Since I was so eager to post pictures and write about the Trailroc 235 before actually running in the shoes a few days ago, I realize I probably left some of you feeling unfulfilled.
(I'll use the Bare-Grip 200 as a reference point during this review, because that's what I've been using on trails prior to obtaining the 235)
I've already established that the Trailroc 235 is a comfortable shoe for me right out of the box. So, let's cut through the fluff and address potential shortcomings of this shoe.
The Laces: They're different. None of the other Inov-8 shoes that I've used have the lacing material that I find on the Trailroc 235. The lace fabric is a little smoother and sort of stretchy, whereas laces I'm used to seeing have a fibrous texture with more density.
This new lacing material may be in place for very specific reasons. Perhaps it is significantly lighter than other lacing materials. Maybe it is supposed to stay tied better.
Whatever the reason, let it be known that I had to stop twice during the first half hour of my run to retie my 235's laces because they'd come undone. I've never had to do that with Inov-8 shoe laces before.
However, after those first two instances of shoelace failure, the laces stayed tied for the remainder of the run. That's encouraging. So, perhaps their newness simply makes them susceptible to unwanted untying. Either way, laces are easily replaceable when problematic.
The TPU in Combination with Lacing for a Secure Fit: You'll recall that I pointed out the additional TPU on the Trailroc 235 and how that is there to work with the lacing architecture for a secure fit. Well, it works!
The potential dilemma with so much secure fitting is that you may need to play with the lacing a bit in order to find a comfortable lacing setting. As with any new shoe, once you find that perfect lacing situation, you'll be golden. But, the quest for that fit can be frustrating. Just take your time. Don't get frustrated.
And, speaking of finding that ideal lacing arrangement, you might notice a certain seam on the medial interior side if you've tied those laces too tightly. This is a seam that exists in all of the Inov-8 shoes I've worn. The fabric adjacent to this seam is always a little puffy when the shoes are new. But, that puffiness goes away once you've given the shoes a good workout. So, don't worry about it.
That seam indicated in the photo on the left can be conspicuous during your first few miles of running. But, sweat and physics wear it down quickly. The image on the right is just a bonus perspective for you.
So, from an objective perspective, those are the potential nuisances inherent to running in the Trailroc 235. Now, let's get to the good stuff.
The Cushioning: Since I've been running trails in the Bare-Grip 200 for several months, the first thing I noticed about the Trailroc 235 was the cushioning in the midsole. I'd nearly forgotten how desensitized to the trail a person could be with an additional few millimeters of EVA.
So, of course, I missed the excellent ground feel afforded by the Bare-Grips. But, over the course of that 12-mile run, I decided that I liked this bit of cushioning, too. It feels a little luxurious when I realize I've stepped on a pointy rock that otherwise would have been painful sans midsole EVA. This feature, the midsole, is especially handy during longer runs on tired feet.
But, if you are wholly opposed to midsole cushioning, then this is not the shoe you want.
Flexibility: Despite the extra barrier between your foot and the ground, Inov-8 managed to make the Trailroc 235's outsole flexible on both the horizontal and lateral axis, a quality that has become a necessity for me.
Granted, the 235 is not nearly as flexible as the Bare-Grip 200 in this way. But, it's still more flexible than anything with a rock plate, or whatever.
In my opinion, this exceptional flexibility is important and justifies the softer cushioning (in lieu of dense midsole material), because the shoe conforms to bumps in the trail fairly easily. And, a shoe that conforms to the terrain enables you to run with a greater sense of stability.
If you are a trail runner who doesn't care so much about lateral flexibility and prefers more protection between yourself and the ground, then you'd want to look at the Trailroc 245 (pictured left). I'll write about that one in another post.
To give you a reference point outside the Inov-8 product line, the Trailroc 235's outsole and midsole are similar in flexiblity to that of the NB Minimus Trail 10 — probably a bit
more less flexible, actually. But, the Trailroc's advantage here is that the protective rubber outsole covers the entire bottom of the shoe. This contrasts with the MT10's pockets of exposed EVA, which allow pointy things to hurt you easily.
Traction: The outsole's Tri-C™ compound features the Sticky rubber you may have enjoyed on other trail shoes. It's good stuff and seems to work well over wet rocks.
As I ran up and down a few slippery hillsides on the Loblolly Trail, I paid careful attention to my traction. After all, running through mud is one of the Bare-Grip's strong points. So, I wanted to compare how the Trailroc outsole performed on the soft stuff.
The Trailroc performed as well as the Bare-Grip for me on East-coast muddy trails. I even attempted to run sloppily so as to allow for a slip or fall. But, the lugs of the Trailroc definitely gripped the mud and wet leaves very well.
I noticed, however, that there was a very slight loss of traction as I ascended a long hill with a lot of rocks under foot. The Bare-Grips typically provide precise footing on this particular climb. So, I was keenly aware of the difference in the way the 235s handled this hillside.
Now, I'm not saying the Trailroc can't handle lots of rocks. I'm just saying that Bare-Grip and X-Talon wearers might detect a degree or two difference in these circumstances when using the Trailrocs.
Liekwise, I suspect that grassy terrain, where the Bare-Grip and X-Talon outsoles also excel in performance; would be more of a challenge for the Trailroc. But, I don't know from experience yet.
Oh, also, The Trailroc kicks ass on hard packed trails! Thus, you would feel comfortable wearing these for one of those trail races that start out on pavement before leading you to the trails.
Drainage: I crossed through an ankle-deep stream on the Cedar Ridge trail to test whether the 235s are satisfactory shoes when wet. And, they drained as well as most other trail shoes I've worn. That midsole EVA probably holds water a little longer than it would if it didn't exist. But, the shoes didn't feel especially heavy after the water crossing.
There you have it: Two long posts about a single shoe. And, I haven't even tested durability yet! I might have a problem.
But, that personal problem works to your advantage, right? Now you have more than enough information to decide whether you want to try the Trailroc 235 for yourself. And, if you still have questions, I check for comments, like, all the time. So, feel free to ask!
Thanks for reading!