If you’re doing an off-road triathlon like Xterra then a good pair of trail running shoes is essential, we review the Inov-8 Roclite 268

Inov-8 Roclite 268 trail running shoe review

Inov-8 Roclite 268

Weight: 268g
Inov-8 have their own rating system for their shoes making it really easy to gauge what shoe is best for your racing needs. At the slippy-wet-rock-end of the fell running spectrum are the infamous sticky-soled, deep-cleated Mudclaws, which will take you down the muddiest hill full tilt. The Roclite’s though have a broader remit, designed to cope well with mixed terrain, loose dirt and inevitable mud while still being made of tough enough stuff to work well on hard, packed earth.

The key thing here is the outsole, which is made from sticky rubber and grips well in wet mud. Deep-cleats – we measured an average depth of 6mm – and a studded design increase grip and control meaning you can let rip on descents but it also helps with cornering, muddy puddles, rocks, roots and all the other juicy technical stuff you’ll find on a decent trail run.

Inov-8 Roclite 268 trail running shoes for XterraInov-8 have designed these to include their ‘precision fit’ which means that the shoe should really hold your foot, preventing slipping and sliding and allowing more control, especially on tricky, fast descents. We certainly found that they held well on steep ground, grassy slopes and allowed us to really go for it on rocky trails.

Though they have a good range in low-drop, barefoot technology, these shoes are designed more with comfort and protection in mind. In the Roclite 268’s, most of the cushioning seems to be based around the heel and instep while the mid-step closer to the ground. There’s a 9mm drop to thank for this and it makes the shoe feel extremely light around the toes with plenty of width in the toe-box, which in turn encourages a lighter, faster step – ideal when you need to be quick, light and responsive to the terrain. This lightness around the toes could easily provide a good cross-over to minimalist running and is likely to tempt you to try it if you haven’t before. Inov-8’s five-fingered Meta-Shank™ technology aligns with the metatarsals in the foot and is designed to add protection.

There’s not much bounce when you’re running on the road but then, these aren’t designed for that. When you’re on the trail though they’re so light and grip so well that they’re barely noticeable, allowing you to focus on your technique, the terrain and carving a fast line towards the finish.