Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Women’s Trail Running Shoes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 8mm heel to toe drop feels natural, and is comfortable over long distances, especially with some sizeable climbs involved.
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.
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.