Inov8 Trailfly Ultra Unboxing and First Impressions
After a long wait in customs (thanks Brexit), we finally received our new Inov8 Trailfly Ultras this week.
I’ll do a thorough review next week after I’ve had chance to put them through their paces. For now though I wanted to give my first impressions.
That’s a Big Stack
This is a seriously chunky shoe. The Trailfly Ultra is a long way from Inov8’s traditional minimalism.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I started wearing Inov8s back in the late 2000s when the barefoot craze was doing the rounds. At the time I was into Primal training, obstacle course racing and rarely ran further than 5k. I found the Invo8s to be a great balance between minimalism and grip. (Anyone whoever tried Vibram FiveFingers in mud and rain will know that’s not a good idea).
Over the years, sharp stones and broken glass prompted me to seek out more cushioning. I soon progressed from the Bare-XF to the X-Talon and Roclite. Moving to dry rocky Spain where the trails are rockier and increasing my mileage made me seek out yet more cushioning.
My current shoe is a Salomon Supercross. This was the biggest stack I’d ever tried. (29.3mm heel, 19.3mm forefoot).
It felt strange at first, but was welcome relief to a persistent heel pain I’d been experiencing. After a couple of days I was hooked. The Supercross also has amazing grip and is very responsive. But I digress.
On paper, the Trailfly Ultra has the same stack and drop as the Supercross. Eyeballing the two trainers, they look the same. My initial sensation, however, is that the stack of the Trailflys seems bigger than that of the Supercross. I feel further from the ground and less connected. This is probably the graphite compressing less than the foam and rubber in the Salomons.
Now it’s too early to say whether this is a good or a bad thing. I was unsure about the Salomons for the first couple of days too. I’m going to reserve any judgement until I’ve done a few more long runs.
Rockin’ and Rollin’
While the big stack isn’t new to me, the rocker is. The sole of the Trailfly is curved from heel to toe. This is intended to facilitate the roll of the foot. A throwback to those barefoot days though, I tend to strike with the midfoot, at least while fresh. Not sure how this will pan out for me. Though maybe I’ll be glad of it on longer slower runs.
One thing I can say for the soles is that they definitely seem to put a spring in your step. Perhaps it’s psychological, but they do feel as if they return a lot of energy from the foot strike.
Flex Your Magic
A big new feature for the Trailfly Ultras was the “Adapter-Flex” groove. This is intended to give the sole much more movent than you’d expect from such a thick, graphene reinforced stack. Perhaps it does, as I don’t have a 30mm graphene reinforced stack without a groove to compare it with. Obviously it’s not going to have the flex of a Bare-XF, but the sole is a lot stiffer, with less flex at the groove than I’d expected.
A Snug Fit
My final first impression is the fit. It’s very snug. The upper has a lot of stretch to it and seems to hug your foot closely, without being tight or restrictive. On the limited runs I’ve done, I did really like the feel of the upper.
I did find, however, that there is less toe room than in other Inov8 shoes. The inner tip of my big toe pushed slightly against the upper. This is surprising, as the shoe is billed as a 5 on Inov8’s width guide. That’s their widest fit. I have slim feet. Generally, an Inov8 size 44 fits me perfectly. Possibly a 45 in the Trailfly may have been better. Hopefully, there won’t be any issues with rubbing on longer runs, perhaps they just need breaking in a little.
The shoes look great, quality seems usual Inov9 top notch. The fit is snug and secure. Possibly a little tight around the big toe, but hopefully just right.
The large stack, graphene foam and rocker result in the most disconnected shoe from the trail I’ve tried to date.
My suspicion is that these shoes are going to be a trade-off between agility and connection to the trail, for protection and energy conservation. Whether this will be a beneficial trade-off remains to be seen! Only time (and kms) will tell.
I shall give a more detailed review in a week or two when I’ve had more of a chance to put the shoes through their paces.