Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2019

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 and 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 than 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 Trailroc 270 uses the brand’s Trailroc outsole, which has a specific lug size, pattern, and rubber compound, and weighs a claimed 270 g per shoe for a US Men’s size 9. The Trailroc 285 has the same outsole pattern but weights 285 g per shoe, the X-Talon 230 uses an X-Talon outsole and weighs 230 g, and so on. If all those similar names and numbers seem a bit confusing now, don’t worry — they’ll make more sense as you go through the brand guide.

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)

Most Cushion

Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

The Parkclaw 275 is Inov-8’s most cushioned “road-to-trail” shoe. The outsole lugs are larger than most road shoes, but have a flatter profile than most trail shoes to provide a smoother ride on pavement. The midsole uses the brand’s firm PowerFlow+ cushioning, which should provide a faster-feeling but slightly less cushy ride. The woven mesh upper has a few more synthetic overlays than most road shoes to improve durability for mixed road / trail running. The Parkclaw 275 is built on Inov-8’s widest platform (roughly equivalent to a 2E width in the forefoot), making it a solid option for runners with wider feet. If you like mixing things up with both roads and non-technical trails and want a durable, grippy shoe for both surfaces, the Parkclaw 275 could be a good fit.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Parkclaw 275 GTX has the same feature set as the Parkclaw 275 with the addition of a waterproof / breathable Gore-Tex upper. Aside from this difference, you can expect the same moderately aggressive outsole, firm cushioning, and wider fit as the original version. If your mixed road / trail runs often include lots of wet, cold weather, this shoe is worth a closer look.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $150.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

While the stack height and weight of the Roadclaw 275 V2 are very similar to the Parkclaw 275, the Roadclaw has a lower-profile, more road-specific outsole. It’s also got a more open mesh material in the upper, which should improve breathability. The outsole has lighter, air-injected “blown rubber” in the forefoot to improve flexibility and shock absorption. It should also hold up a little longer on hard pavement than the stickier rubber used on the Parkclaw, but it won’t provide as good of grip on sloppier trail conditions. Like the Parkclaw, this shoe is built on Inov-8’s wider platform to provide a comfortable, roomy fit. If you’re looking for a smooth, fast-feeling pure road shoe, the Roadclaw 275 V2 might fit the bill.

Stack Height

Drop: 0 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

The Parkclaw 240 has the same moderately aggressive, road-to-trail outsole as the Parkclaw 275, but in a lighter and lower-to-the-ground package. The PowerFlow+ midsole should provide a firm, fast ride, while the extra overlays on the upper provide additional durability for on- and off-road use. If you like the looks of the Parkclaw 275 but want something a little lighter for road and light trail running, check out the Parkclaw 240. There’s also the Parkclaw 240 Knit, which uses a lighter and more breathable knit upper that’s also treated with an anti-microbial finish, potentially making it better for hot runs.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $100.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The F-Lite G 230 is an extremely minimal, light, and flexible running and cross-training shoe. It’s got a thin, very firm midsole to maximize efficiency and ground feel and Cordura mesh upper for added durability. It also uses Inov-8’s new graphene-enhanced rubber outsole material, which they claim holds up much longer than their standard rubber compounds. The outsole has low-profile lugs that maximize surface area to improve grip on smooth surfaces. The F-Lite is built on a narrower last to provide a more secure fit, which might make it less comfortable for runners with wider feet. If you want a durable, minimal shoe for shorter road runs and workouts, give the F-Lite G 230 a closer look.

