Last updated: 20-Aug-18
By Dan Stinton
As I pull open the box of a brand-new pair of inov-8 Trailroc 285s, I look down and a smile stretches across my face. I’m back to being 14 again and thinking that I’m going to look like the coolest kid at the disco. These look the business – a rather fetching light blue with bits of trim in all the right places.
Then I remember it’s 25 years later and I don’t get invited to discos anymore. But I do get invited out on the trail and this is where I’ll be giving these the once over, soon covering their sharp looks in large splatters of Peak District mud. The Trailrocs are also available in both a grey/green and black/blue combination. I do feel that I’m testing out the best colour, but that’s just down to taste.
inov-8 have “worked with top athletes across the world to make sure [they] deliver the very best for running over hard and rocky trails”, so how did I get on with them?
- Designed for hard, rocky trails
- Seam-free breathable upper
- Three rubber compounds on the sole along with extra toe protection and heel support
- Standard Fit
- 8mm drop
- Lug depth 4mm
Pros: What’s good about the INOV-8 TRAILROC 285
Putting on a brand-new pair of trail shoes is probably the only time you’re allowed to jump around the house in them, and whilst doing this they felt instantly comfortable. This is always a good sign, but it was soon time to get out there and put them to the test.
I have very wide feet, some may say wide enough to attach a sixth toe, but I try not to hang around with those type of people. Because of this, my usual “failure-mode” on trainers is wearing through, or tearing, the sides after a reasonable amount of mileage.
The Trailroc 285s come in inov-8’s standard fit, so I did go up an extra half size from my normal running fit which seemed to work very well for me. Only time will tell if the width will be enough, but these certainly seem to offer enough space around the wide part of the foot.
Out on the trail, the mesh upper feels light, flexible and breathable, but the sole still provides a good responsive feel with just enough rigidity to not start to feel clunky. This is due to the three different types of rubber incorporated into the the sole. In addition, there is a stiffer “External Heel Counter” wrapping around the back to provide extra support.
A well-designed toe-bumper covers the front of the shoe, perfect for providing that added protection against rogue tree roots or rocks along the trail. The upper/sole combo really worked for me and gave me a fast and free feeling which is always great to find in a shoe – there’s nothing holding you back here.
Even whilst they’re not specifically designed for muddy conditions, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it? My usual muddy weapon of choice is the inov-8 X-Claw 275 which has saved me in some exceedingly slippery situations.
The Trailroc 285 has half the lug depth at 4mm so is never going to provide the same level of grip but on the whole performed well in the mud and still made for a comfortable run (importantly I remained upright). Additionally, most runs have some amount of tarmac and the Trailroc 285s feel quite comfortable along the road without too much “off-road” grip to make it uncomfortable.
Cons: What’s not so good about the INOV-8 TRAILROC 285
We’re in a day-and-age where running shoes over £100 are commonplace, but these are nudging the higher-end at £140. There will of course be deals out there that comfortably beat the RRP, but you’ll still be paying big for a pair of Trailroc 285s.
I’m probably clutching at straws for many other negatives, but if you like your trail shoes big and chunky then these may not be to your taste. A really minor point, but after quite a wet/muddy run there did seem to be some water caught somewhere in the sole which ended up making an odd air-blowing squelch for a while, slightly irritating but nothing to worry about.
As a wide-footed runner, I was pleasantly surprised to find that these worked for me. As with any running shoe, you need to try them out to make sure they work for your feet and running style, but the looks and technical design of the Trailroc 285 are up there with the best.
A light and comfortable upper along with a sole that provides responsiveness and support for those hard-packed trails, the Trailroc 285 feels like a good all-rounder that will perform in other conditions as well. You’ll have to decide if you want to lay out the extra cash!
Other trail shoes you may want to consider:
inov-8 have such a wide range out there it’s sometimes hard to keep up.
inov-8 Roclite 305
La Sportiva Akasha
Salomon XA Pro 3D
About the writer: Dan is a Peak District based runner collecting mud and scrapes in and around Glossop, he likes nothing more than escaping into the Dark Peak and then writing about how difficult it was at www.allhailthetrail.co.uk
All images Dan Stinton.
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Ellis Brigham kindly organised the Inov-8 Trailroc 285 review and will be available for purchase at their online store from Saturday 28th September.” You can pre-order them here.
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