Friday, 28 September 2012

Inov-8 Trailroc 235 and Baregrip 200: a comparison with other minimalist trail shoes

After a long break away in the Pennines, walking 268 miles from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm inside the Scottish border, I have got hold of two new pairs of trail running shoes from Inov-8.

Long have I been looking for a durable, grippy and protective trail runner for longer and more technical trails, so I ordered the Baregrip 200 and the new Trailroc 235. Both of these shoes sport a 0mm drop from heel-toe and fit into the 'minimalist' category of trail shoes.

See the video link below to find out what I make of these shoes and if they match what I have been looking for...

Happy running everyone, and drop me a comment if you have any questions


  1. Taken the trailroc 235's for a couple of runs now. Quick update: great grip, great protection, comfortable around most of the foot but still slightly too narrow at the end of the shoes where the toes need to splay. I will put a fair few more K on them before making further conclusions...

    1. Good to here that I'm not alone, I have the same problem with the Trailroc 235: slightly too narrow at the end of the shoes. My right big toe starts feeling numb after a couple of minutes running. I do not have particular wide feet. I had no problems with the "narrow" F-lite/X-Talon Even after many long runs now it does not get better. Worse, my left shoe starts falling apart. The black front cup has already come loose from the shoe.

      Regards from the Bavarian Alps.

    2. Hi Stefan,

      Oh dear, it sounds like you are not getting on too well with them. How many km/miles have you run in them? Is the left shoe faulty (could you send it back???).

      Is the discomfort on the right toe enough to stop you running?

      Thanks for your comment and I look forward to hearing from you. Your input is very helpful to all my readers out there thinking of buying this shoe.


  2. I found them a bit narrow as well. I have just pointed people towards your clip at
    Really good video review of the best shoes out there. I run in Vivo mostly and and trying out the Breezy Lite. Very minimal.

    1. Cheers Chris. I have been following your blog with great interest the last few weeks in particular. I am admiring your honesty and enthusiasm for barefoot and bareform running. Keep it up, your blog is fantastic :)

  3. I can't even begin to tell you how useful this post is to me. I will try. I own a pair of VFF Komodo Sport and have used them for some light running. I am trying to incorporate barefoor priniciples into everyday life and so have just ordered a pair of VivoBarefoot Gobi for work. I did get some Marell tough glove but sent them back because i was suprised how high the instep was.

    Now, the real reason i find this post interesting is because i intend to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 and want to do it in barefoot shoes.
    Trying to do this type of walk, and the terrain i will encounter, i will need trail shoes with heaps of grip from the sole. (I won't bore you with the reasons, i am sure you know them all anyway)
    I have considered the Trail glove and the mt00. I thought that the new balance mt00 would have more grip than the Trail Gloves and ordered a pair to try them. I was interested to see that you consider the trail gloves to have more grip than the mt00s. The taper on the shoe is causing me issues, and although i have gone up 1.5 sizes the crease in the toe box literally cuts away at my little toe. I would have loved to try the wider version of these (4e) but this is not available in the uk and the US won't send them to me due to their 'policy'. So maybe they are not the shoe for me.
    I am not sure the Trail glove is for me either as the instep may be too supportive (assuming the sole is the same one they use in the tough glove. It looks the same at least).

    Anyway, the innov8 you mention, seems to be one to look out for and could well be a winner.

    I am deperate to know how you get oon with these shoes in all aspects. Thanks for you time to post these things especially with regard to how they compare to others.

    Take Care

    1. Hi Ginja_Ninja,

      Thank you for your comments, I am really glad to be of help to you. I'm a keen trail runner who believes that getting back to nature and how we are intended to run is the way forward to more enjoyable and injury free running, and therefore want to share with others my experiences in hope to help them. Therefore I am very glad you have found this so helpful.

      WOW...the Pacific Crest Trail!!! All 2650 miles??? Running or walking??? Whatever the mileage you will need two things from your shoes; grip and protection. I have just walked the Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. At 268 miles I learnt a lot about minimalist shoes. I wore the Vivobarefoot Neo Trails (which I have reviewed on here previously...have a look through my posts). You just want a basic level of protection from rocks and some serious grip to help prevent slips and slides. The Komodo's will not be up to this task I agree. So here is my answer to your points you outline:

      I agree with the problem of the MT00; they cause pain and blisters over the toes where the material bends and rubs. Not good, and the shoes just won't last the battering they will receive believe me. Plus the grip is awful in wet mud. I wouldn't recommend these for your epic trek.

      The Merrell barefoot range all use the same sole: zero drop. It is the uppers that change. If you like these I believe they will be more durable than the MT00 but they still lack grip in the wet mud and leave you uneasy on steep ascents and descents. I personally get blisters across the toes as the material rubs on the trail gloves after about 10km.

      Finally, the Inov-8 Trailroc 235's: I don't believe I have logged enough K's in these yet to give you a definitive answer, but I will be updating the Trailroc post as I get more experience in them. This I can tell you from my current running in them over the past couple weeks: the grip is the best of any minimalist shoe I own so far over a variety of wet and dry surfaces and the level of protection is perfect. They would become the perfect trail shoe for me I think, but one factor slightly lets them down. They could do with being slightly wider in the toe area. The forefoot is OK but there isn't quite enough big toe space. Too much of a cut-in too soon. Only slightly though, I am being fussy and as you wear them you notice it less and less.

      Keep checking my blog as I will update over the next couple weeks after I have logged more K's in them.

      Any more questions drop me a comment :)

    2. Thank you for your reply.

      As you obviously have more experience with the shoes in question its great to hear your thoughts and ideas.

      All 2650 miles? Yes, this is my plan. I have lots of work to do. Sounds silly i know, but 18 months is not that far off with so many things to think about. Let alone training.

