inov-8 PARKCLAW 275 GTX REVIEW

I have to be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to using inov-8’s new shoe offering, the PARKCLAW 275 (I tested the GTX – Gore Tex). Why? Well, inov-8 have always impressed by producing shoes that are specific to a runner’s need – typically, getting a grip in muddy trail. Over recent years though, many new inov-8 shoes have appeared that have merged that ‘specificity’ and in all honesty, I have always been impressed by what has been on offer.

The PARKCLAW though just didn’t entice me.

I have to say, I was a little silly. It turns out that the PARKCALAW 275 is a great shoe and in all honesty, it’s a shoe that will appeal to so many.

Many runners want a shoe that does more than just one thing. The PARKCLAW is going to be that shoe. Good on the road, good on dry trails, good on rocks, cushioned, wide toe box, 8mm drop and great feel.

Inov-8 have produced a real surprise!

THE SHOE

Maybe the ‘PARK’ in the name signifies the ever-growing parkrun community that every weekend assemble all over the world and bang out a 5k amongst friends. Let’s face facts, it’s a huge community and if you can get a slice of that pie, it’s a great thing for any brand. But many of those runners may want to mix things up with a little road-to-trail or easy trail runs. This is where the PARKCLAW can step in!

I need to clarify here that the PARKCLAW is a shoe that works for any runner. I have been using it on my road loops of 5, 8 and 12km and they have been great. Equally, they have been excellent on my local canal tow path and forest trails.

The shoe has an ‘in-between’ outsole that provides grip for trail but not too much grip for road. The lugs at 4mm are semi-aggressive but importantly are close together so road running feels good. META-FLEX at the front allows the shoes to bend near the metatarsals and at the rear is a Dynamic Fascia Band. Three different lug colours are present which show how the different compounds ensure grip on different surfaces.

Drop is 8mm which is now pretty much standard, gone are the days of 12mm drop and higher. 8mm drop is a perfect starting point for most runners and particularly nice if running longer.

Fit is neutral and true to size. I always use a UK9.5 and these are perfect.

Toe box is wide – 5 on inov-8’s fit scale (here) so all you Hobbits should have a huge smile.

Cushioning is 12mm at the front and 20mm at the rear which provides a plush feel and not at the compromise of losing a feel for the ground. The Cushioned ride comes from Powerflow+ which does a great job at protecting but not at the loss of energy return. Combined with META-FLEX the Powerflow+ makes the propulsive phase a pleasure.

The upper is classic inov-8, breathable and lightweight. It has support on either side of the lacing section which pulls in to hold the foot firm once laces are adjusted accordingly. Importantly there are double eyelets at the top, so you can lock-lace should you wish. The heel area is plush as always with inov-8 and there is additional support to hold the foot firm and help with gait. The tongue is padded and gusseted. Toe box is reinforced and protected.

IN USE

This is a very comfy shoe. Slipper like in feel and it was easy to pull them on and run with no bedding in. I was amazed at how comfortable they are. The Cushioning is unlike any other inov-8 shoe I have used. Maybe similar to a TRAIL TALON.

The key thing for many will be the wide toe box. Hobbits you will love them! I am fortunate that I can use precision shoes and then enjoy and benefit of a wide toe box when I want to be more relaxed and allow my foot to splay. The PARKCLAW is really comfy.

Gusseted tongue is padded and a real winner. Keep saying it, all shoes should have a gusseted tongue just makes sense!

The lacing is standard and it’s possible to adjust and get a great fit and feel. I used the additional eyelet at the top to ‘lock-lace’ but found I didn’t need it, the shoe fitted so well.

Running on the road is a real pleasure with excellent comfort, great feel and great energy return. At no point did I feel I was in a trail shoe. Transition to hard trail was seamless. The PARCLAW is a great all-rounder and one-stop shop for those who need something that can do a little of everything.

