I have been using both the 220 and the 250 for the last 4-months and in all honesty, much of what I have to say applies to both shoes. The biggest and most obvious differences are:
4mm drop in comparison to 8mm drop
220g weight in comparison to 250g weight
Less cushioning in the 220
Different lacing system
If you are new to inov-8 shoes, they always add the weight of the shoe (based on a UK8.5) to the name. In this scenario 220 relates to 220g. I like this, from first glance you get an understanding of where a shoe fits in the big picture. It’s safe to say, the less weight = more minimalist.
For me, the 220 and the 250 Terraclaw shoes are an extension from the Race Ultra models, the 270 (4mm drop) and 290 (8mm drop). The Race Ultra, as the name implies was designed for longer days running and the shoe had a sole that was good for dry trail and road. A key feature was the wide toe box that would allow the toes to spread out and also allow for swelling. It’s a shoe that had many new features and I must add it proved (and still proves to be) very popular. My initial impressions were good but that is where it stopped for me. I found the Race Ultra in both models lacked feel for the ground, comfort and responsiveness. They just didn’t light my candle.
So when I received the Terraclaw models I was not over excited to take them out for a run. My preferred shoe drop is usually 8mm so I went out in the Terraclaw 250 (black and blue shoe) first and I was amazed how different this shoe felt. The sloppy feel of the Race Ultra was gone and I found this new shoe more flexible, supple, cushioned, responsive and the feedback with the ground was good. I have gone on to run many miles in the Terraclaw 250 and love them. You can read Niandi’s review HERE and for the most I agree with her thoughts.
However, I do have some other thoughts and they relate to both the 220 and 250 models.
As mentioned above, the Terraclaw 220 and 250 are almost identical.
The 250 has a cool colour way of black, yellow and blue and the 220 does not! Oh boy do I hate this pale blue and yellow. I have visions of the first Hoka’s and people saying, ‘why are you wearing clown shoes!’ Of course looks mean nothing in regard to performance but I do like my shoes to look good and I have to say, inov-8 usually do a great job of making shoes look ‘sexy!’ Not in this case, not for me anyway.
That big ‘X’ that goes over the front of the shoe is ‘X-Lock’ – inov-8 say that is a welded overlay to hold the foot in place. I will admit that the ‘X’ adds some structure to the shoe but it does not hold the foot in place!
Well this shoe and the 250 is all about foot splay. The toe box has been designed to let the toes splay out, move around and yes, even swell if they need to. It works. Both the 220 and 250 versions give me a ‘barefoot’ feel of movement. However, the ‘X’ adds little structure or hold.
This for me is a real plus and a real negative.
1. If you are running on mixed terrain that involved some road, hard trail, a little mud, soft grass and the profile is relatively flat with a few undulations and descents – the 220 and 250 are great shoes.
2. But if you are running anything technical, running up or running down, the movement within the toe box is way too much (for me). You have no control and your foot slides inside offering no reassurance.
The two comments above are comments that relate to the shoes ‘best practice’ running scenarios. So, if you are intending to run in the number 2 scenario, the 220 or 250 is probably NOT the shoe for you unless you have a foot as wide as a Hobbit. Look at a 212 (HERE) or 300 (HERE) instead.
Niandi needs a wider toe box and this where the needs of one varies to the needs of another. To take a step back and understand the needs of the individual, for me, the wide toe box is too much when I need control but for Niandi it works. We both agree though that the outsole is NOT for muddy or slippery terrain.
The outsole is an extension of the Race Ultra and I would imagine has come about from all those Race Ultra lovers who wanted more grip. Well they have it now but it has limitations. We must remember here that (for me) inov-8 are trying to create an ‘all-purpose’ shoe that transitions from different surfaces; road to trail? Like I always say, no shoe that compromises will ever do the extremes well. That applies to the 220 and the 250 – they are not as good as a road shoe and they do not offer the grip of an out-and-out fell or soft-ground shoe. BUT if you want a shoe that you can put on everyday and use for mixed terrain, the 220 and 250 are great for that.
The outsole uses different compounds to provide grip on a multitude of surfaces and the grip is made up of little triangles that provide adequate grip on soft ground but not muddy ground. The spacing of the cleats is supposed to allow debris to release quicker. It made no difference for me; mud is mud and it sucks on to your shoes.
