Tuesday 23 October 2012

Inov-8 Trailroc 235 review: an update

Nearly 60 km have elapsed whilst wearing the new Trailroc 235's from Inov-8. Sharing the weekly distances between the Trailroc's, Vibram Fivefingers Spyridon LS and non-LS version I have managed to get a pretty good idea of the pro's and con's of the Trailroc 235's. I have been promising an update along the way, and so far have managed to keep you up to date via the comments section of the Trailroc and Baregrip post I uploaded a few weeks back (http://caveman-clarke.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/inov-8-trailroc-235-and-baregrip-200.html). I thought it is about time I gave a more in-depth follow-up for those of you interested in the new series from Inov-8.


Trailroc 235's after another satisfying run
  • Zero drop allows natural biomechanics
  • Grip on any terrain and in all conditions
  • Lacing system holds foot well
  • Water drains really quickly
  • Foot remains well ventilated
  • Comfortable to wear for long distances
  • No blisters or hot-spots
  • Flexible for a trail shoe
  • Correct level of protection for technical trails
  • Look sexy!!! Fantastic aesthetics
  • Removable insoles for custom fit and preferences 


  • Ever so slightly too much cushioning for non-technical trails
  • The shape could be slightly improved to allow a little more toe-splay

Overall opinion and comments:
I have fallen in love with this trail shoe. I wasn't sure if I would get on with it at first due to the slightly too narrow forefoot and toe box, but as I have put in more K's it has become more and more comfy to wear. I now put them on, lace them up and off I go no problems. It is only on slightly longer runs I occasionally think to myself how I would prefer a slightly wider toe box. I also think that a slight reduction in cushioning would benefit these shoes especially on non-technical trails. As my K's are being logged in these and the VFF Spyridons, I do notice better proprioception in the Fivefingers. This said, I also notice sharp stones and sticks more in the VFF too, so it all comes back to the fine line between protection and grip vs ground feel and feedback. One shoe will never satisfy everyone, so it's up to the individual to make this decision themselves, taking into account their terrain and distances.

The grip of the Trailroc 235's is perfect for my needs
This is the grip I have been looking for!
Not as extreme as the Baregrip 200 but enough for most trail situations. It has not let me down yet and I have been out in pouring rain across the middle of fields. The mud doesn't seem to accumulate on the bottom too much and the studs are well spaced to provide traction on flats as well as up and down steep slopes. They are also comfy to wear when running on the roads as there are enough studs to form a level base to contact the hard-flat road surface safely and stick to it. Minimalist shoes have always let themselves down when it comes to grip, but the Trailroc 235's are different.

Finally, Inov-8 have created a trail shoe that meets our needs in all the important areas including grip and protection.

I have run on grass, mud (and I mean sloppy, deep and slippy mud!!!), pavement, leaves, through water and down stony and rocky tracks and these shoes did not disappoint. The negatives are far outweighed by the positives and really only need finite alterations to make this the ideal trail shoe for a variety of terrains and distances. I hear news of a Trailroc 150 coming out around February time, reducing the cushioning and upper material to dramatically reduce weight and increase proprioception. This could well be the shoe we have all been looking for, but time will tell. As I mentioned in the comments section on my last post:

"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".

Happy running everyone!


My Trailroc 235's hanging out to dry after another wet and muddy run


  1. Are the 235's true to size?

    Can you compare the sizing and fit to the Spyridons? I also own a pair.


    1. I take a euro 43 in the Spyridons and a UK 9.5 in the trailroc 235's which they translate to a 44. Therefore I would go up one euro size and you should be OK. If your spyridons are really tight you may wish to go up two euro sizes but this would probably be a little too big unless you wear socks. I do not wear socks in mine.

      As for fit they are slightly narrow in the toe area compared to any VFF as they allow huge toe spread. This said, it doesn't cause any problems as of yet. I really like the 235's. As for grip....much better than any rivals including the Spyridons.

    2. Thanks

      I wear a size 46 Spyridon. I followed Vibrams sizing guidelines and they fit just about right. I find the Spyridons more or less forgiving and a snug fit optimal. This logic may not apply to other shoes and I personally just prefer a snug fit as opposed to a sloppy fit.

      Hence since going minimalist I try to avoid sizing up needlessly.

