Tuesday, July 12, 2011

INOV-8 Terroc 330 Trail Runner- Gear test & review

My Terroc 330’s are my forth pair of trail running shoes from INOV-8.

I bought my first pair of INOV-8 Terroc’s around 2008, and I currently own a well worn pair of INOV-8 Roclite 295’s as well as a pair of Flyroc 345 GTX “Gortex” trail runners.

Top: Flyroc 345 GTX in royal blue and gray Middle: Terroc 330's in "indigo & gray" Bottom: Roclite 295 in black with green accents

INOV-8 is a British Company that specializes in Off-Road specific shoes, but they are currently in the process of introducing new road models to their line up as well.

The company's shoes have also become a favorite of athletes involved with the “CrossFit” training system/discipline.

INOV-8 was making low volume, low profile shoes long before the current “barefoot” or minimalist running movement had become popular in the US.
My personal view or opinion without weighing in on the “barefoot” debate (for which I lack proper knowledge) is that INOV-8 shoes have been my personal favorite since my original pair in 2008.

Why? Because they are incredibly comfortable, breathable, light, and fit my feet better than any other trail running platform I have owned.

INOV-8 shoes, like any other “minimalist” shoe design do not have significant or pronounced cushioning, or a distinctly raised heal, that’s the nature of these types of shoes, so if you prefer a heavily cushioned shoe look elsewhere.

It’s also the exact reason that I prefer the INOV-8 shoes over other models.

With INOV-8 shoes I can feel my foot strike, and the connection to the trail beneath me, which gives me a more grounded and centered feeling during trail running or cross training which equates to more confidence.

That being said, The Terroc 330 is an ultra light weight breathable trail runner.

INOV-8 designates their shoe models by their weight in grams for a UK size 8.

So the Terroc “330” weighs 330 grams.

One of my favorite aspects of these shoes is their light weight and breathability for the 90 degree+ heat of Virginia summers. I run very hot and need as much venting and breathability as possible.

The Terroc’s are extremely breathable, I can’t stress this enough.

As I mentioned before, the cushioning on the Terroc 330 is minimal but dispensed properly throughout the sole giving (in my opinion) the perfect amount of protection to “trail feel” ratio.

The shoes may lack a degree of lateral stability for some folks because of their minimalist design, but I welcome this movement as the shoe allows for my natural foot flex and muscle movement as it responds to the changing terrain.

INOV-8 touts what they call their ‘Meta-Flex” groove as providing a natural flex for the forefoot.

Note the INOV-8 "Meta-Flex" groove

I am convinced that this one attribute of the INOV-8 brand shoe is much more than clever marketing and that you can most certainly feel your foot flex at the stress point which feels completely natural and promotes a confident foot strike and “toe-off”.

The outer sole of the Terroc 330 is quite aggressive with large individual lugs, and while I have run on gravel roads near home, the shoe is much better suited to the trail and uneven natural features for which it is designed than as a road runner. (Small gravel bits will stick between the lugs)

As a side note, the outer soles on the Terroc 330’s are sturdy but sticky, with a robust toe rand that wraps around the toe box. The soles are NOT no-marking however, which means that they will leave a black streak on your hard wood floors.

I have put approximately 40 miles on my new Terroc 330’s without any measurable wear on the outer sole or visual compaction of the soles.

My old Terroc’s probably went for 300 or so miles before being retired (and I was roughly 25 pounds heavier than my current weight of 181 pounds at the time).

I have never experienced a serious material defect, or what I would classify as a poorly designed part of my Terroc 330’s, and they last as long or longer than one would expect from such a light weight trail runner.

My one gig against my Terroc’s or any of my INOV-8 shoes is that the adhesive they are using to glue the INOV-8 decal to the shoe is failing early on in the shoe’s life.

The Terroc’s profile is decidedly low even for a trail runner, and the shoe exhibits a no-nonsense appeal in a time when shoes of all makes are becoming exceedingly flashy.

The Terroc's have limited but adequate reflectors for a trail runner sewn into the shoe at key points in the toe and heel.  
Heel view/ Note modest reflectors on either side

From an aesthetic point of view the Terroc 330’s look well balanced with running or hiking shorts while at the same time would fit nicely with a pair of jeans or khakis.

Bottom line:

The Terroc 330’s are excellent trail runners that will drain water, are highly breathable, quite robust for their weight, and are the most comfortable shoes I have used in moderate to hot temperatures on varied terrain from sand to compacted red clay and loose rocks, to exposed roots and loam.

They would work well for fast-packing or day hikes under light loads, but I would recommend something more substantial with a higher profile for multi-day outings with heavier pack weights.