Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022

Blister Brand Guide: Running Shoe Lineups

Intro

When considering a new running shoe, there are so many similar-looking shoes on the market being made by so many different companies, it is virtually impossible to (1) know where to begin; (2) quickly figure out which one or two products from a given brand might work well for you; and (3) determine what products from other brands might be the most similar and also worth considering.

So in our new “Blister Brand Guide” series, we provide an overview of the entire product lineup of a brand; highlight how each product stands out from the rest of that brand’s lineup; and help you figure out quickly and easily which shoe might work best for you. 

In our individual product reviews, we go very deep into the details of particular products. With these Brand Guides, the goal is not Depth, but Breadth. Our Brand Guides and full reviews are designed to complement each other — provide a broad overview of entire company lineups, and then also very detailed reviews of individual products. 

See our other running shoe Brand Guides

Inov-8: Brand Background

Inov-8 got their start as a fell-running brand in the UK. If you’re not familiar with fell running, or “hill running,” it basically entails off-road (and often off-trail) running straight up and down mountains, usually with a healthy dose of mud, loose rock, and slippery terrain. Inov-8’s original shoes were designed to tackle this gnarly terrain with narrow / precise fits, aggressive outsoles, and minimal designs.

The brand now offers a much wider variety of shoes, from road shoes to cushioned trail shoes to its original mud shoes. Most of these models still show evidence of the brand’s minimal, fell-running history, with lower stack heights, lower heel-to-toe drops, and firmer cushioning than more mainstream US brands such as Hoka and Altra. Inov-8 is one of the few brands that still offers numerous trail shoes with very low stack heights and drops, so if you’re a fan of minimal shoes, Inov-8 may be the brand for you.

Inov-8’s shoe naming system is different from most brands, and can actually be quite informative once you know what to look for. Rather than giving each shoe a random, unique name, Inov-8 shoes are named based on their outsole and weight. For example, the Trailtalon 235 V3 uses the brand’s Trailtalon outsole, which has a specific lug depth, tread pattern, and rubber compound, and weighs a claimed 235 g per shoe for a US Men’s size 9. The Trailtalon 290 V2 has the same outsole pattern but weighs 290 g per shoe; the X-Talon G 235 uses an X-Talon outsole and weighs 235 g, and so on. Additionally, all stated weights are based on a US Men’s Size 9 and a US Women’s Size 10.5. If all those similar names and numbers seem a bit confusing now, don’t worry — they’ll make more sense as you go through our brand guide (we hope).

It’s also worth noting that Inov-8 reports midsole thickness and lug depth separately on their website, while many brands combine midsole thickness and lug depth in their “stack height” measurement. With that in mind, we’re just using the midsole thickness for each shoe’s stack height in this brand guide — many of Inov-8’s trail shoes have extremely deep lugs, so reporting a combination of midsole thickness and lug depth would make many of their shoes seem much more cushioned than they actually are. For example, if we reported the midsole thickness + lug depth for a shoe like the X-Talon 255 V2, its stack height would be 16 mm (heel) / 11 mm (forefoot) — when in reality it only has 8 mm of actual cushioning in the heel and 5 mm in the forefoot. We’ll stick with midsole thickness to provide a more direct comparison of how much cushion each shoe in Inov-8’s lineup actually provides.

Inov-8 is still primarily a trail running brand, but they do offer several road shoes. In this brand guide, we’ll separately spell out the features and intended purpose of each shoe in Inov-8’s road and trail lineups. As always, shoes are organized from highest to lowest stack height. 

ROAD SHOES

(Most Cushioned to Least Cushioned)

Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER

The Roadclaw 275 Knit is one of Inov-8’s only shoes intended for pure road running. It features a two-piece POWERFLOW+ midsole for cushioning and protection, a higher stack height than many of Inov-8’s shoes, and a lightweight knit upper that’s supposed to be highly breathable. Even though the shoe is built for long road miles, the Roadclaw 275 Knit still has 4 mm lugs, so, in theory, it can be used as a road-to-trail option. If you’re looking for a lightweight road shoe with a higher drop that’s still at home on bike paths and non-technical trails, consider the Roadclaw 275 Knit.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $155.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER

