Inov-8 Trail Talon 235
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87% say it's true to size.
Overview of this review
I am a 41-year-old neutral runner with a mid-foot strike, about 170 pounds and 6’ 1” tall.
I race all distances, from 5Ks to Marathons, and spend at least half of my year training for an upcoming marathon.
Out of the Box
“Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated,” were the first words I read as I opened up the box, and I chuckled in agreement. I could tell Inov-8 would be a shoe manufacturer that aligned with my running passion.
When I first noticed the triangle lugs on the bottom of the outsoles pointing in opposite directions, I thought it was odd. However, as I ran in the shoes, I realized the design was intentional and must have a specific purpose (more on that later).
Observe the additional band around the posterior of the heel; this additional support straps in the heel and provides noticeable security, eliminating slippage. The toe-box is comfortably adequate for my foot, and it sits atop a stable platform.
Lastly, out of the box, I noticed the shoe’s forefoot is extremely thin and flexible. This would prove to be a major help and a minor hindrance to my trail running…
On the Trail
I took these shoes through the gamut of winter training, from post-marathon slow recovery miles to faster aerobic paces.
As of this writing, I have run in the Trail Talon 235s a total of 50 miles, and I’ve run on a variety of surfaces:
- Some concrete/asphalt
- Packed sandy, dry dirt trails
- Grass covered slopes
- Wet, mud and clay trails
Overall, the shoes felt and performed exceptionally well.
They are nimble, stable, and fast. I did not experience one instance of slippage, twisting, rubbing, or instability over the miles I ran in these shoes. I ran in dry conditions and soaking wet conditions.
The shoes are not waterproof (they do not claim to be), which allowed wet and cold feet, but because of the design, any water that made its way into the shoes was immediately flushed out, and the shoes carried very little extra water weight.
I ran on a particular trail nearby that had sticky mud, and the shoes began collecting mud on the bottoms.
At first, I was a little alarmed by the mud collecting on my shoes, but as I kept running, I noticed the mud sloughed off and I maintained grip and stability. I credit this to a good tread pattern on the outsoles, as well as its flexibility.
Though the shoes did retain a certain amount of mud, it was not too much to handle for off-road running.
The thin sole on the forefoot definitely allows for tremendous speed and great traction, especially switching between surfaces, but it is not without sacrificing a little protection from elements on the trail.
On several occasions, I felt the sharp pain of larger stones, and even a large acorn, as my foot planted unknowingly on them. These instances caused no injury, just sharp pain through the sole.
- Lateral stability
- Traction on wet and unstable surfaces
- Grippy shoelaces
- Firm heel, flexible forefoot
- Forefoot a little too thin for larger rocks
- Sticky mud collects easily
Everything about the Trail Talon 235, from the great shoelaces to the aggressive tread, make it a great multi-purpose, multi-surface running shoe. If you are looking for a speedy, nimble shoe, that will carry you through a variety of surfaces, this shoe is for you.
As far as durability goes, after 50 miles, I see very little wear on the tread, convincing me that this shoe will last hundreds of miles.
The Inov 8 Trailtalon 235 is a lightweight trail running shoe that performs extremely well as a daily trainer and a trail racer.
What makes the Trail Talon 235 stand out from the standard trail running shoe?
The Trail Talon 235 is a very lightweight running shoe. As the name suggests, the Trail Talon weighs a mere 235 grams or 8.2 ounces.
The Trail Talon 235 is one of those shoes that never weighs you down, while still providing great traction and protection.
The Trail Talon 235 is a very neutral shoe. The shoe provides no arch support at all.
This is due to the combination of the unsupportive insole, an insignificant 4-millimeter drop, and the strobel board: a hard piece of the midsole that lays directly underneath the insole, providing your foot with a harder surface, so it can stand as it naturally would if you were barefoot.
The Trail Talon 235 has no heel cup to provide support. Inov-8 includes two extremely thin pieces of plastic where a heel cup would go to act as a lightweight heel cup replacement, but they don’t provide much support at all.
The Trail Talon 235 has a wide toe box. The toe box is not as wide as an Altra (extremely wide), but it is wide enough such that the shoe does not obstruct a natural, powerful toe splay.
