Review: Inov-8 Trailroc 235, 245, 255

by Charles Wednesday, December 19th 2012

In the second half of 2012 Inov-8 released 3 new models in their Off-Road series - the Trailroc 235, 245 and 255. Because the fit and features seemed right we decided to stock the entire series - and after getting good feedback from a staff demo day on the Douglas Springs Trail and from several staff members who purchased Trailrocs we are confident they are a great addition to our selection!

Summit Hut Buyer Richard running in Trailroc 235s during a staff demo on the Douglas Spring Trail - after trying the 235s on the demo Richard eventually purchased a pair of 245s.

All of the models in the Trailroc series share the same fit and outsole - but the cushion, protection and drop vary between the models. If you like the fit and the outsole the Trailroc series offers a unique chance to dial in the drop/cushion/protection/drop for your activity/personal preference without changing the fit or grip!

Fit - Inov-8 describes the F-Lite and X-Talon series as having a 'Performance' fit and the Trailroc series as having an 'Anatomic' fit. The obvious difference when you put on a Trailroc is that there is more room in the front of the shoe. For very narrow feet this may be a problem - if you are using the X-Talon 190 or 212 and find the fit to be perfect there is a chance that the Trailroc will be too wide. We think that the Anatomic last is going to be a benefit for many of our customers - while the flexible mesh used on the uppers of the F-Lite series and X-Talon 190 stretches to accommodate many people (see our F-Lite 195 & F-Lite 230 Review for more information) the Anatomic last should be a better solution for a wide range of foot shapes. It is worth noting that the protective rand around the front of Trailroc 255 makes it feel just a bit more narrow than the 235 or 245 (because the material has less stretch/give than the mesh on the 234/245).

The Trailroc outsole - the different colors show the different rubber compounds. On the Trailroc 235 the different rubbers are not colored (the outsole is all green), but the 235 does have the three different rubbers/same outsole.

Outsole - The Trailroc outsole is aggressively lugged and makes use of three different rubber compounds to maximize both grip and durability - but most importantly this outsole performs quite well on trail! For me the X-Talon outsole is slightly stickier, but the difference is minimal and I think that the X-Talon outsole wears down more quickly than the Trailroc outsole (at least with use on rocky Tucson trails!). One question many people have when they first try a light weight shoe with an outsole that has aggressive lugs is if they will feel the lugs push into the bottom of their feet - we have not found that to be a problem with any of the models in the Trailroc series.

Drop - When talking about footwear 'drop', or heel to toe differential, refers to the amount of difference between the height of the heel and the height of the forefoot. A traditional running shoe often has a 10mm to 12mm drop (positioning your heel above your forefoot), some minimal/barefoot footwear (such as Vibram FiveFingers) has a 0 drop (positioning your heel and forefoot on the same level). The Trailroc series offers drops between 0mm and 6mm - if you are currently wearing shoes with a higher/traditional drop it is important to take time to transition to a lower drop shoe. For some suggestions/help/tips about running form and transitioning to lower drop shoes see Merrell's Bareform Page and Inov-8's 'The Transition Journey'.

The side and back of the 235. On the left: Pontatoc Ridge Trail. On the right: Douglas Spring Trail.

235 (Men's, Women's) - 0 drop, 0 Arrow (Inov-8 grades there shoes between 0 and 4 'Arrows' with 0 being a very very minimal shoe and 4 being maximum cushion and protection). The 235 is a great choice if you want a minimal option with an aggressive outsole. You will not have as much ground feel/sensitivity in this shoe as you would find in the F-Lite 195, Merrell Trail Glove or Vibram Spyridon - but you get a much more aggressive outsole that I think will, especially on loose and wet terrain, have better performance. The upper is mesh with TPU overlays that do a good job of providing enough structure to hold your foot in place. The mesh is great for breathability, but it will let in thorns/grass seeds/brush on overgrown trails and you may want more protection in some situations. There is a minimal toe cap that provides a bit of extra protection to for your toes.

The side and top of the 245. On the left: Near the General Hitchcock Highway after the first snow of the season in 2012. On the right: On the shore in Ebey's Landing, WA.

245 (Men's, Women's) - 3mm drop, 1 Arrow. I love my 235s, but after 6 to 8 miles I want something with a little more protection - the 245s are a great solution offering a more cushion and rock plate (the 235 does not have a rock plate). The 245s are minimal enough that I can still feel the trail under my feet, but there is enough protection that my feet still feel good after 15 to 20 miles on the trail. The 245 has the same type of mesh upper found on the 235 - nicely breathable, holds your foot in place well, very little protection from thorns/grass seeds/brush, minimal toe cap. If I could only pick one Trailroc model the 245 would be my choice!

Side and top of the 255. On the left: Near the General Hitchcock Highway after the first snow of the season in 2012. On the right: Taking a break on the Pontatoc Canyon Trail after an off trail adventure on Pontatoc Ridge (should have worn gaiters I guess...).

