Inov8 have been one of "the" names of the last few years, and their running shoes have become an increasingly common sight at every level of running. We asked Jon Barton, an enthusiastic and regular but average runner to put the latest design from Inov8 to the test on the parkrun and trail circuits around Sheffield.
What the manufacturers say:
Run with confidence on paths and trails with our new men's trail running shoe. The PARKCLAW 275 is the perfect shoe for runners wanting to run on paths and trails, or those looking to make a transition from road running to trail running. It performs superbly on both terrains, and features an aggressive outsole for increased grip.
Run effortlessly over any road conditions with new Powerflow+ midsole technology. Powerflow+ delivers 10% better shock absorption and 25% better energy return than standard midsoles. External Heel Counter wraps around the rear of the shoe and provides support in the heel. Delivering this extra hold aids foot stability and helps a fatigued runner maintain a better gait.
Inov8 Parkclaw 275 on test with Jon Barton:
Okay so I’m one of the running correspondents for MyOutdoors, and it’s perfectly fine, even commendable to take my advice on gels, headlamps, socks or teeshirts. However, when it comes to shoes, please take expert advice and make at least one trip a year to your specialist independent running store, these people have two crucial functions, one they provide qualified advice on what shoes to wear, keeping us all relatively injury free, and secondly they perform a vital role in only retailing kit that is fit for purpose and not built to satisfy a fashion or margin led market.
That said, this is what I think of these beauties.
The Parkclaw 275 in Inov8’s new trail/road shoe, the clue is in the name as to who they are aiming this shoe at. 5k on Saturday anyone? Their blurb states: run with confidence on paths and trails with our new trail running shoe. The shoe is designed for runners wanting to run on paths and trails, or those looking to make a transition from road running to trail running. It performs superbly on both terrains, and features an aggressive outsole for increased grip. I couldn’t argue with that, although I do think you need a road shoe and a trail shoe, and not one that does both, hybrids will inevitably compromise one surface for the other.
The men’s version of the shoe was tested over a six-week period of relatively good weather on a huge variety of terrains.
I liked the colour scheme, and the shoe had enough trail characteristics to make it a good off-road choice, the heel cup felt secure, the uppers were up to the job of all the trails and fells could throw at them, and the cushioning of the midsole felt perfect. 4mm lugs felt ‘okay’ but wear and tear made me think that as a trail shoe I wasn’t going to get my desired 500-600km use from them.
Is this my favourite shoe of 2017? Possibly yes, because with the Parkclaw I feel I have found a wonderful trail and even fell shoe that is also okay for those stretches of tarmac that inevitably find their way onto my standard off-road runs. I don’t much like the name, not manly enough for me, but then that’s my own issue. Surface wise, felt light and fast on tarmac, certainly didn’t feel like I was either battering my knees to pulp or running in a pair of wellingtons, mud, fine, very secure, didn’t get too floppy after a submerging, on your basic trail, all good, especially the sort of trail that often leaves you thinking about your road shoes.
If you are a closet road runner who happens to do a bit of trail running (you know, because it’s more fun) then try this shoe out. There are two more models in the range a Gore-tex upper version and a woman’s version, I have tried neither so can’t feedback on that.