Review: Inov-8 Trailroc 235, 245, 255

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!

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