I have raced in most multisport events across the country, over all imaginable types of terrain. Finding what I considered to be a good offroad shoe was near impossible.
What I look for in an off road shoe, first and foremost, is sole flexibilty. The shoe must have good grip. I believe this can get quite specialised, but something with a sticky sole, and not too much 'tread' seems to work best in most cases. A shoe that fits your foot shape is very important, and from experience, most athletes tend to have wider feet, which also means you get a wider sole, and more grip, and stability.
I was looking for a shoe to do all of my winter training in, so of the inov-8 range, the roclite 295 model suited me perfectly. It met all my criteria above, the first true off road shoe to do this. I have had 2 weeks of running in the shoe, and really enjoy it. It provides great feel for the terrain, very good grip in the mud, and soft underfoot conditions, and it is durable, and comfortable. I am looking forward to trying some of the more race orientated shoes as we head into the multisport season.
Off road shoes can be so specific, with certain shoes suiting certain types of terrain. This is where inov-8 have you sorted, a shoe for every situation!
Sam Goodall is a professional coach and multisport athlete, based in Auckland. He can be contacted through his website: www.therightrevolution.co.nz