The VJ Sport Irock 2 is a model made popular as the shoe worn and endorsed by the 3x OCR World Champion from the UK, Jon Albon. He originally represented Inov-8 brand shoes and parted with them for VJ Sport. That in itself says something, and I wanted to know what the appeal was. If you’re familiar with UK OCR social media groups, you know the VJ Sport/Icebug debate rivals that of the US OCR group Inov-8/Icebug/Salomon loyalty split. It wasn’t easy to obtain a pair of these as they currently have one U.S. based retailer that has a very limited stock and buying overseas increases cost and delivery time with customs holds. So when I finally received a complimentary pair direct from the Finland home office, I couldn’t wait to lace up.
VJ Sport Irock 2 Features
Fitlock – In my opinion, it should be used by every brand possible. This lacing system is flat out amazing. Most shoes tighten straight down the middle when laced up. With this particular system you can feel as though the entire shoe is conforming to your foot for a personal fit, exact to your foot shape. According to VJ Sport ” It is important the shoe feels snug and fits your foot so that you can safely move and turn where ever and whenever you want with a stable feeling”. Someone recently said they looked narrow when seen on a racers foot. That tells me that user has a narrow foot. I couldn’t wear the Reebok All-Terrains because of the narrow fit. I couldn’t wear the Icebug Acceleritas4 for more than a 5k because of the narrow fit and reduced comfort. To me the most comfortable shoe brand is Altra with the wide toe box, though I don’t consider myself to have a wide foot. But regardless of foot width, this lacing system will allow a near universal perfect fit.
Great Grip – The VJ Sport Irock 2 employs a “Superior Contact” tread technology that, according to VJ Sport “guarantees you the best grip imagined”. I prefer the RB9X tread(outsole) of the Icebug Zeal2 to be honest. The Irock tread provided a very secure feel, void of any slippage, on multiple terrains including technical trail, steep inclines and sharp turns on both terrains. The preference on the RB9X stems from obstacle grip. I always felt a very high level of confidence on incline walls and other shoe grip related obstacles in the icebugs as opposed to IRock 2’s. I felt more slipping and less security on this tread than the Zeal tread.
Very Durable Material – Much like all 2016 model OCR shoes utilizing Kevlar in their shoe fabric, VJ Sport Irock 2’s use “Schoeller-Keprotec”. “Schoeller-Keprotec contains Kevlar, an armide fiber which is five times stronger than steel, is tear and temperature resistant. Schoeller-Keprotec is waterproof “. As far as drainage goes, the statement above makes the same claim as 2016 Icebug Models which are not the most popular for drainage qualities. Which stake claim to expelling water through the seams after several foot strides. Of course not as efficient as the Reebok drainage system but they don’t become bricks, similar to Salomons, if wet. I also noticed, despite the aggressive tread pattern, mud/dirt does not accumulate within the tread throughout a race.
VJ Sport Irock 2 Usage
To provide the most accurate information on these shoes I tested them in multiple OCR events, with varying terrain/weather/obstacles. Savage Race MD was a 5.9 mile course ran 2x. Through those 12 miles in the rain the grip to ground was fantastic. I encountered zero slipping on wet grass, mud, and dirt trails which you’d normally expect some grip issues.
Savage Race Maryland featured a flat course that sent you through cornfields, wooded technical trails with sharp turns and the 25 world class obstacles featured in a Savage Race including warped walls, mud, ice water, swim sections various hanging rig grips in which your shoes were fully engaged, on a day that it rained providing ample opportunity to test in varying terrain.
While running on technical trails I experienced minimal awareness of rocks or roots under my feet. Able to change direction on a dime with optimal ankle support thanks to the Fitlock lacing providing a secure fit and support.
Also used during Goliathon Obstacle Challenge that also featured warped walls, balance obstacles, dirt, sand and trails. The outsole material didn’t give way to allow sand in the shoe, experiencing minimal accumulation. The removable insole stayed in place on downhill running and the lug spacing wicked away any dirt/mud accumulation allowing the tread to do its job.
VJ Sport Irock 2 Durability
As previously mentioned the VJ Sport Irock 2’s are made of a waterproof, Kevlar material(Schoeller-Keprotec). Kevlar materials are used in many popular OCR shoes released in 2016. Reebok All-Terrain Super OR, Icebug Acceleritas4 and Icebug Zeal models utilize a Kevlar blended material. The VJ Sport Irock 2’s are not narrow like the reebok models so durability/tearing is a non issue and the material provides an adequate amount of ankle support to reduce any buckling on downhills and rough terrain.
VJ Sport Irock 2 Pros and Cons
- Fitlock lacing provides superior fit
- Flexible material
- 8.4 oz that stays light when wet
- ample ankle support
- Tread slips on wet walls
- water drainage lacking
- Better in dry conditions
|VJ Sport Irock 2||Salomon Speedtrak||Reebok All Terrain Super OR||Merrell All Out Crush|
VJ Sport Irock 2 Conclusion
The VJ Sport Irock 2 is a great shoe, and you guessed it, not perfect. I will certainly be using these for future events because of the amazing fit from the lacing system. I requested 1/2 size up from what I normally wear but you should be safe with true fit sizing. Speculation has these becoming available in the U.S. from a preferred OCR retailer, but nothing is set in stone at the time of this review. We will update this review with a link to a US retailer when available.