255 (Men's, Women's) - 6mm drop, 2 Arrow. The 255 is a clear step up from the 245 in terms of support, protection and cushion - your foot is well protected from the trail! In addition the upper of the 255 is the most protective of the series - while the top of the shoe is mesh (which provides good breathability) a thick rand around the front provides good protection from rocks/brush/thorns and substantial protection for your toes. The 255 is my choice when I will be spending time off-trail. The trade off for all of the protection that the 255 offers is that it does not have the ground feel/sensitivity of the 245 or 235 - this could be a positive or a negative depending on your preferences and usage.

The Trailroc series offers great features and options - it is one of my favorites and well worth trying!


2012 Cave Creek Thriller and McDowell Mountain Frenzy

by Charles Wednesday, December 12th 2012

30k Start at the 2012 Cave Creek Thriller

October 2012: 3:12:57 and 12.4 miles into the Cave Creek Thriller I reached the Start/Finish line aid station - my first 30k race was not going exactly as I imagined. My stomach rebelled during the first lap, I was tired and hot and I thought about dropping out - but after taking a break 'just one more lap' started to seem possible - so I headed back out onto the trail for more heat and punishment. I don't have a glorious story about how I 'bounced back' with a 'second wind' - it was hot, I felt miserable and I was moving slowly (more walking than running for sure). At the last - gloriously well stocked - aid station (ice!) I sat on the ground and rested before eventually making my way to the finish in 5:27:14 - not exactly the time/run I had hoped for, but I finished!!! While I was wiped out it must not have been that bad since the next day I signed up for the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 25k in December...

Hurting but still smiling during the 2012 Cave Creek Thriller

If you like trail running you should certainly check out Aravaipa Running's events. The Cave Creek Thriller and McDowell Mountain Frenzy are part of the Desert Runner Trail Series. The DRT Series races are held in regional parks in the Phoenix area. For the 2012/2013 season there are 7 events: Cave Creek Thriller, Pass Mountain, McDowell Mountain Frenzy, Coldwater Rumble, San Tan Scramble, Elephant Mountain and Mesquite Canyon. Every run has (near) 30k and 50k distances and they all have other distance options as well (both shorter and longer). All of the races are very well organized - nicely stocked and positioned aid stations, great course markings and friendly people!

2012 McDowell Mountain Frenzy

December 2012: The morning of the McDowell Mountain Frenzy the temperature was nice and cool. There were a few runners in jackets at the start and I wondered if I would be cold, but it only took a few minutes after the start to warm up. I relaxed for the first few miles and enjoyed rambling thru the desert with the other runners. Eventually a small climb gave me a welcome burst of energy - I sped up for a gentle downhill section before yet another stretch of rolling hills slowed me down. At 1:52:37 I finished the first 10.1 mile loop! I struggled to keep my pace up during the second loop as the course continued to roll thru the desert towards the final steep climb. It would have been a triumphant moment to run up the last hill - but I walked it, managing to arrive at the top with just enough energy to enjoy the downhill to finish line - 3:08:34!

Mugs and Gear from the 2012 Cave Creek Thriller and McDowell Mountain Frenzy

A few gear notes:

Garmin fēnix™: Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and GPS all on your wrist - with remarkably good battery life! This is a great navigation tool and way to track your outdoor adventures!

Inov-8 TrailRoc 245: More room in the toe box than the X-Talon and f-Lite series shoes, great traction/grip on the trail, lots of breathable mesh and a lacing system that does a good job of holding your foot in place - there is a lot to like about this shoe!

Balega Soft Tread Quarter Socks: Great feel and these still feel great after a lot of miles on the trail and trips thru the washing machine.

Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Pack: In a run like the McDowell Mountain Frenzy there are plenty of great aid stations with food and drink - you certainly don't need a pack! But, for me, these runs are partly a way to get in-shape for unsupported runs in the mountains where I prefer to bring a bit more gear and this pack works incredibly well when moving fast! The Summit Hut will be carrying this pack in 2013.

Events | Gear

Pusch Peak

by Charles Tuesday, May 15th 2012

The trail to Pusch Peak from the west (the Northwest Side Route) is nicely documented in this blog post by Dave Baker - but, like most destinations, there is more than one route to the top! One other option is the 'Southeast Ridge Route' described in "The Santa Catalina Mountains: A Guide to the Trails and Routes" by Pete Cowgill and Eber Glendening (this guide has been out of print for years, but it is a great resource and we try to keep a copy on our map table!). I believe this route sees less use than the Northwest Side Route - perhaps with good reason since there is no shortage of Cholla and Shin Daggers and no trail to speak of - but for most of the route you hike along lovely ridges with great views, perhaps worth the challenges...

This hike is in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness area – two restrictions to be aware of: travel more than 400 feet off trail is forbidden January thru April (this hike is almost entirely off-trail - Pusch Peak is 'closed' during that time period) and dogs are not permitted on the trail (except seeing-eye dogs or handi-dogs).

This is an off-trail adventure - while there is no difficult scrambling there are plenty of unfriendly plants, no trail, steep cliffs and loose terrain - if you are considering this hike please carefully consider the challenges.

