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inov-8 Trail Running Shoes

inov-8 Trail Running Shoes

We’re going to take a look at the lineup of inov-8 trail running shoes.

We’ll categorize each shoe based on which type of trail they were designed for. And, we’ll help you decide which shoe would be your best choice according to the type of terrain or length of your run.

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How inov-8 trail running technology improves your performance

inov-8 X-Talon G 235 – Best for wet muddy conditions or OCR

This shoe was built to take on extremely muddy and mucky trail conditions.

The X-Talon has aggressive 8mm lugs that claw deep down in the mud. And they’re spaced strategically apart so the mud and debris will clear freely from the outsole.

What makes the outsole of this shoe different from your normal inov-8 is that it’s graphene infused. The graphene is a carbon compound 200 times stronger than steel, making the outsole extremely durable. Not only is it more durable but it also has a much stickier grip than the previous models.

Because of the narrow fit, the X-Talon probably wouldn’t be ideal for runners with wide feet. You might want to look into a model like the Terraultra.

Also, due to the deep lugs, this model wouldn’t be good for harder, flatter surfaces like roads. If you’re looking for a model that will transition nicely from the road to the trail, you could try the Parkclaw.

What you’ll notice:

  • Lightweight

Because this shoe is extremely lightweight, it also makes it ideal for longer or speedier runs like marathons and ultramarathons.

FYI: The numbers in the name of the shoes (e.g. X-Talon 235) represent the weight in grams (235 grams = 8.3oz).

  • Durable upper

The upper is made of ballistic nylon which, interesting fact, was developed and used in the flak jackets in WWII. Sharp rocks and debris will have a hard time penetrating this material.

inov-8 Parkclaw 275 – inov-8’s all-around shoe (great for beginners)

The Parkclaw was designed to be an introductory shoe, great for trail running as well as road running.

Inov-8 built this trail shoe with the tread more closely mimicking a road shoe, meaning minimal lugs, 4mm.

While most of inov-8’s shoe models are built for a specific task – mud, rocks, etc. – the Parkclaw is built to handle a little bit of everything. But because this was designed to be a generalist shoe, it’s not going to excel in any one area.

If you’re looking to traverse extremely rocky courses, the Roclite might be a more suitable model.

What you’ll notice:

  • Padded Heel and Tongue
You will feel an added level of comfort with the extra padding in the heel and tongue areas. Like a little hug wrapping around your feet while you run.
  • Breathable

This shoe has a mesh upper that allows great airflow. Because no one likes sweaty feet. And the mesh is closely knitted to help keep out dirt and debris.

With a mesh upper, this shoe isn’t waterproof. But it dries out quickly.

However, the Parkclaw comes in a waterproof model (with GTX in the name), in case you enjoy running in the rain.

inov-8 Roclite G 275 – inov-8’s shoe for rough and rocky terrain

An interesting fact about the Roclite G 275: Runner Jasmin Paris won the 268-mile Spine Race in 2019 wearing this shoe. Unlike other runners in the event, she never swapped out her shoes. And she said she had plenty of cushion and comfort throughout the race.

The Roclite 275 was built to be a light and grippy model for technical terrain. This shoe's grip can hold its own in wet or dry conditions. And, with a full-length rock plate, it protects from sharp objects and debris.

With 6mm lugs, the Roclite does a decent job on moderately muddy trails. However, if you’ll be running through much deeper mud, a model with more aggressive lugs like the X-Talon (8mm) might do a better job.

Also, like the Parkclaw, the Roclite is available in a GTX (waterproof) model.

What you’ll notice:

  • Stretchy

This shoe is made with an expanding material. It wraps snug around your foot but gives way for expansion if your feet begin to swell.

  • Softer midsole

This shoe has a softer midsole than your average inov-8 models so you can run comfortably for longer distances. Though some runners mentioned it was still a tad firm in the heel.

What to look for in a trail running shoe

Most trail shoes will transition smoothly from the trail to road running, with the exception of shoes with deep aggressive lugs. But you wouldn’t want to wear an average road running shoe on the trails. Road shoes lack the technology needed to protect your feet from the unknown elements of the terrain.

For trail running, the build of the shoe is important. You need underfoot protection from the rough terrain. You’ll need lugs for biting down into the mud. Also, you’ll need an outsole with great grip for slippery or rocky surfaces.

Also, related to trail running, you have the heel-to-toe drop. The drop relates to the difference in the height of the heel and the forefoot. Some runners prefer a higher drop, such as 10mm - 12mm, for a laid back ride. Others prefer a lower drop, such as 0mm - 4mm, for a faster, more aggressive run.

