After purchasing and wearing in my 4th pair of these trail running shoes, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t written an inov-8 Roclite 290 review as yet. I spend a lot of time thinking about which subject to blog about next. With so many subjects to cover, I often can’t the blogs out quick enough.

Anyway, as I walked through the front door today, past the spot where they were drying, I got to thinking about how well this brand and model of shoe had served me. These are, after all, are my favourite trail running shoe and my go to for ultra marathons. They are the only pair that I have gone back to time and time again. But why do I like them so much? If you are considering this trail running shoe for yourself, hopefully you will be well informed after reading my inov-8 Roclite 290 review.

The Pros of the inov-8 Roclite 290

They Don’t Need Wearing in

Unlike Mudclaws, the inov-8 Roclite 290 do not need breaking in. I can safely go out and run 20 miles in these brand new out of the box. This isn’t just because I have owned 4 pairs and may feet are used to them, they have been the same since my very first pair. I wore them out for a long run straight out of the box and loved them.

my first pair of roclite 290

This was my first pair of inov-8 Roclite 290s

They Have a Roomy Toebox

Never once have I had a blister or lost toenail at the hands of these shoes and, apart from my Nike Air Pegasus Zoom, I cannot say this about another pair of running shoes. They are comfortable, they have seen me through miles and miles and they don’t feel any different after 30 miles to what they did at mile 2 or 3.

They Transfer from Road to Trail

While I don’t wear these shoes for heavy mud, tending to save them for more favourable conditions, they do cover any kind of ground well. I have to run at least a mile on the road to get to my local trails and last Sunday I ran 15 miles off road followed by 5 on the road. The shoes were comfortable from start to finish.

You Can Pick up Last Year’s Models at a Lower Cost

In fact, if I can’t get last year’s models in my size, I actually order the men’s. I find no difference between the women and the men’s versions. They fit the same, they are just as comfortable and the colours are not much different. Anyway, trail shoes are designed to get dirty so we never really worry about colour.

The Drainage is Superb

Given the amount of rain we have, it’s no surprise that we are constantly running through trenches full of water and deep puddles. This is not a problem for the inov-8 Roclite 290 and no sooner are you through the water than the shoes have drained and you don’t have to run in heavy, wet shoes.

The Cons of the inov-8 Roclite 290

Are there any downsides to this trusty trail shoe? Well, considering I am on pair number 4, you might wonder if I could find any negatives but the aim of the game is to be objective and to give a full and frank inov-8 Roclite 290 review so here goes:

They Only Last 300-400 Miles

Yes, this is probably one of the reasons I have had so many pairs. They tend to go through around the toe box once I have done about 300 miles and my running partner has the same issue. They aren’t built for long miles like many shoes. I don’t mind this though because they give me exactly what I need at a reasonable price. The amount of wear and tear they see though makes it much easier to swallow than if they were road shoes.

They Aren’t Super Grippy

I don’t tend to wear these shoes for fast, technical runs but for long distances I won’t wear anything else. The reason for this is that the grip isn’t brilliant. It’s OK but in deep mud or on rocky descents, I don’t feel as in control as I do with something like the Mudclaw. For long, slower miles though they tick all the boxes and make for a glowing inov-8 Roclite 290 review. If I wore any of my other trail shoes for 30 miles+, I would have sore feet and blisters afterwards.

You Can’t Always Get the Size You Want

Each time I replace these I wish I had doubled up and ordered 2-3 pairs as I can’t always get my hands on the size I want. I do wear a 7.5 though. My last two pairs have in fact been men’s shoes so that I can order a previous season’s model. Don’t get me wrong – I have no objection to spending a bit of money on these. You can buy them currently from inov-8 at the price of £120. I tend to look at places like and pick them up for around £60.

Now, while we are ardent fans of this trail running shoes, it’s not to say they are for everyone. If you want to check out some other recommendations, take a look at our round up of the top trail running shoes.

Have you tried the Roclite 290? We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

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