The Trailroc range has been very popular since it was released a couple of years ago and I was immediately interested in them due to the anatomical shape and clever multi-purpose outsole. However, I decided against giving them a try after reading various reports of problems with the mesh tearing around the metatarsal flex-point. Inov-8 have sought to rectify this with the 2014 update of the Trailroc 245 by making some major changes to the design of the upper (see below).
The Trailroc range is aimed at the minimalist end of the market and designed to promote ‘natural foot function’. There are 4 different versions of the shoe and all of them offer slightly different levels of drop and protection. The 245 sits around the middle of this range with a 3mm drop and a rock plate. According to Inov-8, the outsole is designed with hard and loose conditions in mind but I also found that they performed well in moderate mud (see below).
When I fist took the Trailrocs out of the box, I was quite surprised by how much material has been used in the construction of the upper and this gives them an attractive but somewhat ‘chunky’ appearance. I think this is mostly down to the toe box which is deep and high-volume although not especially wide for an ‘anatomical’ shoe design. I ordered a size 10 by accident but this turned out to be a happy mistake because the fit was just about perfect and this tallies with other reports that the Trailrocs run slightly smaller than some of Inov-8’s other shoes (I usually take a 9.5).
When I first set out in the Trailrocs, I was struck by how cushy the upper felt on my feet. The thick tongue and generous padding are very comfortable and the deep forefoot allows you to wiggle your toes around like you are wearing your favourite slippers. The upper provides perfect security, confidence and comfort for general trail use but they are not as snug or ‘dialed-in’ as shoes built around inov-8’s performance last (nor are they meant to be).
I initially thought that the Trailrocs seemed a little stiff but this seems to have improved a lot with use and I’d say that they are probably the most flexible shoe I have tried that has a full midfoot to forefoot rock plate. The midsole/rock plate combination also provides a lot of underfoot protection whilst remaining low to the ground and very stable. I think I’d even rate this balance of protection vs feel above that of the Salomon Sense 3 for technical terrain. The Tri-C outsole is incredibly versatile and works well on hard, soft and wet surfaces. They aren’t grippy enough for really steep mud but they are perfect for most conditions and excel on runs where you need to link soggy footpaths together with short sections of road.
The Trailroc 245 is an excellent, multi-purpose trail shoe but they wouldn’t’ be my first choice for mountainous terrain or trails with a lot of big rocks as they don’t have a rand around the toes and I think this would leave them quite vulnerable. This highlights a small reservation that I have about the shoes as the sole unit provides more cushioning than I really like for general-trail use but the upper isn’t protective enough for the mountains so it’s almost a bit of a miss-match for me.
This makes me wonder if I’d of like the Trailroc even more if I had chosen one of the models that sits at either-end of the range instead of the 245. The zero-drop Trailroc 235 doesn’t have a rock plate and could be a better choice for general-trail use as they are lighter and even more flexible. On the other hand, If I was regularly running on terrain that necessitated a rock plate I’d go for the 255’s because they have a proper rand for extra toe-protection. Perhaps the 245 will come into its own for longer runs on non-technical trails where a protective upper isn’t necessary but the rock plate would provide some forgiveness after spending a long time on your feet. This is highly subjective but I guess I’m saying that it’s well worth taking the time to pick the right version for you.
I’ve managed to run about 40 miles in the Trailrocs so far and the upper is holding up very well at this early stage and the material shows no sign of tearing or going ‘fluffy’ (which can be a precursor to tearing). As usual, I will keep this post updated and report any problems.
The Trailroc 245 is a very versatile shoe and I really like it but as with all Inov-8 models, I would encourage you to carefully consider both type of terrain you are going to use them on and your personal preference for cushioning, drop and protection before deciding which model to buy. This highlights the awesome way in which they design their product range to allow you to pick exactly the right combination to fit your needs. An overview of the Trailroc range can be found here at the Inov-8 website.
These shoes were purchased by the author
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Do you have any experience of the new Trailrocs? Do you have a question? Please leave your thoughts below!