ultra trailrunning is absurd! I fully agree but it helps me to make sense of and see the ‘bright side of life’ … and that is all I need.   

Some statistics:

  • In total 150 men and 19 women finished the K85.
  • The men 1 to 150 finished between an very fast 08.07 and more than twice this time of 17.34.
  • The women 1 to 19 finished in the bracket of 08.59 – 17.34 (the last man and woman clearly decided to finish together).
  • I finished as man 54 in 11.14.
  • I was the first Dutchmen of in total three Dutch runners and 19th Men 40 – 50.
  • But to be fair the only Belgian participant and also INOV-8 Benelux ambassador Aaike De Wever (read his experiences) passed the line in a great time of 08.57.

Some trailrun ‘stuff’:

  • I ran on the INOV-8 Roclite 315. These shoes worked well on the dry mixed ground of the not very technical trail consisting mostly softer forest trails, hard packed wide trails and some wonderful small rocky paths along the rivers floating into the River Inn.
  • I wore a 5 litres Race Ultra trailpack from INOV-8 which allowed me to easily take all the required ‘stuff’ with me. The alternative I had brought with me, the Compressport ULTRUN 140 was just a little too small for easy and quick access. It would be great if Compressport would develop a larger trailpack, see also my review: The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice.
  • The Compressport clothes however felt really good in the warm weather and the new R2 OXYGEN tubes did not feel warm at all. Specially made for maximum breathability they did what was stated on the package!
  • In my ‘last week short preparation runs’ in sunny Naples, Italy I noticed again that Compressport produces clothing for the ‘warmer’ Alpine climate with a lot of mesh (beside the compressing fabrics they are known for) and INOV-8 more for the wet and colder UK temperatures, see also my review: Compressport Trailrun clothing.
  • And finally, but surely important, I enjoyed the sun protected by pair of Julbo sunglasses. There any many sport sunglasses on the market. I got in contact with Julbo a few years ago when I won a pair during a trailrun. So the choice was ‘made for me by lady Luck’, but as the stoic would say ‘take advantage of this fortunate happening’.

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!

 

 

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.

DSC_0835

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!