What the manufacturers say:
Run fast with comfort and protection on hard-packed trails with this men's trail running shoe. The TRAILTALON offers the ultimate balance of speed and cushioning with added comfort and protection for longer runs. Debris-free running with integrated gusset tongue as well as gaiter options (gaiter sold separately). The lighter version in the series, the TRAILTALON 250 has been designed for speed and delivering the best grip possible on hard-packed trails. Powerflow midsole technology ensures a cushioned ride.
|Footbed||6mm POWER FOOTBED|
|Midsole Stack||Heel 17.5mm / Forefoot 13.5mm|
|Product Weight||250g / 8.75oz|
Inov-8 Trailtalon 250 on test:
Let me be honest at the outset of this review, I have a real soft spot for Inov-8 trail and fell running shoes. Looking at my shelves I always have a number of pairs on the go at once, including the X-Claw, Roclite and Terraclaw, to name just a few.
Their Race Ultra shoes are my go to shoe for long trail runs and ultra marathons and I was devastated when Inov-8 discontinued these, and rushed immediately to stock pile a few pairs.
When they announced the Trailtalon range, the natural successor to the Race Ultra, I was keen to give them a go and Inov-8 were kind enough to provide me with a pair of their new Trailtalon 250’s. A chronic injury means that this review has been a long time in the making. The good news is that I am back running once again and have finally run over a hundred miles in these shoes, so am prepared to put pen to paper and share my thoughts.
First up, lets start with the stats about this shoe. Inov-8 describe this shoe themselves as being the “… ultimate balance of speed and cushioning, with added comfort and protection for longer runs”.
The 250 is one of the lighter versions of this shoe in their range (250g/8.75oz stated weight), so looses some of the cushioning to provide a more nimble ride but with the same quality grip. The heel to toe drop is a low 4mm and is aimed squarely at the hard packed trails you find in many European ultra marathons and trail races.
The sole is made up of 4mm multi direction studs using their TRI-C compound, providing a broad contact area and allowing debris to be shed quickly. The mid-sole uses Inov8’s unique POWERFLOW technology, which they state provides 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return when compared to standard midsoles.
Fit wise, the shoes come in their standard fit, so have a wider toe box than the narrower fit you find in some of their more aggressive fell running shoes. The upper is made of soft and breathable synthetic material, making them feel slipper like when on your feet.
My initial impressions were good. The shoes really looked the business, nice and light but with a decent tread, giving me confidence it would cope with some muddier stretches if required.
As with all Inov-8 shoes, these were incredibly comfortable straight from the box and I had no issues with blistering or rubbing. Typically I wear 11.5 UK in running shoes, half a size larger than my standard shoe. The pair provided were UK 11 and they fitted nicely, with plenty of room for my toes to move around. I think for longer races, where I tend to wear two pairs of socks, I would still go up half a size but for training runs, these were perfect.
I was concerned that the 250’s wouldn’t offer enough protection and cushioning to my feet on the longer runs and instead only be wearable for shorter distances. My concerns proved unfounded and having run over twenty hilly miles in them in one go, my feet felt fine.
The grip on the outsole worked well and in my testing I have worn them across a range of ground conditions and terrain, including trail, wet grass, tarmac and mud. In thick and heavy mud they would slip around, as you would expect, as this is not their natural domain. On wet grass and harder packed trails they just ate the ground up and were a joy to run in.
The lighter weight and POWERFLOW technology in the midsole made my feet feel really nimble, as if I was skipping across the ground. I always find it difficult to detect the patented fascia band technology that is found in Inov-8 shoes, which delivers a kick of energy with each stride. This is not a bad thing though and I can only assume it was contributing to the nimbleness I felt when running.
The soft synthetic mesh upper is extremely breathable and comfortable to wear. While water would easily get into the shoe, I found they would dry really quickly, something I like in my trail running shoes, especially in the wetter conditions we tend to experience here in the UK.
The tongue includes an integrated gusset, to ensure debris is kept out of the shoe. While the uppers are light and breathable, I didn’t have any issue with debris getting into my shoes. Like many in Inov8’s range, they will work with the Race Ultra gaiter, should you wish to provide additional protection around the ankle.
On the negative side though, I did find that the softness of the uppers tended to compromise the lateral foot stability slightly. When running across rough terrain, if my foot rolled, it would sometimes feel as if my foot was going to slide off the side of the sole. A slightly disconcerting experience.
On rockier ground too, while there was ample toe and underfoot protection, the lack of protection along the side of the shoe was apparent and I would occasionally feel larger rocks digging into the inside or outside of my foot.
That said, on harder packed trails or grass, they literally flew across the ground and were a joy to wear. When climbing or descending steep ground, they gripped well and gave me the confidence to open up my legs and increase my speed whenever I wanted to.
Having run over a hundred miles in these shoes now, I can report that they hold up well to abuse, showing no signs of significant wear on the soles or any fraying or damage to the uppers.
I have used these on runs ranging from 10km to well over 40km and have found them extremely comfortable to use. Despite the concerns around foot protection and lateral stability, I would be happy to use these on a wide range of trails found in the UK, including rockier ground in places like the Lake District, although I would be more careful about foot placement there.
So are these a suitable replacement for my much loved Race Ultras? I would say a resounding yes, although personally I would still be tempted to go with their heavier cousin for ultra marathons of fifty miles and over.
If you are after a shoe for many of the classic UK or European Trail races or ultras, I would encourage you to take a look at the Trailtalon series of shoes from Inov-8. These are definitely a welcome addition to my collection and I look forward to hundreds of miles more happy running in them.