The Trail Talon 235 is very neutral and unobstructive of your natural movement patterns, which is one of the shoes great strengths.
The Trail Talon 235 has a very soft breathable upper.
My feet were much cooler in this shoe than in similar trail running shoes; however, great breathability comes with great susceptibility to the elements. More debris entered the Trail Talon 235 than other trail running shoes.
I am truly astounded by the quality of the outsole. Somehow, in an 8-ounce shoe, Inov-8 developed a rugged outsole that provides amazing traction, durability and does not even hinder flexibility. Inov-8 uses a thick slab of a lightweight sticky rubber compound.
The outsole features shallow yet aggressive multi-directional lugs that bite into the ground. The lugs are wide and flat enough so that the shoe is comfortable on roads and packed trails, yet they are laterally jagged, providing secure traction on loser terrain.
The Trail Talon 235 does not feature a rock plate; however, in a lightweight shoe where you tread lightly anyway, the thick outsole compensates appropriately. The outsole equips this shoe for a variety of harsh conditions, including snow, mud and rugged trail.
So many lightweight trail running shoes have very firm cushioning, providing very little dampening effect from the impacts of running. The Trail Talon 235 has much softer cushions so that it can provide a dampening effect while still remaining lightweight and minimal.
This is one of my favorite aspects of the Trail Talon 235: it has a softer ride and does not waste any weight on the useless midsole. Some trail runners argue that firmer cushion provides better protection on rugged trails, however, the thick rubber outsole provides enough protection for this shoe.
Some features of the Trail Talon 235 causes the shoe to stand out in a negative way.
The Trail Talon’s tongue sets the shoe apart from other trail running shoes in a negative way.
The tongue does not sit on top of the foot comfortably, rather, it folds over on the foot creating an uncomfortable pressure point. Apart from this issue, the Trail Talon 235 has a very comfortable upper.
The toe bumper is a feature meant to protect the foot when you stub your toe on a rock (we all do it!).
The toe bumper on the Trail Talon 235 is not very sturdy all. The toe bumper is made of a thin, flimsy piece of plastic that is used as overlays on other parts of the shoe. It does not provide as much protection for your toes when you do hit a rock.
|Hoka One One||12.5|
Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 Vs. Altra superior 3.0
The Trail Talon 235 and Superior 3.0 are very similar shoes; however, there are a few minor differences.
The Superior has slightly firmer cushioning, a slightly wider toe box, and a slightly less aggressive of a tread. The Trail Talon has a more breathable but has more permeable upper. Also, the Superior is about an ounce heavier.
Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 Vs. La Sportiva Helios SR
The Helios is geared more towards speed and less towards daily training whereas the Trail Talon is the opposite.
The Helios features stickier rubber than the Trail Talon, but the lugs are not as deep and the outsole is less durable. The Helios has a much snugger fit than the Trail Talon. Both shoes feature soft Eva compounds for cushioning, and both shoes weigh the same amount.
Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 Vs. Brooks PureGrit 7
The Trail Talon 235 and Puregrit 7 have a similar fit and similar ride, however, the Puregrit 7 has about 2 ounces extra of protective features.
The Puregrit has a rock plate, dense foam, and a thicker, more protective outsole. The Puregrit 7 also has more stability features than the Trail Talon 235. The Puregrit is still a neutral shoe, however, the Trail Talon is less obstructive of your natural gait.
I would recommend the Trail Talon 235 to anyone looking for a lightweight all-around trail running shoe that lets them run naturally, while still providing the protection of a standard trail running shoe.
I would only recommend this shoe to runners with a low impact, efficient running form, as it does not provide significant impact protection. I also do not recommend this shoe to runners who run on too much loose dirt or sand because the debris will enter the shoe.
Overall, the Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is a great low profile trail running shoe. I really enjoyed testing this shoe. The only real problems with this shoe were the tongue folding over and debris entering the shoe.
The Trail Talon 235 is one of the lightest trail running shoes on the market that provides the soft ride of a daily trainer while still being able to double as a trail racer.
