Thursday, 18 October 2012

The best running shoe review - Inov-8 Trailroc 235 review


A Shoe review: Inov-8 Trailroc 235 review

So these first reviews might take some tweaking, but hopefully they can guide some people in the right direction as to whats out there...

These shoes, I love! But, if your now considering the Inov-8 Trailroc 150s -I seriously think you can't go to wrong. You will need to have developed your natural running and be comfortable in the 'barefoot' range to truly maximize their performance. That shoe is uber light and felxible and has the same insane levels of grip provided by the trailroc 235. For now though I have racked up over 400km in my 235s and continue to love every run in them.

All the techinical details are here at the adventuremegastore:  It's not my domain so I'll leave it to the experts. 

I can say the Inov-8 Trailroc 235 is a zero drop, minimalist trail shoe. It's promoted as being fast... I have done some barefoot running in the gym and over a few hundred meters along the streets while working on my gait and technique, so I had been quite keen to see if I could really do it. 

To be honest, as this shoe is not yet available in Australia (As of Feb 2013 it now is!), I um and ahhed about it. I wanted the Inov-8 Trailroc 245 (Which would match the 1 arrow 155s that I have, hit the link to a great retailer to find out more) but when these came up on sale I had to hit the button. 

A big thanks to the very patient team at for all their patience in answering my questions. The advice was spot on. Without them I would not have made the purchase.

My questions were: 

How does it fit compared to the Inov-8 Road - X 233? ( a link to my review of a great shoe) What is the grip really like? How will I go transitioning to a zero drop shoe?

The answers may appear below.

First up, the shoe is better looking in the flesh. I can't say what it is, it's just a better colour than what is pictured. 

The fit is more true to my Inov-8 Road X 233 - for me that is the better length. Width is an exact match to the inner sole of the 233 and X lite 155. All have the Inov-8 anatomical last which  allows for a wider toe spread (more room at the front!). 

On the trail they felt fast and furious. They have a tri-compound grip where the front, midfoot and rear sections of the shoes have different tread patterns according to how we use our feet. The front offers more grip for digging in and gripping the trail. I smashed out a quick 4km through the bush and on a fire access track. The traction up and down the ascent / descent was spot on and I could take on some crazier angles to avoid the huge puddles. My foot landed where I wanted it to and it stayed there!

When I did hit the puddles I had no hesitation in my stride - it was like they weren't there. So, the grip is awesome. 

My feet and calves also felt great. Me, I was knackered after going out so fast! It was a real blast getting them down and dirty straight out of the box. 

On the street today I did a rolling hill 2.6km in a personal best time (4:10 minute/km) - the 0 drop encouraged a quicker cadence and I was rewarded. They bigger lugs and tread did initially feel strange on the tarmac but this was forgotten by the end of my run. 

I have the 3mm (1 arrow) Inov-8 X-Lite 155s and the drop to the Trailroc 235 (0 zone) was barely noticeable. Hopefully this is because I have developed a natural/minimalist/barefoot stride. I am going to use these on the trail, on runs up to 7/8km in the next two weeks. I'll also use them for my tempo work, which is a 400m hill sprint with a walk to repeat. I aim to build up my feet and calves for the Lara 10km Fun Run on the 4th and then the Bush bashing 10km Marysville on the 11th of November.

An update...

As of February 2013 I've now put over 200+kms on these babies and I still love them. When I used them for the Lara and Marysville runs I felt like I could run forever. They were great on the gravel/crushed rock of Lara and exceptional on the downhill, off road sections in the Marysville run where I went flat out like a crazed jack rabbit. Both runs I ran a PB. In fact, they feel most at home either ascending or descending a bush/forest track. I've yet to feel like I've put a foot wrong and when I've gone close, these shoes have helped make me stick.

Stay Hydrated on the trails with UltrAspire - See the range at
Today I did a 12km hill climb on predominately road but with a 800m trail loop that dropped and rose 200m. You probably may have heard me laughing my head off in this section. I could run freely and not worry about grip or slipping. The only concern was the knee high grass and not knowing what the actual surface was like. 

Have they hurt my feet? No, I now feel as though I am a barefoot runner. Yes, I do have to be aware of my form but the subtle changes that I make whilst running make all the difference. When I wore them in the 28km Two Bays Trail Run in January I was able to tackle everything this epic run threw at me - trail, rock, sand, slippery wooden boardwalks. In-fact, their grip even saved me a few spills. Hit this link to find out more about the terrain we faced. 

