The old Inov-8 Terroc 330 trail shoes were the mainstay of my outdoor footwear quiver for many years until, amid outpourings of grief from the backpacking community, they were discontinued. After a period of mourning (and now that my stockpile has worn out) it’s time to source a replacement. Could it be the Trailroc 245?
Inov-8 Trailroc 245
Weight: 298g (per shoe, size 11)
weight, mesh upper, outsole
I reverted to trail shoes for non-technical hillwalking many years ago. For multiday backpacking trips it made little sense to me to carry the extra weight of a pair of stiff boots on each foot. The justification for this is the subject of many articles, blog posts and forum discussions, but suffice to say, I expect my trail shoes to be lightweight and breathable with good grip. They also need to fit my foot shape of course. The Terroc 330 fulfilled this specification perfectly, and I had high hopes for the Trailroc 245.
There’s no place for a waterproof upper in a trail shoe. A waterproof breathable membrane will do a good job at keeping water out when walking down the street, but it’ll also keep the water in if it enters via the big hole at the top where your foot goes in. In the outdoors the chance of plunging into a bog or stream (intentionally or otherwise) is very real, and a waterproof lining is just going to ensure that water stays inside the shoe. It makes more sense to use a mesh upper that allows the water to simply drain out, and the Trailroc does just that. The upper is almost entirely mesh, with a weave close enough to stop debris entering, but water just flows out and the shoe dries extremely quickly. Structure is provided by TPU overlays forming a very flexible exoskeleton over the top of the foot which integrates with the lace loops to help anchor the heel firmly into the heel counter. This is the key to foot stability, and in this case has enough stiffness to provide that support, with padding for comfort. The tongue is also padded, but otherwise it’s just mesh. This also works to cut down seams within the shoe and prevent rubbing.
The fit is ‘natural’ in that there’s space for the foot to operate naturally without being confined by the shoe. This manifests as a toebox somewhat wider than is usual, to allow the foot to splay. In my case it’s not so wide that my foot is rattling around, but your mileage may vary. Trying on shoes is a good idea. There’s a tiny rand at the toe for protection of both the toe and the material, and while this isn’t the kind of shoe that you’d use for ploughing through rocks – you’ll be leaping around nimbly like a gazelle – a bit more protection here would be appreciated. I have concerns about the durability of the mesh when heather-bashing too, but a full rand would compromise drainage.
Underfoot padding isn’t really in vogue for minimalist trail shoes, as it dulls tactile feedback from the terrain and prevents the foot and supporting structures from doing their job efficiently, so there’s just a 6mm footbed with a rockplate to provide protection with a 3mm drop from heel to toe. Outside, the tread pattern features an array of lugs that are spaced enough to cope with mud, but not so separate that performance on hard trails is compromised. They’re deep enough to suggest that they won’t be worn down to slicks too quickly. The multicoloured pattern indicates three different rubber compounds – the toe is a high-wear area and made from a more durable rubber, the midfoot from a slightly softer, longer-lasting rubber and the instep from sticky rubber for scrambling on rock. It’s an adaptive, flexible design that works well.
You should never buy a pair of shoes based on the views of a guy on the internet. It doesn’t matter if they’re 99% off in a sale and were unanimously voted best shoe on the planet at the international shoe awards, if they don’t fit your foot shape you might as well sit at home and take a cheese grater to your toes. But for me, with my particular foot shape, the Trailroc 245 has become my trail shoe of choice, used for everything from non-winter day walks to multiday backpacking. I’ve even used them for trail running. This is indicative of the versatility – there are more minimalist designs out there for those that find 6mm of cushioning too much, and there are models with deep, widely-spaced lugs designed purely for running uphill in the mud. The Trailroc 245 struggles with pure and filthy fell running, but copes brilliantly with mixed terrain that could include hard-packed trails, a section of peat bog and a scrambly summit ridge. A bit like Scottish Munro-bagging I reckon.
Do you agree with Phil? Have your say on the forum