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

inov-8 PARKCLAW 275 GTX REVIEW

I have to be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to using inov-8’s new shoe offering, the PARKCLAW 275 (I tested the GTX – Gore Tex). Why? Well, inov-8 have always impressed by producing shoes that are specific to a runner’s need – typically, getting a grip in muddy trail. Over recent years though, many new inov-8 shoes have appeared that have merged that ‘specificity’ and in all honesty, I have always been impressed by what has been on offer.

The PARKCLAW though just didn’t entice me.

I have to say, I was a little silly. It turns out that the PARKCALAW 275 is a great shoe and in all honesty, it’s a shoe that will appeal to so many.

Many runners want a shoe that does more than just one thing. The PARKCLAW is going to be that shoe. Good on the road, good on dry trails, good on rocks, cushioned, wide toe box, 8mm drop and great feel.

Inov-8 have produced a real surprise!

THE SHOE

Maybe the ‘PARK’ in the name signifies the ever-growing parkrun community that every weekend assemble all over the world and bang out a 5k amongst friends. Let’s face facts, it’s a huge community and if you can get a slice of that pie, it’s a great thing for any brand. But many of those runners may want to mix things up with a little road-to-trail or easy trail runs. This is where the PARKCLAW can step in!

I need to clarify here that the PARKCLAW is a shoe that works for any runner. I have been using it on my road loops of 5, 8 and 12km and they have been great. Equally, they have been excellent on my local canal tow path and forest trails.

The shoe has an ‘in-between’ outsole that provides grip for trail but not too much grip for road. The lugs at 4mm are semi-aggressive but importantly are close together so road running feels good. META-FLEX at the front allows the shoes to bend near the metatarsals and at the rear is a Dynamic Fascia Band. Three different lug colours are present which show how the different compounds ensure grip on different surfaces.

Drop is 8mm which is now pretty much standard, gone are the days of 12mm drop and higher. 8mm drop is a perfect starting point for most runners and particularly nice if running longer.

Fit is neutral and true to size. I always use a UK9.5 and these are perfect.

Toe box is wide – 5 on inov-8’s fit scale (here) so all you Hobbits should have a huge smile.

Cushioning is 12mm at the front and 20mm at the rear which provides a plush feel and not at the compromise of losing a feel for the ground. The Cushioned ride comes from Powerflow+ which does a great job at protecting but not at the loss of energy return. Combined with META-FLEX the Powerflow+ makes the propulsive phase a pleasure.

The upper is classic inov-8, breathable and lightweight. It has support on either side of the lacing section which pulls in to hold the foot firm once laces are adjusted accordingly. Importantly there are double eyelets at the top, so you can lock-lace should you wish. The heel area is plush as always with inov-8 and there is additional support to hold the foot firm and help with gait. The tongue is padded and gusseted. Toe box is reinforced and protected.

IN USE

This is a very comfy shoe. Slipper like in feel and it was easy to pull them on and run with no bedding in. I was amazed at how comfortable they are. The Cushioning is unlike any other inov-8 shoe I have used. Maybe similar to a TRAIL TALON.

The key thing for many will be the wide toe box. Hobbits you will love them! I am fortunate that I can use precision shoes and then enjoy and benefit of a wide toe box when I want to be more relaxed and allow my foot to splay. The PARKCLAW is really comfy.

Gusseted tongue is padded and a real winner. Keep saying it, all shoes should have a gusseted tongue just makes sense!

The lacing is standard and it’s possible to adjust and get a great fit and feel. I used the additional eyelet at the top to ‘lock-lace’ but found I didn’t need it, the shoe fitted so well.

Running on the road is a real pleasure with excellent comfort, great feel and great energy return. At no point did I feel I was in a trail shoe. Transition to hard trail was seamless. The PARCLAW is a great all-rounder and one-stop shop for those who need something that can do a little of everything.

The 4mm lugs handled grass, rock and trail both in wet and dry but when the trails became muddy, grip was compromised. The lugs are too close together and not long enough to get the required purchase. This is not a criticism, it’s just a fact! Quite simply, if you are needing a shoe with greater off-road grip, you need another model of inov-8. The PARKCLAW is not intended for this job!