Similar to the Parkclaw G 280, the Parkclaw 260 Knit is designed with both roads and trails in mind, however, this model prefers paved surfaces. Instead of Graphene, the Parkclaw 260 Knit’s outsole is made from Inov-8’s proprietary rubber, and the upper’s knitted material is less protective than the welded overlays used in other Inov-8 models. However, what the shoe surrenders in durability and ruggedness, it makes up for in breathability and weight. The Parkclaw 260 Knit has a higher stack height than the Parkclaw G 280 but weighs 20 g less, meaning better energy return from the shoe’s POWERFLOW+ midsole. If you’re looking for a lightweight road-to-trail option with enough foam to still damper the impact from running on hard surfaces, the Parkclaw 260 Knit might be a good fit.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $145.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER

The Parkclaw G 280 is new to Inov-8’s lineup this year and is intended as a road-to-trail option for runners covering mixed terrain. The shoe pairs an engineered mesh upper and premium G-FLY foam midsole with an outsole made with super grippy Graphene for secure purchase on loose trails. The Parkclaw G 280 is a higher drop shoe from Inov-8 but makes sense for a model that will likely see plenty of road miles. While likely inadequate for technical terrain, the Parkclaw G 280 makes sense if your runs take you on a mixture of surfaces, or you’re just looking to restrict your shoe quiver to a pair or two.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $180.00
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The F-Lite Fly G 295 is designed to be a multi-purpose trainer for workouts both inside and outside the gym. The shoe features a single midsole / outsole piece made from Inov-8’s Graphene-enhanced G-FLY+ foam, which saves weight but probably detracts from the F-Lite Fly G 295’s overall durability if used exclusively for running. Inov-8 also pairs their G-FLY+ midsole with a standard mesh upper strengthened by 3D knit sections along the midfoot for an improved fit for explosive movements. While not suitable for long-distance road running, the F-Lite Fly G 295 could be a good option if you frequent workout classes that involve a bit of cardio.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $170.00

TRAIL SHOES

(Most Cushioned to Least Cushioned)

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The Trailfly Ultra G 300 MAX is Inov-8’s entry into the maximal trail shoe category. With a stack height of 25 mm, a 6 mm drop, a wider fit, and plenty of Graphene-enhanced G-FLY foam, the Trailfly Ultra G 300 MAX is an ideal candidate for long runs on hard-packed trails or roads. To avoid common stability issues that crop up in most maximal shoes, Inov-8 smartly includes an ADAPTER-FLEX groove underfoot to improve ground feel, and includes 4 mm lugs on their signature Graphene outsole. At 300 g, it’s a slightly heavy option for shorter, faster runs, but still on the lighter side compared to maximal shoes in its class. For runners looking for an ultra-distance option and who need extra room in the toe box, the Trailfly Ultra G 300 MAX fits the bill. Check out our full review for more info.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $190.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER
The Trailroc G 280 is a good all-around trail shoe for running a wide range of distances on technical terrain and hard-packed surfaces. It features a Graphene-enhanced outsole and a full-length rock plate for protection and grip on hard-packed, rocky trails; a POWERFLOW+ midsole for added comfort and cushioning; and a more traditional open mesh upper, which may be a bit more breathable in extremely hot conditions. The shoe’s moderate-width last should provide a comfortable fit for many runners. If you like the X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 but want something that performs better on firmer surfaces like roads or bike paths, consider the Trailroc G 280.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $155.00
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Like the previous version of the shoe, the Trailtalon 290 V2 is designed for long runs on variable terrain. It’s got moderately sized 4 mm lugs for traction on loose terrain and a smooth ride on hard-packed trails. The dual-layer POWERFLOW midsole provides good energy return and should make for a firmer ride when compared to models using POWERFLOW MAX or POWERFLOW+. The updated ADAPTERFIT upper is designed to stretch as the foot swells to maintain a comfortable fit on long runs, while also providing improved breathability relative to the previous version of the shoe. The Trailtalon 290 V2 has a slightly wider fit, making it a better option for runners with moderately wide feet. If you’re looking for a moderately cushioned, versatile shoe for long runs, the Trailtalon 290 may be a good option.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $155.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER

