inov-8 Trailroc 150 ReviewMay 10, 2013
- Very lightweight
- Completely flexible
- Good traction on loose dirt and mud
- Fit is wide through midfooot
- Outsole rubber is slick on wet rocks or granite
Best for seasoned barefoot runners who want to run as light and close to the ground as possible while taking on the most challenging off-road terrain.
inov-8 (properly written, it’s uncapitalized) has its roots in the fell running tradition of England’s North Pennines, known for its high moors, lush valleys, and frequently harsh climate. The brand’s earliest models were built specifically for off-road footraces over steep hills and challenging terrain – and from the beginning, they’ve had a philosophy of building only as much shoe as was absolutely necessary.
For the uninitiated, inov-8’s naming convention includes the weight of each model in grams; thus, the Trailroc 150 weighs in at 150g or 5.3oz. This is the lightest model in the company’s Trailroc series, which is primarily intended for loose or rugged trail use.
Fit and Comfort
inov-8 used to be known for a snug midfoot fit and narrow toe box, but the Trailroc 150 shatters that reputation. The 150 features a wider toe box that allows the toes to splay fully, and actually seems excessively roomy through the midfoot, especially right behind the metatarsal area. Fit through the heel remains snug. A traditional lacing system customizes tension across the midfoot quite well.
Material construction of the upper is a coarse closed mesh with thin synthetic overlays. The fabric is slightly scratchy against bare skin but doesn’t cause any hotspots with a thin pair of socks. Although the mesh is closed, it drains easily and dries quickly after water immersion.
The Trailroc 150 is as flexible as they come – all components can bend or twist in any direction, and there are no restrictions to mobility anywhere in the shoe.
Outsole lugs are 4mm tall, and sit on top of a 2mm base outsole. There’s no midsole aside from 2mm of foam on top of the last, resulting in a low stack height of 8mm. If you want a bit more comfort, you can keep the removable 3mm insole in place, for a stack height of 11mm.
With a low stack height and high flexibility, ground feel is outstanding, especially with the insole removed. In fact, there’s so little material between your foot and the underside of the shoe that one of the most frequent sensations you’ll detect is the imprint of the lugs against your feet.
Not surprisingly, the cleat-like outsole is very effective at holding its grip on loose dirt, sloppy mud, or steep gravel fire roads. One noticeable drawback is that when fording small streams, the outsole rubber is somewhat slippery on wet river rocks.
On the Trailroc series, inov-8 uses three different densities of outsole rubber to prevent excessive grinding of the lugs. The hardest rubber is at high impact areas in the forefoot and heel, with lighter densities in the arch and toe areas. The upper remained resistant to abrasions and punctures throughout testing.
While the variable density outsole does help slow the rate of breakdown, it’s still important to note that the Trailroc 150 is a dedicated off-road shoe; if you spend more than your warm-up mileage to the trailhead on asphalt, the outsole will wear down disproportionally. Plus, road running feels almost like running in a pair of soccer cleats with the 150.