A young company based in the UK, Inov-8’s motto is that the foot should control the shoe; the shoe should not control the foot. Their shoes are light, low profile, conform to the foot, yet have rugged outsoles and more torsional and longitudinal rigidity than you might expect. Inov-8 is introducing a slew of new models this spring and winter, including several that will be of interest to lightweight backpackers.
This dispatch covers the lightest of these shoes, the roclite 285s, that will only be suitable for those who prefer the most minimal footwear. The roclites weigh 285 grams (10 oz) in men’s size 9. They are built on a “Performance Last” that has a precise – read close – fit. The shoe is designed for trail and adventure racing with a low profile midsole and sticky rubber outsole.
The roclite 285 also includes inov-8’s new patented technology, Meta-shank. Many of the new inov-8 shoes include this technology, which they believe could help prevent plantar fasciitis. The five bands of the Meta-shank run beneath the foot’s fascia and are believed to help prevent the fascia from over stretching – something that is more likely to happen on long, hard uphill climbs. The Meta-shank also adds torsional rigidity to the shoe without adding extra longitudinal stiffness.
The “Holy Grail” of shoe manufacturers it to design a shoe that harnesses the Windlass effect in the foot’s plantar fascia ligament structure to increase the propulsive efficiency of their shoe. Inov-8 claims that they have found the Grail. The Windlass effect refers to the increase in tension on the plantar fascia as the foot moves fully through heel lift (and toe extension). The “Grail” is to convert the energy of foot flex into forward motion.
The fascia-band technology and its merits makes logical sense. The roclite 285s have very nice torsional rigidity for such a light shoe, and feel good on the foot. These shoes will be too minimal for many, but deserve some field testing to see how the technology works in the field and if they provide enough support and foot protection for lightweight backpacking. Backpacking Light staff will be putting them, and other new inov-8 shoes, to the test. Stay tuned for our review.
Features and Specifications
- Weight: Men’s size US 9 (UK 8), 285 grams (10 oz)
- Sizes US Men: 5-13 (including half sizes), 14
- Sizes US Women: 6.5-11 (including half sizes)
- Purpose: Trail and adventure racing
- Features: Fascia-band, low profile midsole, sticky rubber outsole, performance last.
- Available: March 2006
- MSRP: $90
Photo of the sole of another Inov-8 shoe showing the Fascia-band technology.