Timely question - I train in racing flats now, but only on the road. Judging by my short excursions onto gravel roads and stuff, it seems there's no way would they hold up on even minimally-technical trails, but then again maybe I'm wrong.
I recently made the switch to Inov-8s and they're working out well for me. I find it's just enough shoe to keep me stable and comfortable, but they're super light. I've only done about 30 miles in them, but I can't find fault with them yet.
I've trained extensively in Streak XC's and Adizero RC's and they've both worked very well on trails (lots of rocks, roots and whatnot). I think minimalist shoes are better than "normal" running shoes for trails.
Originally posted by Gregolowe:
Which version of the Inov 8's do ya'll like?
I'm in roclite 320s. No complaints. I thought they were super light, but a comparative look at their product list tells me they're at the heavy end of the spectrum! A guy at the shoe store told me the biggest difference between INOV models is the tread - the shoe is basically the same all round. I wouldn't take that as gospel, though.
I would go with Inov-8. They are a minimalist shoe allowing the foot to work the way it was intended too. You have a better feel for the trail than you do with other over-designed trail shoes. Inov-8 sells several different shoes based on the terrain you are running on. (hard pack, mud, wet rock, etc). I have the Mudclaw 270, Flyroc 310 and the Terroc 330. Even the heaviest shoe (Terroc) feels like a racing flat. Give them a try. good luck.
I just got a pair of asics trail attacks a month or two ago. They are fairly minimal, but also have pretty good traction and protection. I have been training with them on some pretty technical trails and also on a grass cross country course and I really like them. I have yet to race in them, but I have a 30k trail race this Sunday and plan to run it in them. I should add that these are my first pair of trails shoes, so not sure how they compare to others...
I've been running in Inov-8's for about 5 years, I started wearing them when I was living in the UK and doing fell running. When I first moved back to the states they were hard to find but I'm glad to see that they are more widely available and that they have some new products on offer.
I like the fact that they are light on structure - allowing your foot to function the way it was meant to - with tons of grip. Here in Maine we get a lot of rain, mud, snow etc. and I think these are the best shoes for the trails we have around here. I use the Mudroc 290, Roclite 315 and Terroc 330 depending on conditions/distance. I also find them to be extremely durable. Since they don't come with fancy structure or cushioning you don't have to worry about those components of the shoe wearing out.
I know people who have had to ease into running in Inov-8's because their feet and ankles were used to road shoes, but once you develop the strength you should be fine. I did 26 miles in my Roclite 315's, box fresh, then a 50k a few weeks later, my feet feel great!
I've used the 290's and currently the 315's. I love them both. I'm looking into the 305's next. If my budget would allow, I would probably keep several models on hand for different types of conditions.
LaSportivas are pretty light too. Mr. Minimalist Anton Krupika just won Leadville in Sportivas, shorts, a handheld Go-Lite bottle and nothing else, according to reports. I just finished off a pair of their Raceblades. They were nice and light, low to the ground, with protection against rocks. I could plant my foot anywhere. They ride more like a normal shoe than the Inov8 terrocs I'm wearing now.
" Mr. Minimalist Anton Krupika just won Leadville in Sportivas, shorts, a handheld Go-Lite bottle and nothing else, according to reports."
I read an interview with him last year when he won. He stated that he cut the heels out of his shoes so his ankle can flex. Did he do that with this pair this year? I ran 10 miles this mornng in Merrel Chamaleon II sandals. Very flexible. Beautiful run. Got some blisters and chafing as I was barefoot in the sandals. I may try that with socks, or keep going to see if my feet harden. I run barefoot for my shorter miles during the week on asphalt. The Tarahumara indians run hundreds of miles in sandals made from old tires and straps of leather strips. One beat Scott Jurek this year in a 50 mile race. Beat him by six minutes.
I also been using Adizero RC2 as well as Nike waffle cross country shoes and Inov8s for rougher ground. I would guess that almost any cross country shoe would work on trails. Adizero is a remarkably tough shoe for a light weight road/track shoe. Prior to the RC2, my major shoe was the Brooks T4 and it was far to fragile to take on the trails. As time passes, I find less and less reason to use the Inov8s, which seem like bricks compared to the RC2 and the Nike waffle.
I usually run barefoot or aqua socks (those very thin neoprene and rubber beach shoes). They don't last long (200-300 miles on asphalt, about 400-500 on trails), but only cost 10-15 dollars a pair. If you're looking for a way to allow the foot to function as it is supposed to, that's the way to go.