      I will be walking the PCT but will do some running as part of my fitness plan to equip myself as best i can. I need good strong legs and feet if i am to carry 15kg every day for 5 months. Plus, i enjoy running.

      Thanks again. I will be sure to check in and see how you get on. Hopefully the UK weather will be kinder to us in the coming weeks, making it all a touch more enjoyable.

      Take Care

    3. Awesome stuff!

      Please keep me updated on how your training goes and what shoes you find best meets your requirements. This sounds like a very exciting adventure you have ahead of you. Keep up the hard work, it will be so worth it.

      And yes, please give us some decent weather UK!!!

  4. Thanks for taking the time to run through your shoe history, and to introduce the 235s.

    I've been a committed minimalist and barefooter since early 2009, and in the course of turning from road racing to fell racing I've been through almost all the available zero-drop shoe options.

    KSO Treks soon turned out to be unworkable on slippy terrain, and the terrible narrow last of the X-Talon 190s I bought wasn't enough to wear them for more than 2 races, so I knew the BareGrips weren't an option. I ended up getting Trail Gloves, and just put up with the inevitable slipping. They have been pretty great all-round running shoes, particularly for road racing, but the more I run in sandals, the less I like the Merrells. (I run almost all of my non-race miles in Luna Originals, on and off road.)

    The Neo Trails always looked too heavy and slow to drain. When the Breatho Trails popped up I snapped some up, and I've been relatively pleased. They're comfortable, flexible, quick to drain, and have tremendous grip. Durability is their weak point -- 100 miles of mostly fell racing in Wales was enough to wreck the lugs under the ball of one foot, and the upper was getting torn apart. Just past 200 miles they're still fairly usable but neither inspire confidence nor perform quite the same. With pairs to be had for less than £50 I'm nevertheless tempted to buy more because the much more expensive Inov-8s also wear fairly quickly and are rarely discounted.

    The MT00 are flat-out too narrow for me, giving me blisters after 8 miles, and the 2E sizes aren't available here in the UK. The sole is also a non-starter once the going is wet or muddy.

    Like you, I just want to give my money to Inov-8 in return for a serious and light fell shoe which doesn't mutilate my healthy-shaped feet. Having only just come across the Trailroc 235s, I guess I'll be giving that a try for next season. A BareGrip with the anatomical last would indeed be the holy grail.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I couldn't agree more with everything you state in your above comments. I need say no more as it would merely be a repetition of what you have already stated. I especially agree with the following:

    "Like you, I just want to give my money to Inov-8 in return for a serious and light fell shoe which doesn't mutilate my healthy-shaped feet....A BareGrip with the anatomical last would indeed be the holy grail."

    One final point I feel may help you; if you can wear the X-Talon for 2 races, a shoe which I can barely stand up in let alone run in due to the last, I think you may well like the Trailroc 235's. Plus I find that the grip doesn't wear anywhere near as much, with the rubber clearly harder upon touch by far than as the Vivo's. So far no wear showing at all.

    Thanks Steve, let me know how you get on with any future trail and fell shoes.

  6. Yeah, these days I can't bear to put the X-Talons on, never mind run in them. I just ordered some Bare-X 180s for road racing -- the Snowdonia Marathon's coming up,and I'm not sure I can run it well in my Lunas if it's wet. If those fit me well, then the Trailrocs should work too.

    It's at least encouraging that us minimalists are starting to have a number of options from which to choose.

  7. You probably know this already, but it looks like there'll be a Trailroc 150 in the Spring:

    That might be a contender for the trail shoe holy grail: while the lugs aren't the full BareGrip size, the extreme flexibility is likely to make the difference in traction negligible.

    Exciting times!

    1. Dear Steve,
      I was aware of the Trailroc 150's but thank you anyway as I agree I am also very excited about their release. If they are a slightly more minimal version of the 235's I will love them I am sure. Hopefully they will not go too minimal as did NB with the MT00 release after the successful MT10's.

      With a trail shoe it is a fine balance of protection, grip and going too far either way beyond this. So far the VFF Spyridon LS and the Trailroc 235's are the clear winners for me running in English countryside and mud. This said, a mid-ground between the two would be even better; more grip than the Spyridon but less cushioning and a wider fit than the 235's. I am being fussy though ;)

  8. Have you or do you wear them sockless

    1. Yes Brian, I wear all my bareform shoes without socks at all times. I am not a fan of socks unless the weather is very cold. Even then, the socks get wet and your feet are still cold so what is the point?

      I have been running in the Trailroc 235 for around 100km and have not had a single hot-spot or blister. And believe me, I run through some serious wet and muddy trails, so much so you cannot tell what colour they are at the end of a run!!!

      So sockless is fine with me (unlike long distance with the NB MT00 or Merrell Trailglove = rubbing and blisters).

    2. That's the response I was looking for.

      Since you're looking for what I'm looking for I should mention that for dry trail work the New Balance Minimus Zero Road MR00 is actually a great sockless shoe! If they'd stick a little tread on them and maybe a rock plate they'd be the perfect shoe.

    3. Thanks Brian,

      A few people I know have the MR00 and they seem a very popular shoe. Cheap to buy too compared with its rivals. For me, as you mention, I need much more grip. Hopefully the Baregrip 200 will be made in an anatomical last one day!

  9. how does it hold on road/hard terrain?

    1. Hi and apologies, as I have been away on holiday and unable to respond.

      The Trailroc 235 responds very well on hard terrain as that is what it was designed for. Sadly, the upper is prone to tearing along the met. flex point. As a lot of my runs were in wet conditions I would imagine the life of the shoe would be extended by drier conditions?!