A note to point out is that most trail shoes have a lower drop than a running shoe. This may take a little getting used to if you are new to trail running.

When it comes to cushioning, all of the inov-8 shoes have more of a minimalist insole. Some runners refer to them as thin and firm.

How do I choose the best inov-8 trail running shoe for me?

You’ll want to choose a trail shoe based on the types of runs you plan on doing.

Let’s take a look at some of the differentiators.

Casual runs

This would be for runners just wanting to get in some cardio or relieve a bit of stress. Or if you like to rotate from light trails to the road.

For this type of running, you’ll want a multi-task shoe like the Parkclaw 275. It’s not overly aggressive but great for lighter trails. Also, this shoe is versatile for transitioning to the road. Or you could try the Terraultra G 270 which weighs a tad bit less but it has a more minimal feel.

Tempo/Fartlek training

Tempo training is for people that want to condition their muscles, including the heart. These types of runs could include sprinting, jogging, and even speed walking if you’re just introducing yourself to trail running.

For this level of training, you’ll need a shoe that offers underfoot protection and stability like the Roclite. The Roclite is designed to take on technical terrain. It has great grip and solid lugs needed to help lock you securely into each step.

If you’re going to be doing more strenuous training you could choose the X-Talon. These shoes are great on trails with deep mud pits. Also, they’re great for diverse obstacle courses.

The X-Talon was built to handle more difficult terrain. This shoe has an impressive 8mm lug and graphene infused outsole making it aggressive and nearly indestructible. But, it also has an impressive price tag.

If you want a less expensive option, the Mudclaw might be a good choice. But just be advised that it weighs a tad bit more.

Racing/speed(5k-half marathon)

For marathon racing, you’re going to want a shoe that can take on the unknowns of the trail without getting in your way and also be a speedy shoe.

For short distance races, half marathons, or ultramarathons, the Roclite would also be a good choice here. It’s a lightweight model weighing 275 grams (or 9.7 ounces). The Roclite was built for technical terrain and has plenty of cushioning in the midsole to keep your feet comfortable for miles on end.

Another lightweight option would be the Terraultra. While it weighs a tad bit less than the Roclite, there is a compromise. This shoe doesn’t have a rock plate to protect you from sharp objects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use inov-8 trail running shoes for road running?

The short answer would be yes. But, keep in mind that most trail running shoes are built with technology and features designed for the difficult elements of the trail. For instance, trail shoes have lugs that are designed for biting down into dirt or mud. So, wearing your trail shoes on hard surfaces, like pavement, will tend to cause more wear on the lugs.

How often should I replace my inov-8 trail running shoes?

You might want to start thinking about replacing your trail runners after about 300 miles or so. However, depending on the durability of the shoe, they may last 500 miles or longer.

Here are some key indicators that tell you it’s time to look into a new pair:

  • When the midsole starts to wear out, you may begin to notice achy joints or discomfort. This is a sure sign to replace your shoes.

  • Another thing to watch for is creasing in the midsole. Creases indicate that the shock absorption in the midsole has worn out.

  • You want to avoid running in shoes that have uneven or heavily worn tread. A lot of us are guilty of wanting to squeeze every last drop out of something to get our money’s worth. But when it comes to your safety on the trail, don’t risk it on the worn-down tread.

  • The most important thing is to stay in tune with your own body. Pain and discomfort after a run are all you need to know. Time to pamper your feet with an upgrade.

How do I make my trail runners last longer?

As with anything, the input equals the output. If you want something to last longer, then you need to take care of it.

  • Avoid putting stress on the heel of the shoe. Instead of scraping one shoe against the other to kick them off, simply untie them and remove them gently.
  • Never put your shoes in the washer or dryer. This will damage the structure and technology.
  • Finally, it’s always a good practice to rotate your running shoes to allow time for the midsole to reset to its original form. This one practice alone can extend the life of your trail runners.

I need help deciding: Which would be the best trail shoe for a beginner?

As a beginner, you’re going to want a shoe that offers a little bit of everything.

You’ll need to take a bit of time to learn your likes and dislikes to decide what type of terrain you prefer.

The Parkclaw 275 would be a great model to introduce you to the world of trail running. Not only does it offer technologies for a variety of terrain, but it’s versatile for road running as well. The Parkclaw also has an introductory price tag at only $69.95, so you can trek into trail running without breaking the bank.

Once you find your niche, you can upgrade to a model that best fits your running style and needs.

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