Lee from Inov-8 kindly sent me the new Terraclaw™ 250’s before they launched to the public. Following the new aesthetics overhaul to the brand, the colours are bold, whilst the styling is refined and purposeful. Much like the mainstream success of their fitness range, the appeal of Invo8’s offroad shoes is growing away from the close nit fell community and into the mass run market. A reputation as the off trail specialist, the brand has rapidly expanded and diversified since its humble beginnings.
The first thing that stands out is the design. With a bright yellow midsole and heel cup and blue wrapping on the toe box and sole, they stand out. The lines are clean, the colouring uncluttered or overcomplicated. Looking closely at the blue detailing, to me it looks like contour lines. I may be right, I may be wrong, either way it looks awesome! Even when making it to the other side of a peak bog, the nearest drop of water and these will be instantly recognizable.
Light. They are very light. Inov-8 make life simple by including the weight in the name, in this case 250 grams. They are light in the hand and lighter on the feet. They are more a kin to putting on a pair of socks, they fit the foot, do not restrict toe movement and breath well.
An 8mm drop increases the distance the majority of us can run in the Terraclaw™. Though many of us are drawn to 4mm and zero drops, the reality is we haven’t built up the time or leg and foot strength to travel at speed for ultra distances. With the 8mm drop, they provide support and a comfortable ride. You never feel they are too unresponsive on descents.
The DFB ™ (Dynamic Fascia Band™) shank gives every step a little bit of a kick with every stride. To best understand this take a look at how Inov-8 describe it;
“inov-8's patented fascia band™ technology replicates the anatomical position of the plantar fascia ligament, and duplicates the function of the human foot's ability to utilize the "windlass effect". The inov-8 fascia band™ also replicates the benefits of the windlass effect of the human plantar fascia structure. Originating at the front of the heel's outsole the inov-8 fascia band™ extends forward along the outsole and divides, just as the human fascia divides, into five bands that terminate anterior to the metatarsal heads. As body weight moves forward onto the metatarsal heads and the toes begin to extend, tension on the inov-8 fascia band™ increases. When the heel leaves the ground, the inov-8 fascia band™ resists elongation of the medial arch and carries the entire body weight of the runner converting the shoe into a rigid propulsive lever.”
In short, it maximizes the energy stored in the shoe by giving it rigidity when the forefoot is loaded, yet allows flexibility and a plush ride when it’s not engaged for propulsion. As flexible as the shoes are, I never found them to be too flexible when attacking climbs and rock hopping. The DFB™ does the business.
This is combined with the The Meta-Flex™, which is a groove in the forefoot of the outsole that provides a natural flex point in the shoe. This allows the forefoot to function naturally, rather than against the shoe, meaning you don’t fight it on the trail and your foot doesn’t fatigue as quickly.
I have to say the Dual-C™ compound is a beauty. It is constructed from a blend of medium sticky and hard sticky compounds, the latter adding durability. Often a sticky compound can fall foul of wearing away on hard surfaces – after all you are lucky to start a trail run without a short jog on tarmac/pavements. Having put 50 miles into my test pair, the signs of wear are negligible.
What was more surprising was the variety of surfaces they performed on. The tread pattern is relatively aggressive, with an open design for quick mud shedding, however the lugs aren’t huge. They aren’t a Mudclaw™. Yet, in Pete bogs I wasn’t left wanting for grip, and they clung to rocks like a limpet, whether wet or dry. The grips shed mud well and bite well in all conditions I experienced on the Lakeland Fells on a very long claggy day.
They have a standard fit, which when you first try them on can be a little odd if used to much narrower shoes, But this is great for getting onto your forefoot and allowing your toes to splay. The heel cup holds your foot in control, so there is no worrying that your foot will slide forward on descents or extended scree running. So if you have wide feet and/or like to let your toes wiggle they are great. Plus, although they may feel roomy due to the light upper and wide toe box when sat in the living room, get them on the mountain and you wouldn’t know. They allow a little movement, but nothing that will compromise your run.
The uppers are made of a lightweight material which breaths well and a rand on the toe box protects your pinkies when you unceremoniously jam your foot into a rock, before you look like a spider on roller-skates trying to stay upright. As well as breathing, the Terraclaw™ 250 drains well. Infact, having run 30 miles and changing my socks once at 15 miles because I could, they weren’t an issue despite river crossings and the bog on the Helveyln side of High Raise doing its best to soak me.
Back to that awesome blue thing with contour lines. That inov-8s’ new X-Lock. X- Lock is a welded overlay, to help give the shoe upper structure and wrap your foot. See it as a roll bar which wraps you like a hug, It avoids the need for seams, and as we all know, seams can lead to hot spots and blisters. Like I said before, it looks awesome and gives the shoe structure. I like it!
The lacing system is conventional and does the job, I didn’t ever need tighten the laces and my foot was secure on every outing. If it isn’t broke, why try something flash and new?
Now, for a shoe which is just at home on groomed trails as it is fellsides and rocks, it may come as a surprise that there isn’t a rock plate. Well, I have yet found the need for one. With the combination of the outsole and midsole, nothing sharp has jabbed me from below. I never felt vulnerable and was happy to run down the sides of fells, along the rocks of Ill Crag and Broad Crag and my local trails.
Size. I am measured as a 9.5, but I opted for a 10 as most 9.5s (across many brands) leave my toes hitting the end of the toe cap when heading downhill. I would say the fit is spot on. Of course, we all differ so I would suggest heading to your local shop as that’s truly the best way to try shoes on.
So, all in all, how would I describe the Terraclaw™ 250.
The y look awesome, they are superlight, flexible and provide a responsive and direct ride no matter what you through at them. If you want to attack serious slop, then look at inov-8s more aggressive options, however for everything else these are great. Also for those who aren’t looking at running as far or want a small heel to toe drop, check out the Terraclaw™ 220.
My first experience of Inov-8 has been that lustful romance you wished would develop into a reality. Having used their packs, windproof trousers and accessories, I can report the same attention to detail and build quality is also in their shoes. The grip has to be experienced to be believed, and they are perfect for attacking the fells and mountains of the UK. For those used to a lot of cushioning or a higher drop, ease yourself in. For those regular trail and fell runners out there, slip a pair on, you won’t regret it.
Watch out next weekend for coverage of the Lakeland 100 race, where Marco Consani will by racing to retain his title of Lakeland Champion in his Terraclaw™ 250s. Good luck Marco!