Wednesday, 10 April 2013

New Shoes : Trailroc 255

Yesterday my new shoes, Trailroc 255's arrived in the post, like an excited puppy I took them to for a spin up Ben Ledi. 6 miles and 2500 of ascent and descent later I'm one happy customer - I believe I found my shoe for Highland Fling. In this post I'll try and provide a quick review for those curious about the shoe.

The weather was stunning, but a bit a too windy right at the summit to take photo's so I head off the summit along ridge towards the north. Ben More and Ben Lawes stand out clearly on the horizon, visibility on Tuesday was stunning.

Just before heading down into Stank Glen the view I turned back towards the summit to take a quick photo.

I picked the Trailroc 255's as extra protection around the sides of the shoe compared to the lighter 235 and 245's is really needed when handling running in snow, ice and tough heather out on the open hill.  Taking my old trusty Trailroc 245's in similar conditions just wrecked the upper.

In combination with Inov-8 debri gaters the Trailroc 255's handled the crusty snow and ice really well - plenty of grip and protection.

I went for a half size larger than my old Trailroc 245's as I plan to use them for hill walking and running, and when walking will wearing thicker socks. The extra half size up should help when running ultra's when the feet start to swell  The downside of moving up a half size is on the more technical parts of the run my feet where shifting a little both laterally and my toes slide to the end of the toe box during really steep descents.  Normally I really dislike my toes touching the ends of shoes but the toe box shaped felt great, just lightly pushing against the front of my toes, with no pressure on my toe nails.

The extra heel drop of 6mm and extra width made for a less stable feeling compared to my Trailroc 245's with 3mm drop - which I feel complete glued to the ground.  The feel is half way between my Roclite 295's and the Trailroc 245's. The 245's are more fun to run in, they bring out the playful side to running, while my 295's have been relegated to a walking shoe.  The 255's will now replace my Roclite 295's as a walking shoe, but also been the workhorse I fall back on for long runs through tough terrain that would otherwise tear up the upper of the 245's.

The extra protected down the sides of the Trailroc 255's work very well for protecting the foot and the upper material from scraps and knocks, it looks to me like it'll really help with the life of the shoe.  I wouldn't be surprised if it helps the upper outlast my old Roclite 315's, and would consider the Trailroc 255's as a worthy replacement for the Roclite 295's and 315's - the shoes have a better last so are more comfortable, they have lower heel drop and keep your lower to the ground, the upper is more robust and they are a couple of ounces lighter as well.  What not to love :-)

There is a downside to extra side and toe protection - for small puddles the side walls helps prevent water getting in, but once you step in puddle/bog that takes the water over the side walls the water gets in largely stays in place. All the drainage routes for any water that makes it in are blocked, the only route out for any water that gets in is being squished out the top of the upper and evaporation.  In practice it means that your foot is going to damp for longer.  By contrast the lighter weight upper of the Trailroc 245's let in water easily but the bulk of it gets squished out within a few strides.

  • Lightweight for such a well protected shoe (~230g for my size 7's).
  • Upper is much more robust than most trail shoes on the market.
  • Excellent grip, handles road, trail, snow and open hill.
  • Good underfoot protection from roots and stones but still provides reasonable ground feel.
  • Anatomical last that accommodates even my wide hobbit feet.
  • Modest 6mm heel drop that does interfere too much with stride - you can forefoot/midfoot strike or heel strike comfortable.
  • Great replacement for Roclite 295 and 315, lighter and more comfortable!
  • As a mid-foot striker, I still would prefer the shoe to be zero drop, the more cushioned heel is a waste of weight and stability for a runner like me.
  • The extra protection on the side walls makes the shoes poor at draining any water that gets in
  • The extra protection also makes the shoes less airing than the lighter weight uppers of Trailroc 235's and 345.  This is good for a cold day, but might make then less comfortable on hot days - if we ever get any any!
The cons are really not that big of an issue, and all down to the compromises made for protection and robustness.  I really like the shoe and am eager to get out in them on the trails, and as long as my currently injury niggles subside in time will be my shoes that take me over the 53 miles of the Highland Fling.

My heart still belongs to the Trailroc 245's though, it just a little more nimble and fun to play in, while the Trailroc 255's are a rock solid and dependable.  Both are awesome shoes in their own right, and will fulfill different but overlapping roles for me. The 245's for general training and racing while the 255's will be my go to shoe when the conditions and routes get really tough and when I go out hill walking.


