Inov8 Roc-Lite 243
The Inov8 Roclite 243 is definately my favourite racing shoe in my shoe cupboard. I am now onto generation number 3 of the 285 and 243 versions, having originally ordered them by accident! I was dead set on getting the fastest shoe I could get for some sprint orienteering, the red shoes (X-Talon 190) everyone else had… turns out I didn’t quite do my research right and got a slightly firmer, slightly heavier shoe instead. None the less, I used them for the Sprint Qualification at World Champs 2011 in France and although I didn’t get through to the final I don’t think I could blame the shoes as a result! On returning to New Zealand after a hot European summer of orienteering I took to the trails back home in Christchurch.
The Inov8 website they suggest that they are designed for trails so I took that as license to try them on some single track “routes” around the mountains. They were great in the wet and in the dry, and especially across the mountain scree and river gravels. I took them through Goat Pass on a training mission for Avalanche Peak and was instantly impressed how versatile they were. I found they were the perfect combination of light and narrow enough to have confidence in foot placement across rough ground, a key attribute for running fast off road.
The midsole is a little on the light side but still sturdy enough that I got away with only some minor bruising to my feet after crossing the finish line at the Avalanche Peak Challenge! From this point onwards they have become my race shoe of choice. I have used them in several big races such as the NZ Mountain Running Champs (Clay Firetrails around Wainoumata), Loop the lake (Tree routes and lake gravels), World Mountain Running Champs (Italian Marble Quarry) and the Hanmer Half Marathon (Gravel forestry roads) .
Comfort wise they seem pretty good for a 2-3 hour run on the hills, where its not too muddy and not too hard under foot. I have had minimal blisters from them, due to the snug fit which restricts your foot moving too much around in them, such as when running along the side of a hill for example. There is not a lot of foot support as they are essentially a racing shoe but I have pushed the boundaries in them and tried them out for upwards of 24hours and ended up with quite sore feet afterwards.
I have given these shoes a pretty good hammering, here is some of my stats:
|Inov8 Roclite 243 2014||486.4||90:24:52||36|
|Inov8 Roclite 243 2013||354.4||54:22:37||23|
|Inov8 Roclite 285 2012||629.5||103:32:16||44|
|Inov8 Roclite 285 2011||759.9||92:44:18||68|
As you would expect the sole were the first part of the shoe to show signs of wear. A reduction in grip resulted and the sole collapsed a bit reducing foot control on the landing. Repeated use in this state affected running technique a bit and it was soon time to get some new shoes!
The upper part in the seemed to bust out at the inner edge of the shoe under the arch of both feet.
The angle at which the toe protection met the upper created a wear point and this is where both of these versions started to fail. The same went for the first generation of 243’s but so far so good on the latest version!
Definitely the best shoes for racing in the Mountains for 2-4hours. They can handle a variety of terrain, are sleek and grippy, but also durable enough to run on gravel or even seal for a bit. What they make up for in speed they lack in support and I would probably opt for something with a bit more support for long duration stuff (3+hours). Durability wise the 2014 version seems to be pretty good so far, the 2013 243’s were the least durable from my extensive testing.
- Light weight: 243 g hardly feels like you are wearing shoes!
- Narrow/Tight fitting: This allows for good foot control in uneven terrain
- Good grip: Can confidently jump onto a wet Greywacke rock in the Deception Valley and know you are not going to slip. (Note: it takes a couple of runs to get rid of the “gloss” of the new rubber on the soles)
- Light soles: Can “feel” the ground under your feet
- Light soles: I am always getting bruised feet from running across sharp rocks… and there is not much support for long duration running. They take some getting used to if you are unfamiliar with low profile shoes.
- Slippery insoles: the latest incarnation of the shoe (2014 ) seems to allow the insoles to move around and after wearing them for 24 hours on the hard ground of the Nevis Valley they were quite bunched causing significant pain in the feet….although this is not totally uncommon for being on your feet for 24hours…. (Note: since I have used them for Mulitsport I have replaced the laces with bungy laces which may contribute to the slippery insoles. I have heard from others with the same problem with normal laces.
- Lace attachment points: the latest version has plastic “strands” linking the lace holes back to the sole. The X-Talons and O-Roc 340 both snapped after a moderate amount of use on some orienteering courses…. they haven’t snapped on my Roclites yet though!
Note: Inov8 have built on the Roclite 285 and 243 shoe and gone back to a create a couple of slightly heavier versions, the Roclite 282, 280, 295. The new designs still have the same sole but the upper has changed, improving in some of the areas highlighted above.
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