The big difference is the weight and flexibility of the 235. Whilst the 275 is great for long runs and the Goretex version is great when it is wet, it can feel a bit clunky and not really suited to fast, tempo runs.
Can the 235 provide a speedier ride or is it best to hedge your bets and stick to the multipurpose 275?
The upper design is pretty much identical to the 275 version in that there is a lightweight, breathable mesh upper with a little bit of protection around the toe and the heel. The protection is largely cosmetic as it will prevent scuffs but won’t do much to protect your toes.
The padding on the tongue and collar is minimal and they sit quite low on your feet. The tongue does do a good job of keeping out debris and I have not had to stop to remove anything whilst running on dusty trails.
How do they feel?
The upper is very light and flexible and the fit is loose feeling. They are breathable and my feet have not felt warm even in the hottest part of summer.
They need to be laced carefully to make sure your feet stay in place but once this is done they hold your feet well. If I was between sizes I would go down rather than up due to the width but generally, they run true to size.
The lacing system allowed for plenty of adjustment to give a snug and secure fit but the laces were a bit long so I had to tuck them in to make sure I didn’t tread on them mid-run.
There was enough padding around the collar without ever feeling restrictive and the lightly padded tongue was never anything but comfortable. The fit is much looser than the similar Terraclaw 220 and if you have very narrow feet this could be an issue but for me, they felt great out of the box. They also feel lightweight and way more flexible than the 275.
I have run with the 235 on the road to reach a trail and they felt fine. I wouldn’t run too far on the road because even though there is the Powerflow cushioning it seems to be based more at the heel than the forefoot. If you are a heel striker this won’t be an issue but for forefoot strikers like me, I started to notice it on long spells on hard ground.
The grip is great as always from Inov-8 and the low heel to toe drop allows for quick direction changes and all the stability you could want. I have only worn them in the spring and summer so not too much mud but up and down trails they felt great. As long as the trails are not too far away the 235 make a good road to trail shoe and the lightweight encourages you to kick on when you can.
What about underneath?
You get lots of fancy words all over the 235 but basically, you get the tried and tested tread design from the previous Inov-8. The soles are made of different materials with the toughest material on the heel with softer rubber on the edges to increase grip where you need it most.
The 4mm lugs work in all but the wettest, muddiest conditions when it is time to get the Mudclaws out. I mainly run on packed trails or grass in them and they never slip, even on severe slopes.
The soles instill confidence and you end up taking grip for granted. The thinner sole is noticeable though as you can feel sharp stones under your feet. If I was going to run on a really rocky path I’d probably go for the 275 with their thicker soles.
I have done a fair bit of road to trail with them so far and the grip seems to be holding up well so far giving me no worries about their durability.
In my view, the Trail Talon 235 are for fast, shorter trail runs with a bit of road mixed in. They are comfy straight out of the box and look good too.
They wouldn’t be my choice for long, leisurely runs as the cushioning is not quite enough for me. They are ideal for 5ks and Parkruns on spring or autumn days when there is still a bit of give in the round.
On summer days, they feel faster and lighter than most trail shoes but your feet do suffer a bit on longer runs. I have done a few 5k races in them and they encourage you to push on without worrying about slipping.
The Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is an excellent short distance, fast trail shoe. In terms style, they are a match for the heavier Trail Talons but do sacrifice a little bit of comfort for speed. I will keep them for the drier months as the upper does not look as though it would fare that well against deep mud but I am fairly sure they will drain well if I did take them out in the wet.
Having a pair of the 235 and a pair of the Trail Talon 275 GTX for when the weather turns should cover most trail runs. Inov-8 have done it again by making an excellent shoe that fills a precise running niche.
A couple of races coming up, higher mileage, steeper hills, interesting terrain variety: no need for other excuses to put a new pair of shoes to the hard test.
According to the specifications, the Inov-8 Trailtalon 235 comes across as light and nimble, yet aggressive enough for technical trails, but comfy at the same time. The price is more than fair. No second thoughts here.
The 235’s are part of the Trailtalon family. ‘235’ is the nominal weight (in grams) for the shoe.
Mine (men's, size 10.5) is slightly heavier at approximately 270g. I assume 235g is the average weight for a size 9 or so. Still, these are relatively lightweight for a trail shoe.
