Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Inov-8 Trailroc 245 : Design Fault -> Blister

After yesterday's initial run in my new Inov-8 Trailroc 245's I ended up with a bloodied blister at the top of fourth toe on my left foot.

Originally I had thought it was a simple case of the upper folding a bit too harshly and rubbing on the top of my foot.

However, the upper is really soft and smooth on the inside so this didn't quite seem a good fit for the cause so in the evening I had a good feel on the inside of the shoe for any seems or possible friction points.  The culprit as a thin sheet of hard plastic used to reinforce the area of the upper where the laces go through the lace holes.  These bits of plastic covered by a black material which in theory should protect the foot from coming into contact with the plastic.

I removed the laced, pushed the tongue back and bent the upper back to show the reinforcement with the black material that covers the hard plastic plastic. Both the hard plastic and material cover are stitched to the upper along one seam at the top next to the opening. 

Zooming into the problem corner of the back material you can see a small red patch... It's my blood!

The plastic and black material are glued together but the two of them are not glued to the upper so can be bent back.  Bending them back reveals the white plastic and culprit of my blister.

Except it's not just one blister, while only me left foot ended up bloodied, it turns out that my right foot has a blister in exactly the same place (top of the 4th toe) that hadn't burst and hadn't bothered me too much during the run.

Clearly this is a design or manufacturing fault with the shoe, personally it think it's more likely a design fault that for some perplexing reason didn't get spotted/corrected during development.

This issue leaves me with an interesting problem - I love the light weight, good balance of ground feel and protection, the sensible foot shaped last, low heel drop, the grip, the vast majority of the upper is just excellent, but... this blister problem while not a deal breaker yet isn't a good one to deal with on an expensive new shoe.

I'm not one adverse to shoe surgery, my super wide feet normally require some form of modification of shoes to accommodate them, so two solutions might be to:
  1. Trim the plastic area back so that it's not over my metatarsal heads and where my feet bend the most.  Any trimming would have to make sure that plastic remains nicely curved with no new corners.
  2. Glue the plastic and black material cover directly to the upper to avoid any chance that the black material would ride up over the plastic.
Some feedback from Inov-8 would be useful as well, they screwed up on what might seem to be a small detail, but it's problem that others are going to come across, they need to fix it - you just can't require minimalist runners to go with socks just to compensate with flaws in the design of the shoe.


  1. Ouch! I'd go for option 2 (actually, I'd go for new shoes to be honest)

  2. Hi Thomas,

    I've already tried out option 1, trimming off 4mm off the corner of the plastic and this helps make it more comfortable at toe off. Yesterday evening I did a 10k tempo run with the modification and wearing socks and didn't have any discomfort from the problem area. The quick run still rubbed off the blister scab that had formed, but I think this might have happened with any shoe when doing 6:30 pace.

    The socks probably helped too so for now I can't say for sure whether I'd still have problems when going without socks, I will wait till the blisters have properly healed before I attempt another sockless run in them.

    As for going for new shoes instead of shoe surgery, as I think it's design fault rather than a manufacturing error I'm guessing replacement pair of Trailroc's won't fix the issue. There also isn't really another shoe quite like the Trailroc - it hits the sweet spot of features that I want from an all round shoe. I have to admit to being rather a tinkerer, is something is broke it's in my blood to roll my sleeves up and try to understand the problem and fix it.

  3. Ran into the same problem with the Trailroc 255s. Had to do some cutting of the plastic in order to alleviate the problem. Curious how this got by the folks at Inov8.

  4. option 3 -- return it. these shoes cost too much to have the customer complete their proper construction, I'm thinking.

  5. A small update, I've trimmed a couple of mm off the offending plastic insert and this stops the problem with the upper. Since this tweak I've ran sockless in the Trailroc's four times, total distance 25 miles and haven't had any problems with them digging in and causing blisters so it solves the problem and doesn't seem to introduce any news ones.

    I am planning another blog entry about how I'm getting on with the Trailroc's as I've now put in nearly 150 miles in them. It will have to wait till after my marathon though as I have plenty of other stuff to blog about in prep and keeping up with life in general.