Inov-8 Roclites are designed for mixed terrain and off-road trails. How do they cope?
For the last decade, my favourite off-road running trainers have been Inov-8s. (More recently, I have also discovered Inov-8’sÂ super-light on-road race trainersÂ and I like the fit and feel of running in these, too.) Over the last month or so I have been testing the off-roadÂ Inov-8 Roclite 268s.
Described by Inov-8, the Roclite 268s are â€œsuitable for long trail races and training or as an introductory shoe to minimalist trail runningâ€. In addition, they â€œcombine underfoot protection with comfort and are designed for mixed terrain, where the deep-cleated sole ensures grip in muddy conditionsâ€.
Where I run off-road
This winter, my chosen sport is off-road running. I run country parks, hills and forests on trails, muddy paths and rocky routes. I wanted off-road trainers to cope with trails and mud but without having overly aggressive studs.
The Inov-8 268s perform brilliantly in mud and on rocks. I feel sure-footed on both and have run with confidence on uphills, downhills and the flat. Some of my running routes include wooden boardwalk sections covered in chicken wire and on most occasions, except when super icy, the Inov-8 268s cope really well.
The soles of these running trainers also perform well when running through icy puddles and snow.
Perhaps it is better to say where I would not use these trainers. They are not cushioned enough for long runs on tarmac roads. If you run only on trails that are smooth-ish or stony I would choose the Inov-8 Trailrocs or Flyrocs instead because they have less aggressive studs and will therefore last longer. (The studs can be worn down on the Inov-8 Roclites if you run on terrain that is too hard.)
Water in and out theory
Most Inov-8 trainers have a mesh top so that while water can get in, it can also escape easily. I find this works really well. When running off-road in winter you expect to have wet feet but if the water can escape again there is less sloshing around. The Inov-8 Roclites do this fairly well although the extra â€œbumperâ€ of fabric all the way round the lower part of the shoe upper doesnâ€™t allow the water to get out as quickly as other Inov-8 models.
Of course, the bumper will keep the shoes in better condition for longer. The bumper acts as a guard against rocks, stones and branches when running off-road.
In conclusion, where the Inov-8 268s work best is on mixed terrain running that includes more muddy sections, wet rocks, ever-changing trails, ascents and descents. The off-road running footwear acts like four-wheel drive to keep you upright and on track.
You can buy the Inov-8 Roclites in men and womenâ€™s fit and in weights of 275g, 268g and 243g.