Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 Review

The arrival of the shoulder season has many trail and ultrarunners longing for cooler temperatures, fall foliage, and for some, a return to shorter, more intense racing in the elements of cross-country running. How fitting to mark this transition into autumn with a review of the Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 ($130), the newest well-lugged traction monster from Inov-8. There are a number of differences between the Terraclaw and other offerings from Inov-8, a company which practically dominates the fell-running scene in the U.K. Primarily, this shoe was designed for hard-packed, rocky terrain, rather than the muddy bogs I initially imagined it had been designed for. Additionally, the Terraclaw 250 replaces the Trailroc offerings in the Inov-8 line which was also designed for hard pack (more on my thoughts about this change below). So, let’s delve into an unnecessarily thorough critique of a fairly simple trail running shoe.

Inov-8 Terraclaw 250

The Inov-8 Terraclaw 250.

Upper
The Terraclaw 250 features the same accommodating fit that most Inov-8 models have gravitated toward lately. A moderately snug heel cup gradually widens toward a generous toe box which is toe-box shaped without being clown-shoe sloppy. Inov-8’s typically low heel collar, which I generally really enjoy, provided some discomfort on this particular model. However, I think that the ensuing blistering on the back of my heel was particular to my feet, and other runners I’ve spoken with do not have such an issue. The rest of the upper fit manages to be designed well for technical running, feeling fairly low-profile and locked down without feeling restrictive.

The Terraclaw’s mesh upper is one of the most durable upper fabrics I’ve seen on a running shoe. After over 200 miles of use on burly terrain, the mesh doesn’t show any signs of snags, abrasions, or use at all really. This durability is reinforced by a synthetic leather rand and toecap around the front half of the shoe which alleviates any bruised toes or pokes into the mesh by offending rocks. Overlays on the Terraclaw seem largely cosmetic, however after several runs I was impressed by the welded-on X-Lock overlays across the toe box which seem to prohibit a roomy toe box from feeling sloppy.

Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 lateral upper

The Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 lateral upper.

Midsole
The Terraclaw 250 uses a fairly generous amount of compressed EVA throughout the midsole, providing a familiar, firm ride for Inov-8 indoctrinates. The compressed nature of the EVA seems to improve durability, however I found the Terraclaw 250 to feel a bit dead on hard pack. Most of the forgiveness in this shoe seems to come from the approximately 4mm lugs on the outsole. The fairly flat and unresponsive feeling of this shoe on hard trails was completely redeemed when running on soft-ground conditions including sand and mud. In fact, it wasn’t until after several weeks of testing the Terraclaw that I read the promotional materials and realized that the sloppy conditions I’d been wearing them in were contrary to what they were designed for.

Although the Terraclaw is a neutral shoe, some stability is provided by Hard Sticky rubber which runs across the middle of the outsole, as well as the relatively low stack height. With an 8mm heel drop, this shoe has a bit steeper ramp than any Inov-8 model I’ve run in, and I’d assumed 3 to 4mm during my first several runs. While this wasn’t a deterrent in any way from the shoe’s performance, it seems odd to me that Inov-8 is now creating shoes with a more moderate heel drop (Race Ultra 290), rather than sticking with what initially brought them popularity in their line which was low-drop shoes with incredible traction. At 9 ounces for my men’s size 10, the unforgiving midsole didn’t exactly warrant the extra weight either.

Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 medial upper

The Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 medial upper.

Outsole
Inov-8 uses a combination of Soft Sticky Rubber and Hard Sticky Rubber throughout the outsole, and both are aptly named. This shoe provides fantastic traction in really any conditions, but preferably those that are wet and muddy. The Terraclaw also grips dry rock well and does well when scrambling is required. While a rock plate is not present, the outsole and midsole combo tend to be firm enough to absorb the potential damage from most rocks, however I did experience some rocks poking through on rocky downhill terrain.

As stated before, I don’t believe that the Terraclaw is best used as a hard-surface trail shoe, and it seemed to perform best in shedding med and wet clay. The well-spaced lugs free themselves quickly from any sloppy terrain and seem to bite well in soupy conditions.

Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 outsole

The Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 outsole.

Overall Impressions
Inov-8 has chosen to discontinue their fairly popular (at least in the western U.S.) Trailroc series of shoes, which were designed for hard surfaces, in favor of the Terraclaw series which have a firmer midsole and are more heavily lugged. While I can understand the motivation for Inov-8 to pair down the offerings in their trail-shoe line, I really believe that these two lines of shoes are completely different animals. On true hard and rocky surfaces common in the western U.S., the Terraclaw feels a bit too firm and heavily lugged which lends to an off-camber feel. However, the Trailroc 245 ate up this terrain and also seemed to assuredly handle the slop. Additionally, the Trailroc series featured a rock plate which makes a lot of difference in the ultra distances on truly technical terrain.

