Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Inov8 OROC 280 - Review

Dobbed shoes. Shoes with integral spikes. I've been after a pair for a good few years now, but never really had the need for them, so, sensibly, didn't just go out and buy a pair. I also found it inordinately hard to find a review of OROCs anywhere. No idea why - I suppose they may end up being just that bit too specialist, so no-one really ends up buying or wearing them....
well, here is the review that I've always wanted to see and read...

Brand new, box fresh OROC 280
As the Spine came closer it became apparent that I'd need a pair of shoes for the 108mile epic that would grip to just about anything as well as be ready for snow and ice.
What do you know - a perfect opportunity to indulge myself.

As noted on a previous post, I went out and spend what I consider to be an inordinate amount of cash on a pair of shoes (£120), but thought it was probably offset by the fact that these have bits of metal
OROC 280 having been battered in the Spine Challenger for 32 hours
sticking out of them. Also, when you're 80 miles into a race, your head and legs aren't quite working in tune with each other and you have to cross a slippy wooden bridge without injuring yourself - I'd rather have spent the money and have the confidence my foot is going to stay where I put it.

But what are they like? Really? Are they actually comfy?
Dobs working well on wet flags

The main concern with dobbed shoes is, of course that you can feel the dobs being driven back up into the shoe and into your foot on every footstep on a hard surface. You notice it almost immediately, and that is a concern even when going out for a 10k run, let alone battering your way up a third of the Pennine way. A lot of that is on hard surfaces... surely you'll be ruined by about 20 miles in with little dobbed shaped bruises all over the soles of your feet?

In the weeks leading up to the Spine I tried out a couple of different insoles to combat the dob pressure. First up was changing the insoles to Orange Superfeet insoles. They have a bit more padding at the toe end, and a considerable heel cup to keep your foot solid. A few times out in these and it felt fine. I could still feel the dobs a bit, but to be honest, it was the lack of space in the shoe that was beginning to be the issue. I was going to have to change my sock combinations and go from a tried and trusted way to a new and not quite as certain of comfort sock combo. Not a good thing this close to the race.
Superfeet orange - the original "plan"

The second version was a pair of old inov8 insoles from a couple of years back. I remember getting a pair of 3mm (or maybe they were 5?) insoles with extra padding on the ball of the foot.
Yes - I did clean them after - but the mud proved to be quite persistent. Inov8 5mm(?) insoles
No idea why, or which shoes it was with, but I dug them out, whacked them in and ran around on them. It felt pretty good. Yes, the dobs were still apparent, but I could use my favoured sock combinations, and all seemed pretty happy.


The sole unit uses the same rubber as the terraclaw and has the same shaped (but somewhat beefed up) grip as the Roclite. Along with that, there are 9 metal dobs protruding from strategic places on the sole which theoretically provide better grip on slippy surfaces.
Spikey dobs. I have no idea how to stop the rust. Anyone got any bright ideas? I dried them off after cleaning, but am a bit stuck beyond that...
Just how well do they do this?

Well, over the entirety of the Spine Challenger I think I fell over twice. Both times on slick, wet mud which basically nothing else would have gripped on.
Normally you have to be a bit careful going across all the slabs on Featherbed moss and Blackhill, a friend who was in Roclites was saying the fastest he could move was a quick walk as every footstep was a potential slip.
In the Orocs, not a problem. I was as confident as I would have been on dry dusty trails. Not a slip. Not even a hint of one as I clunked my way across.
Onto the muddy bits where everyone in Salomon XA's and Speedcross wished for the confidence of a Mudclaw... fine, no problem - no slippages, just solid, constant grip. They went on and on.
No need for Ice Spikes yet

A couple of times we were required to go across slippy wooden bridges and duckboards. I HATE
them with a passion because nothing grips to them. Walking across them in anything is basically an exercise in perfectly placing your weight so that the shoe doesn't skitter off to the side leaving you sprawled sideways half in and half out of a bog. Not only that, but it severely retards your progress as well.
Orocs- no problem. The dobs dug into the wood, no slips, no falls, not even a hint that it might be a bit dodgy. It was like having superpowers on the bottom of my feet. Genuinely amazing.
Then it got snowy and icy. The route to the top of Pen y Ghent was pretty damn slippy, and I was extremely glad to have not only decent rubber on the ground, but also spikes. I won't say they saved me, but I will say they gave me confidence, and meant that I didn't have to root around in my bag for the microspikes I may otherwise have needed. 

