Recommend a successor to mid-2010s Inov-8 Roclites
Jun 26, 2021 at 12:48 pm #3720148
Pardon my very long intro, but … I like to give a lot of context …
I started backpacking in the mid-2000s and jumped on the Inov-8 bandwagon from the very start – largely thanks to early reading on BPL which surfaced the benefits of these sorts of shoes.
Since then, 100% of my hiking / backpacking trail miles have been on Flyrocs, then Terrocs, then Roclites. My last pair was the Roclite 295 (2015 edition), and I only recently wore these out due to very little backpacking in the last 6 years.
Come to find, over that same period of the last 5-6 years, the trail running shoe market has changed a lot! So in this post I’m soliciting advice for suitable successors.
What I’ve loved about all the previous Inov-8 models is:
- A goldilocks-level of stiffness, flexibility, protection, and support
- Excellent traction for my terrain (mostly dry, mostly on-trail, mostly TX semi-arid and the lower Rockies)
- Fantastic fit – the right amount of room in the toebox, combined with a very firm fit in the midfoot and heel
Meanwhile in the past ~5 yrs of so, it seems the biggest thing that has changed in the industry: stack heights have ballooned! Seems like the shoe companies took note of the success of brands like Hoka One One and so on. Even the main-line Altras and Topos that are popular in the hiking crowd, now have heel stacks starting in the mid-20-mms and going up to > 30mm.
I’ve tried on these current-gen shoes and just don’t like being that high off the ground. Granted, the comparison is somewhat unfair: not only were my old Roclites lower-stack to begin with (something like 20mm / 12mm) but by now the midsole is compressed and the lugs are worn down. Still, newer shoes in the range of 25mm feel too high for me.
Beyond that, I have had trouble finding that lovely anatomic fit that I used to take for granted. Lots of people around here love the Lone Peaks, but (on a short test hike with a borrowed pair) I found myself sliding all around. For my taste, the fit was mushy. Especially on steep / off-camber terrain.
So why don’t I just buy some new Roclites? From what I can tell, Inov-8 has started to change their style as well. Their shoes seem different now compared to the mid-2010s. A lot of the models that I would buy now appear to be no longer manufactured, which means my very common size (9) is out of stock almost everywhere I look. Or else, super expensive due to low supply 😕
This is why I’ve been casting around, and ordering / trying on / returning a lot of trail runners in the last month. I’m doing this with some urgency now, because next month I’ll have the unusual opportunity to (day) hike in the CO Rockies 7 days a week, and will probably also be backpacking every weekend. So I gotta solve this problem soon 😏
On the bright side, I’m taking onboard RJ’s recommendation to rotate through multiple shoes as a means of dispersing the means of repetitive strain injuries. I’ve got a pair of Altra Superiors that I like well enough to keep. I’m also considering some Xero Mesa Trails, Topo Terraventure 2s, and the Astral TR1 Merges. This is “the bright side” because it means that no one pair of shoes has to check all my boxes.
All that said, none of these new models feel quite as great, quite as just right, as my old Roclites, or indeed as good as any of the Inov-8s that I’ve owned previously.
So I’m still curious: for those who enjoyed (and now miss) the earlier models of Inov-8 trail runners …. <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>what do you wear now?</span>Jun 26, 2021 at 2:29 pm #3720169Link .BPL Member
You should check out Andrew Skurka’s blog he has low volume feet and does not care for Altras either, he tends to like La Sportiva and Salomon. You can check out his site and pour over all his reviewsJun 26, 2021 at 2:43 pm #3720170
@Link unfortunately Skurka’s going to be looking for different shoes than me due to this:
Also like the original, the Bushido II fits only narrow and low-volume feet (like mine)
The Bushido II is pretty emblematic of what I’m looking for, except that my feet are not narrow or low-volume 🙂 I’m probably on the wide side of “D” width which is a lot of why I liked the fit of Inov-8s so much.Jun 26, 2021 at 3:24 pm #3720172Link .BPL Member
I used to wear inov-8 shoes way back but my feet will not fit in them anymore and I need a lot more volume and most shoes(including inov-8) are too tight in the mid foot, so opposite of you.Jun 26, 2021 at 4:39 pm #3720181Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Like you I was an Inov-8 user (14 pairs of flyroc, many pairs of 295s). For several years I switched to even more minimalist shoes and then decided to return to something similar to the 295. Well… might feet had changed a bit. For me, the Alta Superior has been the best I have found so far. The Inov-8 TerraUltra 270G was also good (have a 12mm stack). The 270G seems a bit more comfortable that the Superior, but running metrics indicated that the Superiors were better for me… I am on my 4th pair of the 4.5 edition. I tried Xero TerraFlex in hopes of a shoe that lasted longer. They felt a bit odd, and a few weeks later I was suffering from plantar fasciitis. I believe there were contributed factors, but they are clearly not working for me. Anyone need a pair of size 10.5 TerraFlex?Jun 26, 2021 at 5:17 pm #3720183
Hearing that you’ve gotten good behavior out of the Superior 4.5s is encouraging. Those are the Altras I ended up liking enough to hang onto. And, point taken about the Xeros. I’ll plan to use those carefully and ramp slowly.Jun 28, 2021 at 3:52 am #3720293
I’m a fan of the Inov8 TerraUltra.
The V2 has ironed out the main issues with the V1. The fabric is more forgiving and the grip is seriously impressive.
They are the highest volume fit in the range by some margin.
12 mil stack height, zero drop – which is ideal for me. Good balance of protection and ground-feel, and low enough not to be tippy.
Not cheap, but seem far better built than the Altras and should outlast them handily. I MUCH prefer the TerraUltra to my old LonePeaks, which had a sloppy fit, poor grip and fell to bits well before their time.
