inov-8 TRAILROC 280 Shoe Review

Fans of inov-8 shoes may well be a little surprised by the new incarnation of the Trailroc 280.

It’s a bold shoe and dare I say, on first look, one may even mistake it for a Hoka One One shoe. The blue and yellow and color fade has that classic Hoka look and the cushioning really stands out.

I had to make sure that I definitely had an inov-8 shoe in my hand.

Die-hard inov-8 fans may well immediately dislike the new Trailroc – it’s a departure for the brand. But one should not be too hasty. 

For those who like minimal, low drop, and aggressive outsoles, inov-8 still have a plethora of shoes to choose from. So, the new Trailroc 280 should be embraced as something new to try.

First Impressions

I like the look, bold color fade work well. The cushioning is the stand out and is built up and reinforced section around the rear. Heel box is well padded and has firm hold of the foot. The tongue is attached to the inside of the show with elastic on either side, I am a fan! The tongue is really padded, very plush. The upper is very breathable and there are reinforced overlays on the outside (left and right) to provide some structure to the upper and hold the foot.

Lacing is pretty standard and there are additional eyelets should you wish to lock-lace or similar. Toe box has reinforcement for protection, but I expected this to be more substantial for a shoe designed for rocky terrain. The toe box is on the narrow side so if you are a fan of the Trail Talon (here), for example, you may not like the Trailroc? Sizing is touch and go. I always use a UK9.5 in inov-8 and the Trailroc is definitely a little smaller than my other inov’s. It is marginal and I have had no problem using them… worth noting that they may feel smaller as the toe box is a little narrower, however, I always go for a thumb nail of space, and in these I am at ¾!

Outsole is the new Graphene and the grip is classic trail grip – not too aggressive. Graphene is slowly making its way to most inov shoes now and apparently it increases longevity by some 50% without a comprise on the grip characteristics.

The Shoe

Sliding the shoes on for the first time, several factors stood out.

  • I could feel the cushioning immediately.
  • The padded tongue is really plush.
  • The toe box felt on the narrow side.

Lacing the shoes up, the hold on my foot felt ‘so so!’ I have to say, and this comment comes now after weeks and weeks of using the Trailroc, I feel the upper lacks some rigidity to hold the foot. I have been using inov for years and something in the upper here is lacking for me. It’s particularly noticeable when the terrain is not flat, for example, when running off camber or when on rocks – my foot is moving inside the shoe! This is not because of lacing. I tried many lace configurations and I just couldn’t get the firm hold I like to make me feel reassured. It left me perplexed.

The toe box is on the narrower side. I need to clarify here that I love the Trail Talon and Parkclaw (here) but easily transition to ‘precision’ fit shoes, for example a Mudclaw (here). When running on muddy and technical terrain, I like my feet to be held firm and have confidence in the shoe. When running trail and longer miles I am happy for my toes to splay, providing the lacing holds my foot. The Trailroc left me feeling 50/50. There is nothing particularly unpleasant, but equally there was nothing sparkling going on.

I guess the main feature of the shoe is the added cushioning and that really is noticeable. It has a real bounce to it and comfort levels are high. So, those who are looking for a more cushioned trail shoe, this version of the Trailroc 280 will appeal. It’s a shoe that transitions from road to trail easily and that is a real plus for many.

The outsole does its job and works well. These are not shoes for muddy terrain. They are classic trail / rock shoes and the outsole works well on the latter both in the wet and the dry.

In Use

The cushioning of the Trailroc 280 is the selling factor along with the Graphene outsole. It is all packaged together in a great looking shoe. On road, the cushioning is apparent providing a plush feel and a definite bounce, so, for those who are looking for more comfort on longer runs will be happy. On trail, the cushioning is apparent, however, I did have less feel for the ground and ‘height’ from the ground was more noticeable in comparison to other inov-8 shoes.

When the trail became more challenging, as mentioned above, this is when I had issues. I just never felt my foot was held secure… It almost feels as the shoes are too big, but they are not! I really over tightened my laces and that did add to a more secure feel, but the level of tightness was not sustainable for longer runs – it just added to much pressure.

The outsole works on trail and rock well providing adequate grip when needed when conditions are wet or dry. It’s not an aggressive outsole, so, in mud you will slip and slide around.

There is a Meta-Flex in the outsole and so the propulsive phase feels dynamic but less dynamic than some other inov-8 shoes.