      Are are you sizing up to compensate for the narrower fit of the Trailrocs? Or is that just your normal shoe size?

    3. Care to comment on the durability? Read 2 unsettling reports.

      Forefoot lugs breaking down:

      Smaller issue, toe rand ungluing:

      Actually posted as Unknown previously. Sorry about that.

    4. I have found that the durability so far is excellent. No signs of wear and tear as of yet. If you read the majority of reviews they mention mainly a positive response to the Trailrocs so I wouldn't worry about the odd bad report. May be a faulty shoe or washed and dried incorrectly for example?!

      As for the sizing, I did not have to size up at all to accommodate for a more narrow fit. Every shoe company seems to have their own sizing charts and so often your size can change between brands. I am usually a 43 or 44, or 9-10 UK sizing, so a 9.5 in the Trailroc 235's seems about right.

    5. After 3 months of weekly mountain runs mine start disintegrating (see http://www.trail-forum.de/t785f11-Inov-Frustrationsthread.html for picttres). Interestingly on both shoes at the same spot. I'd say that the black plastic cuts into the net.

      Same experience as with my f-lites previously. inov-8 should really work on the durability of their uppers.

      Regards from the Bavarian Alps.

    6. Thank you Stefan for your comments, they are very much appreciated as news of the durability of the TR235 is only just emerging as they are relatively new to the market.

      I saw the photo's...wow! That is terrible. How many kilometers have you done in them and on what sort of terrain? Interestingly the uppers on my pair have begun to wear in that exact spot on both shoes and they haven't yet reached 200k!

      I look forward to your response (and in the meantime I would consider sending them back if you have only done low mileage in them??!!)

    7. You can see some pics of the terrain I run in the thread I have written on the Petzl Nao:


      I'd say my trails are comparable to Snowdonia or Lake District (though we have much more altitude here).

      Don't know noch many miles. Difficult to tell since I only use them for mountain running. Those shoes looked fine for a long time but then those tears appeared suddenly.

      Probably don't bother with contacting Inov8. Unfortunately there is no real alternative to this particular model on the market. I may even get another pair. The outsole is simply outstanding. However, as soon as there are alternatives I would switch.

    8. I'm now more skeptical about this shoe and have held off getting a pair.

      When the upper fails early and before the sole it is a major bummer for me. Minimalist for minimalism sake I'm finding is not always the best route. Some compromise may yield better results

      If the upper turns out flimsy, Inov8 should look into doing a more beefed up upper or version of the 235. I'm aware the 255 could be that but the higher drop and stack height is a turn off for me.

      I'm going to pass on these for now, I'm interest in seeing if the new La Sportiva Anaconda or Merrell Mix Master is any good (with a reported 4mm drop. The lug pattern on the La Sportiva looks too aggressive for my needs though...)

    9. I have just had a closer look at my pair and there is a hole appearing!!! IN THE SAME PLACE AS YOUR PAIR STEFAN!!! I will be sending my pair back as I consider this a fault in the shoe...it is not up for the job it was designed for.

      What an absolute shame as I love this shoe! I totally agree that there is simply not an alternative to this shoe on the market. The outsole is fantastic. Perfect almost.

      Oh well, back to my Vibram FiveFinger Spyridon LS!!!

    10. Sorry for you but somehow it feels good that I'm not alone.

    11. Can you tell me how to contact Inov8 directly? In Germany I only get the German distributor's email adress from their webpage. I purchased my pair from wiggle in the UK.

    12. Wow! I'm glad I followed this comment thread all the way! I M in MT10's right now and love them, but the 4mm drop is a compromise for me as in all other footwear I go 0mm. However, to hear about this upper problem is perplexing. I will be interested to hear about how you get on with Innov8 on this. And I agree, an anatomical Bare Grip would be great...

      Wondering if you have tried the Altra Superior? I'm not sure of it from what I see of it. The lugs (if you can call them that) don't look teethy enough for me like the 235's do.

      Thanks for your comments etc.

      Cheers and Peace,

      Mark G

    13. Mark, see here for my further experience:


      I also own a pair of Superiors (had shipped them from the US to Europe $$$!!). A good road running shoe, absolutely no grip for trail stuff. I use it for smooth trails only. The cushioning is sort of squishy (does this word actually exist?). A little bit like the Kinvaras. I'd rather had them firmer, however, I mostly notice this when running on tarmac. On trails it's o.k.. I'd day those shoes are made for trails in the Arizona desert or for smooth California summer trails.