Yes, I could feel the dobs. No, it wasn't necessarily comfortable, but then, if I'd have run the same distance in any shoe it wouldn't have been comfortable. Post race, no, I don't have bruises on the bottom of my feet, and I have one blister - the only reason I know it is there is because I saw it - I can't feel it. 

Size and shape

If you have wider, higher volume feet, these shoes may well not be the ones for you. I have no idea what the dobs are like on other manufacturers shoes, and how much they come through in terms of feel, but I would imagine it is similar.
I am so thoroughly used to the shape and feel of the shoe, its quite ridiculous. I generally run in Precision fit X-talons, I used a worn out pair for the Snowdonia marathon, I wore a pair for the Long tour of Bradwell, they are my go to shoe for Old County Tops. My foot seems to fit the shape nicely.
I'm a size 7 in all other inov8s and most other shoes. I reckon it equates to about an EU 40.5 or 25.5 cms and these fit as well as any other.


Despite the fact these shoes grip to anything and everything I throw at them, they won't be my go to shoe through this winter. They certainly will be on icy, snowy days, but for now I want to preserve the grip on them.
Having done 180km in one go, the rubber is certainly feeling it. The dobs definitely stick out from
It doesn't seem like much spike clearance, but it works.
the soles a bit more than they did when I bought them! I have noticed a couple of cracks in the rubber around the dobs, and am wondering just how long it will be before I start losing them. Considering these are £120 for a pair, I want them to last a bit longer, and am perhaps now a little less blase about wearing them out than I am about my x-talons.
Slight crack in the rubber around a forefoot dob. (and rust... always rust)

Excellent shoes, I wouldn't say they were the most comfortable shoes ever over 108 miles, but the piece of mind in terms of the grip outweighed the slight discomfort of the dobs. Well worth the money if you need a pair of something that grips to nigh on anything.
Thanks Inov8 - a stunning pair of shoes.


  1. I paid £40 odd for mine about 3 years ago. At that price I keep them for special occasions, meaning I have not done a hugh amount of miles in them but they have been excellent in the hard snow/ice.

  2. Yeah - the 3 year ago model seemed to have a very different foot shape and I didnt get on with them when I tried them on. The new and up-to-date model seem to be a lit kinder on the feet. (or at least, my feet), and appear to be more based on the x-talon.

  3. 4 years ago I bought a pair of Pytho 2's (IceBug) and did not have any trouble with feeling the dobs. However, they are only suitable on Ice - in Mud their sole does not grip well. I guess their orienteering models are better suited for mud, but the dobs on those are fixed (on the pytho's they 'retract' into the shoe on asphalt) - so there you might feel the dobs as well.

    Also: I recently had a pair of Raceultra's in hand and noticed that the insole of a size 10.5 is roughly one size smaller than the sole of a size 10.5 Mudclaw. Do you know if inov8 has a different sizing for precision and standard fit shoes? It's kinda hard to test it here because almost no shops carry them.

  4. David, thanks for your thoughts and comments about Icebugs. I was so focussed on the dobs I completely forgot to think about what they might be like on mud!

    Interesting thought on the race ultras vs the mudclaws. Ive not tried on a pair of race ultras, so cant really comment... As far as i can see the precision and standard fit don't differ in length, rather than breadth. However, I think that different lasts have different lengths.

    The terraclaws seem to be slightly shorter- but wider in the forefoot than precision fit mudclaws and x-talons - but I wouldnt say they were a whole size smaller.