Drop is 2 arrows, so, 8mm. Makes sense for a shoe like this, I really feel this shoe is designed for an ultra-trail runner going longer distances. Cushioning is 20mm rear and 12mm at the front.

inov-8 very often make shoes for a very specific purpose and with this Trailroc 280 I feel that it is a shoe trying to do many things and as such does no one thing brilliantly, but if you are looking for an ‘all-purpose’ shoe that transitions from to road to trail, this may be for you!

Conclusion

The Trailroc 280 is not a bad shoe. Equally it is not a great shoe. This is the first time in a while I have not glowed about an inov-8 shoe. I have tried and tried to like this shoe and don’t get me wrong, if I had no other shoe to wear, I’d be happy in the 280. However, I have lots of options on footwear and the 280 has nothing that stands out that makes me want to grab it and go run. It’s cushioned, has 8mm drop, has a great outsole but has some failings for me.

Foothold and toe box are the two factors that leave a question mark. The toe box I can live with, it causes me no problems, it is just not ideal. The foothold though really is an issue and I hate the feel of my foot not being secure.

inov-8 website HERE 

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Scott Kinabalu 2018 Review

The classic returns! The Scott Kinabalu was my first ever Scott running shoe and at the time, when I was seen wearing them, I always received the comment, “I didn’t know Scott made run shoes?’

That comment continued for some time, but now, Scott are well and truly established in the running world.

One could say that the introduction of the RC range in late 2016 and early 2017 took the brand to a new level. The distinctive black and yellow really stands out and the Supertrac RC not only looked great but had great reviews – HERE

 

The Scott Kinabalu 2018 edition is an all new shoe and it is fair to say that much of what appeared in the Supertrac RC has been carried over to this new incarnation of the Kinabalu.

It has a lower drop, new upper, new outsole and different look. It may have the Kinabalu name, but the 2018 version is something different altogether!

The Shoe

 Orange is obviously ‘the’ colour for the shoe industry with many brands using varying shades or tones for 2018 shoes. My Kinabalu is two-tone orange and grey (an all-black version is available too.)

Three things stand out immediately – the seamless upper, the cushioning and the outsole. As I said above, this Kinabalu is far removed from the original so drawing comparisons are almost pointless.

It is a cushioned shoe with 29mm at the rear and 21mm at the front. For comparison, the Supertrac RC and Kinabalu RC has 22.5 at the rear and 17.5 at the front.

The RC range have 5mm drop and are out-and-out racing shoes whereas the Kinabalu has 8mm drop. This is a good thing for those who run longer or want a more relaxed shoe. Certainly, with the crossover in looks and design, RC users will find switching and alternating with the 2018 Kinabalu seamless.

 The outsole has the ‘new’ Forward Traction technology, with a multi-layer lug design. It’s designed to grip, as all good outsoles should, on a plethora of different terrain, wet to dry.


eRide is standard on Scott shoes and one of the brands USP’s. It is a rocker outsole which is designed to increase running efficiency particularly if heal striking as it helps roll the foot forward.

Cushioning comes from Aero Foam + which increases comfort, durability and rebound in the propulsive phase.

The upper is seamless with a reinforced toe box, heel box and overlays in the mid foot section leading to the laces. The tongue is gusseted and provides a sock like fit. There are no seams so in theory, the shoe should not rub or cause blisters.

There are no additional eyelets at the top of the lacing section, so, lock lacing is not possible.

 The Kinabalu is marketed as a lightweight shoe but certainly comes in a little heavier than nearly all the shoes I would consider competition at this level. It’s of course marginal, but if you are obsessed about show weight, there are lighter shoes out there! For example, the Kinabalu weighs in at 320g for standard comparable size.

For comparison*:

inov-8 Parkclaw 275g here

Nike Wildhorse 4 300g here

TNF Ultra Endurance 310g here

inov-8 Trail Talon 290g here

* all above shoes are 8mm drop and cushioned shoes.

The Kinabalu is true to size and neutral fit.

First Impressions

For me, the jury is still out on seamless uppers. Or should I say, ‘some’ seamless uppers! I get the logic, understand the benefits but some just feel a little too stiff. I had this with the recent inov-8 X Talon (Here) and I have the same feeling for the Kinabalu. Most definitely, the Kinabalu needs breaking in. When I receive new shoes, I always use them as slippers in my home before running. That way I get a feel for the shoe and I soften them up a little. I also learn if there are potential hot spots and how I should adjust the laces, so the shoe is comfortable on my instep – always an issue for me as I have a high instep.