Now understand, while I’d love Inov-8 to salvage the Trailroc series, I do not wish to denigrate the positive qualities of the Terraclaw 250. This is a fantastic soft-ground trail shoe which I’d wear for up to 50k in sloppy conditions. The fit is fantastic, it bites well in most conditions, and the compressed midsole EVA offers just enough forgiveness to handle ultra distances. But, it would be the last shoe in my arsenal I’d select for an ultra-distance race on dry, packed trails. Furthermore, the Terraclaw 250 seems to be more closely related in design to the X-Talon series than any shoe made for hard-pack trails in the Inov-8 line. I would recommend this shoe for runners entering the fall cross-country and trail season expecting a bit of slop, where a workhorse trail shoe will continue to be useful throughout the winter months.

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar’s Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 25 comments

  1. tthef

    It seems to me inov-8 are shifting their line up from exceptionally good specialized shoes to more generalist offerings. The demise of the TrailRoc seems to be paralleled by the changes inov-8 made to the Mudclaws last season, which has become a moderate slop shoe rather than a real full on mud shoe. I for one am grieving on both counts, between them TrailRocs and Mudclaws covered my off road needs. As much as I love inov-8, it looks like I'll have to look elsewhere now. :-(

  2. WillinDbq

    Thanks for the review. Like you I'm disappointed that the TrailRoc's are going away. I'm happy to have just snagged another pair of 245s at Sierra Trading Post for about $50. They have proven to be fantastic do-it-all shoes for me. I've got over 300 miles on my current pair and aside from the dirt on them they look like they've barely seen 25 miles. They have been very durable, well made shoes, which is what I've found from all the Inov-8s I've had.

  3. barwic01

    I agree that this shoe is great when the ground is softer but is a bear when running on dry trails. This past weekend I ran on trails with some damp leaves covering unknown trails and a few slips occurred as the lugs make wet surfaces like ice.

  4. Max

    Call me when Inov-8 goes back to the days of X-talon outsoles that don't shear lugs in a handful of miles, mudclaw models that were as precise and burly as claws, and laces that actually stayed tight in the Rocky Mountain fall slop.
    Born in England's last wilderness, sold its soul to simple trails and crossfit. Dear Inov-8, you're dead to me.

    1. Adrian

      I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a comment on a running shoe so much. Unfortunately, it is very much gallows humour, as the demise is oh so real.

  5. marcusmarcus

    I'm very sad that they discontinue the 245's as well, those shoes are pretty much perfect for me, as were the NB MT110 before them, now I need to find a new shoe, again. I hate that process.

    Anyone got any recommendations? Low drop, rock plate, good drainage? Nike Terra Kigers are high on my list, but they lack the rock plate, anyone run in both trailrocs and kigers and can compare?

    1. TomCaughlan

      marcusmarcus- _I've run in both, but I can't speak for the Kiger 3s. I do think the Kiger 2 is a great shoe, and it does fairly well without a rock plate. The new Wildhorse 3 is significantly more burly, and while it does offer more protection it lacks some flexibility (review to come)._My other suggestion would be the Salomon Sense Pro. Its a bit of a firmer ride, but it has a low profile feel with good proprioception and the pro feel film rock plate. I recently bought a pair and have been impressed with them. Slightly narrower toebox than both the 245s and the Kiger, thats the only negative aspect in my opinion. I got a pair for $65, so not a bad gamble.

      1. @danfogg08

        Tom, the Sense Pro is my new favorite shoe for just about any condition that's not super muddy. I've been running in them in Shenandoah lately, and they're just about perfect. I came from the Wildhorse 2, PI N1 and really dig the fit, responsiveness and rock plate protection. Will be my shoe now going forward for anything beyond 3 hours!

      2. Bruce

        i know it’s been a while, but i wondered if you or anyone else had tried the new sense pro 2. supposedly a bit softer, for better or worse, and maybe a somewhat different fit? any info would be appreciated.

  6. astroyam

    What is going on with Inov-8? Back in 2012 They were my favorite brand of shoe by far. Then they changed the F Lite 190 into a sloppy mushy shoe, but at least they still had the TrailRocs. And now bye.bye to the Trail Rocs. Pretty soon they will be making Hokas (no offense to hokas its just a different shoe). Guess I'll stock up on some TR 235 and 245s and then start shopping for other brands. Sob. Sniffle.

