inov-8 TERRACLAW 220 and TERRACLAW 250 First Impressions

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inov-8 love bringing out new shoes. Not all of them are perfect. I think we can forgive them for that. It’s good to experiment and you can have shoes in a test scenario as much as you like but it’s only when people start paying for them do you really get the true feedback.

I am lucky, I have been fortunate to test many of inov-8’s new shoes. So receiving the latest invention (a shoe that I actually had a first look at in October 2014 at Limone Extreme) the TERRACLAW I was really interested to see what the brand had done with this shoe and what it offered.

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I have the TERRACLAW 220 and the TERRACLAW 250. This is a first impressions article, so don’t expect any great detail on what they are like to run in, that will come later.

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The TERRACLAW 220 is a UK7 so this shoe will be tested by my partner, Niandi. The TERRACLAW 250 is a UK9.5. For simplicity, the blue shoe is the 220 and the black shoe is the 250. They are ‘Standard Fit’ which offers a wide toe box. This allows the toes to splay when running naturally. It also is perfect if you have a wider foot or maybe when running long and you expect your feet to expand. I am usually a UK9.5 in inov-8 but I would be interested to try a size 9. I can definitely run in the UK9.5 but the shoe allows just  a little too much movement in the toes. So, if you are going to purchase online think about this.

They are light!

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inov-8 always name the shoe based on the weight, so a 220 weighs 220g and a 250 weighs 250g. In our scenario, the 220 in a UK7 weighed 219g/ 7oz and the 250 in a UK9.5 weighed 258g/ 9.1oz. Spot on!

The two shoes on face value look the same until you take a closer look. I will come on to that in a moment. A key factor is the drop, the 220 is 4mm and the 250 is 8mm. So before we go any further, the shoes will have a very different feel when running. In addition, cushioning in the 250 is noticeably different to the 220. It all comes down to personal preferences but one could arguably say that the 220 is an out-and-out faster trail shoe for shorter races and the 250 will be better suited to longer races.

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The outsole on both shoes is the same, so there is no compromise between the 220 and the 250. As you can see from the images, the sole is aggressive but not ‘too’ aggressive. Both these shoes sit somewhere between a RACEULTRA in the 270 (4mm drop) and 290 (8mm drop) versions and  a X-TALON and/ or MUDCLAW.

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I think it’s therefore safe to assume that the TERRACLAW 220 and 250 are designed at trail runners who require a shoe with comfort, cushioning and more importantly, grip. The RACEULTRA provides this already but with no grip and the X-TALON and MUDCLAW are out-and-out fell shoes or soft ground shoes. So, if the TERRACLAW performs I am pretty sure it’s going to be a popular shoe in the inov-8 line up.

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The grip on the outsole is really spaced out which will allow grip (similar to a football boot) but in theory will stop the sole clogging up with debris. Several buzzwords appear on the outsole:

  • META-FLEX
  • DYNAMIC FASCIA BAND
  • DUAL C
  • TERRADAPTER

Oh yes, just like many other shoe manufacturers, inov-8 have come up with a whole new wording system to describe some key features.

Meta-Flex allows the foot to bend across the metatarsals, an important feature in any shoe but especially useful for off road running, Many shoes that provide grip can be too inflexible. The Meta-Flex on the 220 and 250 does really add to the feel of the shoe based on just a couple of runs.

Dynamic Fascia Band is in the midsole and is designed to help maintain stride efficiency. The jury is out on this at the moment. It certainly doesn’t seem to harm or damage the feel of the shoe, but equally I am not sure at this stage I feel the benefit?

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Dual C represents the two compounds in the sole. Black and Yellow on the 220 and Black and Blue on the 250. The black area is made of a more durable material and increases protection, the coloured area is softer and stickier for increased grip. If you get a hold of the shoe and press the different compounds you can really feel the difference. I do wonder though if the coloured section is wide enough, only time will tell?

On speaking with inov-8, they say that Dual C compounds negate the need for a rock plate. I am not convinced, soon as you got on hard terrain you feel the ground beneath you. That’s a great thing, I love to feel the ground. But the odd sharp stone or pebble does make it’s presence felt.

The upper is where the two shoes differ quite considerably. Most notably, the lacing!

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The 250’s lace conventionally and the 220’s lace using inov-8’s new RAY-WRAP system which is designed to align with the first metatarsal. In principal this is designed to make a more secure, close and comfortable fit. I have witnessed this before in a pair of Brooks shoes and I enjoyed the comfort and reassurance it offered. However, this does feel quite unusual at first. Niandi has expressed similar concerns with the 220. But lets be clear, it’s too early to tell and and make a judgement on this. The tongue in both shoes is padded well and offers great comfort. The laces are thin but pull tight providing a secure foot hold and if tied in a double not they do not slip.

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The heel area on both shoes is roomy, plush and holds the foot firm. No issues here from just a couple of runs.

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The upper on both the 220 and the 250 is light and breathable and both shoes utilise inov-8’s new X-LOCK welded overlay Yes folks, can you see that big yellow X on the 220 and the big blue X on the 250? That is X-Lock!

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X-Lock is designed to hold the foot firm within the shoe. It differs greatly between the 250 and the 220. Just look above. The pattern is completely different. We will feedback on this more with more use. You will also notice in the above image how the 250 (left) has considerably more toe protection than the 220. The 220 has a yellow reinforced soft band, to be honest it offers no protection against rocks. Whereas the 250 has a tougher fabric and just a fraction more protection against rock impact.