SUMMARY

The PARKCLAW  275 is a real surprise. It’s a shoe that you can use day in and day out when you are mixing terrain. A great example would be say living in London and going for a long run when you mix road with sections of trail in Regents Park, Hyde Park and so on. The shoe though equally sits as a road shoe or dry trail shoe. I had no issue using the PARKCLAW 275 for either purpose.

The toe box is wide, and this may well be a real deciding factor for many. I know so many runners who need or prefer a wide fit – look no further.

The PARKCLAW would actually make a great shoe for a race like Marathon des Sables when an out-and-out trail shoe is not required but when cushioning and wide toe box is welcome. It is definitely a contender.

The PARKCLAW 275 will never be great on muddy technical terrain. The outsole is not aggressive enough and the wide ‘5’ fit would make the shoe feel sloppy and lacking precision.

Ultimately, I think inov-8 created this shoe as an ‘introduction’ shoe. A way of enticing roadies to trail. In doing so, they have created a stand-alone shoe which I have been using daily, and yes, it’s equally great as a walking shoe.

A jack of all trades is never brilliant at any one thing but the PARKCLAW 275 does a great job at making the mix and transition.

Finally, I tested the GTX version, so, should you wish, you can also keep your feet warm and dry by letting no water in. Of course, GTX doesn’t let water out too, so, if the water comes in over the top of the shoe, your feet will stay wet. Always with considering! However, over the winter months I could feel the benefit of the Gore Tex on cold days.

PARKCLAW 275 on inov-8 HERE

 

Hayden Hawks – C’min’ At Ya, Fast! on IRUN4ULTRA

hayden-hawks_irun4ultra

On February 18th, Hayden Hawks will toe the line of Moab’s Red Hot 50k. If I was a betting man, I’d be having a punt and naming Hawks as the victor. Yes, this guy is on fire – he proved it in December when he pushed Zach Miller all the way to the line at San Francisco 50. Zach took the day and the $10.000 prize purse but the duo both went under the old course record, as Hawks says, “I broke the course record by over 10 minutes and did everything that I possibly could today but Zach just had a little more than me.”

But who is this 25-year old from Utah? In 2016 he burst on the scene with victory at Speedgoat 50K, sponsorship with Hoka One One followed and victory at Capstone 50K in November laid the foundations for that very memorable head-to-head with Miller.

“I am excited to get going this year. To be honest with you, right now, I’m ready to race and I’m just getting anxious, I want to race so bad and I want to travel so bad but for now I need to get a good base in training and then I’m going to go out there and be ready to go…!”

Read the full and in-depth interview with Hayden Hawks on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

irun4ultra_logo

Salomon Sense Mantra 3 – Review

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7562

When Salomon signed Ellie Greenwood and Max King (just ran 2:17 for Olympic qualifier) for 2015 sponsorship, the two current 100km champions, it was a clear statement that the brand wants to make some headway on the road as well as trail.

The new S-Lab X Series (Here) is an out-and-out road shoe but Salomon are also very keen to capture all of hose runners that run on road, trail, road, trail and then road… but not necessarily in that order. The birth of CITYTRAIL. It’s not rocket science but if in doubt, CITYTRAIL shoes combine the best of a road shoe and then mix it up with a trail shoe.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7568

The original Salomon Mantra (2012) was ground breaking. However, the shoe has come a long way from its original incarnation and although the new Mantra 3 does hold some of the original traits, it’s fair to say that the Sense Mantra 3 is a completely new shoe.

Imagine taking the much loved S-Lab Sense, breeding it with the original Mantra and in many ways you have the Sense Mantra 3.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7559

Do you like the S-Lab Sense in either normal or soft-ground versions? If so, you are almost certainly going to like the Mantra 3.

The shoe has all those wonderful S-Lab characteristics that we have all come to love:

  • Sensfit
  • Endofit
  • Lace pocket
  • Quicklace
  • OS Tendon
  • Ortholite
  • Profeet Film

So many buzz words but in brief they all add up to…  awesome!

