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Pre-run Review of the Inov-8 Trailroc 150 Minimalist Trail Shoes

  • Monday, February 09 2015 @ 02:40 AM UTC
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Running and Fitness

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Ever since New Balance discontinued the Minimus Trail MT00, and even though I stocked up on a couple of extra pairs, I have been on the lookout for a new ultra lightweight trail shoe that is currently in production.

A few weeks ago I bought a pair of inov-8 Trailroc 235 shoes to fill the role of "robust trail shoe" which I might use in my next Ultramarathon. The 235 is such a great shoe that I thought I would take a look at the other shoes in the Trailroc line. I was psyched when I discovered an even lighter-weight shoe, the Trailroc 150. I am a big fan of the inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 which I use for my 5k road racing shoe, so I had hopes that the Trailroc 150 would be great, too.

The black shoe pictured below is the Trailroc 235. The florescent yellow shoe is the Trailroc 150 (I really like the bright flashy color scheme!). Both shoes are from the "Zero" category of inov-8 shoes which means there is no difference between the height of the forefoot and the height of the heel. Both shoes are made on the inov-8 "standard" last which is supposed to provide more room in the toebox than inov-8's performance last. I only wear zero drop shoes with a wide toebox, so the Trailroc 150 should have been a good option for me.

There are a number of reviews and videos on the web that are mostly positive (and helped me decide to order the Trailroc 150 in the first place). Unfortunately, the Trailroc 150 has a number of issues so I didn't take a chance running in them before returning them.

The outsoles of the 235 and 150 are pretty much identical in lug pattern (they seem to be made from the same mold). The lugs are not huge but fairly aggressive. You can see a slight difference in the outsole as it wraps up around the outer edge. The 235 has a 6mm footbed and the plane of the footbed surface is pretty much even with the top of the outsole edge. The 150 has no footbed and the plane of the footbed surface sits down inside the "valley" created by the outsole wrapping up around the edge. This minor difference is huge for the fit of the shoe. In the 235, my pinky toes have a lot more room since they can push out into the flexible upper material. In the 150, my toes were trapped in the narrow canyon and could not splay properly.

When I compared the 235 and 150 side-by-side (both the same size), the 150 seems to be just a bit narrower as you can see here:

Here is a closeup of that outer edge.

The shoes came with a pack of insoles but these did not fit into the shoes very well. I couldn't get them to lay flat without bowing up in the middle (too long or wide or the wrong shape for the shoe?). I thought that maybe the insoles would help bring the footbed surface up above the point where the upper meets the outsole but the height distance was too great.

The final nail in the coffin for me was the funky material that the upper is made of. It kind of crinkles with each step. It looks like a mesh but in fact seems to be solid plastic-like textured sheeting. It does not have the same properties as ripstop or other mesh materials found in other lightweight shoes. It does not appear to be very breathable or have any stretch.

On the upside, the Trailroc 150 sole is very flexible, every bit as flexible as other true minimalist shoes.

To inov-8 I say YES, we want a minimalist shoe like the Trailroc 150 with trail-worthy lugs in this same weight category. However, we do need the wider toebox or at least the trick where the footbed is even with the edge of the upper like the Bare-X Lite 150 and Trailroc 235. I'd be ok with a slightly heavier shoe if it had a proper toebox.

Some people might suggest a Vivobarefoot trail option but no shoe from that company that I have ever tried has fit me correctly... they are all cut low around the ankle and seem to have a huge foot opening (for people with very high volume ankles?). I am not sure if the latest models still have this issue but I haven't really even considered Vivobarefoot in recent months.

So... I am still hunting for new ultra-lightweight trail shoes.
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