A ‘Dynamic Fascia Band’ has been embedded in the midsole and this provides some propulsion on the ‘lift-off’ phase when running. I would say that I noticed this more on the 220 (4mm drop) shoe but in all honesty, I believe that this comes from me wanting to run better in the 4mm drop shoes. You (or I) need to think more about my run style in a lower drop shoe as the mid to forefoot strike is so much more important. Hence the ‘awareness’ of the DFB working.
The noticeable difference between the 220 and the 250 is the lacing. The 250 is conventional and the 220 sweeps off to the side. inov-8 call this Ray-Wrap and it’s designed to line with the foot’s first metatarsal. They are not the first shoe company to do this, I seem to remember using a pair of Brooks with a similar system. Ultimately it works. I am not convinced it is any better than normal lacing methods though. I personally like my shoes to hold my foot so in both the 220 and 250 models I use a lacing method like THIS and in the 220 it is a little harder to use because of the offset. The 220 also has less additional support added to the upper around the lacing. The heel box is snug and plush and the shoe fits true to size.
Both shoes feel like slippers when you slide your foot into them and this is due to the lack of stitching. The shoes have little or no seams to cause any issues. The toe box of the 220 has less protection than the 250 and this only an issue if you are planning running on more rocky terrain or terrain with obstacles when the risk of stubbing a toe increases.
Although the 220 and 250 are very similar, are they for different runners? The 250 is a great ‘all rounder’ that will appeal to many runners because of the following features:
Mixed terrain outsole
Wide toe box
Great for longer runs
The 220 though is a much more streamlined shoe and the 4mm drop and less cushioning will appeal to more efficient runners who cover ground quicker with a forefoot/ mid-foot run style. For example, I can see a runner using the 220 for short training sessions, faster training sessions or racing. They then may well use the 250 for longer training runs or longer races. I don’t think that 250 users would necessarily drop down to the 220.
I have enjoyed the 220 for ‘keeping me on my toes’ on runs of up to 60-75 minutes on road, grass, forest trail and canal path. When I have wanted to run longer I have used the 250.
When running on technical trails with more mud, rocks and longer descents and climbs I have always preferred to use a different shoe. Currently the Mudclaw 300 (HERE) as this seems a natural extension of the 250 with a more aggressive outsole, precision fit but good cushioning.
Ultimately, if you need a shoe that will allow you to run on mixed terrain and you need a wider toe box, the 220 or 250 should be on your list of shoes to look at.
Despite misgivings on the lack of support in the upper, I have found the freedom that both shoes provide very liberating and they do give a ‘natural’ feel similar to running barefoot. The outsole has worn well even with road use and they compare well to other shoes on the market.
I have always admired inov-8 for thinking of runners when they make shoes. Silly thing to say you may think, but how many other brands provide shoe models with varying drop: 3,6, 9 and 12mm or 4 and 8mm and at the same time have offered standard or precision width fittings in certain models. The arrow system on the rear of the shoe in many ways inspired a whole new generation of runners who wanted to get ‘lower’ with drop and inov-8 facilitated that. So, I’m an inov-8 fan. Over time, they have tweaked models and expanded the range. The Race Ultra and now the Terraclaw are shoes that hove come about with the growth of ultra running and the need (or desire) for a wider toe box. They have answered that demand and in doing so, once again they have provided two options in drop to ensure that nearly everyone is happy. If you are in need of a shoe that can handle a mix of terrain (not all road and not all mud) then a 220 or 250 may well answer your needs.
Wide toe box
4mm drop for the more efficient runner
Cushioned (but not too cushioned)
Outsole for mixed terrain
I’m not convinced on the lacing but then again it caused no issues
Outsole lacks grip on mud, when climbing or descending
Toe box (for me) feels sloppy on technical terrain, when climbing and when descending
Less cushioning than the 250
Upper lacks support when required
Weight: 220g/ 8oz
Midsole: Compressed EVA
Outsole: Dual C
What inov-8 say:
From single track to steep descents, the TERRACLAW™ performs on the widest range of trails imaginable. Our unique lug design releases debris and grit like no other, delivering optimum grip with every foot strike. At just 220g, the lightest version of the TERRACLAW™ is stripped-back for racing super-fast with a finely tuned balance of performance and protection.