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7577

Okay, I fully appreciate that here I am again waxing lyrical about another pair of shoes and arguably another pair of Salomon’s that are a joy to wear. But I only tell it like it is… I loved the Sense 3 SG and I loved the Sense Pro, so, combine those two shoes and you arguably have the Sense Mantra 3. BUT the shoe has some significant differences.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7596First and foremost, the sole of the shoe has been redesigned and it has a completely new look. Need a shoe for soft or muddy ground? Look elsewhere. But if you are mixing road, hard trail, rocks and anything in and around that scenario, the Mantra 3 is a dream.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7565 The shoe feels very cushioned and plush. This almost certainly comes from Endofit. Lets face it, once you have used Endofit; other shoes feel a little sloppy. Endofit holds the foot snug, secure and as such provides great feel and security. Basically it’s a wrap for your foot.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7571

The Mantra 3 has 15mm cushioning at the rear and 9mm at the front. I was a little surprised by those stats. The shoe feels a little more cushioned than that but I don’t mean that in a negative way. You still have plenty of feel, loads of response and arguably the 6mm drop provides an ideal sweet spot.

Weight is awesome at 275g (UK8) and the shoe feels light. Flexibility is great and when out running, the shoe actually makes you want to increase your cadence and pick up the pace. I loved that feeling… I just wish my lungs and heart could keep up with the shoes.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7573Lacing is legendary and the ‘Quicklace’ system works flawlessly. I have no problems with this system but it is fair to say that if you like to tweak your laces and loosen them in places, that is difficult to do here. Excess lace is stored in the equally legendary ‘Lace Pocket.’

I personally found that my shoes sized a little small. I use UK9.5 in Sense 3, Sense 3 SG and Sense Pro but I found that I needed a UK10 for the Mantra 3. Of course this may just be a one off? However, if ordering online, keep this in mind.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7593 The noticeable difference in the Mantra 3 is the toe box! It is without doubt considerably wider and roomier than any other Salomon shoe I have used. So much so that I found myself tweaking the tightness of my laces to compensate. I know only too well how many people complain that Salomon shoes are too narrow. Well, this may well be a shoe for you to try. I thought the Sense Pro had a wider toe box but the Mantra 3 is definitely wider. This all may be part of Salomon’s new strategy as the S-Lab Sense 4 and Sense 4 SG have a slightly wider toe box too. Depending on how you run and what your preferences are, the wider toe box can be a negative as much as a positive. Having used both versions of the Sense 3 and the Sense Pro (and loved them) I found that at times I had a little ‘too’ much movement in the toe area on the Mantra 3, which didn’t give me the precision feel I am used to. We have to remember here that the Mantra 3 is a hybrid shoe, so this additional freedom is intentional. Certainly on longer runs this additional area was welcome should your feet swell and expand.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7585The heel area of the shoe is plush, holds the foot tight and has no friction. Toe protection at the front of the shoe is minimal, so, should you get on some really rocky terrain, be careful of your toes.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7600

The outsole as I mentioned has been redesigned and I have to say that if you keep to hard trail, rocks or road the grip is great. Equally I had full confidence in wet conditions. If you are heading out into the mud, this is not the shoe to take… look at the Sense 4 SG, Speedcross or Fellcross.

As mentioned, the Ortholite/ Sensifit combination provides a plush and cushioned feel and the addition of a Profeet Film adds security and protection from the road and/or trail surface.

In summary, the Mantra 3 is a great shoe for someone who mixes up road running and trail running on a daily basis. But don’t be put off by this ‘compromised’ approach. For me, the Mantra 3 is a great dry trail shoe or a great road shoe, I would have no problem running for extended periods on either surfaces. The 6mm drop is ideal for many providing a sweet middle ground and the cushioning is ideal for long runs. It is arguably a perfect long distance dry trail shoe. If I was running a race similar to Western States, I personally think the Mantra 3 would be my preference over the S-Lab Sense 4. The additional cushioning, roomier toe box and extra height on the drop for me make this shoe a winner for ultra runners.

Pros

  • Endofit
  • 6mm drop
  • Weight
  • Cushioning
  • Wide toe box
  • Lacing
  • Lace pocket

Cons

  • Toe box may be too wide for some
  • Sizes a touch small (for me anyway)
  • No good in mud

Specs

  • Weight 275g
  • Drop 6mm
  • Cushioning 9mm/ 15mm
  • RRP £90.00
  • Available early 2015

Salomon really are extending the CITYTRAIL range in terms of shoe range and clothing. Take a look HERE

Salomon Logo