The 4mm lugs handled grass, rock and trail both in wet and dry but when the trails became muddy, grip was compromised. The lugs are too close together and not long enough to get the required purchase. This is not a criticism, it’s just a fact! Quite simply, if you are needing a shoe with greater off-road grip, you need another model of inov-8. The PARKCLAW is not intended for this job!

SUMMARY

The PARKCLAW  275 is a real surprise. It’s a shoe that you can use day in and day out when you are mixing terrain. A great example would be say living in London and going for a long run when you mix road with sections of trail in Regents Park, Hyde Park and so on. The shoe though equally sits as a road shoe or dry trail shoe. I had no issue using the PARKCLAW 275 for either purpose.

The toe box is wide, and this may well be a real deciding factor for many. I know so many runners who need or prefer a wide fit – look no further.

The PARKCLAW would actually make a great shoe for a race like Marathon des Sables when an out-and-out trail shoe is not required but when cushioning and wide toe box is welcome. It is definitely a contender.

The PARKCLAW 275 will never be great on muddy technical terrain. The outsole is not aggressive enough and the wide ‘5’ fit would make the shoe feel sloppy and lacking precision.

Ultimately, I think inov-8 created this shoe as an ‘introduction’ shoe. A way of enticing roadies to trail. In doing so, they have created a stand-alone shoe which I have been using daily, and yes, it’s equally great as a walking shoe.

A jack of all trades is never brilliant at any one thing but the PARKCLAW 275 does a great job at making the mix and transition.

Finally, I tested the GTX version, so, should you wish, you can also keep your feet warm and dry by letting no water in. Of course, GTX doesn’t let water out too, so, if the water comes in over the top of the shoe, your feet will stay wet. Always with considering! However, over the winter months I could feel the benefit of the Gore Tex on cold days.

PARKCLAW 275 on inov-8 HERE

 

Scott Nakoa Trail GTX

copyright.iancorless.com.6

The Nakoa TRAIL GTX® provides complete waterproof protection and breathability for the performance oriented runner:

“Introducing GORE-TEX® into the SCOTT trail collection, the Nakoa Trail GTX® utilizes Gore’s lightest and highly breathable membrane to create a next-level trail running shoe.

copyright.iancorless.com.5

Featuring a completely new sole design which extends the eRide™ platform and engages the high traction outsole while descending, the Nakoa delivers a more efficient and secure ride on the trail. The outsole features a new rubber compound with exceptional grip, ideal for a wide variety of surfaces. 100% waterproof and breathable, the Nakoa also features a push-through plate which protects the underfoot from bruising.

copyright.iancorless.com.9

The Nakoa Trail GTX® women’s model features a new women’s specific fit and insole.”

The new SCOTT NAKOA TRAIL GTX® will be available in stores from the beginning of August 2013.

Watch this space for an up and coming review.

Link:

Scott Sports HERE

The North Face – AK Stormy Trail

A5YKJK33As the main sponsor of the TNFUTMB, The North Face fully understand the needs of every runner when embarking on the epic alpine journey. Irrespective of distance, the mountains can be a cruel and hard place.

Look at the history of the race. For several years the TNFUTMB has been hampered by bad weather. Just last year, 2012, the race was shortened at the last minute and ‘mandatory’ kit was increased to 4 layers to ensure the safety of every runner.

Two pieces of mandatory kit are a fully waterproof jacket with hood and taped seams but also over trousers. Now many runners, particularly the elite runners think… “I will never wear over trousers”. The 2012 edition of the TNFUTMB confirmed to many that mandatory kit, (although sometimes one may think it is over the top) is absolutely necessary,

To this end, The North Face have created two items that tick all the boxes. The AK STORMY TRAIL JACKET and AK STORMY TRAIL PANTS. Available in Black & Yellow

A5YKJK3

A48DJK32

Key Features

It’s simple really…. a tailored fit to reduces excess material and flapping. A reduction in ‘extras’ as these only add opportunities for onward problems or areas were leaks may appear. Lightweight and small pack size.