  7. TF1978

    I have a had a long relationship with Inov8 and it was this year in which it started to get sour. I will start with Inov8s sizing across all models. I found I had to go a 1/2 size up so did the 2 other friends that wear Inov8 and other people I have asked. In some cases it was 1 full size up. The Terraclaw sticky rubber soft rubber is BS. Living in New England (East Coast) these didn't last long and in dry conditions in techinical trails particularly rock slaps they slip. On wet forget it. The toe box is nice there is room, Inov8 improved in this department. This is not a shoe for distances over 50k IMHO. I also feel they need to improve on drainage. For the conditions I ran in when wet the shoe did not drain well similar to how their RaceUltra does not drain well. Improvements could be made on this shoe include slapping the RocLite bottoms on these and moving them to either 9mm drop which would move them to an over 50 miler race shoe. I would also add a little more cushion to the tongue. Frankly I don't care about color just give me a shoe that works. Inov8 seems to have rushed to market some lines. I sent 4 pairs of inov8 RaceUltra back to Inov8 and to their credit they replaced all of them. I don't know what type of constructive feedback Inov8 is getting from their sponsored runners but there has to be some disconnect. Shoe quality and functionality has gone down. It will be interesting to see how their new partnership with Descent plays out.

    Thanks for the review. I hope Inov8 reads the comments.

    1. spotlight76

      More heel to toe drop doesn't mean more cushioning. Check out Altra shoes which are zero drop and Saucony Xodus which has 4mm.

    2. Ben_Nephew

      For a roclite bottom on the terraclaw, you could just get the roclite 280, which would work as a 50 miler shoe. They also have better tongue padding. The problems you are citing are related to growth to some degree. They still get good feedback, but that feedback is from a greater range of athletes with varying interests, and there are also more folks involved in shoe design and development. Years ago, we could suggest a change, and it would happen incredibly quickly. They do still respond to feedback quickly. The terraclaw upper was very different on the first pair of testers I had, and current upper is much improved. It is still a relatively small operation, and inov-8 will read the comments. By inov-8, I mean I will send this link to a single person who still makes most of the shoe related design decisions. As a fellow NE runner, I run in Orocs if I am heading to technical trails and want maximal traction. I find the race ultras drain well, including 8 stream crossings at Cayuga and run in those for 50k to 50 miles. It is hard to beat the roclite sole for both non-dobbed traction and as an all around sole. As for the terraclaw, I have been impressed with their speed on NE singletrack, as fast or faster than any inov-8 model in the past 11 years.

      1. TF1978

        Ben issues with the Roclite 280 my size is 10 and I have worn size 10 in every single Inov8 shoe I have ever worn except starting in 2015. I have had to size up 1/2 size in everything except the Roclite 280s which required 1 full size up and resulted in me swimming in them. I know you will suggest adding another insole, I did and it did not fix the issue. The Roclite model Inov8 has ruined and I doubt they will continue it. I am note going to wear 6mm drop Orocs with studs on them do majority of running in Blue Hills and I don't like the feeling of studs and I am not going to train in something that is not 100 mile suitable. RaceUltra's don't drain, I will have have to disagree with you on that one. If you wore the RaceUltras 270 then maybe, based on who I have talked to and first hand experience they drain way better than the 290. They need to change the overall material in the RaceUltra 290s that shoe is a workhorse and I just wore them in the Bear100 but they need some changes.

        I am fine if there are growing pains IF they fix them and go back to making shoes that all fit consistently, are more durable and have simple qualities such as good grip, comfort, cushion and drainage. They seemed to have put out too many models that barely do one thing good.

        Sorry to sound so glass 1/2 empty but its frustrating to witness first hand.

    1. TomCaughlan

      Good to know and thanks for the research. It seems odd given that the Trailroc was introduced with the hard/ dry trails of the western US in mind. At least that was the info I'd been given while reviewing the 255 two years ago.

    2. allybeaven

      Really? Talking to ann Inov-8 rep in the UK and he said the Trailrocs were going, as were the 243 Roclites, incidentally my two go-to shoes. If they can the 190 Talon I'll burn their house down.

  8. MickSyd

    The 245 was my go-to shoe for years. Loved it, still do. I tried the Terraclaw 220 recently and they tore my feet to shreds. On both sides of the heel cup especially, where the insole bunched up and created ridges. The asymmetrical lacing ripped into the top of my foot and it wouldn't stay secure for long – the end result was having to over tighten the laces and hope for the best. Also, the laces were so ridiculously long they kept getting caught on things despite tucking them in as best I could. Didn't run for a week after wearing them as my feet were that bust up. This has never happened before and hopefully never will again. In short, I'm looking for a new shoe. Shame.

  9. Brock

    Aaaarrrghh!! This is absolutely the worst news! I love my 245’s, I use them exclusively on the trails. I have no idea what I’m going to do. I’ll have to give the Roclite or the Salomon’s a try I guess. Very bummed out right now.

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