Innovation on the Trails – Reviewing the new Parkclaw G280 from Inov-8

Parkclaw 4

The new Parkclaw from Inov-8 is considered a hybrid shoe, which means it was designed to go from road to trail on the same run. For those that live in the city, but with good access to trails nearby, this is definitely a nice benefit. This is Inov-8’s first road to trail shoe featuring Graphene.

The shoes, which launched on April 7th, are lightweight (under 10 ounces), good looking, and comfortable upon first wear. Here are some key specs:

  • 280g per shoe / ~9.9 ounces
  • 8mm drop. 29mm stack at rear, 21mm at front
  • 4mm lug height with 98 lugs per shoe
  • Width: (on Inov-8 1-5 scale, with 5 being the widest) 4
  • Available in 5 colors. The pair I tested is Nectar/Navy

Beyond the strong first impression, the Parkclaw’s beg to get dirty. Fortunately for me, this is my favorite part. And there’s no better way than to find some mud, push the corners, and really put these shoes to the test.

If there’s ever anything tough about testing shoes, it’s offering fair feedback after only a few miles, knowing that all shoes need some sort of break-in period. In the case of the Parkclaw’s, my first run was just over 9 miles, all on flowy, single-track, non-technical trail, with about 1,200’ of gain. My initial impression was good, especially in regards to grip, even in the mud, and how the shoes lock in my heels. But more “testing” was needed.

Inov-8 Parkclaw

For my second run, I pushed the distance to 18 miles, while including at least a couple miles of pavement, a mile of compact gravel, and the rest on easy non-technical trail, all with about 2,600’ of gain. The shoes definitely loosened up a little by the end of the second run, but remained tight.

Inov-8 Parkclaw

On my third run, I dialed back the distance to 11 miles, but pushed the vert to 3,000’, and sought out more technical trails, with large, often slippery rocks, trees to hurdle, and some more gravel. By mile 3, the tightness was about gone, and the fabric upper of the Parkclaw started to show its true comfort in how it relaxed for my feet.

PC 1

Through each run, the Graphene sole of the Inov-8 Parkclaw not only stayed grippy as advertised, but rarely slipped, even on those wet and hazardous rocks. One of the climbs on that third run has gravel sections with a grade of more than 20%, which often causes slippage for nearly any runner. I was pleased at how well these shoes held their footing.

PC 2

Following nearly 40 miles and over 6,800 feet of climbing in 3 runs, my only complaint about these shoes is wishing they were just a little wider in the toe box, as the shoes tend to force your toes into a wedge on the downhills. However, to be fair, much of that may be my feet and not the shoes.

PC 3

Overall, the Inov-8 Parkclaw G-280 is a worthy trail shoe that is good looking, lightweight, fast, grippy, and comfortable.

Insights from the Inov-8 team

Inov-8 Design Manager Graham Jordison said:

The design process started around 20 months ago. It was a longer process than usual since we wanted to create a fully groundup design, building on what we learned from the PARKCLAW 260.

By using the Grapheneenhanced rubber compound we were able to make smaller cleats that cut through the top surface of a trailThe rubber’s harderwearing property means the cleats retain their performance capabilities for longer. When it comes to road, the high number of multi-directional cleats – 98 on each shoe – are positioned to provide a balanced and smooth ride. 

The high coverage of cleats provides a good level of trail protection, but we also wanted to ensure the ride felt natural and responsive. To do this we retained the anatomically positioned META-FLEX groove and incorporated a longitudinal groove, which helps the foot adapt to contouring.

“Wearing purely road-specific shoes for trails is not ideal. You may have features in the upper thatwork well for several runs but you’re not going to get the confidence-boosting grip that brings so much enjoyment on trails. That’s why the PARKCLAW G 280 has been designed – so end users can run on the roads, turn off them, and transition to the excitement of hard-packed trails.”

Inov-8 Footwear Product Manager Bodil Oudshoorn said:

The G-FLY Graphene foam is both responsive and durable, meaning you get energy back from your midsole at every step. Many road running shoes have a foam that breaks down quickly and it has led to a throw-away culture. The G-FLY foam has been designed to make your shoes last longer and to help you perform for longer.”

For the PARKCLAW G 280, we slightly tweaked our G-FLY compound to make it a little softer, giving runners the plush feel of a road shoe with the aggressive grip you need on the trails.”

Where to Buy/Cost:
  • Available on the Inov-8 website: $180.00


About Author

Ultra runner with an ice cream addiction.

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