inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 Road to Trail Running Shoe Review

Available on Amazon

Weight: 280g per shoe (men’s size 9)

Stack Height: 18mm / 10mm

Drop: 8mm

Lug depth: 4mm

Use: road/trail

Foam: Graphene enhanced foam midsole

Outsole: Graphene grip

Footbed: Boomerang

Upper: One piece knitted mesh, strategic protection elements

inov-8 are a long established British company best known for their trail shoes. 

A while ago they created a ‘road-to-trail’ hybrid shoe called the Parkclaw which didn’t exactly set the world on fire but they recently released a radical update in the form of the Parkclaw G 280. 

inov-8 use some innovative technologies in their products – the most interesting being Graphene (hence the ‘G’ in the name) – an amazing material developed by the University of Manchester which was originally used by inov-8 to add strength, grip and durability to their outsoles. However, in the Parkclaw it’s also been added to the midsole foam where it provides incredible resilience and better energy return. 

Hybrid running shoes are often disappointing – performance either on or off road (or sometimes both) just doesn’t hit the mark but the Parkclaws seem to have got it right. Personally, I find them a perfect shoe for those days when you need to incorporate smooth but hard sections (tarmac or concrete – like the yellow brick road!) into an off road run. They really seem to suit local downland running with a surprisingly strong performance on most surfaces – though they could struggle in deeper mud – not something I’ve had the chance to test yet. 

The reason they work so well as a road shoe is the arrangement of lugs on the outsole – apparently there are 98 (I’ve not counted them!) lugs of 4mm depth which provide a more stable base for harder surfaces than pure trail shoes. Although they won’t necessarily get you a PB on Hove Prom parkrun they’re pretty responsive and perfectly usable for road running. The layout and depth of the lugs mean that grip in the rough stuff isn’t compromised though and they inspire confidence on lumpy grass, flint and chalk tracks and woodland paths – typical downland terrain!

The upper is a knitted mesh which is thicker than some, but still pretty breathable. Comfort levels are high, with a decent padded tongue and some no-nonsense thick and grippy laces which are easy to tie and best of all, stay tied! There are small toe bumpers which provide some protection against stubbing, and a bit of overlay material around the heel for stability and strength. I really like the fuss free design – these are shoes which are easy to get on the feet, lace up and get out of the door…

A couple of interesting features which add to the overall comfort and flexibility when trail running are the use of ‘Boomerang’ footbeds (as seen in the Craft CTM Ultra 2 I reviewed previously). With a load of TPU beads on the bottom, these add more cushioning without increasing the depth of the midsole (there’s an 8mm drop with 10mm at the toe and 18mm at the heel) 

There are also some strategically placed grooves in the outsole which allow the shoe to flex to accommodate rougher surfaces on the trail without causing stress on the ankles. The shoe can also bend at an anatomically correct position which makes uphill sections easier. Descending in these shoes is quick – the grip inspires confidence although there are going to be shoes that could cope with pure technical trails better, these are perfectly good (and quick) enough to tackle local trail races.

 I would expect the durability of these to be very good – with the combination of midsole and outsole I’d be looking for at least 500km from them, providing the upper can go the distance.

Overall, these are very interesting shoes from inov-8 and well worth considering if you’re looking for a ‘do it all’ road and trail shoe. A downside is the price – £160, but inov-8 often have sales. Also, they don’t absolutely excel at being a road shoe or a trail shoe. There are compromises, so don’t expect them to work as well as dedicated shoes but as a solid all rounder they do the job very well indeed.

inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 Road to Trail Running Shoe Review
Value for money
Reasons to buy
Great hybrid road / trail shoe
Incredible outsole
Simple but effective design
Reasons to avoid
May have limited use if not regularly running on a combination of surfaces
Available on Amazon
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