One of my 2012 New Year resolutions was to start running more trails. Ahead of my first trail race, I was lucky enough to test out the newest minimal/racing trail shoe from Inov-8, the Roclite 285. The 6-mile course offered some technical ascents with some soft, loose summer gravel so a pre-race reconnaissance run would really test these shoes out.
The Inov-8 Roclite is priced at the mid-high end of the market but once you take it out of the box, it’s easy to see why.
Real thought has gone into the design and specification of the shoe; it feels well engineered without any bulk. Before you even pull the shoe on you foot, you can tell from the way oozes minimalism that there’s something special about it… I just hoped that they were worth the money!
One important note is that these shoes run half a size larger so make sure you go down by a half size.
As always, there was only one way to find out… lace up and head out.
Inov-8 Roclite 285 Upper
When I was chatting a friend about trying out the Inov-8 Roclite he did have a word of warning to me… the toebox is tight on these shoes. I’ve got quite a wide foot and found the New Balance MT110 to be too narrow so I was a little nervous about running in the Roclite 285 however, the very second that I pulled them on all my fears disappeared. It might have something to do with the thin material used in the construction, but these shoes fit like a glove.
The entire upper section is constructed with a 3D hexagonal weaved mesh which makes the shoe both extremely flexible and provides excellent air circulation around the foot.
I found that even when my feet became soggy following a small stream crossing, my foot was held firmly in place thanks to the welded overlays and oval TPU lacing system.
Inov-8 Roclite 285 Sole
For those who love a trail shoe with low heel-toe drop, the Inov-8 Roclite is fantastic. The 5mm drop comes courtesy of 17mm cushioning in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot.
One look at the chunky tread is all you need to be reassured that this is a shoe that will keep you upright no matter what the terrain throws at you. The are extremely flexible and never worried about putting a foot wrong whether I was scrambling over tree roots or descending down gravel tracks.
One thing lacking from the outer sole is a rock plate… I didn’t realise the shoe didn’t feature one until my foot found the pointy end of a rock.
The midsole of the Inov-8 Roclite 285 uses a moderately thick layer of EVA foam which provides an adequate amount of cushioning without compromising flexibility.
I really like the sensation that the shoe gives you when running, it allows you to better connect with the ground so you can know when to press on and when to ease back.
Inov-8 have opted to use their Fascia band technology in this shoe which supposedly releases energy with each step and propelling the runner forward.
After initial concerns about the reported tight toebox, I was blown away by the Roclite 285. It’s honestly one of the best trail racing shoes that I’ve ever tested. Weighing in at just 9 ounces / 255 grams it’s a lightweight neutral shoe that’s perfect for covering those summer trails.
If there was a rock plate; you’d never need to buy any other trail shoe.