Inov-8 Trailroc 270 Review Facts
The 270 line of Inov-8’s popular TrailRoc trail shoes is highly functional while presenting an appealing style. It’s a synthesis of a hardcore trail running shoe and a casual track shoe; hard rubber protects the bottom and front of the foot while providing traction and stability, while a soft seamless mesh upper with a stripped back provides ventilation and a lighter weight. The end result is a shoe that can handle tough running trails without looking tacky or making your feet sweaty. Just who would be best suited to run in these shoes? Read our in-depth review to find out!
Inov-8’s Trailroc 270 features an outsole designed to offer traction, comfort, and protection, all contained in a subtle but sleek design. For the purpose of navigating over uneven terrain, these shoes have several small studs spaced evenly along the majority of the outsole. These nubs are placed in such a way to avoid the accumulation of excess debris while still being close enough to provide an evenly distributed level of traction. In addition to traction, these nubs also work to absorb and evenly distribute pressure from repeated impact to the ground which can help to greatly reduce soreness or injury.
The midsole of these shoes are made of a cushioned rubber material with a rock plate embedded for reinforcement. The cushion developed for this line of the Inov-8 Trailroc line
was designed to be shock absorbent and energy efficient; in fact, the manufacturers boast that this iteration of their popular shoe line offers 10% more shock absorption and 25% greater energy return. The Fascia band rock plate emphasizes the arch, as the name implies, and contributes to the midsole absorption ability.
A stripped-back design was implemented in the upper portion of these shoes, functioning not entirely unlike the retractable hood of a convertible. The justification for this comparison is that in both cases, extra airflow is introduced while making a bold stylistic statement. The mesh fabric used for the upper’s construction is also highly ventilated, and the lack of any seams prevents foot irritation from rubbing against extra material. These key design decisions result in one of the most comfortable trail shoes on the market.
A far cry from many competing brands of trail shoes, the Inov-8 Trailroc 270 is very light, weighing in at only 9½ ounces. It’s an impressive feat to offer long-lasting comfort and protection from harsh trail running with such a lightweight, but these shoes manage to pull it off with a combination of cutting-edge material and clever design. Some downsides to this lighter weight is a lack of proper protection to the back of your feet, which may be inconvenient when running through brush. In truth, other track shoes that weigh a bit more will last longer and provide more protection, but these shoes offer a perfectly adequate degree of both while feeling light on your feet.
Ventilation is the primary goal that went into the design and construction of the upper portion of these shoes, but that same mentality wasn’t applied to the rest of it. It’s true that the most important part of the shoe to offer breathability is the upper, but it can still feel a bit too warm wearing these shoes for a long time. It’s mostly because of the toe pad placed on the front, which sacrifices airflow for additional protection from sharp rocks or jutting roots. Fortunately, the backs of these shoes have been stripped down, offering some fresh air to your ankles and calves.
These trail shoes were designed primarily for the purpose of facilitating a comfortable running experience, even over long distances and periods of time. The upper portion of these shoes, in addition to providing excellent ventilation, are made of a single piece of material, preventing any annoying seams from irritating the sides of your feet. In addition, the low-profile heel of these shoes offers a tight fit while still managing to avoid discomfort, excessive heat, or chafing. Keep in mind that there are some caveats to the comfort experienced in these shoes, such as the lack of flexibility due to the midsole’s rock plate. However, these are some of the comfiest trail shoes money can buy.
TrailRoc 270’s are some of the most stylish trail shoes running can buy. They were designed by people who work a great deal with barefoot running equipment, which often polarizes people when it comes to their design. However, this is certainly not the case with these trail shoes, as they have the perfect marriage of design sensibilities: the functionality of cutting-edge barefoot shoes with the design of popular brand-name running footwear. If there was one negative thing to say about these shoes’ style, it’s that there are a disappointingly small amount of color choices. If you like green or red, you’ll be okay, but any other color is sadly unavailable.
There is one area in which these shoes are unfortunately prone to fraying, which is on the upper. The fabric overlay around the rim of the foot, near the toes, is prone to coming undone and detaching from the mesh portion of the upper. This is mostly a cosmetic injury, however, and doesn’t affect the overall functionality of the shoes. Other than this minor issue, no complaints have been levied regarding the durability of the Inov-8
TrailRoc 270’s. This is especially impressive since there were no protective seams added to the design in order to prevent them from rubbing against your foot and potentially causing skin irritation.
