Here on the Outdoor 100 Team, we’re not so shallow that we’re going to judge a trainer entirely on its slick shape and eye-catching colour scheme. Even if that trainer’s slick shape and eye-catching colour scheme happens to be right up our street, as is the case with the Inov-8 Trailroc 285.

So, apart from its good looks, what makes the Inov-8 Trailroc 285 one of our favourite new trail running shoes then? Well, first and foremost, let’s talk about the product’s seriously impressive grip. The outsole on the Trailroc 285 is filled with small studs that can cut through terrain debris and provide you with reassuringly firm traction underfoot. What’s more, these studs have been arranged in such a way that they won’t get clogged up with debris. They also help to dispel downward pressure when a runner’s foot lands on the trail; a feature you’re bound to appreciate if you enjoy long running sessions or are prone to those niggling injuries associated with the life of a trail runner.

“...the super-robust External Toe Cap will punch away rocks and debris like a prized heavyweight fighter"

While we’re still on the subject of the Trailroc 285’s grip, it’s worth making a song and dance about the ‘Tri-C Sticky Rubber’ evident in the sole’s construction. By using three sticky rubber compounds here, Inov-8 have increased the shoe’s grip and durability no end. The hardest, most able to take a beating, rubber is on the heel. The softest rubber runs down the sole’s centre for increased traction, while the medium rubber is situated on the edges - delivering confidence-injecting grip and security every step of the way. You’ll notice it almost immediately, especially if challenging terrain is your preferred playground.

The brand new Powerflow+ midsole delivers 10 per cent better shock absorption and 25 per cent better energy return than standard midsoles, according to Inov-8. For dedicated trail runners, who love putting in the hours, these percentage differences will go down a treat.

Straight from the offset the Inov-8 Trailroc is one of the best looking trail running shoes on the market. Photo: Chris Johnson.
The External Toe Cap punches away rocks and debris. Photo: Chris Johnson.
The Dynamic Fascia Band rock band plate flexes with your foot’s natural running gait. Photo: Chris Johnson.
The outsole on the Trailroc 285 is filled with small studs that can cut through terrain debris. Photo: Chris Johnson.

Another standout feature on the Trailroc 285 is the External Heel Counter which wraps around the rear of the shoe, and provides support to your heel in what can best be described as a sort of hug-like embrace. This hold aids stability, and will help you maintain a good running gait when you’re starting to tire.

Finally, a big shout-out to this shoe’s protective qualities. The Dynamic Fascia Band rock band plate, for example, shields the wearer from sharp terrain. Rather ingeniously, this band also flexes with your foot’s natural running gait, delivering an extra bit of kick to every stride. The super-robust External Toe Cap, meanwhile, will punch away rocks and debris like a prized heavyweight fighter; giving you extra protection from trips and toe-stubbings.

Inov-8 Trailroc 285 Trail Running Shoe