Stack Height

Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $125.00

TRAIL SHOES

(Most Cushioned to Least Cushioned)

Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

The Mudclaw 300 Classic is one of Inov-8’s original fell-running shoes, designed for maximum grip on extremely muddy terrain. It’s got 8 mm pyramid-shaped lugs that should grip and release all kinds of mud and loose terrain. The midsole uses a very firm compressed-EVA foam. While this should improve stability and energy return on soft ground, it may make for a less comfortable ride on hard surfaces, especially when combined with the aggressive lugs. The “Classic” version of the Mudclaw 300 has a canvas-like upper, which should be extremely durable but not particularly breathable. It’s also got a slightly higher stack height than the other iterations of the Mudclaw (see below). Like most of Inov-8’s fell-running shoes, the Mudclaw 300 has a narrow fit throughout to improve control and stability in muddy conditions. This may make it a bit uncomfortable for runners with wide feet. If you’re looking for a durable, extremely grippy shoe for really muddy runs, the Mudclaw 300 Classic might be the shoe for you.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $110.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

As the name implies, the Arctic Talon 275 is designed for snowy and icy conditions. It’s deep 7 mm lugs should provide grip on moderately compacted snow and mud, while 14 tungsten carbide spikes improve traction on hard snow and ice. The Arctic Talon also has a minimal rock plate that lines up with the spikes in the outsole to protect your feet. The upper uses a thicker, tightly woven material similar to the Mudclaw 300 Classic. This should be a bit warmer and more durable than a standard mesh upper, but unlike many other winter-specific shoes, it isn’t fully waterproof . The compressed EVA midsole should provide a firm, stable ride on uneven terrain. The Arctic Talon is built on Inov-8’s narrowest last, so it’s probably not the best option for runners with wide feet. While it’s not the most versatile shoe on the market, the Arctic Talon 275 might be a good option for your snowy, icy winter runs.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $140.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Trailroc 285 is Inov-8’s most cushioned “everyday” trail shoe. It’s got a moderately aggressive outsole that should grip well on hardpacked and / or rocky trails and a full-length rockplate for extra protection. The PowerFlow+ midsole is softer than the compressed EVA used on the Mudclaw or Arctic Talon, but still provides a pretty firm ride. The upper uses a breathable diamond mesh material and has an external plastic heel counter for a more supportive fit. The Trailroc 285 is built on a wider last than the Mudclaw or Artic Talon, but is still narrower than Inov-8’s widest shoes (e.g. the ParkClaw). If you’re looking for a durable, supportive shoe for daily training on rocky, hard-packed trails, the Trailroc 285 might be a good option.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $150.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Trailroc G 280 has a very similar construction to the Trailroc 285, but with an ever-so-slightly lower stack height and a reportedly more durable graphene-enhanced outsole. Like the Trailroc 285, it’s got a full-length rockplate and moderately aggressive outsole for protection and grip on hardpacked, rocky trails. The Trailroc G 280 has a more traditional open mesh upper, which may be a bit more breathable than the Trailroc 285 in extremely hot conditions. The moderate-width last should provide a comfortable fit for many runners. If you like the Trailroc 285 but want something with a slightly more minimal upper and even more durable, grippy outsole, the Trailroc G 280 may be the shoe for you.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $150.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
This version of the Mudclaw has the same extremely aggressive outsole as the Mudclaw 300 Classic, but in a 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 consists of a layer of compressed EVA foam encased in graphene rubber outsole material, which should improve durability. The diamond mesh upper is a bit more breathable than the canvas-like upper of the Mudclaw 300 classic, but still has plenty of kevlar overlays to improve durability and protection. The Mudclaw G 260 is built on a narrow 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 is worth checking out.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $150.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Trailtalon 290 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 is similar to the cushioning found on the Trailroc 285 and should provide a firm ride. The “AdapterFit” upper is designed to stretch as the foot swells to maintain a comfortable fit on long runs. The Trailtalon 290 has a slightly wider fit than the Trailroc, 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 may be a good option.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $140.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

The Terraultra G 260 is specifically designed for long trail races and runs. It’s built on a low cushioned zero-drop platform to promote a natural gait cycle while protecting your feet from trail obstacles. The outsole has multi-directional 4 mm lugs that should grip well on most hard surfaces, while the graphene rubber compound should be more durable than more standard rubber outsoles. The upper also uses Kevlar aramid fiber around the heel to improve durability. The Terraultra G 260 is built on Inov-8’s widest last, making it a good option for runners with wider feet. The wide fit should also improve comfort on especially long runs. The Terraultra is one of the few cushioned zero-drop shoes available outside of the Altra lineup, so if you like the idea but aren’t a fan of Altra’s shoes, this shoe could be a good alternative.