Naturally, these trail shoes are designed to offer a significant level of protection to your feet when running or walking on rough trails and steep inclines. Effort has also been made to provide your toes with extra protection, with the addition of their toe pad. One area that is left unprotected, however, is the backs of your feet. This is due to the stripped-back design, which may leave your ankles and Achilles tendon
vulnerable to injury. If this is a serious concern for you, the best option is to choose a different set of trail shoes, but a compromise can be reached with some KT tape or wearing some high protective socks.
Bucking the trend set by many other trail shoes, Inov-8 TrailRoc 270’s are much more responsive due to their lighter weight. This can only really be appreciated when used on the types of terrain they were designed for, however. If you were to use these shoes for anything other than a rough trail, the responsiveness would pale in comparison to running shoes better suited for those environments. That said, comparing these shoes to many of the other popular trail shoes available to customers will result in a faster response time with the TrailRoc 270’s.
Unlike some others, these trail shoes feature a slight heel drop instead of the standard flat foot design. This drop is very subtle, with only a 4 mm difference between the heel height and the forefoot height. However, this extremely subtle height difference manages to provide a small degree of heel support for runners who may be predisposed to injury in that area. This is an excellent compromise, as it still allows for a decent level of the forefoot support that is necessary for trail running. For particularly sensitive runners, this support can be accentuated with additional orthotics
such as a gel pad.
The best terrain to run on with these shoes is the roughest you can find. Whether it’s a slippery muddy slope
, a jagged rock path, an overgrown hiking trail, or the side of a mountain, these shoes are designed to handle your stride in stride. This is accomplished by the implementation of several small nubs on the outsole that grip onto difficult surfaces without getting clogged with dirt, as well as the protective midsole comprised of highly resistant rubber. An additional rock plate in the midsole will allow you to maintain a flat and efficient stride
when traveling on trepidatious surfaces, guaranteed.
In terms of athletic footwear, trail shoes are among the most expensive of the bunch. These shoes are certainly no exception, but this higher price tag isn’t undeserved. Based on the quality of construction and high functionality offered by the Inov-8 TrailRoc 270’s, the value factor
in the purchase is high. That said, you could live with a cheaper pair of hiking boots if you’re a casual hiker or outdoorsman. The target demographic for these shoes is a dedicated trail runner; weekend warriors need not apply.
In order to ensure a solid foothold in rain or snow or sleet, trail shoes need to place a considerable emphasis on quality traction. TrailRoc 270’s accomplish this with the assistance of their rubber nubs placed in even spaces on the outsole. These nubs are the perfect distance from each other; close enough to ensure a solid grip, but far enough away to avoid becoming clogged with dirt or small rocks. What’s perhaps the most impressive thing about the level of traction on these shoes is that it is comparable to the level of traction on many other trail shoes but at a fraction of the total weight.
These shoes fall into the middle in terms of flexibility. As trail shoes, the design isn’t really focused on being flexible, with the primary focus being on foot protection and traction. However, these shoes are on the lighter side in regards to trail shoes, which means they offer some more give than the thicker, heavier models available on the market. You still shouldn’t expect the same level of bendiness as a standard pair of track shoes.
Stability is maintained in these trail shoes with the implementation of a few key design choices. One is the aforementioned rubber nubs, a staple of trail shoe design which serves to provide stable footing over uneven terrain and inclement weather conditions.
The other choice is the addition of a rock plate in the midsole, which sacrifices comfortable flexibility for the sake of maintaining an efficient stride when using these shoes on an incline. You may not have the softest ride when running with the 270’s, but you will be in full control the entire time, no matter what comes at you.
While most trail shoes offer no drop, the Inov-8 TrailRoc 270’s offer a very slight heel drop of 4 mm. This is presumably in order to provide a bit of extra cushion for your heel, which is a welcome addition to runners with sensitive heels. However, the change is still barely noticeable and support can be much better achieved with the addition of an orthotic heel insert. Still, it’s a noble effort, and runners who are adjusting to a flatter stride can ease into the concept by using these shoes as a midpoint.
- Rubber nubs to grip rough surfaces
- Stripped back to provide extra ventilation
- Rock plate in midsole to improve stability
- Seamless upper to prevent foot chafing
- Bright colors and low-profile design
- Slight heel drop
It’s difficult to pin down exactly who would be best suited for these specific trail shoes. On one hand, the features that make is more breathable, stylish and low-profile might turn off individuals looking for a serious piece of outdoor running apparel. On the other hand, the high price tag, low flexibility, and lack of adequate traction on flatter surfaces make this unappealing for the casual track runner or cross trainer. The closest thing to an ideal demographic for the Inov-8 TrailRoc 270’s is an individual who wants to look good while running up a mountain and lives in an incredibly hot environment. If this applies to you, then these shoes are a must-buy!