Box TICKED

The AK STORMY range do all the above and then some. Of course that doesn’t come cheap. At £160 for the jacket and £110 for the pants this is an investment. But you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise when I am several thousand feet up in the rain and snow.

SPECS

AK JACKET – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket is a waterproof, breathable, hooded running jacket for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, the jacket is constructed with a reflective brimmed, stay-put hood, an adjustable hood cinch and a reflective drop-tail hem for increased coverage and weatherproofing. Easily stowed in a backpack and with a glued zip chest pocket for secure storage, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket.

A5YKJK32

  • Reflective brimmed hood with stay
  • Adjustable hood cinch
  • Glued chest pocket
  • Reflective drop-tail hem
  • Stowable

available S,M,L,XL

AK PANTS – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant is a waterproof, windproof, breathable running trouser for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, these performance fit pants are constructed with an elasticized waist with adjustable drawcord and articulated knees for increased mobility. Easily stowed in a backpack and with reflective logos for increased security on night and low level visibility runs, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant.

A48DJK3

  • Elasticated waist with adjustable drawcord
  • Performance fit
  • Articulated knees, Ankle zips
  • Reflective logos
  • Packable

available S,M,L,XL

A full test of the AK range will follow soon. Initial impressions are superb. Fit is excellent. The attention to detail really is spot on and both garments are a real joy to wear but ultimately, they are a pleasure to run in… that is what counts!

 

Endorphin by Arc’teryx

The new Arc’teryx Endorphin range

Published in RUN247
Wednesday 8th August 2012
Tags Arcteryxs   |   Incendo Jacket   |   Incendo Vest   |  Motus SS   |   Incendo Short   |   Accelero Cap   |  Aerios 7L Backpackstrong   |   TalkUltra   |   Ian Corless

Product review: Arc’teryx Incendo Jacket, Incendo Vest, Motus SS, Incendo Short, Accelero Cap and Aerios 7L Backpackstrong


Accelero CapAccelero Cap

I always wear a hat or visor when running. Without wishing to add to much detail… I sweat and I tend to sweat quite considerably. A good head product stops all that salty liquid running into the eyes and causing irritation. I typically have a preference for a Visor and I have to say that the Arv’teryx ‘Neutro‘ Visor is the best on the market for me. For testing purposes though I was using the Accelero Cap.

The  cap is short brimmed and highly breathable with mesh side panels. It has the all important comfortable sweat band that caused no irritation and at the rear it has an adjustable stretch closure with a quick release buckle. Considering I was using this hat in the mountains with 30 deg temperature and I was running up a 30% incline I found the hat incredibly comfortable and cool, even with the heat absorbing black colour.


Motus SS T ShirtMotus SS T Shirt

The Motus SScrew neck shirt was probably the greatest revelation of all the test kit provided. We all think a shirt is a shirt and the differences between products are minimal but believe me, the Motus is a world apart. Using Phasic SL fabric this performance orientated lightweight (97g for M) running top has bi-component construction and all important flat locked seems to remove any potential irritation.

Light to wear it has a trim fit and is designed to quickly remove moisture from the skin. Running up steep gradients with a Backpack certainly helps generate some heat. I was impressed 100% at the ability of the Phasic SL fabric to not only remain comfortable when my sweat rate increased but also how quickly it dried. All in all this is a very impressive shirt and the addition of reflective strips to aid visibility this is one shirt that I will be using again and again for future runs.A streamlined, trim fitting zipper vest is a popular addition to any runners wardrobe. It provides that all important protection for the chest in cooler temperatures but also allows for the arms to be free and therefore controls temperature regulation.


Incendo VestIncendo Vest

This Incendo Vest is made of ultra-lightweight (95g) Luminara fabric which is 100% nylon. To the rear of the product is a 100% polyester mesh back that allows internal heat to escape from the body. It has a side (reverse) stow pocket (the vest will stow inside this) and reflective blades to increase visibly. The most important aspects of a product like this are lightweight, small pack size and ease of use. The Incendo Vest does all these things perfectly and is a great addition to any runners ‘essential’ kit list.