The X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 is designed to blend the fell-running features of Inov-8’s classic X-Talon shoes with the features of a long-distance trail shoe. It’s got a sticky rubber outsole with aggressive 8 mm lugs that should provide good grip on extremely muddy trails. But it’s also got a wider fit and softer POWERFLOW MAX midsole cushioning than Inov-8’s other mud shoes. Updates to the V1 model include a slimmed down tongue for an allegedly more secure fit. The X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 isn’t nearly as cushioned as most “ultra-distance” shoes out there, but if you want something grippy that’s still not extremely minimal and has a slightly wider fit, this shoe may be a good option.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $160.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER
The Roclite G 275 has a similar amount of cushioning to the Trailtalon 235 V3, but with a bit more structure and protection for technical terrain, which includes a full-length rock plate. It’s also got a slightly narrower fit, which should help it feel a bit more secure on uneven trails. The Graphene-enhanced outsole has more aggressive 6 mm lugs that should provide better grip on loose or muddy terrain than the Trailtalon. If you’re looking for a fairly light, low-to-the-ground shoe that’s still protective enough for technical running, the Roclite G 275 could be a solid option.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $145.00
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This version of the Roclite has the same feature set as the Roclite G 275, but with a waterproof / breathable Gore-Tex upper. While this does increase the weight a little, it also increases the shoe’s ability to protect your feet in nasty weather (while hampering breathability). If you like the looks of the Roclite G 275 but want some more protection for cold, wet runs, give this shoe a closer look.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $165.00
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The X-Talon G 235 is built on the same platform as the X-Talon G 210 V2, but offers slightly more protection for rockier terrain. It has a thin POWERFLOW+ midsole, and the same precision fit as the X-Talon G 210 V2, but with a rock plate and Graphene-enhanced outsole. The X-Talon G 235 should be slightly more protective on rocky trails and the Graphene-enhanced outsole rubber should be a bit more durable than the more traditional rubber compounds used on other X-Talon shoes. Like the X-Talon G 210 V2, the X-Talon G 235 is built on a narrow last, which should feel secure on technical terrain but might be a bit too narrow for runners with especially wide / high-volume feet.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $185.00
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Inov-8 describes the Oroc Ultra 290 as a “long-distance Orienteering shoe.” Orienteering involves navigating between designated points with a map and compass — usually off-trail and on extremely rugged terrain. To that end, the Oroc Ultra 290 has an aggressive, sticky rubber outsole with metal spikes to provide better grip on ice, snow, mud, and rocks. It also has a full-length rock plate and a durable ballistic nylon upper. The Oroc Ultra 290 also has a softer POWERFLOW+ midsole and slightly wider fit (similar to the Roclite G 290) to provide a more comfortable ride for longer runs and races. Whether or not you’re orienteering, the Oroc Ultra 290 could be a good option for runners who want an aggressive, high-traction shoe for running on snow and ice.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $160.00
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The Trailfly G 270 is Inov-8’s attempt to rebrand the popular Terraultra G 270, their long-distance-specific shoe for more moderate terrain; it’s an identical model under a new naming convention. Built on a zero-drop platform, the shoe shares a lot in common with the Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max in design and application, but with a bit less stack height. It also uses Inov-8’s new POWERFLOW MAX midsole foam, which Inov-8 claims will provide a more energetic ride. The Trailfly G 270 is built on Inov-8’s widest last, so it could be a good option for runners with wide feet. With that said, it probably won’t feel as stable / protective on technical terrain as a shoe like the Roclite G 290 — especially since the Trailfly G 270 doesn’t have a rock plate. But if you’re looking for a wider, softer, zero-drop shoe for longer days on more moderate terrain, the Trailfly G 270 could be a good fit.

