Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shoe Review - Inov8 Roclite 320

I must admit that when Inov8 first came onto the American Ultrarunning scene I was skeptical. I was certainly intrigued by the concept of low-slung, minimalist shoes but I was doubtful about the way this type of shoe would hold up over 100 miles and how my feet would feel after 16-20 hours in this shoe.

The Roclite 320 proved my skepticism wrong. After receiving my first pair in January, 2008 I took them on runs of all types -- smooth dirt roads, rugged rocky trails, cross-country scree scrambles, even the track. Again and again the 320 was up to the task. Sporting a bit of a beefier sole than some of Inov8's whisperlite models, the 320 proved to be a great ultrarunning shoe. Admittedly, the small toe box can cause some folks problems, however, if you have narrow or average feet the 320 will fit like a slipper and hold up over hundreds of hard trail of miles.

I have now run three 100 mile races in the 320 and each one has provided proof of the 320's excellent durability and top-notch performance.

In Vermont's hot, humid conditions they were simply outstanding. Transitioning from dirt roads to muddy trails was barely noticeable and the upper was surprisingly airy on a very tough day. It is the rare shoe that can perform equally well in mud as it can in dust. The 320 is one such shoe.

Over Wasatch's rocky and mountainous technical terrain the 320 was stable, strong, and supportive. On the brutal stretch after Brighton known affectionately as "Irv's Torture Chamber" the tread was sticky and firm and by the end I finished the race without a single blister.

Then, just this past February, the 320 once again came up big at the Rocky Raccoon 100. Over substantially different terrain than Vermont and Wasatch (more roots and water and fewer rocks and mountains) the 320 made it's mark as a "runner's" shoe. This was the first 100 in which I literally ran every step and it was there for me every step of the way.

For those of you out there who might be shying away from Inov8 as a long distance shoe I urge you to give the 320 a try. It's durability, stablility and all-around utility make it the perfect ultra shoe from my perspective and I look forward to putting some serious miles on them over the next few months as I prepare for and run the Western States/Hardrock Double.

Train well!

6 comments:

WynnMan said...

i use the F-Lite 300 for just about everything.. busting out speed work to long stuff. They were fabulous the entire 100 miles of dirt road at Heartland 100. The 320's are tasty as well. 315's are also accomodating to various distances and terrain.

Yassine Diboun said...

Thanks for the review...I ordered a pair of Roclite 320's this year and absolutely love them for many of the reasons you listed. I like the fact that they have extra "padding" around the sides and more toe guards as compared to the Roclite 305's (which I love too). This really makes a difference when you bang you feet around for upwards of 20 hours! I'm looking forward to tearing up some more trails in them and good luck in your monster double race!

Anonymous said...

Weight? Size 11?

Joe Kulak

Anonymous said...

Sad news for you Andy, I wear 'em too -- now likely they will discontinue the line and strip you of your sponsership because I wear them....

It's funny here in the Midwest, our single little haunt of a running store is sooooo vanilla, they have never heard of INOV8's...for them, ordering me a pair of Brooks Cascadias was cutting edge...

BTW, Zappo's now carries the full line INOV8's!!!

-CB

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