In comparison to the Trailroc 285, the 290 design is more aggressive. If the 285 has a bit more versatility in terms of trail surfaces, the 290 is much more rugged and better suited for softer surfaces. It is not to say that one or the other is better, and Inov-8 knows this. It is why it offers such distinct running shoes at such similar weights. In the end, the Inov-8 Roclite 290 running shoes are recommended for the snug fit and overall aggressiveness.
Made with the unique Tri-C rubber compound, the shoes are among the most interesting solutions for traction off the beaten path. It is yet unclear if the design of the lugs is superior to the classic chevron-inspired alternative. However, what is known is that the lugs can offer superior traction on the trail which is all that matters in the end. It is also known that the lugs are great at getting rid of mud and debris which means the shoes will not need to bear extra weight even when running on wet surfaces.
Made with the Powerflow foam technology, the shoes offer a cushioned midsole. They are recommended among the impressive solutions when it comes to improved comfort which can never be overlooked with trail running. Furthermore, it is also recommended to see the 4mm drop as best for all types of running styles off the track. It is believed that the midsole is at least 10% better than the average alternative and the slightly bouncy response can attest this is the case indeed.
When it comes to modern features, the upper is among the most interesting areas of the shoes. It comes with a distinct design which makes an immediate impact. But apart from great aesthetics, the upper is functional as well.
Made with unique and strong lacing, the upper is recommended for a close fit. With a protective rubber insertion on the toebox, it is also up to date when it comes to feet protection. Furthermore, the shoes are also superior in terms of freedom of movement due to the upper’s design. With a low collar design, the running shoes allow plenty of freedom from this perspective.
However, the upper is also where the biggest drawback of the shoes is found. Since the materials are so closely woven, there is not much room for breathability. Of course, during the colder months of the year, this may not be a big issue. But during the hot summer months, the lack of proper breathability definitely impacts the comfort of the runner and in the end, the overall running performance as a result.
Size And Fit
The shoes are tight and this can be seen on the design of the upper. The first group of runners to suffer is those with narrow feet. But even some runners with normal feet can feel the shoes are just a bit too tight. For this reason, it is highly recommended to go half a size up in order to maintain some level of comfort which diverts the attention from the shoes to the act of running itself. So the question to ask is not whether the progressive design is the path to take for runners but rather if this design is not too much for those who want a bit more room inside the shoe.