Review: inov-8 ROCLITE 275 shoe (with graphene)
The inov-8 ROCLITE 275 shoe is part of a collection of shoes that are created with graphene soles. Graphene is said to be the world’s strongest material and 200 times stronger than steel. inov-8 has infused graphene into rubber outsoles, making the studs stronger, more elastic and more durable.
I tested ROCLITE 275, the lightest and fastest shoe in the ROCLITE range, on a variety of surfaces, including dry paths, mud and wet rock.
There are two more versions of the shoe, ROCLITE 290 and ROCLITE 315 GTX.
Features of inov-8 ROCLITE 275
- Graphene enhanced “G-GRIP” sole
- Flexible design
- Hard wearing mesh upper
- ADAPTERWEB upper design, which “allows the materials to adapt to your changing foot shape and natural movements”.
- Upper materials also non-water absorbing
- POWERFLOW midsole that gives “10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return than standard midsoles”.
- “Next-generation” METAPLATE for “even more underfoot protection”
- Drop: 8mm
- Footbed: 6mm
- Lug depth: 6mm
- Width “3”: Midway between narrow (B fit) and wide (2E fit)
- Weight per shoe 275g
- Unisex fit
- Male and female colours
- Price £130
- See inov-8.
What’s good about inov-8 ROCLITE 275 shoe
Top runner Jasmin Paris wore inov-8 ROCLITE 275s in her triumphant 268-mile Spine Race. She said she was impressed with how the shoe adapted to her foot and lasted the full race, coping with different terrains. She reported that the sole offered great grip, including wet rock and provided cushioning underfoot.
When testing the inov-8 Roclite 275, I was surprised by the level of cushioning. It is not super bouncy but also not hard underfoot. It’s a somewhere-in-the-middle compromise. This is the sort of shoe I would use on hard-packed trails and in the summer on dry terrain so the cushioning is welcomed.
I also liked that the cushioning did not reduce the grip and feel of being close to the trail. My foot seemed connected to the paths and trails.
The fit, apart from the too-wide forefoot (see below), was generally fine. The length of the shoe was good and the heel cup was the right shape and height for my foot and ankle. (Also see below.) The heel cup is also cushioned, as is the tongue of the shoe.
The upper fabric and design appear to be created to be longer lasting. The shoe is more structured and sturdier at the rear end than other inov-8 shoes. However, it doesn’t feel overly stiff, rather it is supportive.
There is plenty of protection where you might need it while running off-road, such as a robust rand at the toe-cap. There is further protection along the sides of the shoe and up to the laces.
The heel area is made from a stiffer and thicker fabric for protection in that area. It’s great to see this level of attention to detail with different areas of the shoe being protected according to what they might face while people run off-road.
The mesh upper also lets out water fairly easily. The water does not flow out as quickly as with other inov-8 shoes because there is a fair amount of protection around the shoe, however it didn’t seem to hinder the outflow too much either.
The shoe has great grip. The sole has larger lugs than I recall from a previous Roclite version but this is not detrimental. I like the deeper lugs and the greater grip, especially in mud.
The grip seems almost elastic in how to works. Rather like rubber suction. It doesn’t hold you back but it does feel grippy all round the sole.
Everyone asks me whether it’s worth paying for the graphene bu I think they do offer good grip and the sole definitely looks more durable than other inov-8 trail shoes. I would point out that the sole of the shoe performs better on drier rocky conditions than when wet.
Another bonus is the weight of the shoe. At 275g it is lightweight and very easy to wear, especially for a trail shoe with cushioning.
What’s not so good about inov-8 ROCLITE 275 shoe
In times past, inov-8 shoes used to fit me perfectly. These days it’s a bit hit and miss. The unisex version is too wide at the toe box for me. However, in contrast, my husband, who has the same length of foot as me, found the shoe to be a great fit in.
Then again, while I found the heel cup to be a good fit, my husband said it was too wide and low for him.
I would like to see inov-8 making a female-specific shoe. Presumably Jasmin has a wider foot than me, or perhaps because she has a shorter foot the width was not such an issue.
My UK8.5 feet are long but not wide and so I had to lace the shoe tightly and this created wrinkles and bulges in the upper fabric. This also led to the laces being far too long.
Saying all this, I do like that inov-8 has introduced a width scaling for their shoes. You can check this out on the website.
Why have male and female colours but not a different sizing? I think this is odd. The “female colour” is pale blue while the “male colour” is dark blue.
The heel-to-toe drop of 8mm is a bit too much for my style of more natural footed running. However, again, my husband disagreed with me. He really liked the drop as this is what he is used to with his other trail shoes. This goes to show how we all like different things in a running shoe.
While the grip is great and far better than many other shoes that I have tried I found the Roclite 275 was not so sure on wet rocks. This is strange because I have found that other new inov-8s with the G Grip have been excellent on wet rock but the Roclite 275 has not quite matched up. It’s good but not superb.
Conclusion: Make sure you try on this shoe before buying. It will fit some people much better than others. The Roclite 275 is a good up-grade from its previous sibling with great cushioning (for an inov-8 shoe), good upper protection and generally great grip. In my tests, it felt a little less secure on wet rock, however.