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The Best Trail Running Shoes: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

These are the best trail running shoes we've tried this year! Find the right trail shoes for ultramarathons, marathons, 20k, 5k, Spartan/Tough Mudder, Swim-run

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Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Women’s Review: For Rocky Trails

I’ve been running in Inov-8’s Trailroc 285s for almost a year and many miles, so they are about ready to retire and replace with a new pair. This also means I have given them the most thorough user testing any trail running shoe can go through – they’ve been my companions on many trail runs and races, in varying terrain, from the Lavaredo Ultra Trail in Italy, to Mt Diablo and the trails of Marin, California.

The Trailroc 285s are excellent all-round women’s trail running shoes. They’re built to handle anything you throw at them, whether gnarly roots, technical Alpine rocks or tough, dusty Californian desert, and they do so in a pretty minimal, understated style.

This is my review of the Women’s Trailroc 285s. Alastair has also reviewed the Men’s Trailroc 285 version, complete with more technical detail.

RELATED: Best Women’s Trail Running Shoes of 2019

Looking for our Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Men’s review?

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Review: Responsive & Lightweight with Top Protection

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review
Women’s Trailroc 285


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Fit & Design

Like any good trail running shoe, the Women’s Trailroc 285s were comfortable straight out of the box, and didn’t need a wearing-in period. The fit is snug around the foot, but not tight; I find that Inov-8 trail running shoes offer a little more width in the toe-box over Salomon trail running shoes, which I also enjoy running in but find come up a little narrow for my feet than I would like.

Rock plate underfoot

The big draw with these shoes is the very robust rock plate underfoot. You can run over sharp rocks on tough rocky trails and hardly notice them. Inov-8 managed to build an incredibly robust trail running shoe while still making it one of the more lightweight women’s trail running shoes out there for rocky terrain.

With this protection and cushioning, I’ve been confident running in these shoes for all my long runs, as I know I’ll come back from hours on the trails and my feet won’t be beaten up. It’s only after hundreds of kilometers that the tread underfoot has worn down under the balls of my feet.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review

Breathable

I’ve worn the Trailroc 285s in the cold (Lavaredo overnight) and in the baking heat in California, and my feet felt comfortable in all conditions. I don’t sweat a huge amount, but my feet do have a tendency to get very cold. I haven’t had an issue in these shoes, quite possibly because of the snug fit and good amount of cushioning which help to insulate my feet from the elements.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review

Water drainage

I often get my trail running shoes wet on river crossings or just running during or after the rain. While not designed for running in wet conditions, the Trailroc 285s drain well, and do not stay soggy for long after a good soaking. I wore them for a half marathon in the rain around Auburn, CA along the Western States trail, and spent most of my time running on trails that had become streams. My feet were perfectly happy in these shoes in these conditions, not cold or overly soggy after a couple of hours of this treatment.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review

The Laces

The laces on the Trailroc 285s are fairly thin, but I like them. They’re flat, rather than round, and this means they are less likely to come undone by themselves. I always tie my running shoelaces into a double bow, and these shoes stay done up for the duration of all my runs, long and short. Because of the snug fit, I don’t need to play around with the laces or rely on them helping my feet to stay put within the shoe, I just get them to a good comfort level, tie them off, and get on with my run.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review

Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)

The Outsole

I already talked about the great cushioning and rock protection underfoot. The Trailroc 285s also have a robust toe cap, which means I can go around kicking stones, tree roots and rocks and not cry about having sore toes.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review

The rubber grip underfoot is great; while I haven’t worn these running on super-slippy (ice-rink-style) mud, I have taken them out in many other wet, muddy conditions and not slipped once. The positioning of the lugs also means that sticky mud does not cling on for too long after you’ve run through it, so you spend less time hauling around heavy clods of mud with you on the bottom of the shoes.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review

Drop

The 8mm heel to toe drop feels natural, and is comfortable over long distances, especially with some sizeable climbs involved.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Womens review

Running in the Women’s Trailroc 285

As mentioned above, these are my go-to shoes for any type of trail running, regardless of terrain or distance. They’ve been my trusted companions for many miles, and like all the best trail running shoes, I don’t even notice I have them on – plus I don’t notice the rocks I’m running over, given the level of protection and cushioning they offer.

inov-8 trailroc 285 women's
Women’s Inov-8 Trailroc 285

inov-8 trailroc 285 women's
Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Women's
Comfort
9.3
Design & Function
9.2
Durability
9.5
Flexibility
8.5
Performance
9.2
Pros
Excellent rock protection
Great cushioning for long runs on hard terrain
Good grip
Sleek, minimal look
Cons
Limited colour choice
9.1
Overall Score

Find the best price for Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Women’s

In Summary

I wouldn’t change a thing about these shoes. Inov-8 are on to a winner! Given how highly I rate the Trailroc 285s, they are likely to continue to be my go-to shoe for running long on rocky trails, due to the level of cushioning, protection and all-around comfort they offer.

inov-8 trail running

inov-8The Inov-8 Brand

Founded in 2003, Inov-8 is one of the World’s leading all-terrain footwear, apparel and equipment brands.

Operating in over 60 countries, Inov-8 pride themselves in designing high quality, innovative products in both the running and performance training sectors. Their origins and footprints remain firmly etched into the muddy British fells but over the years they have optimized their products to meet the needs of the many terrains they have travelled.

Check out our Inov-8 brand page where you can see all of our content relating to the brand.

If you fancy learning more about their products, be sure to browse their online store.

If you have any questions about the shoes or anything relating to them then please leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible. Happy Trails!!


2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve have been tempted to try Innov8’s since talking to a Rep at a race a few years back. I just had no idea which shoe to try! I am tempted to try these. I run in the Brooks Caldera’s now and I love the fit (wide toe box too) but I cannot stand the lugs or lack thereof as I slip and slide the minute it is wet. The Calderas are 4 mm but I tempted to bump to the 8 mm for these. I see Innov8 has some 4mm drop shoes and I love the toe box numbering system … I just their website was a little user friendly so you can compare different models. Thanks for this review!

  2. Hi Trailmomma, thanks for the comment! This is definitely a good choice for trails and has been great for me on such a variety of terrain. I also have the Trailtalon 235s, which have a 4mm drop, but don’t wear them as often as they don’t provide as much protection underfoot or on the toe area as I would like. I agree, too much choice without a good comparison function can be overwhelming! Good luck with the shoe search, glad this was helpful.

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Helen
Helenhttps://www.trailandkale.com
Hi, I’m Helen, one of Trail & Kale's founders. Things that bring us joy are spending time together running, hiking and adventuring in beautiful places around the world, working towards being more self-sustainable and living a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. We changed our lives to realize our dreams and share advice on how you can do the same.

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