Both trail shoes, both have the same Inov-8 standard fit and foot shape, both designed for the trail…yet is there a need for both in your kit bag?
The Terraclaw has been around for a little over a year whilst the Trail Talon moves in to replace the Trail Ultra. So what’s the difference? What shoes from other brands are they competing against? More importantly how do they run?
Questions, questions and more questions… sometimes the Inov-8 range appears a little confusing, yet they only have two styles they class as ‘Trail’ and this is them.
Both shoes are available with the option of an 8mm or 4mm offset (heel to toe height differential) with the 4mm option described as the ‘racing’ version and stripped back. Having spent time in both options I definitely prefer the lower drop and yes a little protection under the foot is lost in the lighter versions, but not so much that I noticed. That said the upper offers different fit around the foot, especially with the off set lacing on the Terraclaw. Yet neither felt any more secure or necessarily comfortable, although the offset lacing did appear to have less pressure points across the foot against any other shoe – I like it.
So why the two styles of trail shoe? It’s what they are designed for. The Terraclaw definitely has the more versatile grip. The triangular lugs win hands down in wetter conditions if you encounter any slop. They can cope well with wet grass, a little mud and as you would expect from Inov-8, they are about as good as it gets on rock. If the surface you are likely to run on is going to be harder, less open ground and more sunny days then the Trail Talon gets my vote. It just sticks to the ground: rock, loose stone and typical Peak District gritstone. There is definitely no need to panic should the heavens open up (unless you forgot your mac??) as they still love the wet trail… So for good quality trails the Trail Talon will do the job year round . If you are looking for something to cope with a mix of trail conditions then the Terraclaw will also be fit for purpose yet cope that little bit better with more technical ground.
Where the Terraclaw comes out top for me, is under foot. Those studs are superb and they work so well with the midsole that the protection underfoot just feels that little bit more than the Talon. It’s a close call though as both pairs just feel great. Responsive, protective and grippy all at once.
Both shoes, in either the 4mm or 8mm drop versions feel supportive of the foot, with the upper wrapping the foot from the heel to midfoot. The wider toebox of the standard fit definitely lets your forefoot do its thing and in no way do you ever feel ‘squeezed’ into the shoe. Flexibility through the forefoot is superb, they both feel nimble through technical ground and both offer support through the midfoot as the outsole overlaps over the midsole under the arch.
So the 4mm or the 8mm version? I would argue forget the racing description of the lower drop options, I have used them on longer mountain training days, in the Peak too, and you’ll get no complaints from me. So the 4mm still offers good protection. Yet, if you prefer the option of the greater heel drop you will know where to be looking.
So what are they up against? The obvious shoes to compare them to are the S Lab Softground (Claw) and the Ultra (Talon). The S Lab have much more under the foot, although they feel pretty solid and it comes as no surprise that folk are looking for softer options (not greater ‘drops’) without sacrificing ground feel and protection. Sitting in that slightly softer category is the new Montrail Fluid Flex (4mm drop) and their Coldorado (8mm) both coming into the UK for the first time this year. As ever the Saucony Peregrine hits the mark for many with a cracking blend of cushioning and grip. So there are options, for the dryer trails and those that have become rain sodden.
All in all the Inov-8 offering is evolving with well thought out shoes specifically designed for trail and opposing conditions with options to appeal to a wide audience. Lightweight they are, yet they never sacrifice protection and somehow manage to maintain underfoot proprioception.
For wet trails look at the Terraclaw, great rock grip and mud too.
For dry days look at the Trail Talon. Great grip on loose ground and slabs alike.
Both shoes are available from Accelerate, Instore, at the Inov-8 All Terrain Running Centre.