The Kinabalu was glove like when pulled on, the gusseted tongue giving great comfort and hold on the instep.

The heel box was plush, comfortable and held well.

The toe box is wide, but not super wide. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being wide) I would say the Kinabalu is a 3. When I walked around though the shoe felt stiff. Particularly noticeable when I bent the shoe at the front, just above the toes.

The stiff seamless upper seemed reluctant to bend and the fabric creased as if folding cardboard. I must clarify this got better and better as I wore the shoes but I can only stress that for me, you need to soften the Kinabalu up. Had I run in the shoe out of the box, I am pretty sure I would have had an issue above the toes.

Cushioning felt good – a little on the firm side but I could definitely feel the benefit of the 29/21mm combination.

The outsole stuck to my wooden floor making a nice sticky sound every time I lifted my foot.

In Use

I put 8 hours in the shoes in my home before running. Invaluable in my opinion! As with all my test runs, I do 1-mile of road at the beginning and the end of my runs, the middle section is 6-8 miles of varying terrain that has a little of everything – it’s a great test ground.

The Kinabalu bounces along on the road well with the cushioning providing great protection between my foot and the terrain. However, I didn’t particularly feel connected. The cushioning is definitely on the stiffer side and although this improved over time, the Kinabalu certainly is a stiffer ride. Very similar to the RC in my opinion. 

The outsole lugs are close together and whilst not designed for road running, the Kinabalu can handle the hard stuff with no problems.

On the trails, the Kinabalu felt good transitioning between different terrains. The lugs are not very deep, so, it is most definitely a trail shoe for firmer and drier terrain. When I ran through mud, the lugs failed for 2 reasons – they are too close together and lack length to purchase in the ground. Not a criticism, just a notable point so that you understand what terrain the Kinabalu excels on. On rocks, grip was excellent, even in the wet. Always a good thing!

I am a forefoot striker but have always found the eRide of Scott pleasurable – no difference with this new Kinabalu, it works well. I have already mentioned that the cushioning in my opinion is firmer and I noticed this in the propulsive phase. I was getting a good rebound and return but not as much as in some other trail shoes.

The upper really holds the foot well with reinforced layers in the lacing area providing good hold and security around the instep. Two loops are on the gusseted tongue which the laces pass through, this is a new one on me and they are there to help keep the tongue in place – they work! Scott have used a ‘lace-locker’ in the past, it’s a simple piece of elastic that sits lower on the laces and it allows one to tuck the excess away after being tied. They removed it on the Supertrac RC and it isn’t on the Kinabalu – I really don’t know why? It is such a simple and effective system and adds no weight. I would like to see it back! 

The heel area is very comfy, padded and held everything nice and tight. Even when climbing I had little to no movement at the rear.

The toe box is not narrow and not wide, so, in principal it should suit many runners. The reinforcement is just an overlay, it will add protection, but it is not a solid bumper that can be found on other trail shoes.

After 109 miles in the Kinabalu, the shoe is most definitely softening up and starting to hold to my foot and provide a softer more pleasurable run. This is primarily noticeable in the upper – with a little rain, mud and use it has softened up. The cushioning has certainly bedded in too allowing more feel for the ground.

The 8mm drop for me is perfect as it sits in that ideal middle ground of not too high and not too low. The Kinabalu is a great stand-alone trail shoe for any run but I also think that RC users will enjoy the additional cushioning and more relaxed drop for training and/ or longer races. The 2 shoes sit well together. So, if you like the RC, you will like the Kinabalu.

In Conclusion

The Scott Kinabalu is a rock-solid trail running shoe that will appeal to many runners. The combination of cushioning, 8mm drop and good grip makes it an ideal shoe for any trail runner – the only exception coming if one plans to run in a great deal of mud or soft ground.

The upper is pretty much bullet proof and this brings with it some pluses and minuses. The plus is that the upper will last and last. I don’t envisage the upper wearing out or tearing, of course, it is too early to tell so I will feedback on this. But that stiff upper needs loosening up and softening to get the best of the shoe, so, wear the shoes casually and expect your first few runs to feel a little stiff. 

Similarly, the cushioning is a little like the upper. It’s a little stiff to start but over time beds in nicely.

If you don’t like spending money on run shoes, or, if you like your shoes to last once purchased, the Kinabalu may well be a great shoe for you – I can see these going for many months and many miles.

SCOTT RUNNING website HERE