inov-8 was founded in the fells of the Lake District. If you’ve run there, you’ll know how tough it is. It’s the perfect testing ground for inov-8 to craft their trail running shoes. The inov-8 Roclite is one of their most iconic models. This multi-terrain specialist is widely regarded as one of the best all-round trail running shoes.
inov-8 supplied some of the Run4It team with the latest Roclite G 275 V2 to test out.
- The midsole is now POWERFLOW MAX cushioning. This feels softer and more energetic than the previous midsole. It still features a flexible rock-plate and super-soft BOOMERANG insole.
- An updated ADAPTER-FIT cradle system in the upper connects the midfoot to the heel. This design feels more secure in comparison to the previous upper. When you tighten the laces, it pulls the cradle system in - locking your foot in place.
- The mesh material in the upper is 25% stronger than previously. While the weave is highly breathable, it’s a tighter weave. This stops grit entering the upper as easily.
How does the Roclite G 275 V2 grip
The outsole features 6 mm long rubber lugs. These dig into soft ground and grip on hard terrain, such as flat wet rock. This length of lug is what makes the inov-8 Roclite G 275 V2 so versatile. Most trail running shoes feature 3-4 mm long lugs, which don't grip as well on looser surfaces. The Roclite lugs are also infused with graphene (that’s what the G in the name stands for). As this is the world’s strongest material, you probably won’t be surprised the lugs are very durable. inov-8 states it makes them 50% harder-wearing.
Diane tested the grip out on the Ochil hills. The route consisted of dry dirt, wet mud, loose gravel, jaggy rocks, wet rocks (in a stream) and grass - pretty much everything you could look for. Diane found they gripped well and stopped her slipping on grass and mud.
Ben said: "The Roclite G 275 V2 felt very grippy in wet conditions, dirt tracks, mud, and on wet rocks." However, Ben didn't find it performed so well on wet, smooth tree roots. For Ben, trail running shoes such as the HOKA Speedgoat perform better on this. However, Ben found it easier run uphill in the inov-8 Roclite over the HOKA Speedgoat. The deeper lugs on the Roclite made it easier to attack muddy and rocky hills without losing momentum.
How does the Roclite G 275 V2 cushioning feel
The midsole features POWERFLOW MAX foam. This is a protective foam that delivers a good balance between cushioning and energy return. While this foam doesn’t feel overly soft, the Roclite G 275 V2 does have a BOOMERANG footbed. This is a particularly soft and energy returning insole that improves the step-in comfort. A flexible rock plate sits in the midsole. This stops sharp objects, such as rocks, sticking through the midsole.
Diane said: "I was particularly interested in how the Roclite would feel underfoot on rocky areas. I’ve run in other trail running shoes that offer protection against sharp rocks, but the comfort was compromised. I loved that this was not the case with the Roclite. It has just the right amount of cushioning to feel comfortable and protective, but not too soft."
Ben found the Roclite felt a bit too firm under his feet on tarmac as he made his way to the trails. However, he felt very confident running downhill in the Roclites. Stating "I wasn't afraid to pick up the speed or that I might roll and ankle. I think this is in part due to the minimal cushioning that allows for a secure and really enjoyable ground contact."
The Roclite G 275 V2 midsole is a 16 mm to 8 mm stack (8 mm drop).
How does the Roclite G 275 V2 fit
As mentioned, one of the key updates to the Roclite G 275 V2 is in the upper. The Roclite has traditionally offered an accommodating fit. By this, we mean it works for a variety of foot shapes and feels spacious in the toe box. At times, it’s potentially felt loose in areas. With the update to the ADAPTER-FIT cradle system, you should be able to get a really secure fit around the midfoot and ankle area. As this system is operated by the laces, it should leave you with some flexibility to tailor it to your preference. Even though the cradle fits securely, it adjusts to natural movements and flexes with your feet on uneven surfaces.
Diane has narrow feet and has found it difficult in the past to find trail running shoes that her feet don't get lost in. The Roclite seemed to hold her feet perfectly. Similarly, while Ben says the Roclite fits true-to-size, it works well for a narrower foot shape. Ben tied the laces with a runner's knot and found the lockdown was particularly good.
In general, a narrower fitting trail running shoe performs better on technical terrain. That's because the shoe moves with your feet and terrain, as opposed to your feet moving in the shoe.
How can the Roclite G 275 V2 Improve your run
The inov-8 Roclite G 275 V2 is best suited to pure trail runs and works very well on muddy and technical terrain. This is largely down to the Roclite's 6 mm lug outsole with sticky rubber. While the 6 mm lugs may not grip on flat wet surfaces quite as well as 4 mm lugged options, the 6 mm lugs excel on steeper slopes. There's a very good chance you'll be more confident running up and down technical terrain in a Roclite in comparison to shallower lugged trail running shoes.
While thickly cushioned trail running shoes are becoming popular, thick midsoles can compromise your ability to adapt to uneven trail terrain. Yes, the Roclite may not feel overly soft on very hard surfaces, such as the road. However, when you get on the trails, this midsole comes alive. The rock-plate provides protection from sharp objects and the flexible midsole should significantly improve your confidence on steeper slopes, cambers, uneven ground and technical terrain.
Staying upright on trails is more than just about the grip, the entire shoe has to work with the environment.
How do other inov-8 models compare to the Roclite
The Trailfly Ultra G 300 MAX is significantly more cushioned than the Roclite G 275 V2, but doesn’t offer as much grip. For this reason, the Trailfly Ultra G 300 MAX is likely to be a better trail running shoe for long distances and hard packed trails. If you’re trying to run faster on rolling trails, the Trailfly G 270 V2 is an excellent choice.
For those seeking maximum grip and control, you should opt for either the inov-8 X-Talon 212 or X-Talon Ultra 260 V2. Both of these inov-8 hill running shoes feature deep lugged outsoles. The X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 provides more protection over the X-Talon 212, making it better for longer distances.
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