Incendo Jacket

The Incendo Jacket uses the same fabric as the Incendo Vest but has some obvious significant differences. It has no mesh rear panel but mesh panels under the arms to provide temperature control. Obviously designed for cooler temperatures and/ or early morning/ late evening runs. It has reflective strips to increase visibility and at 119g is super light. At the top of the summit in testing it provided perfect protection from the wind and importantly it will reflect light rain. It has a trim fit and therefore when running it did not flap or move around in the wind.

Incendo JacketIt is a product that is designed to ‘fit’ the body and in doing so I suggest that you make sure that you get the correct fit. I personally found the jacket and the vest sized a little large, so, if you are around a 38″ to 40″ chest I would recommend a ‘small’. Like the Incendo Vest it has a small pocket and the jacket will stow into it. Inside the zippered pocket is a media pocket with MP3 cord passage. In use it is a pleasure to wear. Once on you don’t even know you are wearing it. Perfect. When running or racing this jacket offers the perfect combination of wight, size and practicality.

Obviously should you anticipate ‘harsh’ conditions then this jacket may very well be too ‘light’ and I would recommend the Visio FL Jacket. For 2013 the Incendo will also have the option of a ‘hood’. This product will be called Incendo Hoody.


Aerios 7L BackpackAerios 7L Backpack

A Backpack is an all important essential item to any trail, mountain or ultra runner. Because of the variables we encounter when out running the need to carry ‘essential’ items, food and water mean that a practical and comfortable pack is essential. Now if you are like me, I am sure you will have spent a fortune on constantly trying to find that ‘perfect pack’. We have so many variables to consider and I personally find that no ‘one’ pack does all jobs well.

The Aerios 7L (also 10L available) weighs in at 400g and comes in either black or blue. It has two internal pockets, one for a bladder and the other pocket is a small zippered type with a key holder that could hold a wallet, phone or both. It is a simple pack that can hold a surprisingly large amount of kit. In the test case I had a buff, gloves, head torch, Incendo Jacket, Incendo Vest and 2 collapsable poles inside and I still had plenty of room for additional kit. On the outside is a drawstring elastic cord with a ‘garage’ to stow excess cord. This elastic is ideal for adding a jacket such as the ‘Gore Tex’ Visio FL. It has an elastic waist belt with a ‘quick release’ adjustable buckle and if required the waist belt can be removed from the pack completely with two fasteners. On the chest it has an adjustable chest strap that can be placed in one of four positions depending on your body shape and desired fit. In use it is really comfortable to wear and has minimal bounce.

The rear of the pack has ‘Aeroform’ mesh that provides a stable support and minimal heat retention. At the bottom of the pack on either side are two small expandable mesh pockets that are easy to reach without removing the pack and can easily hold several gels or food. At 7L it has a particular use and for me I personally would like the addition of pockets on either the shoulder straps or waist belt. This would provide more options for food and or other essentials such as mobile phone or GPS.


Incendo ShortsIncendo Shorts

Incendo Shorts are one of the best that I have worn. Made from two fabrics called ‘Invigor’ and Viente both of which are Polyester. They fit and hold shape perfectly. They weigh 132g for a medium and have a relaxed fit. An internal liner provides excellent comfort and no irritation. A drawstring waist allows for precise adjustment and at the rear a small mesh vent panel allows for heat to escape. It has two pockets, a hip stash pocket and hip zippered security pocket. In use they are extremely comfortable and allow for plenty of movement with no discomfort. Running or walking up steep gradients in the Pyrenees allowed my legs to move through a whole series of positions with no restraint applied by the fabric or the cut of the short. The waist band was just the right size and like all Arc’teryx products the attention to detail was second to no other make them ideal for a short or long run on road or trail. The addition of reflective strips to increase visibility make them a perfect choice.


I would like to thank Arc’teryx for the opportunity to travel to the Pyrenees and test the products. My reviews are independent, open and transparent.