    14. Cheers for the info, Stefan. As I thought with the Altra's - probably not going to work on the trails I run either... Took a look at the run blogger thread - such a shame they can't make the upper in the 235 more durable like the 255. Of course, it will be a little more heavy, but I'd take a small amount more weight for a longer lasting great trail shoe!

      Mark G

    15. Hi everyone, sorry for late reply I have been unable to get time to sit down and properly reply to you all. So... innov-8 can be contacted at Tel: +44 1388 744900 or sales@inov-8.com, returns@inov-8.com, feedback@inov-8.com. I hope they can sort something out for you.

      As for the Altra Superior I have had no experience of these shoes so I am unable to comment on them, but I do feel the grip would not suit my needs here in muddy England!!

    16. I also have to re-state the link above as I didn't get any pictures of mine before sending them back. Well done Stefan :-)
      This is exactly what happened to my pair!!!

    17. Speaking of the Altra Superior:


      No luck with my shoes currently.

    18. Oh dear, it seems that the issue with a lot of minimalist shoes is that the uppers are just not up to the trails they are designed for. Maybe too minimal is just not any good.


  2. Fantastic ! Thanks for taking the time to update your blog with these thoughts. Great to hear we are getting closer and closer to perfection.
    Looking forward to getting a pair of these.

    Thanks again. Take Care

    1. Cheers G_N,
      I hope you will be as pleased with them as I have been. I am also looking forward to the 150's coming out in Feb time :) although we may discover that they are too minimal and the 235's remain a better shoe??!!

  3. Excellent review, many thanks, 235's for my next pair of shoes once my breatho trails wear out - oh they already have what a surprise ;)

    1. You won't be disappointed they are a great trail shoe. Lighter, better draining and more durable grip than the breatho trails! Enjoy and let me know how you get on with them.

  4. Thank you very much for the reviews, it's great to get a UK perspective on things.

    Interested to hear how these compare to the Trail Glove in terms of fit and room in the toebox (i.e. allowing the big toe to splay)? I imagine the grip is a lot better in the 235's as well?

    I'm currently wearing the Altra Samson (imported from the US - fantastic, loads of room for the toes to spread) but wanted something for offroad running and hiking with more grip and stone protection. I tried the Altra Superior but they had too much midsole thickness with the insole and rockplate fitted and too much volume with them removed - they've really missed an opportunity there, real shame. The Altra last is the best shape of anything I've tried, shame Inov-8 can't learn something there - from the videos it looks like the Trailroc 150 will have the same narrow toe area as the 235 (?).

    Once again thank you and keep up the good work.

  5. Hi Ben,

    The grip is 10x better in the 235. The toe box is slightly narrow compared with the trail glove although not too narrow for me to recommend these as one of my 2 favorite trail shoes with the VFF Spyridon.

    As for Altra, I have had no contact with these so cannot comment on them I am afriad. When you find a shoe that suits you though, stick with it!

  6. So these are noticeably narrower than the TG?

    Could be a dealbreaker for me. I have no experience with either though.

    1. They are ever so slightly narrower, but much more comfortable and better to run in. The TG gives me blisters and feels very clumpy to run in, whereas the TR235 are a much more enjoyable ride altogether. You will have to try them for yourself to determine whether the slightly more narrow last is OK for you or not. Most websites offer refunds if they don't suit you. Then you only lose the postage sending them back.

  7. I have fallen in love with the MT10s, but I was looking for somehting with protection and still minimalist. So I decided to ge the trailroc 245s. Bought them in the same size as my MT10s (11US) but to my dissapointment the 245 run small and are way narrow in the toe box =/ at least compared with my MT10s.

    If anyone has run in MT10s and is getting the Trailrocs, go for half a size bigger than you wear in the MT10s. Other than that they seem to be an awesome shoe, the 245s, is just I wont be running in mine since they are to narrow. I am selling them and perhaps traying the new MT1010s or the new Altra Superior.

    1. Hi and many thanks for your comments.

      I on the other hand have found the opposite. I take a UK 11 in the MT10 but a UK 9.5 in the trailroc 235. A UK 9.5 is my usual size so I have found the MT10's to size very strangely. I have never had to buy an 11 before, which is what I also take in the MT00.