  1. Would those shoes be suitable for mixed road/off-road races?

  2. I've raced in my Trailroc 245's on road and trails and they worked well in both instances and would expect the 255's to cope just fine on road as well. The Trailroc series is a trail shoe that copes really well on the road - as long as you don't expect a marshmallow experience on a traditional road shoe, as someone who really dislikes overly soft soles on trail or road it fits in my sweet spot for level of cushioning.

    I would say though, the 255's doesn't feel like a racing shoe, although the weight is only a little more than the 245's the lower ventilation and water shedding abilities due to the extra protection makes them less a natural choice for racing on or off road. I've done plenty of racing in my Roclite 295's and got on just fine so this perception may well be coloured by running so many miles in the more minimal Trailroc 245, Bare-X 180's and Vivoboarefoot Neo Trails over the last year. The 255's a really about as much weight and protection as I want or am prepared to have from a shoe these days.

    So for a mix of road/trail racing I'd suggest the Trailroc 245's unless you need the shoes to handle really tough terrain. If you want zero drop and even more flexibility in the sole then the natural choice would be the Trailroc 235's. Which ever one you go far my guess is most runners would be pretty happy with them they are great all rounders.

  3. Thanks for the review, Joel. My favorite current mid-distance (15-20 miles) trainer is the TrailRoc 255. I'm looking for something with a bit more under foot for longer runs (currently running in Montrail Masochists for longer runs, but they have far too much underfoot for my liking), so I was considering the Roclite 295. Based on Inov-8's description of the Roclite 295, it is both heavier and more suitable for the long runs than the TrailRoc 255. But based on the stack height of both (295s heel/toe, respectively: 21mm/12mm (old); 17mm/10mm (new); 255s: 22mm/16mm), there is actually more underfoot in the 255s. Maybe I should just stop being a sissy and push into the long miles with the 255s...but in case I decide to continue being a sissy, do you think I would be in error to look for a more supportive shoe in the 295s, as someone who has warn them both?

    1. I haven't yet run longer than 14 miles in my Trailroc 255's, but this is due to injury rather than any issue with the shoe. Prior to injury my plan was originally to run the Highland Fling 53 mile Ultra in the either the Trailroc 245 and 255 so consider both up to the task. Last year I ran the Fling in my Roclite 295's and while my forefoot was a little tender after lots of miles on stony trails they were fine - certainly no worse off than one should expect after running for over 10 hours! So... both I'd happily run an ultra marathon in without hesitation.

      I feel the forefoot on Roclite 295'to be more flexible, but as the EVA midsole breakdown I expect the 255's to become more flexible, something more to my liking, of the two shoes I'd say that 255 is probably more protection from roots and stones. There really isn't a huge amount in it though. For me the big factor is fit, the Trailroc's provider a wider foorefoot giving the rooms to splay and crucially swell as the miles pile on. This alone for me makes the Trailroc more suitable for really long outings, the weight difference should help as well.

      If the conditions are hot then the Trailroc 245 will win out as it's breaths really well and stays cool even on hot days while the 255's extra protection around the sides definitely stones the breeze blowing freely through them.

      As for a more "supportive" shoe, I'd fine it hard to qualify as the most supportive shoe is no shoe from a stability point of view, if you mean more protective or more cushioned then there are bigger, heavier shoes on the market but these days I'm left those shoes well behind and much prefer less shoe to me so can't comment on them. If you want a little more cushioning in the 255's you could add in an extra insole or swap out the 3mm insole for a 6mm one, this will reduce the amount of volume available but unless you have a high volume shoe I don't expect it'll be an issue.

  4. According to runningwarehouse the stack height of the Roclite 295 is 17mm heel-10mm forefoot and for the Trailroc 255 22mm heel-16mm forefoot. Do you feel that the 295 is lower to the ground compared to the 255?

    1. The Trailroc 255 feels flatter and lower to the ground to me, but then I have the old Roclite 295's, I think they changed the stack heights last year.

      The Roclite's do have a more flexible sole than the Trailroc's and I lugs are deeper so are slightly better in really muddy conditions. The Roclite's last doesn't work well for me though as my mid foot is rather wide, and at least the old Roclite's the heel was too high for my preference. These days I train mostly in F-Lite 232's which are zero drop so I can't imagine going back to Roclite's unless they change the last and heel drop.

      If you don't mind the last and heel drop then the Roclite 295 and Trailroc 255 are probably well matched, it may well be what you've worn before and your general shoe preferences that will push you in one direction or other with these two shoes.