Ever since I saw my buddy Steve Speirs AKA “The Britishbulldog” running around in his bright red Inov8 X-Talon 190s, I have wanted to try out Inov8’s shoes. They look super aggressive with their low profile and incisor like lugs. I have another friend that raves about his Road X-Lite 155s. You can guess I was pretty stoked when I found out that Inov8 would be sending both Jenny J. and me a pair of Inov8s to try out and review.
My first impression when I grabbed the shoes out of the box was that they didn’t look as much like running shoes as they did like hiking shoes. The 295 are much more chunky looking than the X-Talon 190. The look of the shoe led me to believe that they would be heavy, at 10.4 oz the shoe feels pretty light on the feet. Take a look at the tread, that is a ton of rubber for 10.4 oz. I ran a little over 20 miles of trail in the RocLITE 295. The highlight is most definitely the super trail gripping lugs on these bad boys. While I was happy with the overall performance of these shoes, they just didn’t fit me right. I have slightly narrow feet, and had to crank down the laces to get a snug fit. Even after cinching up the shoes tight, I still had too much play in the toe box. I did something I have never done before. I asked my friend Stein L. (Stein reviewed the New Balance 890) to take some runs in the shoe and give me his opinion. I wanted to be fair in the review, perhaps the shoe just didn’t fit my foot well. So Stein helped me out.
The shoes were comfortable, with ample room in the toe box. My heels stayed where they should. For ascending they were awesome – the lugs on the bottom grabbed everything. My running buddy that day had on road shoes and he was slipping a lot. Unfortunately descending wasn’t as great because my toes kept banging into the front of the toe box – and – I’m concerned that if I got a bigger size the “ample” room would become “too much” room in the toe box (already had to lace it fairly tight). I had no hot-spots or blisters after a 13 mile trail run. I thought they were great shoes, awesome traction and just the right amount of cushion. I do agree with Thomas that they run on the wide side.
Jenny J’s review:
The more trails I run, the more trails I want to run and finding that perfect trail shoe is my quest. I’ve tried a few different brands in the past but have found nothing that I love and go to instinctively. Inov8 was kind enough to send a pair of their RocLITE 268 women’s trail shoes for review. They’re not the easiest shoe to find in the U.S. (yet) and most of their shoes are unisex sizing, so I was excited to try one that was customized for a woman’s foot. There is a huge selection and the smaller the number, the lighter the shoe.
My initial impression of the shoe was that it looked bulky. It looks like a hiking shoe, and not something I’d run in. When I pulled one out of the box, however, it was surprisingly light for how much sole there is to it. Not only was it light but it was PRETTTTY…I love me some turquoise and when I saw the lace eyelets sewn on with heavy duty ribbon-like material, I gasped a little. They make me smile.
The trails I frequent are a mix of surfaces ranging from asphalt, grass, sand, rocks and roots, mud, stairs, a creek crossing and even snow/ice in the winter. I gave these shoes a run for their money. They have 40 miles split amongst three runs, all in varying conditions. The trail begins on the road and right away I noticed that this was just too much shoe for the asphalt. I was looking for patches of grass to escape to, just to lesson the blow on my foot. It wasn’t painful but I felt like I was clomping along. There’s not a whole lot of cushion, which works well for the trail but not the street. The next part of the trail is packed dirt which then leads to a flat sandy stretch. I felt like I had a lot of control over the rocks and roots…not so much the sand. I don’t think it matters what shoe you’re wearing on sand, though…it’s gonna suck. Two of the runs were done after a big rain and the trail was sloppy. This was just the shoe for a messy course. The lugs gave a ton of traction and I was confident making my way up and down a technical switchback trail. I’d love to try something with just a little less bulk, though, without compromising the traction.
Even with 40 miles on them, there is no sign of wear, other than all the mud I brought home with me. Quality workmanship, solid materials, and a well thought out design put these shoes in a class of their own. There are a mix of fabrics which allow for the rugged terrain but also the breathability necessary when crossing creeks and dealing with the elements. Inov8 has paid close attention to detail and every time I look at the shoe, I see something new. Overall, this is a great shoe and the Inov8 brand is highly recommended. Start putting some pressure on your local retailers to start carrying the brand!