I had been looking for trail running / orienteering shoes with more grip and started to look for options that were on the market.
My requirements for the shoe were
- Good grip on the rock since I am planning to use these while mountaineering
- Low heel to toe drop since I prefer barefoot feeling
- Narrow fit
- Fast draining while orienteering through swamps
I found out there is a not so well known Finnish orienteering shoe manufacturer from Finland, the VJ Sport that promised to cover all these requirements with their Irock 2. There were not that much information or reviews (especially in English) of VJ Sport shoes, so if you ended up here after googling VJ Sport shoes your not alone. You can even find VJ Sports shoes from Jonathan Albons and Thierry Gueoriougs feet.
I bought the VJ Sport Irock 2 shoes from Suunnistajan Kauppa in Helsinki and paid 129€. With same visit I bought carrying bag for the shoes and couple normal running socks. The Irock 2 shoes come two colours, orange for the small sizes (3-7) and red for the bigger sizes (7.5-13). Shoes are light weighing about 240g
I have narrow feett and these shoes hug them nicely and the Fitlock-lacing of the shoe locks the feet well, just remember to tighten the shoes well. I'm used using very minimal running shoes like Merrel Trail Glove 3 so when I first tried Irock 2s in orienteering I almost sprained my angle because of the high profile of the bottom of the shoe, so it was something to get used to. The drop from heel to toe is 6mm.
The traction with these shoes on dry solid ground is really amazing. VJ sport uses butyl rubber on the bottom of the shoe and it is really sticky on rock but it is not as long lasting as what competitors use. I've been testing these shoes in Finnish forrest, hiking in Italian Dolomites and on Norwegian boulder scrambles and it works well in all of these environments. Its not perfect in the Finnish forrest since it does not have metal studs to dig in the roots of the trees put in the other hand its really firm on areas with bedrock. On wet surfaces the shoe keeps working well and running up muddy or mossy hills is no problem.
This shoe is not fastest one to dry since there are no draining holes but the seams are supposed to let the water out with each step. The durability is okay, after abusing the shoes in Norwegian mountains one of the shoes started to tear little bit from the toe box seam where the bottom connects to the top of the shoe.
I Found these shoes really sticky when running on rock based soil or hills, just like what Norwegian mountains have to offer. These also work well when orienteering in Finnish forests, only the draining speed of shoe is something that I wish would be better. I can recommend these shoes if you like to advance fast in mountain-like environment. Only problem is that these shoes are hard to get hands on outside Europe.
VJ Sport is looking for distributor / importers for USA & Canada
When I contacted the CEO of the VJ Sport, Jouni Mattila, to ask couple questions about Irocks he told that they are currently looking for distributor / importers in USA & Canada so if you are interested or know someone who is, feel free to contact VJ sport http://www.vjsport.fi/en/contact-us/ !