Stack Height

Drop: 0 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $150.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Terraultra 260 is basically the Terraultra G 260’s slightly less fancy (and therefore less expensive) twin. It’s got the same zero-drop platform, 17 mm stack height, and moderately aggressive outsole, but with a traditional rubber outsole and mesh upper. It probably won’t hold up quite as long as the Terraultra G 260, but it’s still a good option for runners who want a slightly more affordable zero-drop shoe for their long-distance trail pursuits.

Stack Height

Drop: 0 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
This shoe is a lighter, lower-drop, lower-stack-height version of the Trailtalon 290. It’s got the same PowerFlow midsole and moderately aggressive, versatile outsole pattern, but a more minimal upper. The lower drop, stack height, and weight should make the shoe feel speedy on faster runs. Like the Trailtalon 290, the Trailtalon 235 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 is worth checking out.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $120.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Roclite G 275 has a similar amount of cushioning to the Trailtalon 235, but with a bit more structure and protection for technical terrain. The upper has the same AdapterWeb design found in the Trailtalon 290, which is designed to stretch as the feet swell during long runs to maintain a comfortable fit. Unlike the Trailtalon 235, the Roclite G 275 has a full-length rock plate for added protection on technical terrain. 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 is a solid option.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $135.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Roclite 300 has the same outsole pattern, stack height, and drop as the Roclite G 275. The distinguishing characteristics between these two shoes are the uppers and outsole rubber compounds. The Roclite 300’s upper uses a slightly thicker diamond mesh material in place of the open mesh found on the Roclite G 275. The Roclite 300 also has a traditional sticky rubber outsole rather than a graphene-enhanced outsole on the Roclite G 275. Aside from these differences, the Roclite 300 has the same full-length rock plate, fairly aggressive outsole, and PowerFlow midsole cushioning as the Roclite 275 G. If you’re looking for a solid everyday shoe for technical running at a slightly lower price point than the Roclite G 275, this model is worth checking out.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $110.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
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. If you like the looks of the Roclite G 275 or Roclite 300 but want some more protection for cold, wet runs, give this shoe a closer look.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $150.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
While it’s got the exact same stack height as the Roclite G 275, the X-Talon Ultra 260 is a very different shoe. It’s 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 (similar to the Trailtalon 235 and 290) and softer PowerFlow midsole cushioning than Inov-8’s other mud shoes. Though it’s not completely waterproof, the nylon upper does have DWR treatment to repel water. The X-Talon Ultra 260 isn’t nearly as cushioned as most “ultra-distance” shoes out there, but if you want something grippy that’s still not extremely minimal, this shoe may be a good option.

Stack Height

Drop: 8 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $145.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The Trailroc 270 is designed for faster runs on hardpacked, rocky trails. Like the heavier / more-cushioned versions of the shoe, it’s got a full-length rockplate, moderately aggressive outsole, and PowerFlow+ midsole. The upper is slightly more minimal than the Trailroc 290 or 280, with a diamond mesh material and a few minimal overlays. The Trailroc 270 is a little narrower and more protective than the Trailtalon 235. This should improve performance on especially rocky / uneven terrain, but might make it a little less comfortable for runners with wide feet. If you’re looking for a lighter, lower-drop option for hard, rocky trails, the Trailroc 270 is worth checking out.

Stack Height

Drop: 4 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $140.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