It fits true to size, potentially ever so slightly larger, but I find that this offers more space for the toes to spread out.
Heel to toe drop is 4mm. They come in a limited variety of colourways, although Inov-8 has recently released a ‘V2’ version, which should offer more colour choice.
In my case, the break in was somewhat a mixed bag with the shoes feeling too large and loose for the first few runs.
Now, after some 100 miles, I can tell that the Trail Talon 235 just requires a bit longer than the average shoe to get used to. I think that the impression of wearing a ‘loose’ shoe comes in part from the fact that the 235’s are quite light and substantially breathable.
However, the thin upper and outsole (more on this later), do certainly contribute to the funny feeling.
The Trail Talon 235 feature a very appealing upper. The stretchable mesh material offers very good breathability and low weight.
These shoes will definitely keep your feet nice and cool as you smash your PB. Having said that, breathability comes at a price, as the Trail Talon is not waterproof in the slightest.
The thin upper also offers very little protection from the occasional flying rock or stick. When wet, these shoes also feel quite cold, so be warned: check weather conditions and terrain, or suffer the consequences.
Laces are also pleasant to look at with colour pattern matching the upper. However, these are too thin and overlong. This can be a problem as the laces tend to come undone or get caught into branches, if not secured properly.
Another feature that I have come to love and hate is the low collar. While this provides freedom of movement and basically full control on the footing, this is also a very inviting entry point for all sorts of debris on a trail. Gaiter hooks have been provided to partially address this issue.
This has been cut to the minimum, mostly to save on weight, I guess. As a result, cushioning is very limited for the 235’s.
I have tested them on a 20-mile run on tarmac, not something I (or the manufacturer) would recommend, but the impact on the foot is quite something.
Having said that, the amount of wear was incredibly low on the outsole. This is remarkable, given that these shoes are not designed for road running. Big kudos to Inov-8 here!
A sore point to mention with regards to cushioning: during a particularly steep descent, I suffered from bad blistering at both heels.
It's something I had never experienced before, and I believe it had something to do with a combination of poor cushioning, steep slope, and debris making their way into the shoes and rubbing against my feet.
I think this is partly due to the low collar, which does not offer full protection from flying debris. Lack of cushioning, however, exacerbates this issue, making these shoes potentially unsuitable for very steep descents.
Low collar and thin, long laces
The outsole of the Trail Talon 235 offers some food for thought. The lugs have a good depth and are widely spaced so that the sole is "self-cleaning" (i.e., the dirt falls off more easily and avoids clumping at the bottom of the shoes).
This is a really useful feature, as the shoe preserves traction and does not gain weight from debris. However, the Trail Talon is definitely not mud-friendly, nor they claim to be.
Traction on mud is not too bad. After a few yards or miles, depending on mud texture, the outsole is unable to shed the mud, so that the shoe becomes unstable and heavy.
Compact trails are where the magic happens. The wide contact area and multi-directional studs are just right to provide fantastic grip and stability.
Aggressive composite outsole
The outsole also features three sticky rubber compounds that are differentially distributed to provide durability, traction, and stability. Gravel, compact soil, leafy trails - these are all great running surfaces for the 235’s.
What about technical, rocky trails? Here is where I think these shoes fall short. While traction is astounding both up and downhill, protection from rocks is basically non-existent.
Protective areas have been added to the upper. For instance, a heel cage and a thicker toe bumper. However, these leave other areas of the upper and outsole exposed.
Toe bumper – the cute little Inov-8 foot
This is particularly evident during descents, where the shoe fails to properly cushion the impact with pointier rocks. Flying stones can also hit hard on the inner foot, which is not a pleasant experience.
Performance on stage
Approximately 50 miles total on mixed terrain including tarmac, compact sand, mud, grass, gravel, rocky trails; you name it.
Performance: poor to fantastic, depending on terrain. Generally below expectations on technical, rocky, and steep trails, but well above standards on compact soil.
Half marathon distance on mixed terrain including tarmac, leafy trails, little mud.
Performance: absolutely delighted!
