A great all-round mixed terrain trail shoe.
Before we go into a little more detail regarding specific elements of this shoe and start to be subjective let’s start by looking at the key features of the Terraclaw 250:
The Company & The Shoe
Founded in 2003 Inov-8 is a UK company with its roots firmly planted in producing footwear for the muddy British fells. It has though expanded it’s ‘footprint’ to include shoes in its range designed to cope with the rocky terrains of the Alps and the Rockies as well as the extremes of the Sahara and Antarctica.
The company we see now produces a wide range of running shoes designed to cope with an enormous range of terrains. Perhaps the hardest decision for the consumer is which model to purchase.
The model reviewed here, the Terraclaw 250, is a shoe that is aimed at, and as we’ll see ideally suited to, the less extreme of what off-road trails can throw at you.
It works extremely well on dry tracks, hard packed routes, moderately muddy and grassy sections as well as on stretches of tarmac and other solid surfaces.
Inov-8 shoes bear a number that relates to the weight of the shoe. It’s a little bit like the way some car manufacturers use the engine size in their model ranges. The 250 in the Terraclaw refers to a weight of 250gm.
The 250 refers to the weight of the shoe in grammes.
Clearly this is going to be slightly different for different sizes of shoe and I’m informed that the quoted number applies to a UK size 8 to 8.5 (Eu 42/42.5).
The shoes tested here are UK 8.5 (Eu 42.5) and when we weighed then on the Real Life Reviews ‘sensitive’ scales we saw a reading of 251 gm – no complaints there then regarding the weight claim.
My first observation when trying on these shoes could be entered at any point of this review. Out of the box they were extremely comfortable, almost slipper like. So much so that I had to take them straight out for an 8 mile trip around my local reservoir.
This is not normal form for me as I tend to start my video reviews with a look around the key features of a freshly unboxed pair.
I have quite normal feet, neither wide nor narrow fit and the Inov-8’s proved themselves, and have continued to do so, to be the most comfortable trail shoes that I’ve worn.
They have a roomy toe box and the heel cup has a snug but comfortable fit that holds without rubbing. From a size perspective they are what I would term; ‘true to size’.
My normal running shoe size is UK 8.5 (42.2 EU) which gives me space for my feet to swell a little whilst maintaining a good degree of freedom in the toe (my normal everyday shoe size is UK 8).
The upper as a whole is mesh (the version pictured in this review is the ‘chill’ model which allows a little more ventilation) and after a little over 100 miles use has held it’s form and shape showing no signs of wear whatsoever.
Welded on X-Lock overlay
The welded on X-Lock overlay certainly seems to do its job in keeping the toe box true to form, that is to say roomy for the toes but maintaining its shape and structure.
Similarly the synthetic leather rand and toe cap (double layer) around the front part of the shoe do their job of protecting the toes and foot rom any sharp of jagged rocks.
The tongue on this shoe is pretty standard and not a gusseted one. Having said that it works well and with its two angled loops (the top one is visible in the picture above) is held in place well by the laces.
These laces are flat and lightweight and again they do the job they are supposed to but if you’re not a regular ‘double knotter’ then start as they will work themselves loose.
Inov-8 uses a compressed EVA for their midsole and if you’re new to this then you are likely to find it quite firm.
Having said that though many runners are likely to feel little if any difference whilst running between this set up (with a sole that we’ll discuss shortly) and a shoe with a more forgiving midsole but firmer sole/grip.
Ultimately this area is about personal feel and I find the combination that Inov-8 have come up with ideal for the firmer, drier trails that I use the shoes for.
Certainly in terms of the midsole in isolation the compressed EVA does seem to improve durability over other shoes with more forgiving midsoles (such as Asics, Salomon and Saucony – although all of these have other features that balance out the final effect).
The stack goes from 22.5mm at the heel to 14.5mm at the forefoot giving a drop of 8mm. This certainly combined with the other features of the shoe to produce an extremely natural feel on the move.
A quick note here – the Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 is a neutral shoe and as such the midsole is structured to that end. However, the structure of the outsole combined with the relatively low stack height (as mentioned below) combines to give a degree of support (something that my slightly pronating left foot appreciates).
Compressed EVA Midsole, 8mm drop
Probably the first element that you’ll notice on the outsole is the lugs. In the case of the 250 these are 5mm triangular (truncated pyramids maybe!) that are arranged to give grip in all directions with obviously a dominance on traction moving forward with significant help when travelling down slope.
The lugs themselves are extremely good at shedding material be it stones or wet mud and grass.
5mm Triangular lugs, Soft and Hard Sticky Rubber and the Dynamic Fascia Band
Having rubbed your hand over the lugs you’ll probably then see that the sole itself is made up of two colours.
This isn’t simply aesthetic but signifies two different compounds, one hard and one medium (or softer – what innovate term their ‘Dual – C)’, of sticky rubber.
This combination gives excellent traction in all conditions. The lugs are short enough to cope with road and path sections whilst being long enough to deal admirably with most trail elements wet or dry.
The only real area where this shoe is going to be found a little ‘wanting’ is going to be in deep boggy areas where clearly a more dedicated shoe to this terrain will outperform.
The innovative feature of the sole is still to come though. The Dynamic Fascia Band replicates the position of the plantar fascia ligament and duplicates the ‘windlass’ effect of the foot.
According to Inov-8 the fascia band extends forward along the outsole and divides, just as the human fascia divides, into five bands that terminate anterior to the metatarsal heads.
As your body weight moves forward onto the metatarsals and the toes begin to extend, tension on this fascia band increases.
Then, when the heel leaves the ground the band resists the elongation of the medial arch to maintain strength and form and helping you to run more efficiently and economically.
Inov-8 claim that the fascia band resists elongation of the medial arch and carries entire body weight of the runner converting the shoe into a rigid propulsive lever.
In theory therefore, helping us to run a little faster, or so we’d all like to believe. So, does it work? A difficult one to answer.
Here we have a light shoe with a not too stiff outsole that gives the impression of being fast and firm that give just when you want it. It would appear from an entirely subjective point of view that Inov-8 have got something right.
The Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 is an excellent lightweight, comfy, roomy, mixed terrain general purpose trail shoe that is very breathable. It has one particularly innovative feature (the Dynamic Fascia Band) which appears to work.
This and the 8mm drop combined to give a shoe that feels fast. It sheds dirt, mud and stones extremely well and is also comfortable on the road.
The Dual C grip is great for dry and moderately wet conditions. There are lighter shoes out there but the Terraclaw 250 gives great protection for its 250gm.
If you’re in the market for a genuine mixed terrain trail shoe that is as equally at home on hard dry surfaces as it is on moderately wet terrain then this shoe is definitely worth a look. Try one on!
Best Feature: The tread, simple but truly effective.