Parking for this hike is the Iris O. Dewhirst Pima Canyon Trailhead located at the end of Magee Road. While in the parking lot take note of a large outcropping of rock on the skyline - this outcropping is a valuable landmark. Start hiking along the Pima Canyon trail.

Note the large outcropping of rock.

Near mile .5 begin to look for a chance to head north, off the Pima Canyon trail, up the hillside and onto a ridge leading up to the large outcropping. While there are some unremarkable sections on (and up to) this ridge there are also some very beautiful sections!

Heading up the ridge with the large outcropping in the distance.

A great, but short, section of the ridge up to the large outcropping.

At mile 1 you will still be below the large outcropping. As you get closer to the outcropping the ridge will become less distinct (you may find a faint trail...) and you should look for the easiest path towards the right side of the outcropping. As you come around the outcropping you will see a beautiful - but Shin Dagger filled - hillside, this is a great spot to take a break before heading up to the ridge.

Looking back on the large outcropping from the hillside above.

Once you have climbed the hill and are up on the ridge you will have a great view of Pusch Peak. Take the path of least resistance along the ridge towards point 4920 (you can contour around or head to the top of 4920).

The view from the top of 4920 - Table Mountain, The Cleaver, The Tombstone, Rosewood Point - I think the view here may be even better than the view from Pusch Peak!

From 4920 continue following the ridge as it turns to the northwest towards Pusch Peak. The higher you go the more spectacular the ridge becomes. At 2.4 miles you will be at the top!

USGS marker at the top of Pusch Peak.

Looking back down the ridge.

A glimpse of Table Mountain from Pusch Peak.

From the top you can reverse the route up and head back to the trailhead with a total mileage of approximately 4.7 miles and just over 2300 feet of elevation gain/loss.

Pusch Peak Map


2012 Mesquite Canyon 1/2 Marathon Race Report

by Charles Thursday, March 15th 2012

With so many great opportunities to hike, climb and adventure around Tucson I rarely take advantage of the outdoor destinations outside of Phoenix. But this March I was tempted up to White Tank Mountain Regional Park to take part in the 1/2 Marathon length of Araviapa Running's Mesquite Canyon Race. The Mesquite Canyon Race has 50km, 30km, 1/2 Marathon and 8km lengths and is the sixth, and final, race in the Desert Runner Trail (DRT) Series.

I arrive at the start just after the 50km runners start and have plenty of time to get my number, take a few sips of coffee and see the 30km runners head off before I line up for the start of the 1/2 Marathon.

Start of the Mesquite Canyon Half Marathon

I start near the back, no need to go out too fast, and settle into an easy pace behind a runner in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. The first few miles are relatively flat and wind thru the Saguaro and Cholla on the Ironwood, Ford Canyon and Waddell Trails - I don't really know the course and, even with other runners around, appreciate the ribbons and signs Araviapa Racing has placed to mark the course.

After a few miles the course turns west onto the Mesquite Canyon trail and the first climb begins - as the grade steepens the runners spread out.

Mesquite Canyon
Runners on the Mesquite Canyon Trail

At the Mesquite Aid Station the course turns onto the Willow Canyon Trail. A bit more climbing takes us up to a section of flat trail on the hillside above Willow Canyon, a chance to recover and take in the views of the canyon.

Willow Canyon
The Mesquite Canyon Trail along Willow Canyon

Too soon (for me anyway) we start to climb again - Ford Canyon Trail and then back onto the Mesquite Canyon Trail around point 3032 - and, after a bit more walking than I thought I would do, the course starts to head downhill! The views put a smile on my face and I pick up the pace - but soon faster runners fly by me, at first I am surprised by their speed, but eventually I realize that some of the lead 50k runners (including 50k winner and Salomon Team member Eric Bohn) are streaking by.

Long Downhill
Heading downhill!

By the time I am back to the last few miles of relatively flat trail thru the desert I am tired! I press on and on and eventually hear faint cheers from the finish that grow closer and closer until I finally come across the finish line! 2:32:59 - certainly not speedy, but a great time for me! I sit for awhile and enjoy the drinks and food, cheer for other runners and watch a few of the DRT Series winners collect their awards before heading back to Tucson.

Tired but happy after finishing!

I really loved my first experience at Mesquite Canyon - wonderful course in a location I am not sure I would have ever seen otherwise, Araviapa Racing does a great job running the race, nice variety of course lengths to choose from and plenty of friendly people to run with - I think I might have to go back next year!

Gear Notes:

Balega Soft Tread Quarter - Nice fit and feel, a bit of cushion but not too bulky - I have been using these for several months now and are my current favorite for trail running.

Salomon S-Lab Gaiters - Comfortable enough that I don't have to stop and adjust during a run, quick and easy to put on/take off and great at keeping dirt and debris out of my shoes!

Mountain Hardwear Mighty Power 3/4 Tight - Soft and stretchy with mesh panels that provide some extra breathability, almost too hot on this run (certainly not a summer item in Phoenix/Tucson!) but these have been great for me all winter.

The North Face Velocitee Short Sleeve Crew - Light, comfortable and a great price!

Head Sweats Summit Hut Race Hat - A quality hat with a nice fit.

Events | Gear

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!