In the lead up to Trans Gran Canaria I started panicking about my choice of footwear. Whilst I’d been using the Salomon S-Lab Ultras for sometime and was pleased with them, I started to believe I needed something a little more ‘specialist’. If you read my review on TGC – The Rocky Bastard – you’ll get a small insight into the terrain. Yep, it was Rocky. Very Rocky. So before I headed there I began a search for a Trail shoe designed more for this type of terrain as I feared the S-lab Ultras might not be so forgiven after a 128km of rocks!
My search took me round in circles, I looked at most of the major brands and models as always. I like Salomon trail shoes, but I wasn’t convinced by any of the offerings. Ultimately I ended up with a pair of the TrailRoc 285 and I’m glad I did….
Let’s start with the specs:
- All the usual trainer jargon such as ‘mesh uppers‘, ‘lateral support‘ ‘PowerFlow+ midsoles‘ and ‘Meta-shanks‘ which is all meaningless to me…
- It has a toe bumper. Looks like the bumper on Ford KA Mk 1. That should protect your tootsies.
- Weighs in at 285g (think that is where the name comes from)
- Has a medium fit – ‘natural’ with a wide toebox that allows your toes to move and splay.
- The drop is 8mm
- Has a durable and grippy sole
- Comes in a few colour variants. I went for blue.
What are they designed for?
Straight off the website… “Built to deal with hard-packed trails around the world, no matter how rocky…. offers protection, support and comfort across every terrain…”. I was sold. Protection, no matter how rocky? That is exactly what I wanted. There is also a bold claim of “delivering the ultimate shoe for training and racing.” but they all say that don’t they?! Anyway, perfect. I decided I needed these. Wallet, cash, shoes. Done.
How’s it worked out for me?
I bought the shoes a few months prior to TGC and had plenty of opportunity to get them ‘bedded in’ running trails along the North Downs. I’ve probably already covered a few hundred KMs in them now and I’ve been impressed. Very impressed.
Firstly, for what sounds like a very robust shoe offering plenty of protection, they are very light. 285g?! I half expected them to feel like clogs but they don’t. They are surprisingly very comfortable to wear and when new, felt like cushioned slippers. I was surprised. My older X-Claw Inov8’s felt nothing like this. Initially, I don’t know why, I went for a size 10 rather than my usual 10.5. Whilst they felt fine walking around the house I quickly returned and replaced them with a 10.5 before hitting the trails. Much better. Go a half size bigger. I’m not sure what I was thinking!
The shoe fits nicely, my feet felt quite snug and nicely wrapped by the midfoot and upper. The mesh is very breathable and my feet didn’t feel stuffy in anyway (even after 21 hours in the Spanish climate). The Mk 1 Ford KA toe bumper felt very durable and certainly felt like it would protect my digits. Many stubbed toes later I can confirm it does the job nicely. I’m sure I’d have suffered some cuts and bruises in other shoes!
The midsole felt cushioned. Again I was surprised how nice these felt to wear. I expected comfort would have been sacrificed to provide the greater protection the TrailRoc offer, but that wasn’t the case. When stepping onto loose/sharp rocks I’d barely notice the impact to my soles. The unforgiving surfaces of TGC felt more forgiving than I anticipated. I thank the TrailRocs for this! That may be partly down to the “Meta -Shank” (yep that thing again) that lives between the midsole and the outter sole. Apparently that provides the underfoot protection. There’s talk of ‘shock absorption’ and ‘energy return’ from the midfoot too, but that is all science I cannot verify. I’ll just take it for granted.
The Outter sole is Inov8’s TriC Sole. Whilst not it’s flagship ‘Graphene Grip” rubber, the TriC Sole (composed of three rubber compounds) certainly did seem to provide good traction on the trails. Like my past experiences with Inov8 footwear, I was comforted by the grip and confidence it provides me in my feet placement. It gets the thumbs up from me. It is probably too early to tell how durable these are, but after a few hundred miles they still look and feel fairly new. Note, I did have an unfortunate incident with a stick (?) on my first outting in the shoes (in the dark) which pierced the mesh upper like a knight jousting an opponent to death. I don’t think this was down to the shoe’s durability and they were kindly replaced by the merchant I purchased from!
What do I like:
- Fit – I find the Inov8 to fit well generally. I tend to go 10.5 in all my trainers and these are no different. Plenty of space in the toebox to wriggle those toes.
- Comfort – For such ‘durable’ shoes, I expected a much harsher ride. Surprisingly comfortable and very breathable. The mesh upper works a treat along with the feet-hugging and padded build.
- Protection – at my level of running, I can’t think of a more appropriate event to test these on than the Trans Gran Canaria. Up until the last section of the race my feet felt protected and comfortable. I think that beyond 100km your feet are always going to take a bashing regardless what you choose! All hail the toe bumper too!
- Grip – they felt sturdy and grippy. That equates to confidence when running.
What do I not like:
- Colours – This is just a basic sad-man moan. You might love them. The blue version is bright. The green version is brighter. The grey versions are wrapped in either neon green or orange. I’m not in love with the colour schemes. Dirt and mud makes them duller like my personality though, so not all bad.
- Technical Jargon – Imagine a pair of trainers that just said “these come with a very grippy sole. A hard wearing upper and are not made from alien inspired technology. Try them”. I’d probably buy them.
- Lack of Graphene G-grip – for no reason other than Inov8 heavily promote this on newer and more expensive trainers. I want it. Is it better than the TriC Sole? I’ve no idea. I just want it.
Go and read my Rocky Bastard review of the TGC. I think these saved my feet. It is the sole (hahaha get it?!) reason I bought them and they did exactly what was required. I’ve more plans for them on similar rocky terrains. I’ve decided that I really like Inov8.