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inov-8 - Roclite 295

posted Apr 26, 2015, 4:25 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Apr 26, 2015, 4:59 AM ]

We tested the inov-8 Roclite 295, probably the most popular trail running shoe produced by the British brand. They have now become a real classic. We tested the 2014 model, but in the meantime the new, slightly revised 2015 model is already available in stores.

Technical Description

The Roclite™ 295 is a high mileage off-road running shoe, that now (since the 2015 model) has a new, greatly improved fit. Its durability and deep cleats make it perfect for long training runs and adventure
races, when the kilometers are big and the terrain unpredictable. The new 2015 model features inov-8's on-the-shoe gaiter pockets, so the inov-8 race ultra™ gaiter can be attached and all debris kept at bay. A new, wider rubberized toe bumper delivers added protection.

META-FLEX: a groove in the forefoot of the outsole that provides a natural flex point in the shoe, allowing the forefoot to flex naturally.
FASCIA BAND: technology that replicates the anatomical position and function of the plantar fascia ligament.
META-SHANK: Multi finger polymer that aligns with each individual metatarsal for increased underfoot impact protection and flexibility.
Upper: nylon and plastic.
Type of fit: "Standard Fit" - a wider toe box allows the toes to splay when running naturally
Insole thickness: 6 mm
Drop: 6 mm

Weight: 295 g per shoe (UK size 8)

Our Test

We tested the Roclite 295 exclusively for running: we ran more than 600 km in 4 months across winter and spring. We ran for about 70% of the time on soft and loose terrains (mud, grass, sand, gravel) and the remaining 30% on more compact ones (asphalt or solid rock). We used them mainly in wet conditions (rain and light snow) and temperatures between 0 and 10 ºC.

First Impressions
The first impressions are lightness and stability: the Roclite 295 immediately feel very light and stable. On the model we tried (2014 model) the sole is relatively wide. When you run on loose rocks you feel well protected thanks to the large toe- and heel-bumpers. 
Thanks to the numerous, solid, and well designed cleats, even on the most difficult terrains (like snow, slippery and wet rocks) the sole always has a good grip. Forefoot-strike running is facilitated especially downhill, but on rocky trails and mountain terrains the thin and soft sole can cause some problems to those who have more sensitive feet.
NOTE: keep in mind that, as all shoes with reduced drop, you need time to get used to the different running style and they should be
approached gradually if you are not used to the 
"natural running". With a drop of 6 mm, the Roclite are still a good compromise between more minimalistic 0-drop shoes and the more cushioned high-drop (>9mm) shoes.

It is not the most minimalistic inov-8 model, but with less than 300 g per shoe, the Roclite 295 still offers a good level of protection. If we must really find something in excess on the Roclite that is perhaps only the length of the laces!

The grip of the sole is excellent on mixed, wet terrains, both up and downhill. On dry and dusty terrains the grip is less good, especially uphill. Overall, the grip of the Roclite can be considered very good, better than that of many competitors. During turns we noticed its biggest flaw: the upper tends to slide sideways and, consequently, the foot loses stability. For this reason, initially you tend to press with your toes on the footbed to keep the foot more stable. The increased work done by the tendons of the plantar arch actually has the positive effect of strengthening the tendons themselves. After about 100-150
km you start to "adapt" to the slipping. The strengthening of the muscles and tendons of the foot, obviously helps a lot in the transition to 
lower-drop shoes. On the new 2015 model, which has a narrower sole and a tighter fit of the upper, the slipping of the forefoot has been eliminated.

The Roclite 295 are very comfortable shoes. So comfortable that you barely notice them on your feet. The 2014 model we tested fit better on wider feet (notice that the new 2015 model has a redesigned fit, with significantly reduced footbed width). On uneven terrain, such as rocky mountain trails or on loose rocks and stones, the soft and relatively thin sole can cause some problems to those who have more sensitive feet.

Protection from the Elements
The Roclite 295 protects sufficiently from light rain and from splashes of mud and water, but it has a highly breathable upper, therefore it is better suited to dry, good weather. The upper offers little protection from cold, so it is a shoe more suited to intermediate seasons or moderate temperatures. During more intense showers the upper
tends to get wet inside, although not excessively so. Thanks to the excellent breathability, however, the foot does not remain wet for a long time. Mud and debris do not penetrate easily and they have never caused problems to us.

We hardly ever noticed sweaty feet... but we did get wet, though. Generally, water resistance is inversely proportional to breathability and Roclite 295 are highly breathable shoes. This means that they prefer good weather and medium/high temperatures. The remarkable drying speed, however, never leaves the foot wet for a long time, except during the most intense rain showers.

Flexibility and Responsiveness
It is certainly not a "nervous" shoe. The response of the sole in the boost phase is delicate and gradual, which makes it suitable for different running styles. Probably not the best shoe for those who lack precise footwork and safe hold on uneven terrains, but in most circumstances it is relatively easy to control.

Despite its thinness the soles of the Roclite 295 provides a reasonable level of cushioning, thanks to the soft and flexible 5.5 mm cleats. The heel absorbs the impacts very well, therefore downhill you can still opt for a mild heel-strike running.

The torsion resistance is mild and the upper side tends to slip in extreme situations, such as a fast downhill bend or on irregular 

ground. Lateral support is only provided by a more rigid material applied on the upper, but there are no stiff plastic structures, thus the shoe tends to flex sideways. On tight downhill bends you are forced to reduce your speed (on the new 2015 model the tighter fit on the forefoot eliminated the side slipping). However, it should be noted that, if you are not used to "natural running", with time and practice the feeling of stability may improve progressively, thanks to the strengthening of muscles and tendons of the foot and ankle.

Their strength lie in their extreme versatility and their ability to adapt to different kinds of terrain. They do not excel on any particular type of surface, but they are suitable for a wide variety of terrains, conditions, and running styles. They can be used almost all year round, but they prefer mild temperatures and dry, or low-humidity conditions in spring, summer, and autumn. The best performances with the Roclite 295 are probably reached on dry or slightly wet terrains. They are also excellent on the asphalt, but it is a real pity to wear out the aggressive soft cleats of the sole!

After the first 100 km the shoe softens considerably, but after that it keeps its characteristics almost unchangedAt the end of our test, after more than 600 km, the Roclite 295 show no signs of excessive wear or breakage. The excellent quality of materials of the upper, especially around all the most critical parts, has certainly contributed to increase the life of the shoe.

Our Verdict

In our opinion the Roclite 295 are trail running shoes well suited for those who approach natural running or low-drop shoes for the first time. Thanks to their intermediate drop and their versatility the Roclite 295 are shoes intended for a wide audience. Their strengths are definitely their versatility and quality of materials, the latter fundamental to extend their average life well beyond 500 km. In conclusion, if you are looking for high-quality shoes with good performances on various terrains that may accompany you in the largest possible number of adventures, then the Roclitte 295 are perfect for you!

+ Great Versatility
+ Good comfort
+ High-quality materials and great durability

- Poor stability due to wide footbed (problem solved on the new model 2015)
- They do not like rain

 Lightness   8/10
 Grip   7/10
 Comfort   8/10
 Flexibility & Responsiveness   6/10
 Cushioning   7/10
 Protection   6/10
 Breathability   8/10
 Stability   5/10
 Versatility   9/10
 Durability   8/10
 Total Score  7.2/10