Monday, January 7, 2013
Product Review: Inov-8 Oroc 340 GTX
I am in love.
I'd say I was completely head over heels in love... but there's no way you could be, if you've got these bad boys on your feet.
Since this is my first winter as a "serious" runner, I struggled - like most people - with what I should put on my feet during those ugly, cold, slushy, snowy, icy runs (that here in my lovely home state of Vermont could be from November-late March). Could there possibly be a shoe that could a) keep me from slipping, b) keep my feet dry, c) stay with my preferred minimalist feel and d) be comfortable??
Rest assured, BlogLand... THERE IS! As a huge fan of Inov-8 already, having sported their f-lite 230s to Crossfit classes, as well as countless road races, and something like close to 70 miles of Obstacle Races, I turned to them to provide me the answer. I won't lie, I shopped around - I checked out all the major brands for their comparable model, but no one seemed to come close. The only other major contender was the IceBug running shoes who also produce a shoe with a carbide studded sole. With the winter as long and harsh as it typically is here in VT, I decided this was going to be a key feature for me - sure, I could get some sort of grippers that I could put on a shoe, etc. but why would I try to make a shoe into what I needed, when clearly, there were shoes out there SOLELY designed for this purpose. I'm a winter runner, I need winter running shoes. End of Story.
Ultimately, I went with the Inov-8 Orocs, because I know that the Inov-8s fit my feet comfortably and have always demonstrated superior quality and durability.
Oh MAN am I glad I did. Lacing up my bright orange Orocs tonight, I not only felt super-cool (seriously, did you LOOK at those shoes?!), but immediately felt the studs stick into my linoleum. (note to self: put shoes on on CARPET and make sure you're headed right out, so as not to tear up linoleum. Are YOUR shoes bad ass enough to tear up your floor? I think not!) I felt like this boded well for the imminent run.
I chose a potentially risky way to test these shoes: I ran exactly as I would run if it was 75 and sunny with clear paths. I did not change my stride for ice, I did not sidestep puddles and I plowed right through the snow banks.
Let me just give a round of applause to Inov-8 right now. I'm pretty sure I could scale vertical walls of ice in these Orocs. Not ONCE did I slip, slide or feel unsure of my footing. Remember I said I ran as I normally would? Yes, that included straight across several large ice patches... with no slippage. Go go Tungsten Carbide Studs!
Also, I ran through the not-quite-solid ice puddles, side of the road slush, and every other unpleasantness.... and returned home with absolutely dry feet and socks. Gore-Tex construction for the win.
Overall, I absolutely couldn't be happier with this product. While winter running is always a little bit of a chore, Inov-8 has given me ZERO ways to use the "it's icy/slippery/etc." out there excuse. With the Orocs on my feet, winter runs are made possible with confidence.
As a side note, because I live in the city, sometimes (occasionally...) I come across a cleared sidewalk. I was concerned that if I had to run on a cleared sidewalk on the lugs and studs, it would feel strange. However, I found no disruption to my run here, either; the shoe feels light on your feet and though you make an awesome clippy-cloppy sounds (like horses trotting down the street with shoes on!), it is not uncomfortable to run on the solid ground either, as the situations arise.
While the Oroc will set you back about $180, it is WELL worth the investment in a quality shoe, not to mention your safety. I am happy to pay the $180 for a shoe that allows me to continue my training (and not have to run indoors on a treadmill!), as well as gives me the piece of mind that I'm not going to slip and fall and get injured training.