Stack Height

Drop: 0 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $160.00
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The Mudclaw 300 is Inov-8’s original solution to running in extremely muddy, slippery, wet conditions. It has an extremely aggressive outsole with 8 mm lugs that are specifically designed to provide maximum grip in deep mud without allowing mud to build up in between lugs. The Mudclaw 300 doesn’t have a rock plate, so it will probably feel most at home on soft, muddy terrain without too many rocks. While it’s not built on Inov-8’s narrowest last, this is still a much narrower shoe than the Trailtalon or Roclite. If you’re looking for a low stack height, flexible mud shoe that provides a ton of traction in sloppy conditions, the Mudclaw 300 is worth a closer look.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $155.00
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This shoe is a lighter, lower-drop, lower-stack-height version of the Trailtalon 290 V2. It’s got the same POWERFLOW midsole and moderately aggressive, versatile outsole pattern. The lower drop, stack height, and weight should make the shoe feel speedy on faster runs. The updated version of the shoe also features a new external “heel cage,” which is basically just an extra set of more rigid overlays that wrap around the heel, and a strengthened upper. Both should make the Trailtalon 235 V3’s fit slightly more secure than the previous version of the shoe. Like the Trailtalon 290 V2, the Trailtalon 235 V3 has a moderately wide fit that should work for most runner’s feet. If you’re looking for a light, fast shoe for variable trails, the Trailtalon 235 V3 is worth checking out.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $140.00
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This model is the lowest-to-the-ground shoe in the Roclite line. It’s got the same moderately aggressive outsole with 6 mm lugs, full-length rock plate, and firm POWERFLOW midsole as other Roclite models, but with a lower stack height and drop. The outsole also uses Graphene-enhanced rubber to improve traction and durability relative to the traditional rubber found on some other Roclite models. It’s slightly narrower and more protective than the Trailtalon 235 V3, though it’s built on a much wider last than the X-Talon or Mudclaw. If you’re looking for a solid all-around shoe that’s protective enough for technical trails but rides closer to the ground, this shoe might be a good fit.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $145.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER
The Mudclaw 275 is built for speed and protection in muddy conditions. It’s got a sticky rubber outsole, deep 8 mm lugs, and an EXTEROFLOW midsole. It’s narrower than the Mudclaw 300, and should fit similarly to the X-Talon G 210 V2. The Mudclaw outsole is even more aggressive than the X-Talon models, so this shoe should provide even more grip than similar shoes in the X-Talon line. The burly outsole does add a little extra weight, but it should also make this shoe a better option for extremely technical terrain. If you’re looking for a fairly light, extremely grippy, protective shoe for muddy runs and races, the Mudclaw 275 might be the shoe for you.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $130.00
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The X-Talon G 210 V2 is a lightweight race shoe designed for obstacle-course racing and short, fast runs where solid traction is a must. It’s got an updated CORDURA mesh upper that’s designed to drain quickly and hold up against heavy wear. It’s built on Inov-8’s narrowest last to provide a secure fit, which might make it uncomfortable for runners with especially wide feet. The aggressive 8 mm sticky rubber lugs should provide traction on all kinds of soft, loose surfaces. The X-Talon G 210 V2 also features Inov-8’s graphene-enhanced G-GRIP outsole compound, which should be more durable and grippy than the standard rubber outsole found on the previous version of the shoe. The X-Talon G 210 V2’s low stack height, lack of a rock plate, and narrow fit will probably make this shoe less comfortable for longer runs, but if you’re looking for an extremely light yet grippy race-day shoe, it’s a solid option.

Stack Height

Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $180.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER
The Oroc 270 is built for the same rugged, off-trail orienteering settings as the Oroc Ultra 290, but with a feature set that lends itself to shorter, faster efforts. Like the Oroc Ultra 290, the Oroc 270 has a durable ballistic nylon upper and aggressive outsole complete with metal spikes that should improve grip on snow and ice. But the Oroc 270 is built on a narrower precision last, has a firmer midsole, and is much lower to the ground than the Oroc Ultra 290. It does still have a rock plate, but it will likely be less comfortable / protective for longer outings than the Oroc Ultra 290. With that said, the Oroc 270 could be a good option if you’re looking for a narrow, precise shoe for shorter runs and races that might include some ice and snow.

Stack Height

Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $160.00
Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER
This version of the Mudclaw has the same extremely aggressive outsole as the Mudclaw 300 and Mudclaw 275, but in an even lighter, more race-oriented package. The Graphene-enhanced outsole rubber should hold up longer than the brand’s other mud shoes, while the lower drop and stack height should make the shoe more suitable at faster paces. The EXTEROFLOW midsole and outsole consist of a layer of compressed EVA foam encased in Graphene rubber outsole material, which should improve durability. The Mudclaw G 260 V2 also has a new micro-fiber rand around the outside of the toe box, which Inov-8 claims will improve durability and protection in the forefoot. The diamond mesh upper is a bit more breathable than the canvas-like upper of the Mudclaw 300, but still has plenty of kevlar overlays to improve durability and protection. The Mudclaw G 260 V2 is built on Inov-8’s narrowest precision last, which should improve stability but might not work well for runners with especially wide feet. If you’re looking for a performance-oriented mud and obstacle-course racing shoe, the Mudclaw G 260 V2 is worth checking out.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $185.00

Least Cushion

Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022, BLISTER
The X-Talon 255 V2 is another option for running on loose terrain. It features a low stack height, low drop, and an aggressive outsole made from Inov-8’s STICKYGRIP rubber compound. The X-Talon 255 V2 also has a ballistic nylon upper with extra TPU midfoot overlays to improve durability and provide a more secure fit. If you’re most concerned about maximum grip and durability and don’t mind the extra weight that comes with those features, the X-Talon 255 V2 could be a good option.

Stack Height

Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $155.00

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