Scrambling up a hill – great traction here
This is a 35 miler on mixed terrain, mostly rocky trails, gravel, compact paths.
Performance: good, tainted by blisters caused during previous training runs on the same shoes.
Rolling along a towpath – lightness in action
I have to admit I am in a difficult relationship with my Trail Talon 235. Blister issues certainly play a part in my judgment, but a number of other mishaps such as overlong laces, poor foot protection, and low collar all come into play.
Despite this, the Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is still an excellent trail shoe. This can certainly be a good companion if you like to race fast on compact trails, or if OCR is what makes you tick.
However, on technical, rocky, or very muddy trails or generally, over long distances, the Trailtalon 235 would not be my top choice.
I bought the Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 in preparation for my first 100km trail run. I wanted a single shoe for trails and roads (I’m a suburbanite, so most of my training was on roads).
For me, the most important factors in running shoes are comfort and colour.
I need to understand what my shoe does for me. Even if the shoe has features that I don’t use, I make sure that I know what they are.
I’m also shallow enough that appearance is important—I don’t like luminescent shoes, but I prefer those with a cool colour scheme, particularly with a red one.
But, I like the idea of its thin sole that connects you to the ground that you’re running on. I love experiencing my environment, and thin shoes don’t block it out.
A lot of people prefer some cushioning when they run, but I try to minimise this. The Talenclaw is a very technical shoe with lots of engineered features, and it’s very light.
It’s definitely not a minimal shoe, but it has features that aspire to element the best aspects of the minimal shoe.
The Talenclaw has a very stiff sole, which doesn’t feel like a lot of cushioning to me. This feature is something that works for me as it absorbs a lot of the sharpness you get on the trails.
At the same time, it doesn’t feel like I’m walking on springs. I would prefer the sole having even less cushioning and more flexibility. But, it still generally worked for me.
My previous main running shoe was an Inov-8 F-Lite 195. It was much thinner than this.
And, although I think the Trail Talon was more comfortable to run with, I could also feel that my soles got bruises after a run that involved sharp rocks.
Sometimes, it feels like I am getting a Balinese foot massage by the sharp stones through the sole.
The heel drop is also suitable for me. The 4mm heel to toe drop is one of the lowest shoes I’ve been able to find in the style that I like. This drop is a personal preference.
It goes without saying that liking minimal shoes means liking a shallow drop.
The “toe box” of the Trail Talon feels very roomy to my narrow feet. But, I felt that the saddle was not very flexible and could feel very painful after very long runs if my feet swelled up.
This incident happened even after the shoe had properly been “broken in”. Moreover, it could only be alleviated by deliberately not tightening the laces too much.
I didn’t like the laces that came with them either. These are not like other running shoelaces.
These laces have the worst features from the opposite ends of the spectrum—it was difficult to untie when taking off and comes undone when they are off.
A potential solution could be using elastic laces (the same one I used with my last pair of shoes), but I’d rather have all of this sorted before I first bought the shoe.
These were the first shoes I’ve worn where I started wearing toe socks, and I really like them, too. I bought one pair that fell apart pretty quickly.
Then, I upgraded to Injinjis for all of my long runs. These socks really improved the comfort of the shoes.
These Injinjis allow you the benefit of the Talenclaw’s large toe box—it’s nice to be able to wiggle your toes without taking your shoes off.
One feature that I like about them is their breathability. Apart from the tightness around the saddle, it really didn’t feel like my feet were being constricted.
The porousness of the fabric also worked when they got wet. A lot of my training runs involved total foot immersion, so having them dry off really quickly is great.
Inov-8 claim that these shoes have a highly durable material for the upper, but that's not true.
The sole is indestructible, but when I tripped on a trail, I tore the upper near the toes. Thus, dirt and rocks came in during rough, dusty descents.
Shoes designed for trail running should be robust all over as there’s so much potential trauma in these routes. Razor-sharp rocks and plants often find their way onto running trails.
How do they look? They look cool.
It is crucial to me that my running shoes are red. I don’t love the shade of red that the Trail Talon’s come in. It’s a bit too pink for my liking.
But, the grey and black patterns make them look pretty sweet.
