I've been testing the Roclite 290s for about 6 weeks and decided it's time to give some feedback. Having been with inov-8 almost since I started running, I've tested most of their trail models - some awesome, some less so - but my biggest disappointment was the phasing out of the Roclite 295 (I must have gone through about 6 pairs, searching for old stock months after they were discontinued!) According to Ian Corless (you can read his comprehensive Roclite review HERE. I'm not the only Roclite fan. He wrote that at least one email following each of his shoe reviews over the years asked ‘Any news on Roclite’s from Inov-8?’

So the new Roclites were under a little pressure to deliver… Three models - a 290, 305 and 325 - were released, but being more minimalist I opted for the 290s. Their specs are a standard fit, a 4mm drop, 6mm footbed and 6mm lug depth. But how do they actually feel?

inov-8 RocLite rangeAt 290 grams the Roclites are a tad heavier than both Trail Talons (250 & 270) but still feel super-light and quite cushioned. They have a “Powerflow” midsole for shock absorption and energy return, and a “Metashank” rock plate for protection from sharp rocks. Surprisingly, these technologies are really noticeable! The Roclites seem to strike the perfect balance between ground feel and feedback to the foot, without compromising comfort or protection. They also boast a strengthened rubber toe-cap which protects both your toes and the mesh-upper of the shoes from debris damage.

The traction, in my opinion, is perfect for any South African trails. I ran down steep, dry, stony hillsides at high speed and haven’t felt so confident in my footing for ages! I also put them to the test in the Drakensberg on wet rocky, muddy and grassy descents after some rain, and again they held their own.

RocLite 205

So far I’ve done three long runs in them (longest 42km) with no issues at all. This will definitely be my go-to shoe for ultra-distances of less than 100km. Closer to the 100km mark I might consider the Roclite 305 for that little extra something.

Final comment:  if you’ve always been a Roclite fan, you’re almost sure to love these;  and if you’re looking to go more minimalist in your running, without compromising comfort, then I certainly recommend the 290s as well. They are an awesome 4mm drop model which rivals the original Roclites all the way. Good job Inov-8!

Review by inov-8 South Africa Athlete - Nicolette Griffioen



RocLite 290