I live near their offices, and dropped into their factory store the other day. Apparently they’ve decided to pay more attention to the walking market and there are new models on the way. No announcements yet, but they hinted they are based on the old Roclite, which is much mourned in certain circles. So you might want to keep your eyes open.Jun 28, 2021 at 12:27 pm #3720360Mole JBPL Member
I’m same as the OP.
In winter/shoulder, I’m still on the last 2 pairs of Inov8 Terroc 345 gtx. But they are too warm now. I killed my last pair of older Roclite 295s last summer.
Tried on well over a dozen types of shoes last autumn, and all didn’t have enough width or toe splay room for me.
Currently using Topo Ultraventure which have a nice wide natural splay forefoot.
But would love if Inov8 made something as good as the Terroc or Flyroc again. They were perfect for me. As were the Roclite 295s. Roclite 315 were too narrow, so lasts vary within the range…
Just looking at the Inov8 site, and I see that they are doing a gtx Flyroc again!Jun 28, 2021 at 5:12 pm #3720441wiiawiwbBPL Member
The X-Talon Ultra 260 has a surprisingly roomy forefoot. Plenty of room. It also has a cushioned ride if that is possible for a 260 gram shoe. I was quite pleased when they arrived and fitted the way they did. Nothing like their foot-fitting X-Talon 212 predecessor which I have as well.Jun 28, 2021 at 6:08 pm #3720455JeffBPL Member
I recently picked up a pair of the TerraUltras and quite like them. I never had the RocLites, so I don’t know how they compare. But the TerraUltras do seem well made, and they grip really well on rock/dry trails. They are a bit tighter than I’d like, but I wear my Xero Z-Trails 95% of the time, so I’m not sure any proper shoe would satisfy me.Jun 29, 2021 at 6:42 am #3720480
Jeff – I had to size up 1/2 size with my TerraUltras, but that’s better than the 1 or 1.5 I typically have to do with other shoes, given my spade-like feet.
I also have the non-Ultra X-Talon and had to size up a full size. Not my most comfortable shoe – mainly useful for icy conditions when it works really well with trail crampons and is surprising good for edging up icy snow. I should probably have bought the Ultra for more comfort, but it was lockdown and trying shoes was a hassle…
The rest of the Inov-8 range is simply too narrow for me. As I say, I was in their factory store recently, and they say that hard-core fell runners prefer a very tight fit. But as I posted above, they told me that they are about to release new options in a wider fit aimed at the walking market, so things might improve.Jun 29, 2021 at 8:41 am #3720483
Interesting discussion in these last few posts.
The X-Talon Ultra looks like my kind of shoe, but unfortunately it seems made for a different kind of terrain. Those taller lugs remind me of the older Mudclaw series. I think the “Talon” line is generally intended for a mix of mud and loose ground, maybe off-trail travel, and so on. Meanwhile my hiking & running is generally on-trail, and those trails are usually firm and rocky. So those tall lugs would probably be squishy or unstable, or at very best, wasted rubber.
The Terraultras are more interesting though. Generally I had stayed away from those because (as noted in the OP) these are some of the Inov-8 models that have become hard to find, or hard to find my in size-9ish range, or more to the point, hard to find for anywhere less than their lofty MSRP. I think I got spoiled in the 2010s, generally being able to find lots of last-season Inov-8 models for well less than $100 in a variety of sizes and colors. The Terraultras are $160 and that’s pretty much the end of it. Ouch.
On the other hand, it’s taken me 5 years to finally replace my Roclites, and if anything the Terraultras will last longer – at least in terms of miles, if not time. If I amortize the $160 over however many miles or years that is 🤔maybe it starts to seem more reasonable. And if I’m going to get some spendy piece of gear, maybe the footwear category is one of the most justifiable areas to splurge.
Don’t mind me, I’m just talking to myself here, and rationalizing raising my shoe budget 😏Jun 29, 2021 at 8:43 am #3720484
Well I spoke too soon – I just found some for less than MSRP. So they’re coming my way now, and maybe they’ll be the goldilocks kinda shoe that I’m after 🤞🏼Jul 19, 2021 at 4:23 pm #3722429
For those who were waiting with baited breath … the Terraultra G 270 has proven great so far. I’ve put about 30 miles of hiking on these shoes in the last ~10 days here in the Gore Range, and they’ve proven comfortable, nimble, precise enough, and super durable. Basically they’ve replicated what I loved about the old Roclites, though I had to go up a half-size compared to the old 295s.
I also brought along the Altra Superior 4.5s, and they’ve been a little lackluster by comparison. It’s certainly possible that certain trail-running shoes are less-suited to make the transition to hiking than others, and the Superiors might be an example. They’re less precise-feeling and more cushy than the Terraultras, and so far I’ve enjoyed using them more for some short trail runs than for hiking / backpacking.
Anyway, let it be known: in my subjective opinion, the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 sufficiently carries forward their old heritage of durable, flexible, sticky, low-drop, wide-forefoot, narrow-heel trail runners. I wonder if I should pick up another pair before this style of Inov-8 falls out of fashion permanently 🤔Jul 20, 2021 at 11:55 am #3722513
+1 for the TerraUltra G270. I have a couple of hundred miles on mine now, and they are still as good as new.
In addition to the obvious attractions you mention, I’m particularly enjoying the midsole. It gives you just a hint of bounce to your step, which I find rather pleasant. I believe they call this “energy return” in the trade. My LonePeak 4.5s had the opposite effect – the midsole felt a bit energy sapping, as though you were walking through bog…
Overall, the best footwear I’ve used in 50 years in the hills – without exaggeration. Naturally, saying something like that means that they’ll fall apart next time I’m out – that’s what happened last time I gave a positive review to a shoe…
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