I've joined the Dandy Runners, a group that runs the trails in Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges and in my runs through there I've not put a foot wrong. I've had to run up 20% inclines on clay, sand and rock and the tri-compound grip has been exceptional. Wherever I've asked them to take me, they've taken me there and beyond.

The shoes themselves have really held up. They are a lot dirtier now, but the stitching and tread is still as good as new. If this continues, I'll fall apart before they do...

For me, I highly recommend the Inov-8 Trailroc 235. It is the best running shoe I have. Now I want some of the bare-x for the road. I'm really looking forward to the next stage of running natural. If you like the sound of them, take this link here: Inov-8 Trailroc 235 

Cheers, Lachie

To get all your barefoot trail gear head to 

Use the fish followers code fish10 to get 10% discount on Inov-8 shoes and the rest of the range at barefootinc!


  1. Wow.. these sound great! I've really been wanting to try som Inov8's... hopefully I get the opportunity soon... nice review!

  2. Thanks Jeff. I appreciate the feedback.

    On Sunday I did 10km in them, pretty close to a 40-41min run - my phone let me down :) Am I now a barefooter?

    I know some are keen on the new range due in your fall - I have a 10km trail race on each on the next two Sundays so I had to get out there and buy em and try em.

    It was a quicker transition step to 'barefooting' or minimalism than planned but these shoes? made it easy.

    For me they are the perfect mix of grip for the hardcore trails that I have around my place and the man made gravel walking/cycling trails that are also around.

    If you can, pick up a pair - often have 15-25% off everything.

    Cheers and enjoy!

  3. An interesting read, you sound as impressed with these as I am. I have just one gripe with them though, and I wonder if you have had the same experience. After my first run in them, of about 3 hours in wet UK mud, grass and rock, the thin black rubber layer around the front of the toe came unstuck. The more I ran in them the more unstuck it came. It's now pretty much totally loose on one shoe and half way there on the other, held on only where it's secured by the sole rubber.

    Have yours done the same? Cheers, Tim

    1. Hi Tim,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you have enjoyed it.

      It sounds as though you have a genuine problem with the shoes. Fortunately/unfortunately I got these in the Aussie spring/summer and as such have not run in them in the wet! The hardest mine have had is some morning dew/ wet grass after the night befores rain.

      I have noticed that the black rubber area at the toe that you have talked about is slightly peeling away on both of the shoes - although barely worth the mention. Perhaps it is a weakness that your time in the wet has exposed? I am really looking forward to taking them out in the wet to see how they hold up but the summer forecast is for a hot and dry one. Perhaps in our autumn/winter trail series I'll get to try them out.

      I ran 29km over 2:50:49 yesterday (on hard pack gravel trail) and I must say that at about the 26km mark I was really feeling it under my feet. I'm still looking to make the transition to zero drop on the roads and this has got me thinking about perhaps the bare x 150 which seem to have a little more cushioning underfoot. Other than that, I'm still loving them.

      Cheers and happy running,

  4. Hi Tim & Lachie,

    I got a pair of these for xmas and took them out for my first spin today. I'm on the Gold Coast in Australia and was running early and some sections of the trail run were through long grass wet by morning dew.

    I experienced the same problem as you, with the thin black rubber lifting away from the upper (only on the one shoe). It doesn't look like it will affect the durability too much, so I'm thinking I'll glue it back down and hope for the best. My first impression was that it was due to the wet.

    Interesting to see I'm not the only one with the problem though.

    Other than the rubber issue, I LOVED them!

  5. Hey Matt, nice score for Christmas.

    It's interesting that three of us on this blog have experienced the same problem, although it seems Time takes the cake.

    I also have a pair of the 155 and 233 road series inov-8s and neither of those have any issue with the toe rubber peeling.

    The rocs are by far my favourites and I'm looking forward to racing with them this Saturday at the Portsea twilight run and next Sunday the 13th in the Two Bays 28km trail run. Both days look like being 25-30+ so no chance of them getting wet!

    I'll post here to let you know how they hold up on the long run - sand, grass, gravel, road and massive hills all thrown in the mix.

    Cheers and thanks for reading, Lachie