Inov-8 Roclite Ultra G 320 Review

We grabbed a pair of the brand-new graphene enhanced Inov-8 Roclite Ultra G 320 ahead of time, from our friends at Inov-8, and put in some miles to get you a launch day review!

The Inov-8 Roclite trail running shoe was first ranged as a lightweight training shoe, along with the Inov-8 Flyroc back in 2005. The Roclite was perfect for training on the fells. The length of the lugs was enough to get you down steep grass descents, even on wetter days. The shoe offered more cushioning than the traditional fell shoe but was still flexible enough to bend with the shape of the ground. As a result, you could contour in the shoes or race over rough ground without the fear of twisting an ankle or knee. The endurance rubber was more durable than the sticky rubber on the outsoles of fell shoes, so although it didn’t offer quite the same traction on slippery wet rock as the sticky rubber, it was good enough for training. Prior to the inception of the Inov-8 Roclite, the running shoes on offer where ‘road’ or ‘fell’ and nothing in-between. The Roclite filled this gap and became a popular shoe for that reason.

Rubber & Graphene

As the years have passed, the Roclite has changed as trail running and ultramarathon running have developed. The popularity of getting out on the trails has also changed the landscape. Back in 2005 there was very little in the way of footpath repairs. A lot of trails where muddy single tracks, so the endurance rubber outsole offered good enough traction. Now a lot of the popular trails have been surfaced to help reduce erosion. The stone surfaces get slippery when wet and are hard. In response, the Roclite was developed to have a sticky rubber outsole that grips well in the wet but is also durable enough to not wear out too quickly, as a larger section of a mixed run is likely to be on harder trails nowadays. To give the right level of durability and traction, Inov-8 worked with the University of Manchester to infuse Graphene into the sticky rubber used for their outsoles. This increased the durability, so the sticky rubber outsole would last as well as the old endurance rubber outsole. The rubber was also more elastic so that the shoe flexed more easily and it was stronger so there was less chance of lugs getting cut or broken off.

BROWSE THE RANGE

The Inov-8 Roclite Ultra G 320 brings further innovation to the Roclite range in the form of a more durable and elastic midsole foam. Working with the University of Manchester, Inov-8 started to infuse the foam they use for their midsoles with Graphene. This was first done in 2021 when the Trailfly G 300 Max was launched. This was a shoe designed for hard packed trails here is a link to our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/inov-8-trailfly-ultra-g-300-max-review/. The new Graphene infused foam lasts 50% longer than the foam previously used and doesn’t degrade or lose energy return when used constantly. EVA compressed midsoles feel lovely and soft but after 3-4 hours of constant running, they noticeably go flat. The Graphene infused midsole doesn’t, so you still get some bounce from the midsole as you move through the closing miles of your ultramarathon.

Grip

In the Roclite Ultra G 320, what Inov-8 have done is take this more durable midsole and put it into a more versatile shoe. The Roclite outsole pattern will cope with wet, sloppy mud. The lugs are 6mm long and are spaced out enough to shed all but the stickiest. However, the lugs aren’t as pointed as they are on Inov-8’s soft ground shoes like the X-Talon or Mudclaw, so the lugs are more durable and feel better on hard-packed trails or tarmac. You also get good traction on these harder surfaces because the surface area in contact with the floor is still enough. Often in shoes with very pointed studs, they work well in deep mud, but you slide on harder surfaces as the surface area is too low to grip. The Roclite lugs offer a good compromise between traction on soft and hard ground. This is proven by the fact that the outsole pattern is pretty much the same as it was in 2005.

Width Scale

The Roclite is designed to cope with rough broken ground as well as harder packed trails. For this reason, it is rated 3/5 on Inov-8’s fit scale with 5 being the widest. To me, it’s a roomy 3/5. This might be because the toe box is higher than on other models and the big toe line a little straighter. The effect is that the feel of the shoe is more of a comfortable long distance shoe than a snug fitting, soft ground racing shoe.

The G-Fly midsole is 20mm thick in the heel and 12mm thick in the forefoot. Giving the Roclite Ultra G 320 a heel to forefoot drop of 8mm. Inov-8 prefer a higher drop on the shoes they design for longer distance as they feel this offers more support for tied legs. I didn’t find this an issue. The Roclite G 320 isn’t so stiff through the midsole that it pulls you onto your heel and I found it easy to land on my midfoot. When descending I could still land on my midfoot and run naturally down the hill.

BROWSE THE RANGE

The midsole is 4mm thicker than that used for the Roclite 305, 315 or 290. This makes it stiffer but still flexible compared with other shoes with this level of cushioning. The elastic feel to the midsole is noticeable and the midsole does get more flexible the more you run in it. Like the Parkclaw G 280, this elastic flexibility was noticeable after I had clocked up 50 miles in the shoes. Unlike the TrailFly G 300 Max there is no rocker in the Roclite Ultra G 320. It is designed to flex so your foot can react to the ground. As with the Parkclaw G 280 and the TrailFly G 300 Max, there isn’t a lot of compression in the midsole. The firmer feel stimulates your feet to function inside the shoes, which reduces swelling and is much better for maintaining good posture. The feel to the midsole is different from what you get in other brands. Although there is a noticeable lack of compression and firmness to the midsole the shoes still feel extremely well cushioned. A lot of this cushioned feel comes from the ‘Boomerang Insole’. This is used in the TrailFly G 270 and TrailFly G 300 Max. It is very thin and light. The initial feel as your foot hits the floor is soft but the insole works amazingly well with the firm G-Fly midsole and the rebound is very noticeable.

As you would expect with a shoe that has a midsole designed to last longer, the upper is designed to be tough and durable. The Adaptfit heel to arch cradle runs from the heel and threads through the laces on top of the foot. This holds the foot well, reducing any heel slip or slipping forward in the shoes when descending on steep ground. The toe bumper offers a good level of protection without feeling heavy or intrusive.

The lacing and tongue have also been updated in comparison to the Roclite G 275. The laces are further apart, which makes it easier to lace in different patterns or increase or reduce tension in certain areas. The tongue is also a lot more padded to give the shoes more all day comfort.

Going into this review, we knew the Inov-8 Roclite Ultra G 320 may feel quite responsive, but it isn’t a shoe ‘designed for speed’. You can run quickly in them, but if you are looking for a lightweight fast shoe then the Roclite 305 or Roclite 290 would be a better option. The Roclite Ultra G 320 does best during more moderate-paced runs of every distance, and it can be used as a road to trail shoe or daily training shoe, as well as a shoe for an ultra race. You are investing in a very versatile and ultra-durable Graphene-enhanced midsole and outsole. Great for muddy UK conditions but cushioned and durable enough for firmer tracks and trails too.

Other Considerations

Icebug Capra: Similar width with a straight big toe. Not quite as cushioned but more flexible. Here is our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/icebug-capra-review/

Scott Supertrac 3: E-ride rocker helps maintain posture as you get tied. Here is a link to our review:
https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/scott-supertrac-3-review/

Saucony Peregrine ST 12: Narrower fit. Softer cushioning but, not as durable and doesn’t ride as nicely on harder ground. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/saucony-peregrine-12-st-review/

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