We spent 7.9 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

6 reasons to buy

  • Most of the runners agreed that the Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is a great running shoe for obstacle course races because of its design and performance. 
  • Several buyers lauded the superb quality of the shoe; they said it is very durable.
  • A few users mentioned that the shoe has a visually-appealing design.
  • According to a few user comments, this trail running shoe offers reliable grip on wet surfaces.
  • The shoe is relatively lightweight as compared to other premium trail shoes.
  • One tester highlighted the breathable and comfortable upper of the Trail Talon 235.

2 reasons not to buy

  • A couple of users mentioned that the shoe takes some time to break in.
  • Some disappointed runners said that the poor underfoot padding provides limited rock protection.

Bottom line

Users gave the Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 mixed reviews. Some runners admired the shoe's durability, grip, and comfort, but others are unhappy because it lacks underfoot protection. Despite the mixed feedback, in general, the Trail Talon 235 is still a wonderful trail shoe. Runners who are looking for an affordable and relatively lightweight shoe for off-road running should give this shoe a try.



A top rated Trail running shoe
A popular pick

Expert Reviews

89 / 100 based on 10 expert reviews

  • 96 / 100 |

    Soaring through all terrains: A review of the Inov-8 Trail Talon 235

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    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.

    The Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is a lightweight trail shoe with an aggressive tread pattern.



    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:

    1. Some concrete/asphalt
    2. Packed sandy, dry dirt trails
    3. Grass covered slopes
    4. 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

    Final Thoughts

    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.

  • 92 / 100 |

    Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 - What sets it apart from the rest?

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    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.

    Before the release of the Hoka One One Speed Evo Jawz and the La Sportiva VK this year, 8-ounce trail running shoes were the lightest (non-barefoot) trail running shoes on the market.

    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.

    Great grip

    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.

    Soft Cushion

    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.

    Toe Bumper

    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.



    Shoe Brand Size
    Inov-8 12.5
    Merrell 12
    Brooks 12.5
    Saucony 12
    Altra 12
    New Balance 12
    Nike 12.5
    Scott 12.5
    Adidas 12.5
    Hoka One One   12.5
    Vibram 12
    Vivobarefoot 12


    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.

    Best Uses

    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.

  • 85 / 100 | Trail & Kale | Level 2 expert

    If you are a big fan of the Salomon S-Lab Sense but you want to try something different just to see if its slightly more comfortable. A little bit cheaper as well then why not try this shoe Trail Talon 235 from Inov-8.

  • 88 / 100 | Gear Institute | Level 4 expert

    The Inov-8 Trail Talon 235 is a no frills, lightweight trail shoe. It is fast, flexible and firm and will be a fantastic sub marathon distance race shoe. This updated version has a sock like fit that is very comfortable right out of the box. It has very little underfoot protection so it is best suited on buffed or non highly technical trails.

Become an expert
  • 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.

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. 

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.