This updated version of the Oroc 280 has the same winter-ready outsole, but with an updated rock plate and softer PowerFlow+ midsole. Along with the added toe bumper, these new features should make the Oroc 280 V3 a bit more protective and comfortable than the original version. With that said, the shoe is still built on Inov-8’s narrowest “precision” last, so it may be a bit tight for runners with wide feet. The Oroc 280 V3 may be a good fit for runners who want a protective, lower stack height winter shoe with slightly softer cushioning than the Oroc 280 or Arctic Talon 275.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
This updated version of the Oroc 280 has the same winter-ready outsole, but with an updated rock plate and softer PowerFlow+ midsole. Along with the added toe bumper, these new features should make the Oroc 280 V3 a bit more protective and comfortable than the original version. With that said, the shoe is still built on Inov-8’s narrowest “precision” last, so it may be a bit tight for runners with wide feet. The Oroc 280 V3 may be a good fit for runners who want a protective, slightly more cushioned, and lower stack height winter shoe.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $140.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The X-Talon 230 is designed for rugged, fast running both on and off trail. It’s got the same aggressive sticky rubber outsole as the X-Talon Ultra 260, but is built on a much narrower precision last for a more secure fit on off-camber terrain. It’s also got a full-length rockplate and PowerFlow+ midsole for improved shock absorption and protection on technical terrain. The upper uses a woven ballistic nylon material, which should be extremely durable but won’t breathe extremely well in hot conditions. If you’re looking for a durable, grippy, fast shoe for muddy runs both on and off trail, the X-Talon 230 is a solid option.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $125.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
The X-Talon 212 Classic is built on the same last as the X-Talon 230, but has a slightly more minimal upper and lacks a rock plate. While the stack height and drop are identical to the X-Talon 230, the lack of a rock plate makes the 212 a bit lighter and more flexible. It also makes this shoe a bit less protective, so it may not be as good of an option if you run lots of rocky trails. But if you’re looking for a light, flexible mud shoe that still offers a little bit of cushion, the X-Talon 212 Classic is worth a closer look.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $115.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
This shoe is the most recent version of the Mudclaw 300 Classic, with the main differences being the stack height and materials used in the upper and midsole. It’s got the same extremely aggressive outsole as other versions of the Mudclaw, designed to grip and release all kinds of mud. The upper has an updated toe bumper and rand to improve protection from rocks, roots, and other trail obstacles. In addition, the Mudclaw 300 has a much lower stack height than other versions of the Mudclaw, which should improve stability on uneven terrain but it won’t be as plush over longer distances. While it’s not built on Inov-8’s narrowest last, this is still a much narrower shoe than the Trailtalon or Roclite. Unlike the Mudclaw 300 Classic, the Mudclaw 300 doesn’t have a rockplate, which should improve flexibility but will reduce protection from sharp rocks. If you’re looking for a lower-drop, flexible mud shoe with the maximum amount of traction, the Mudclaw 300 is worth checking out.

Stack Height

Drop: 6 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
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 rockplate, 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, 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: $125.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
As the lowest-stack-height and lowest-drop shoe in the Mudclaw line, the Mudclaw 275 is built for speed in muddy conditions. It’s got a full-length rockplate, sticky rubber outsole, and ExteroFlow midsole similar to the Mudclaw G 260. It’s narrower than the Mudclaw 300, and should fit similarly to the X-Talon 230 or 212 Classic. 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 and rockplate do add a little extra weight, but they 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
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup

The X-Talon 210 is a lightweight race shoe designed for obstacle-course racing and short, fast runs where solid traction is a must. It’s got a minimal mesh upper that’s designed to drain quickly after water crossings. Like the X-Talon 230 and 212 Classic, 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 very low stack height, lack of rockplate, 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. You can also get the X-Talon 210 with Inov-8’s Graphene rubber compound.

Stack Height

Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Blister breaks down Inov-8's road and trail shoe lineup
As Inov-8’s lightest, lowest-stack-height shoe, the X-Talon 200 is designed for short, fast races on slippery terrain. It’s ballistic nylon upper may be a bit more durable than the X-Talon 210’s mesh upper, but it probably won’t breath or drain as well. Like the X-Talon 210, this shoe lacks a rock plate, so it probably won’t be protective enough for most runners on especially rocky terrain. However, it’s built on Inov-8’s second-to-widest last, which should fit similarly to the Trailtalon 235 or 290. This makes it a solid option for runners who want a light, fast mud shoe that can accommodate wider feet and allows a little more room for toe-splay. If you like the looks of the X-Talon 210 but want a wider, more durable shoe for your fast-paced runs on soft ground, this shoe is worth a closer look.

Stack Height

Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

MSRP: $120.00

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