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Let’s be clear, this is a first impressions look at the TERRACLAW and our verdict is impressed! As I have stated on many occasions recently, 8mm drop is for sure a sweet spot in the trail running shoe market and nov-8’s addition of a trail shoe with cushioning and grip is welcome.

For faster and more minimalist runners, they too will have a smile on their faces knowing that they have also been looked after with a 4mm drop.

Time to hit the trails and we will feed back on how these shoes perform, what the comfort is like and importantly do all these new features -‘X’ this, ‘RAY WRAP’ that and ‘DYNAMIC FACIA’ this really work?

The 220 in Images:

The 250 in Images:

220 v 250

The TERRACLAW shoes will be available in September 2015. Check out inov-8 HERE

12 thoughts on “inov-8 TERRACLAW 220 and TERRACLAW 250 First Impressions

  1. I certainly like the look of both shoes and I’m sure they’ll do well in the trail market. One thing no test like this can tell you though is just how much wear you’ll get from them. I have to say I’ve been disappointed with lots of shoes in the last few years that seem to have very limited durability.That said, I’ve noticed shoes of late looking better build with a decent rand to hold them together so maybe manufacturers have finally taken that on board. Great informative review, thanks.

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  3. disappointed that just as with the race ultra, inov-8 seem to be phasing out the zero drop model in their new range of shoes. inov-8 have always provided for a wide spectrum of different runners, and it will be a real shame if the natural runners/zero-droppers had to look elsewhere for their shoes.

    inov-8 have always been my favourite running shoe brand – almost all my shoes are inov-8, and even on the ones that aren’t, i find myself adding an inov-8 insole or shoelaces to get a better fit. i’ll be keeping a close eye on what they’re doing in future. if i have to abandon ship, then i’ll be sure to take a few pairs of trailroc 235s with me! *glug glug*

  4. I second Ross’ comment regarding zero-drop models. The trail-roc 235 is my perfect shoe for Australian trail running (except they need a tiny bit more toe protection). I will literally cry if they get completely discarded by Inov-8. And the terraclaw 250s are 8mm….? That is quite a significant height. I can handle 4mm, even 6mm for the x-talon 212s, which are such a great shoe for muddy running. But 8mm is too high and I just wouldn’t buy them. Yes, the terra claw 220s are 4mm, but they don’t have any toe protection, so I won’t be able to use them for longer runs in Australia’s rocky conditions. Why would a minimal/low drop runner be happy to wear 8mm drop for ultra distance (ie.longer than their usual runs) in 4mm? That would traumatise my legs. I don’t get it!

  5. A few questions:
    1) how is the heelcup ? Firm in that it’s hard to push the heelcup down with the thumb ? Or on the contrary soft where it’s rather easy to push it down ?
    2) how do they drain ?

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  7. hi Ian, sorry for ‘necropostimg’ this thread.
    i’m a newbie in inov-8 shoes but i’ve had the chance to try some models of the brand (not terraclaw, yet) and now that i’m looking forward to buy one for a rocky/hard trail i was initially oriented to the Trailroc series, model 245 and 255 particularly.

    On some sites and blogs i read that Terraclaw (expecially 220) would be a sort of ‘replacements’ of the Trailroc series. Do you think is correct?
    Teraclaws outsole (with their rubber compouds and lugs) will provide the same traction of Trailroc’s? Are theese outsole designs for the same porpouse (of good traction in dry / rocky / hard trails) in your opinion?

    Just corious to know your ideas on this, i’m still confused about this terraclaws and their future use in trail running: still don’t understanding if their composition makes them better for light or hard trails (doesn’t seem the best for ‘softground’, probably X-Talon remains the best of the brand).

    thank you for the attention, dear guru 😉

  8. hiya, interested to know how the Terraclaw 220 handles mud running. Usually wear Baregrip 200 which has as an aweome sole. Otherwise would be interested to know how does it compare to the x-talon 190’s

    • Baregrip is a zero drop shoe, the Terraclaw is 4mm or 8mm so not comparable? But the shoe runs well, grips well for most terrain, however, if I was looking for out-and-out grip I would get a 212 or Mudclaw. The Terraclaw is a great ‘all rounder’.

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  10. Some questions:
    How breathable is the upper? Can you see light passing through the mesh?
    Does it have the sock like fit of the S-Lab series?

  11. After reading several reviews, I bought a pair of Terraclaw 250’s specifically for running the Scafell Trail Marathon. I’m a big Inov-8 fan, and thought they’d offer and nice balance between grip and comfort. Somewhere between my Race Ultras and X-Talons
    They are very light and comfortable, but I’ve been disappointed with the grip, and the toe rand coming away on both shoes, after only 3 runs, and a total of 43 miles.
    Two training runs on my usual forest trails, and I was losing my footing when it got a little muddy. During the Scafell race, I was never 100% confident of my footing when it got rocky and slippy underfoot. Also when they got wet, they seemed to go very loose and baggy around the collar, under the ankle. They looked and felt like they’d expanded, resulting in several stops to remove stones. Looking closer after the race, they are very light and sock like, offering very little support in this area. Every other shoe I have is definitely more rigid in this area.
    Maybe I should have gone a half or full size down? Despite all this my feet did feel fine at the end of the race, the shoe offered plenty of protection from the rocky terrain and no blisters.
    Definitely a shoe for the summer months, and dry terrain in my opinion.

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