Inov8 Terrocs – Early impressions

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, take a weekend walking in the Peak District. Whilst you’re there pop in to Outside in Hathersage and get Mike Pickwell (head of their footwear dept.) to fit you with a pair of Inov8 Terrocs.

They are the most amazingly comfortable, functional footwear. Always assuming they fit your shape of foot of course – but they are very soft and flexible so I expect they fit more than most.

You’ve probably heard of their lightness, their comfort, their ability to dry even after stream crossings. Well, from what I can tell from the last eight days we’ve had them on the hill everything you’ve heard is true.

Three of the Iceland crew have been wearing them; myself, LB and Kev. They also come in women’s specific fit which does actually seem to be a differently designed shoe. We tried them with Smartwool socks, up a clough scramble to get our feet nicely wet with the air temperature at only about 6C (43F) and water a couple of degrees less. Afterwards, everyone’s feet became warm, and eventually dry, as the day progressed and were never uncomfortable.

On a colder, wetter day we found that our feet didn’t dry. But reversing the route the next day with us all wearing Sealskinz socks instead of Smartwools we found it perfectly comfortable.

To me, they’re far preferable to an eVent or Gore Tex lined shoe since when a lined shoe leaks (and they will, one way or another) you are stuck with a plastic bag full of water on your foot, which generally refuses to dry.

Since we’re going to be crossing many small waterways in Iceland, their ability to dry is invaluable. I’ve tried crossing (very shallow!) glacial-melt barefoot and it’s not something I want to repeat. I’ve also looked at carrying sandals but I’d rather avoid the weight. These look to be a good solution. Combined with some waterproof Sealskinz if our feet get too cold, I think they’ll do everything we need.

Of course it’s early days so I can’t comment on their durability which I know Lighthiker had a slight problem with. I’m not expecting them to be as durable as a leather boot though and fortunately I think the price reflects that fairly well. They’re about two thirds of the price of a really sturdy pair of three season clumpers.

The most interesting thing about them is the way that they bend. Look at a normal pair of shoes or boots as you stand up on your toes. They’ll bend almost square across the shoe from side to side. But the Terrocs (and all Inov8 footwear apparently) have a deep groove which runs across the base of all your toes, where they join your foot. And that line is diagonal. So when you stand on your toes in the Terrocs they bend exactly where your toes bend. Which is actually a very odd feeling! We found that if you tried it whilst imagining you were barefoot it felt fine. Very interesting.
The picture on the left shows how the Terrocs bend naturally, across the top of the long bones of your foot. The picture on the right shows where a “normal” shoe bends. Notice how I’m having to grip the toe hard to force the Terrocs into bending there.

What was also interesting was that in the first day’s walking, I got a single, very sore quadriceps muscle. It was the one quad that’s weaker than the others and that I’ve been doing physio-advised exercises to strengthen (thanks Rachel!). The fact that just that one muscle was sore, and the rest weren’t suggests to me that my leg is working in a far more natural way whilst wearing them. With all the muscles doing their share of the work. Making less strain on the knees and more energy transmission into actually propelling me along. Since then we’ve all noticed that our feet seem to be tired in an “unusual” way. As if muscles in them have been working more than usual.

Whether it’s the weight, the improved bio-mechanics or both, we’ve found that we really fly along wearing these. We did a route recently that we’d done last year, whilst at a relatively similar level of fitness and we found it was far too short. We could have done it in half the time easily.

I’d been thinking of getting them last year but hadn’t found a shop where I could try them on. It was an interview with Mat Hazley that convinced me (not sure which one – one of Bob’s perhaps?). Initially he rejected them as too odd-feeling. But then he was sent a trial pair, free, by the owner of Inov8. Once he’d tried them on the trail rather than the shop floor he was convinced. He now says he wouldn’t wear anything else. I already know how he feels.

Are they the ultimate walking shoe? No. Such things only exist in the breathless, sticky dreams of marketing folk. But for the summer they’re certainly the best we’ve found.

The only question I have now is; why didn’t I get them last year?

15 Replies to “Inov8 Terrocs – Early impressions”

  1. What matters is trail shoes allow the foot to move as it is meant to. Inov-8 does it very well. I know the Terrocs have a good reputation but for me I passed on them and prefer the Roclite range (318 at this time) and have used other models. The Terrocs don’t have the Meta-Shank and fascia band that give more to the walking comfort that the Roclite and other models have. But if they work for you fine. Final point though Chris Townsend on the TGO forum about the Terrocs…. The underfoot cushioning isn’t as substantial as on some footwear but I have found it perfectly adequate….. Is adequate good enough when you can have Inov-8 performance and superb cushioning with other models they produce?

  2. I did wonder about the Roclites but had heard such good things about the Terrocs that I thought I’d start there.

    I say “start” since I’m not expecting them to last two or three years like a pair of leather boots (I appear to be very hard on footwear) so I expect to be able to try the Roclites next summer. Though the Terrocs have had ten days of abuse including a fair old scraping over grit-stone and are still looking fine.

    Very interesting posting you made on the Roclites and how they helped your ankle. Definitely ties in with my own experience with the way the whole business of walking becomes more natural with Inov8s.

  3. It is amazing how the Inov-8 work. It’s like there super shoes – but they work. The Terrocs are good no doubt. The Roclites are different and that the thing it gives choice to folk’s different feet size. I need an unlined pair for the summer (might get a pair Terrocs in the end?). Last week on a walk I got water in my 318 shoes and yes I had a wet foot but they dried out within an hour and I don’t understand why as they are Gore-Tex lined? Any way look forward to any long term feedback you have on those Terrocs and your photography is brilliant.

  4. Not sure I follow you on the Roclites giving choice to folk’s different feet size? I’m missing some difference between them and the Terrocs it seems?

    As for the pics – very kind of you to mention it. As I say on the About The Photos page all I really do it take lots and throw the bad ones away. I could probably just train a monkey to do it!

  5. On saying…choice to folk’s different feet… I must admit a bit vague wording there. In thinking about what I was trying to say I recall a forum discussion the other day were Derek Goffin said…The main thing I noticed is the roclites have a lower heel cup which is too low for my partner whereas the terrocs press on the bottom of my ankle bone and so I prefer the lower roclites…. I think that sums up what I was getting at in there are different characteristics between the shoes that some will get on with and others won’t.

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  7. I too have used Terrocs with Smartwool and Sealkinz socks with success (WHW & Coast-to-coast).

    The Roclite is a different fit because it has a different last. I take a size 8 in Terrocs but needed to go up to 8.5 in Roclite 315s.

    I am hoping to try Roclite 370 or 390 boots soon on a long Scottish backpacking trip and will be interested to see how they work.


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