Jeff Kozak's Review of Inov8 TrailRoc 255 - I Love This Shoe

Before my first run in the TrailRoc 255 was half over I knew I had finally hit my Inov8 jackpot. Not that I had been gambling addictively with the brand in search of a winner, far from it in fact, but my negative experience with the Roclite 295 had left me prematurely cashing in my Inov8 chips. A friend of mine rarely runs in anything else but every time I took a pair out for a spin my feet quickly got tired and sore in general, and my arches ached in particular. The fit was just off and there simply wasn’t enough underfoot protection to satisfy my soles. A week after the TrailRoc 255s landed on my doorstep I still haven’t run in anything else. These shoes are sweet!

The TrailRoc series is a new line of shoes by Inov8 in which the 255 resides at the upper (more protective) end of the spectrum. Although there is plenty of wiggle room in the toebox the shoe fits like a racing glove through the midlines and back to a snug heel cup with a soft yet stable heel counter. The shoe feels like a slipper, albeit a stable one, so unnoticeable that you might even catch a few post-run zzz’s on the couch while forgetting to take them off.

Specifics, you ask? The TrailRoc 255 has a 6mm split-the-difference-between-barefoot-and-traditional-shoes drop on a low profile (or stack height). The midsole is injected EVA, which is really only useful information if your feet and/or legs react particularly negatively to certain types of shock-absorbing materials (I have a friend who can almost instantly tell the difference between Asics’ Speva and SoLyte materials and who reacts in the same manner as some folks do when given Pepsi instead of Coke, or vice versa.). The upper is synthetic, tight-weave (think protection from debris intrusion) mesh with TPU support overlays and has seemingly zero abrasion or irritation points. Even though the 255 is considered the most protective in the TrailRoc series I would say the toe bumper rand is only minimally so, although I didn’t kick any rocks intentionally to find out.

The outsole is as aggressively-lugged and grippy as has come to be expected from Inov8 shoes. The TrailRoc series builds its shoes on a Tri-C outsole. This outsole is comprised of three zones of sticky rubber, each with varying degrees of hardness (durometer). Although I haven’t yet been able to test the shoe in wet or snowy conditions (I live on the desert rat side of the Sierra Nevada.) I have found the 255 to be bomber on dry, rocky trails and dirt roads. During the winter months I do a lot of Owens Valley running which usually entails loops mixing in dirt and pavement. It was a great feeling to discover that the 255 feels just fine on pavement; in fact, it felt better than some “minimal” shoes I have run in that were designed specifically for the roads.

The most recent incarnation of a “minimalist” footwear movement has turned, or at least attempted to turn, the “traditional” approach to running shoes on its head. Truth be told, Inov8 has been making footwear that fits into this mold for far longer than the current bookshelf-life of ‘Born to Run.’ They nailed it with the TrailRoc 255, which means they most likely nailed it with the entire series since the shoes are all built on the same foundation, differing only in heel-to-toe drop and overall level of protection/stability. My own foray into “minimal” running shoes has been limited. I’ve been fortunate to sample a fair amount off the platter but, as of yet, I have not found a shoe I would trade for the traditional (say, the BrooksCascadia) when going long or toeing a race starting line. That may have all changed with the discovery of the TrailRoc 255…