Monday, March 28, 2011

Product review: Inov-8 Roclite 319

We're week 2 into training for the Black Hills 100 (trail) run coming up in July. I made a point to do some research on the best (recommended) trail shoes and found that Runner's World recently covered a review of the latest trail running shoes in their Spring issue. Interestingly enough, it wasn't the article that resonated with me but the comments of all the other readers. It was clear that Runner's World was missing several brands that of course, required me to dig deeper into this world of outdoor running.

Upon further research, three brands kept popping up in online reviews and outdoor apparel sites (REI, ZombieRunner.com and Amazon.com)...

  1. Inov-8
  2. Solomon
  3. Merrel
I landed on the Roclite 319 by Inov-8. While it's not the prettiest shoe in the world, there are clearly some advantages it has over many of the trail-inspired shoes out there by Brooks, Adidas or Asics. For starters, the quick-lace shoe strings are thin and slick - which means with one quick yank, the shoe is evenly tight all the way up the front. Second, there is a wide band of grey rubbery material that extends from the sole up about 1.25 inches all the way around the shoe. It protects the foot not only from the moisture you might find in shorter grass but also the sharp edges of closely-spaced rocks.

I personally like the extra cushioning the shoe provides as well as the firm sole. While it feels a little wide compared to my road-running shoes, it's understandable a trail shoe needs more surface area to deal with the various terrain our there in the world. The cleats on the bottom also made running through sand somewhat enjoyable.

Running through the SanTan Mountains last weekend I was able to test these out over 7 miles. I definitely felt stable throughout the entire run - both up slope and down. They weren't very heavy and they breathed nicely. I also purchased the Inov-8 Debris Gaiters as well. They worked great and I literally did not have one piece of sand in my shoes.

Thanks for reading.

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