We took the Inov8 Trailroc 245 for a ride on the most fierce and unforgiving terrain the Eastern Sierra have to offer, and were blown away. We intentionally searched out the roughest and sharpest rocks to run over and test out the Meta-shank rock plate, with no sign of rolled ankles or foot bruising to be found. Scoring highest in traction and foot protection, this shoe has every right to earn our minimalist running shoe Top Pick award.
These shoes provide excellent foot protection for a minimalist trail running shoe. Here they are in action in the Sierra high country.
Photo: Jimmy Elam
The initial feeling of the ride on the Trailroc 245 is on the stiff side, and not as flexible as we like to see in a minimalist running shoe. By the time we logged around fifty miles in this shoe, we were happy to notice them loosening up a bit and the ride becoming a little more comfortable and flexible. Still, the internal Meta-shank rock plate hinders sensitivity to the ground, which is unfortunate. As awesome as the Meta-shank rock plate is for protecting our feet from sharp rocks, it prevents the shoe from providing same ground feeling we get from many of other minimalist shoes in the group. Because of this, the Trailroc scores at the bottom of the group when comparing ground feeling. Still, we feel it provides us with plenty of the characteristics of a true minimalist running shoe. This shoe is a great choice for those runners who want to refrain from jumping head first into minimalist footwear and prefer to take time transitioning into something with a more protective outsole.
The Trailroc have Meta-flex in the forefoot, though the rest of the shoe is quite stiff compared to many other minimalist shoes in the group.
Photo: Katie Vane
The Inov8 Trailroc 245 have better grip, are stickier, and contain a more aggressive outsole than all the other minimalist shoes we tested. Because of this unrivaled traction, this shoe is perfect for trail runs as well as technical excursions that contain more rugged terrain. What makes the traction of the outsole so special in the Trailroc 245? Inov8 uses their patented Tri-c compound, which is three different types of rubber located in key areas through the outsole to provide the most effective traction on any surface you might encounter. The high-wear areas of the shoe contain a more dense, durable rubber while the less impacted areas have a softer rubber with less prominent lugs. Now, do you really need this much traction? It depends on the terrain you'll be logging the majority of your miles on. If you find yourself to gravitate more towards moderate and difficult rough and rocky trails, we can't recommend this shoe enough.
Stick to the trails with the Trailroc 245. The agressive outsole is just not made for the roads.
Photo: Katie Vane
We notice the Inov8 Trailroc 245 to lack the same comfort that many of the other minimalist shoes we tested provide. The Meta-shank rock plate and inflexibility is the likely source for the lack of overall comfort in the ride. Though very protective and durable, the Meta-shank definitely reduces flexibility and comfort. The Trailroc is nowhere near as comfortable as the soft and flexible Editors' Choice-winning New Balance Minimus 10v1 Trail.
The mesh upper, on the other hand, is soft, comfortable and breathable as well as dries quite fast. We do find the upper to be slightly on the narrow side, so if you have wider than average feet it might not be the best shoe for you. We don't feel the upper is too narrow, but we think it would be just perfect if it was a touch wider. There is plenty of room in the forefoot to give your toes room to breathe and the rest of the upper is just snug enough so your foot doesn't slide around on slanted and uneven terrain. For those of you with extra wide fee, check out the Altra Lone Peak trail shoe which is about as wide as you can find in an aggressive minimalist trail shoe. The Trailroc lacing is well designed, comfortable and perfectly snug.
This is not the ideal minimalist running shoe for extended runs on the road. The outsole lugs are just too prominent and the ride loses significant comfort in the first couple miles compared to more lasting comfort on the trail. We do prefer to keep the this shoe to a 10-12 mile limit. We just don't feel the ride is comfortable enough for any longer runs. The inflexibility and heavier weight seem to play a large factor in the comfort level.
If Inov8 could find a way to drop two ounces on the Trailroc 245, it would be in contention to win our Editors' Choice award. For a minimalist running shoe, 8.6 ounces is just too much. As far as weight goes, the Trailroc is in the same category as your typical trail racer. To be the best minimalist running shoe, we believe it needs to fall in the 6-7 ounce range. Now, this extra weight it carries shouldn't be very noticeable for those runners who are transitioning into minimalist shoes and might actually be quite beneficial. The lightest shoe in our test is our Editors' Choice winner, the New Balance Minimus 10v1 Trail, at just 6.3 ounces.
Captured in flight wearing the Innov8 Trailroc, which take our Top Pick Award for best minimalist trail shoe with flying colors.
Photo: Katie Vane
We give this shoe one of the highest scores in warmth. The cushy mesh upper dries super fast after becoming wet and running through creeks, actually faster than any other shoe we tested. Many of the other minimalist shoes in our test strip down the upper to shed some weight while consequently losing some warmth.
We intentionally looked for the sharpest and roughest rocks to run over while testing the Trailroc. Meta-shank rock protection plate, and the verdict is that we are thrilled. We find this shoe to clearly beat out the rest of the group and score the highest when comparing overall foot protection . We can really feel the protective Meta-shank rock plate on the trail and can rest assured knowing our feet are safe from any terrain that comes our way. The aggressive lugs on the outsole also do a great job of protecting our feet on ruthless terrain and the durable toe guard helps to protect our feet from rocks when out on the trail. None of the other shoes in the group protect our feet quite as well on every level as this shoe does.
Pushing hard on the Meta-shank rock plate on the Innov8 Trailroc. This shoe has the most protective outsole of the minimalist shoes in our test, hands-down.
Photo: Katie Vane
Trail runners and racers alike seeking a highly protective and grippy minimalist shoe with an aggressive lug stoked outsole will find comfort knowing the Inov8 Trailroc 245 provides.
Even though you have to stick to the trails, all the great features the Trailroc comes with makes the slightly above average price tag is well worth it.
We feel the Inov8 Trailroc 245 is truly the best trail specific minimalist running shoe. The New Balance Minimus 10v1 Trail are more versatile and provide a more minimal and comfortable ride than this model, which is why it wins our Editors' Choice award, but the Trailroc takes our Top Pick award for protection while on the trail and has superior true performance.
The grippy sole lugs on the Inov8 Trailroc 245makes running on steep and loose terrain no problem at at all.
Photo: Jimmy Elam