Inov-8 is a company based in the north of England, probably best known for their fell running shoes. Fell running is mountainous trail running, and is apparently a term that originated in England. Inov-8’s presence in the north here is, no doubt, in part to the excellent terrain that exists for exactly this sort of thing (see the Lake District). Anyway – cool sport, cool company.
I recently picked up a pair of their Flyrocs, which is Inov-8’s take on a high performance lightweight trail and adventure racing shoe. Out of the box they seemed a pretty burly piece of work, rugged enough to take some abuse but certainly lighter than a boot. Given the number of times I end up in situations where I want something in between a running shoe (or even a trail running shoe) and a full on steel shank boot, these looked to fill a nice niche. Furthermore, considering the amount of mud and moisture around these parts, I was also attracted to the Gore-Tex liner they flaunted.
After a few forays into the hills, the initial assessment on these zapatos is a good one. Very good, actually. The shoes feel and wear much like they look – solid. This is not a shoe that has a lot of cushioning or that is unnoticeable on the foot when one slips it on, instead when one stands or lands on the sole the feeling is firm and protected. Control is excellent and the upper wraps up nicely around one’s foot despite a somewhat stiff initial feel. The outsole is a great multi-terrain performer with good stick, and the Gore-Tex does a nice job when it comes to keeping one’s feet dry through the puddles or fields of soaking grass (it almost becomes a downright pleasure to trudge through the mud, provided the depth is reasonable)!
One caveat: I’ve yet to put these kicks through their paces in terms of running. Inov-8’s lineup would seem to indicate that they didn’t design these as a dedicated running shoe, but the adventure racing moniker certainly would infer that they are up for some speedwork. Check back soon for an update on that front. In the meantime, these mean machines get a whooping nine taco rating. Nice one Inov-8!
Rating: Nine (9) Tacos
Pleasures: Nice blend of sturdy yet light, aggressive and responsive tread, company with a regional identity and an emphasis on fell running/adventure racing.
Pains: Frequent change of product line, initial stiffness of shoe.
NOTE: These shoes were used, and appear briefly, in the Living Exposed short entitled Shoot the Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, as seen above at 00:57.