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 

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Scott eRide Grip 2

Scott eRide Grip 2

 

Scott are renowned for cycling and skiing products. I know first hand the quality of the cycling products, In my previous life as a cyclist and triathlete I had used Scott extensively for bikes, clothes, shoes and helmets. However, Scott as a running brand grabbed my attention when I witnessed Marco de Gasperi crossing the finish line of Sierre-Zinal in first place. In chatting with him I became aware that particularly in the UK they are pretty much unknown.

De Gasperi wins

 

As often happens a series of events post Sierre-Zinal meant that I had several samples to test. Ironically this coincided with myself picking up a knee injury and as such I had to pretty much put all product testing to one side until I got better.

eRide Grip2

 

My eRide Grip 2 had tempted me for a few months, the glowing yellow tempting me to take them out. As my injury progressed, finally in November 2012 I was able to resume some running and take the Scott’s for a spin. Or should I say several spins.

Weighing in at 336g for a UK9.5 this compares well to other shoes in direct comparison. For example a Salomon Speedcross 3 is 350g and a Salomon S-Lab Softground is 367g for the same size. For a lightweight comparison, The North Face Single Track Hayasa is 280g and the Salomon Sense Ultra is 230g.

The heel to toe drop is 11mm and as such allows direct comparison to the Speedcross 3 and Softground. Also, a key element of the eRide Grip 2 is the aggressive outsole.

eRide Grip2 sole

 

The outsole really is aggressive and as such makes running on all terrains a pleasure. It grips well on rocks, grass, mud, sand, lava and works incredibly well on road and hard trails. The shoe has a very cushioned feel and provides real comfort over longer distances. I was really impressed how the shoe felt on the road. Of course this shoe is not for that type of surface but if you are ever out training or racing and need to transfer from trails don’t worry. This shoe can handle it!

The upper is a very breathable and lightweight mesh. A bumper at the front of the shoe provides adequate protection from rocks and other objects but not as much protection as other brands on the market. The tongue is free fitting and not very padded but perfectly comfortable.

The laces have an elastic feel and work really well. Get the shoe tightened and tied and then don’t worry. In use I never had to re tighten my laces and that included some outings of up to 9 hours. A neat addition 2/3 of the way down the laces is an elastic that stretches from one side of the show to the other.This allows you to hold the excess laces in place so they don’t bounce and flap around. Not as ground breaking as Salomon’s ‘Garage’ but it does the job and it is a welcome addition

The heel area is reinforced very well and provides a real secure and comfortable area. It is this area that provides real security on the trail holding the foot firm. Padding is excellent but at the back of the shoe this padding may come a little high for some… I had no issues whatsoever but I have heard one or two comments referring to this.

One of the key features of the shoe is eRide. eRide is designed to offer a faster foot transition when on the ground by providing a ‘rocker‘ platform. The unique rocker shape creates a very stable midstance, promoting the faster and more efficient running style that runners strive for.

Scott eRide Rocker

 

Now depending on your foot strike you may feel a real benefit from this rocker or you may feel a faster transition if you are already a mid to forefoot runner. Certainly if you are a heel striker, as the diagram shows you will hit the ground with the rear of the shoe and the ‘rocker’ will then help you transfer quicker to the propulsion phase. This will increase efficiency and reduce strain. On any downhill section, the rocker works really well allowing you to strike with the heel and efficiently move forward to the next step. Another key feature (and you will see this in the image of the sole above) is that the sole has NO raised arch. Therefore the eRide Grip 2 has a solid platform from which to strike the ground and this once again reduces inefficiency.

Scott boast the benefits of eRide as follows:

  • 1. Healthier body position
  • 2. More energy efficient
  • 3. Natural midfoot strike
  • 4. Lower profile heel
  • 5. Smoother ride
  • 6. Minimal and lighter weight

Refreshingly when I looked for technical specifications for the shoe, the Scott website provides minimal information:

  • Category: Trail Running
  • Weight: 340g USM 9
  • Heel to toe drop: 11 mm
  • Technologies: eRide Push-through plate High traction rubber
  • Lace: bungy
  • MaterialUpper: Mesh/Synthetic Overlays Lower: EVA/rubberSize run

It may be me but that really is a stripped down description of a shoe, No fancy names, no technical jargon I don’t understand… it’s simple. The only term that needs clarification is the eRide and they provide a very good description and breakdown of that.

TESTING

Initially I was running in these shoes for 30-45 mins on soft, muddy and wet terrain in the UK winter. Comfort was noticeable immediately. I enjoyed the feel of the shoe around my foot. The heel area offered security and for a mid to forefoot striker the eRide did help propel me forward allowing me to keep my cadence high and short. My runs from home always require me to do at least 1 mile on the road before I can get to the trail. The shoe really did feel comfortable over this hard unforgiving terrain. I was surprised at this particularly considering the aggressive sole.

When on the trail the aggressive sole immediately did it’s job providing security and grip were other trail shoes had failed. I must point out here that it performed on a par with Salomon Speedcross 3, Salomon S-Lab Softground and the Sportiva Raptor.

In December I went to the island of La Palma to run on the Transvulcania La Palama course. The only shoe I took was the eRide Grip 2. It was an opportunity to test the shoe on a daily basis on some tough and gnarly terrain but also a great opportunity to use the shoe for hours in contrast to minutes.

iancorless.comIMGP0727

 

I ran, walked and hiked over the Transvulcania course for 12 days. A short day was 2 hours, a long day was 9 hours. I ran over rocks, ran through lava fields, made my way through pine forests, ran along beaches, navigated through boulders and crossed rivers. At no point did the shoes let me down. No hot spots and no blisters. I had all day comfort in conjunction with firm grip on a multitude of terrain. Was I impressed? Absolutely.

Any negatives?

After two weeks on the Transvulcania course I threw the shoes away. No, not because I didn’t like them… but I had worn the sole away (at least in areas). This makes me question if the compound of the sole is maybe too soft? But then again, would I want Scott to change this? My answer is a definite NO.

I do believe that the sole compound is ideal for offering grip on a multitude of surfaces. On hard and wet rocks the eRide Grip 2 performed exceptionally well, had the compound been harder that may very well not have been the case.

Did the sole wear down too quickly? Arguably yes but then again the Transvulcania course is like running on sandpaper (coarse sandpaper). In addition to the abrasive lava we had to contend with sharp jagged rocks, boulders, gravel and a multitude of surfaces that would have worn any shoe down. My partner ran for 2 weeks with me in a different shoe and brand and had a similar scenario.

photo 2

 

Conclusion

A great trail shoe that offered a secure, firm and cushioned fit on a multitude of surfaces and terrain. The eRide technology certainly helped with an efficient run stride and overall comfort level was excellent.

Sizing is true to size.

If you need an all round trail shoe then the eRide Grip 2 is a strong recommendation.

You can see all Scott Running products HERE

The 2013 model is now available in a new colour way – blue/black

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