James Witts reviews the Terraclaw, the latest all purpose running shoe from UK Based Inov-8.
Inov-8 is a run-shoe manufacturer based in ‘England’s last wilderness’ – in other words, the Pennines. Those northern roots hint at Inov-8’s fell-running foundations where they’ve forged a reputation for functional, durable and lightweight shoes that’ll stand up to the most tempestuous of climates.
Inov-8 founded in 2003, and their acclaimed off-road catalogue has seen them extend their range to road-running shoes. So successful has the brand been that in August this year they announced Japanese sportswear maker Descente had acquired an 80% share in the company.
It’s too soon to see what impact the move will have on their future range of shoes, but we wanted to keep things old school and off-road so tested Inov-8’s Terraclaw 250.
Now, hands up, I’m a fan of Inov-8’s X-Talon 212, which is pitched as a ‘lightweight and flexible racing shoe that delivers unrivalled grip over soft or off-trail terrain’. In the past year I’ve completed the 10-mile Wild Night Run on Dartmoor and the 20-mile Grizzly down in Seaton, Devon, and they performed admirably. But despite my height and weight – 6ft 3in and over 13-and-a-half stone – I’ve found they’re equally comfortable on training runs around the countryside outskirts of Bristol.
The Terraclaws are slightly heavier than the 212s (250g vs 212g per shoe) and feature a greater drop (8mm vs 6mm). For reference, the drop is how much taller the heel is than the forefoot. A large drop of 16mm is for heel strikers only, 0mm is for forefoot/midfoot strikers only; 8mm is a compromise. At 8mm for the Terraclaws, this added cushioning makes them more accessible to runners making the move to off-road shoes than the 212s.
Mind you, even runners who rely on heavy cushioning on-road can strip things down come the trails. The more forgiving surface reduces impact forces, meaning you can stride away with less chance of picking up an injury.
Visually, they’re not the most striking shoe around with an almost orthopaedic look that’s similar to shoes in the Brooks Pure range (though the Brooks version features a cut-out section by the big toe to mimic the foot). In use, it’s a different matter as they flow reliably and swiftly from landing to toe-off, with grip impressive thanks to Inov-8’s lug-designed outsole. They’re a touch wide around the forefoot but this tester’s feet are notoriously crow-like so that won’t be an issue for many. Unlike some off-road shoes that feature Gore-Tex, they’re not waterproof but will fend off a shower or dewy morn. That’s no bad thing as waterproof off-road shoes can take an age to dry.
All in all, the Terraclaw continues Inov-8’s tradition of producing quality off-road shoes. And though that extra weight and drop would be welcomed by beginners, this is one shoe that’d benefit all levels of runner.
James Witts is a writer & editor specialising in endurance sport, health & fitness, outdoor adventure and sports science.