      Are you sure you are not confusing UK and US sizing as Inov-8 are a British company and NB a US company??

  8. Sizing sizing sizing...i've a 44 in the older inov8 Roclite295 and need a new pair, so looking at inov8 235. The roclite295's were always slightly too big, so was thinking of going a euro size smaller. Should I stay at the same euro size with the 235's?

    1. I have had no experience with the Roclite due to their narrow fit. Therefore if these are almost too big I imagine the 235 will be due to the wider last. I am guessing though, although Inov-8 are usually pretty good with sizes across their ranges.

    2. That's really helpful. Thanks. One last question. I've run in the 295's for over a year and have transitioned to o mid/forefoot striker. The trails around me are not rocky enough to warrant the rock plate of the 245, but i'm unsure if it's too big a step to make the transition from the 9mm drop of the 295 to the 0 drop of the 235...What would you suggest?

    3. I would suggest getting the 235's as putting your foot in its natural position is always the best option. Returning to what we have been designed to do as it were. Therefore do short runs in the 235 and slowly build up the mileage, listening to your body and slowing or reducing mileage if anything starts niggling. Then build up and enjoy!!!

      Letting our feet work as naturally as possible is always best in my opinion. That means 0mm drop. Sadly our feet do not have lugs or extreme weather protection so a minimalist shoe such as the 235 is therefore helpful.

  9. IMPORTANT COMMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What an absolute shame as I really liked these shoes. Anyway, back to my trusty VFF Spyridon LS!

  10. Crikey - the same has happened to my 235's....i've only covered 148km in them. Toe cap starting to come away and a hole appearing in the upper at the crease point. How have inov-8 responded to you? I'm not sure if I want another pair, if they are going to wear out this quickly, but the 235's have been so comfortable and perfect for my needs. Not sure what else I would choose!

    1. Hi Bywa,

      I totally agree. I have not found another shoe on the market that matches the 235's perfect balance of grip, protection and bareform feel. But, all this said, due to the durability I am not going to get another pair as I believe the same will happen to them due to the feedback I have had from others.

      Re Inov-8 getting hold of me: I am disappointed to say that the technical team that said they will contact me never did :-( I would like to work with Inov-8 to produce a version of the trailroc that is more durable. A bareform runners trail shoe that lasts. I think it would be a mix of the baregrip 200, trailroc 235 and the X-Talon 212. Shame really as the company is normally renouned for good customer service and quality products.

    2. Hopefully an update, and a beefed up redesign is in the pipeline.

      In the meantime looks like a few 0 drop contenders worth mentioning will come out eventually:

      Merrell Ascend Glove
      Mizuno Wave Evo Ferus

      Will have to wait and see if these are as good a shoe.

    3. I spoke to Inov-8 again today. I rang them and asked about the differential of other shoes they have. Besides the point, but the man asked if there was anything else he could help with and I asked if I could give some feedback on the Trailroc 235.

      After telling him briefly what had happened he said this was a fault that they are aware of and that the X-Talon 190 and F-Lite 195 also have been troublesome in this area. It is due to the fact that they were focusing on reducing weight when designing the shoe, hence the durability is reduced.

      He thanked me for the constructive feedback. It was a pleasant phone call and I am always impressed when a company is willing to receive feedback, positive and negative and thank their customers for it. Well done Inov-8.

      Lets hope a new trail shoe is on its way. He asked what it would be like if I could have a choice and I said the sole and upper construction of the X-Talon 212 with the zero drop of the Baregrip 200 and the last/fit of the trailroc 235.

      We can only wait, hope and dream :-)

  11. That's exactly what I think. My bargrip 200s lasted about 3 weeks before faling apart on the upper. Got a pair of x-talon 212s and the construction is so much better and you have only gained 12 grams!! Zero drop, great grip and a shoe that will at least last a year of good trail running. I have an old pair of nike Pegasus trail shoes and although I don't use them much anymore due to going minimal these have lasted years!! My ideal shoe would be a Merrell Fell glove, shape and fit of the trial glove, grip of the X-talon and durable material of salomon.

  12. Hello Caveman =)

    I'm still looking for the perfect trail shoes and I'm hesitating between the last 235 or the spyridon MR what would be your informed opinion about it please ?

    Thanks for your blog anyway