Pros: Super light and breathable
Cons: Tight and fragile
Updates to Inov-8 Trail Talon 235
- Inov-8’s external heel cage was put on the rear part of the shoe to minimally support the heel, preventing it from moving from side to side as the runner is in motion. The cage also enhances the fit on the heel, making runners feel secure.
- On the tip of the shoe is a welded film toe bumper for enhanced protection. During trail runs, it’s highly likely that runners bump into different objects. To prevent injury and stubbing of the toes, the tough bumper was added.
- The Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is equipped with the PowerFlow midsole which delivers 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return compared to standard midsoles in the market. The result is a run that’s smoother and more effortless.
- Aggressive lugs with wide contact areas ensure that the sole has sufficient grip and traction on most surfaces. Generally, however, the outsole was designed to perform best on hard-packed trails, just like the Salomon Speedcross 5.
- Gaiter hooks have been provided so there’s a system that caters to the attachment of Inov-8’s All Terrain Gaiter.
Size and fit
Inov-8 has developed their own grading system so runners can accurately measure the fit of shoes they are interested in. The scale ranges from 1 to 5. Grade 1 is similar to the industry B fit, while Grade 5, the widest on the scale, is similar to a 2E fit on the forefoot. The Trail Talon 235 ranks 4 on the Fit Scale. As for length, runners can make use of their usual length measurements.
The outsole is made up of three different kinds of sticky rubber. This is why the outsole material is called the Tri-C Compound. More specifically, the hardest sticky rubber is found on the heel which is an area that receives most of the battery while on the trail. Medium sticky rubber was placed on the center for increased traction, while the softer sticky rubber was placed on the edges to facilitate maximum movement with every stride.
On the forefoot, a Meta-Flex line can be found. It runs through the middle part of the forefoot to promote the bending and flexing during the toe-off phase of the running gait cycle. Because the forefoot can easily bend, more power and spring is dedicated to propelling forward.
There are studs on the bottom of the shoe that measure 4mm deep. Each stud or lug has a wide contact area, providing an aggressive grip and better stability. In between each stud, there’s a good amount of space, so debris is quickly released, preventing anything from getting lodged in between the lugs.
The midsole is made of a unique compound called the PowerFlow. This material was designed to give runners an effortless ride since it absorbs shock better on the heel and encourages increased energy return on the forefoot. It delivers all of these benefits without compromising cushioning.
The Dynamic Fascia Band (DFB), running from the heel to the forefoot, is equipped. This structure replicates the anatomical position of the plantar fascia ligament. It also mimics its movement, acting as a rigid propulsion lever. It carries the entire weight of the runner during the toe-off phase of the running cycle, propelling the runner forward with each stride.
Inov-8 has developed a shock zone system that indicates how much cushioning, drop and speed a midsole can potentially provide. Most Inov-8 midsoles are marked with a specific number of arrows that range from zero to three. Zero has lower levels of cushioning but delivers better responsiveness and speed, while three arrows indicate maximum cushioning and protection. Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is marked with one arrow.
The upper is made up of stretchable synthetic mesh which brings a lightweight and breathable coverage. The material does not add significant weight to the shoe, but it does provide a snug, customized and comfortable fit. It also allows the foot to breath, allowing proper aeration.
To give structure to the mesh and a bit of support to the midfoot, the Met-Cradle was added. This feature is the synthetic webbing on the upper that minimally stabilizes the midfoot and improves the fit on this part.
An external heel cage was added, so the heel has better support, preventing it from moving side to side as the runner is in motion. It also enhances the fit on the area where it is on, permitting the runner to feel more secure and confident while going over the trail at a faster speed.
On the tip of the shoe is a toe cap that adds on to the upper’s durability. Its main purpose, though, is to protect the toes from injury caused by accidentally bumping into different objects during runs.
The lacing of the Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is standard. The base of the laces, where the eyelets are, is connected to the Met-Cradle. The webbing adapts as the laces are tightened, further securing the fit on the midfoot.
The laces sit on top of a padded tongue. This protects the instep from getting irritated through rubbing or pressure. There’s a guidance loop on the middle of the tongue to keep the shoe laces in place.