I couldn't wait any longer. The Trailroc 235 showed up on Zappos.com in my size without a tentative availability date. And, against my fiscal sense, I paid full price to have them delivered now.
You know I've been anxious to try this shoe, readers. I dedicated two whole posts to the new Trailroc line before they even hit the stores. So, you can sympathize with my need to write this "review" of the 235 before I even take them out for a run. In fact, you'd expect me to post my initial impressions as soon as possible, right?
Okay, so, why am I annoyingly excited about the Trailroc 235? Well, I've told you before. But, I'll reiterate the reasons here so you don't have to read through a whole other post:
- Anatomic Fit: Inov-8's answer to a demand for more room in the toe box. As, I've mentioned in previous shoe reviews, I really like this particular shoe last design. It's roomy without being too sloppy.
- Zero Differential: The zero height differential between the forefoot and heel is definitely one of my preferred features in any running shoe. It can be an acquired taste.
- More Regionally-Friendly Outsole Design: Being that the only trail-specific outsole available on a zero-drop shoe from Inov-8 thus far existed on the fantastic Bare-Grip 200 (a shoe I use regularly on my Raleigh-area trails — despite the fact that its gigantic lugs are undoubtedly overkill for the terrain — because I really like it more than any other trail shoe I have), I've been thinking that there should be an alternate Inov-8 trail shoe with an outsole more like the Roclite 285s; something that's more versatile than the Bare-Grip or X-Talon, I'd say.
(Wow, did I really compose that as one sentence?)
So, how 'bout that Anatomic Fit?
In previous posts, I might have described a slight difference between the anatomic fit of the Bare-X Lite 150 and the Bare-X 180, saying that Inov-8 seemed to be figuring out the final shape of that particular shoe last. Well, the 180's curvier rendition of the Anatomic Fit appears to be the final version, because the Trailroc's shape resembles the 180's shape more than that of the 150. (Too many numbers?)
So, my US men's size 11.5 Trailroc 235 feels just as nice around my feet as my Bare-X 180s do in the same size, almost equally similar in fit to the Bare-X Lite 150.
But, there's a bunch more TPU (that plastic overlay that sort of acts as an extension of the shoe laces) on the Trailroc 235. And, I would venture to say that this feature accounts for the somewhat more secure sensation in the Trailroc's heel area.
A secure fit is a good thing for a trail shoe, of course. But, there is that difference between slipping on the Bare-X 180 and putting on the Trailroc 235. The extra TPU makes the Trailroc's heel area a bit stiffer than the 180, too.
Various websites indicate that the Trailroc 235 comes with a 6mm removable footbed. Mine didn't. Mine arrived with a 3mm footbed, which is fine with me. But, you should know that the web is either rife with misinformation, or I am very special.
So, if you're curious, the 235's footbed and insole are pretty much in keeping with how Inov-8 usually puts those shoe parts together. And, that pretty much works well for me and my sock-wearing self.
When is Zero more than zero?
The Zero Shoc-Zone™ to which I became accustomed on the Bare-Grip 200s and Bare-X 180s is not at all like the Zero ascribed to the Trailroc 235. See all of that lime green stuff between the Trailroc's mesh upper and the outsole lugs? That's an EVA injected midsole, folks. And, it is cushiony — f-lite cushiony. (Definitely not Brooks cushiony, though! No, no, no! Absolutely not that soft. Ugh!)
According to the data here, that midsole makes the stack height of the 235 measure 13mm in the forefoot and 13mm at the heel. Compare this to the stack heights of the Merrell Trail Glove (10mm and 10mm) or the New Balance MT00 Minimus Trail Zero (12mm and 12mm) if you like. But, make sure you account for the differences in the lugs on those three shoes.
In short, the Trailroc's midsole will protect my feet from those pointy trail things more than the Bare-Grips do. That's fine. Really.
But, wait, I used the "m" word! You're wondering if this midsole impedes flexibility, now, aren't you?
Don't worry, minimalist runner. The Trailroc 235 bends and flexes nicely. If you've had experience with the f-lites, that's how this one behaves when you attempt to roll it into a ball.
If, however, you've had sufficient experience with the Bare-Grips on trails, you know what you're going to miss when you introduce your trail feet to shoes with cushy midsoles.
Don't make assumptions, though. More protection and cushioning is a good thing, too! I'll let you know what I think of running on these midsoles after I've tested the Trailrocs on trails a few times.
Well, that's an awfully big picture of the Trailroc's outsole!
As you may know, the Trailroc line features Inov-8's new Tri-C™ outsole composition. This means that they've assigned three different variations in rubber compounds to specific areas of the outsole. The purpose of this innovation is to ensure optimum wear rate and grip.
So, if you'll take a moment to look at the photo above, I'll direct your attention to the lines designating the various sections of the outsole that receive a specific rubber compound.
That section under the arch area, where you can see the foot/8 of the Inov-8 logo, is comprised of a softer compound than the larger section surrounding it. That larger section has larger lugs and a harder, "endurance" rubber; because it is described as a high-wear area.
For what it's worth, the rubber density feels the same to my insensitive fingers. And, obviously, this new feature will be subjected to further scrutiny. I'm curious to see how each rubber section holds up over time.
Fancy-pants rubber compounds aside, I'm more thrilled to test this new outsole design on the technical-slash-hard-packed-slash-leafy trails in the Raleigh area. The lugs are conspicuously smaller and closer together than they are on the Bare-Grips. And, this outsole format seems better suited to the local trails in average conditions.
(It's an excuse to want another trail shoe, anyway)
Obviously, I already like a few things about the Trailroc 235. The shoes fit very well right out of the box. They're not the lightest shoes in my closet. But, that's not overly important to me. They're light enough. And, they look good, too.
So, once I've covered a few miles in these, I'll post a follow-up report for you. If you have any questions that I failed to address, feel free to ask in the comment area!
Thanks for reading!