Inov-8 Terraclaw 220 Trail Running Shoe Review
Oct201511

The Terraclaw 220 and 250 are brand new models in Inov-8’s trail running shoe range which will ultimately replace the Trailroc line. I suspect that many people will be sad to see the departure of the Trailroc and I was impressed with them when I tested the 245 model last year but noted that the fit could have been a tad more secure for my taste whilst retaining the ‘anatomical’ shape of the shoe.

The Terraclaw range comes in two variants and as usual with Inov-8, the name signifies the weight of the shoes in a UK size 8. The 250 comes with an 8mm drop, a rand around the toes and the heel, plus slightly more substantial overlays than the 220 which is a stripped-back version of the shoe with a 4mm drop and no rand.

The switch to a 4mm / 8mm choice of drops follows a trend set by the Race Ultra in that it’s a departure from the 0mm-3mm-6mm range that we’ve become familiar with from Inov-8 in recent years. I think this reflects how the market for low-drop shoes has shifted and settled on 4mm as popular a ‘sweet spot’ for many minimally-inclined runners and 8mm to accommodate those who prefer slightly more differential.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Specification

  • Weight of 244g in my UK size 9.5’s
  • Stack height of 20mm in the heel and 16mm in the forefoot
  • 4mm heel to toe drop
  • Built around Inov-8’s ‘Standard’ fit
  • No rock plate
  • Completely new outsole design out of Inov-8’s ‘Dual-C’ compound which is a mix of ‘medium sticky’ and ‘hard sticky’ rubber.
  • ‘Dynamic Fascia Band’ shank
  • Welded Overlays

First Impressions

The first time I saw images of the Terraclaw 220 earlier this year, there were a number of features which really jumped out at me. The first was the lack of structure in the upper which makes for a wonderfully simple and elegant design but it lead me to wonder how secure the fit could be without more substantial overlays or structure. Second was the ‘Ray-Wrap’ lacing system which is intended to align the laces with the metatarsals. I’ve run in a couple of different shoes with isometric style lacing systems and I didn’t get on with either of them so I was a bit apprehensive about this.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finally, unlike the 250, the Terraclaw 220 has no real randing around the toe box which I suspect is a weight-saving measure but this is always a cause for concern in an off-road shoe. On the plus side, they feature the same upper material as the most recent version of the Trailroc which I found to be pretty sturdy (certainly in comparison to the 2012 original). It’s also important to point out that the Terraclaw is marketed as a trail shoe and when used for this purpose it should have fewer encounters with rocks, roots and undergrowth than a fell shoe. Never the less, I suspect there are a lot of runners out there who would happily sacrifice an extra few grams for the additional assurance that a rand would provide. I get that they are supposed to be a stripped back but I still don’t understand why a runner who prefers a 4mm drop (the 220) will require less protection than someone who runs  in an 8mm drop shoe (the 250).

Fit and Sizing

Achieving a secure fit in a trail shoe with a roomy toe box is tricky. Salomon have produced some excellent examples of this with their Sense range but a lot of the time, ‘anatomically’ shaped shoes feel great on flat surfaces or moderate inclines but a bit sloppy on steeper ground. The key to this in my opinion is in getting the midfoot area dialed in so that it holds the foot nice and snug without requiring a pointy toe box to keep things locked down.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the first couple of runs in the Terraclaw, it quickly became clear to me that my concerns about the lack of overlays and the isometric lacing system were completely misplaced. This is the best fitting Inov-8 shoe I’ve ever tried by quite a considerable margin. It provides fantastic comfort, security and is basically exactly what I’m looking for in a trail shoe for anything from short distances to marathons and beyond. The Terraclaw holds the feet in place for all but the absolute steepest of terrain which basically means it’ll handle anything that I would define as ‘Trail’ (and not ‘Fell’ where Inov-8’s performance-fit range would be better suited). They really feel like they melt onto my feet and I honestly can’t come up with any constructive criticism in this area.

Sizing for me is also spot-on, i.e. consistent with 95% of Inov-8’s other models but half a size smaller than Salomon.

Performance

So, if I wasn’t completely clear above, I’m really happy with the fit of the Terraclaw but what about the rest of the shoe? Well, the outsole lugs are pretty aggressive for a trail shoe and extremely well suited to spring / summer / autumn use in the UK where we often have to tackle a mix of dry and soft terrain. This in contrast to shoes like the Salomon Sense 4 and basically 95% of American trail shoes which quickly falter on anything other than dry ground. I should add the caveat that the ‘Dual-C’ compound isn’t as adhesive as their sticky rubber when faced with wet rock but it’s pretty good and certainly more durable on hard ground.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The thing that I think is going to divide opinion a bit with the Terraclaw is the underfoot protection and cushioning which does not feature a rock plate and is generally pretty minimal. The overall feel that this creates is classic Inov-8 in that they are low to the ground, flexible, tactile and incredibly nimble over technical terrain and fans of the brand will love them for this. Those who are more familiar with meatier shoes might find that their feet take a little bit of a battering over ground that is especially rocky or rooty and they might take a bit of getting used to.

I recently had a week in Wasdale and had the opportunity to put quite a few miles in the shoes around Scafell, Great Gabel et al and encountered an awful lot of rocks on the way. I felt very confident indeed whilst descending in the 220’s but did notice that my feet started to become a little bit tenderised on longer outings and I think I’d reach for something a bit more cushy for runs over 3-4 hours. For this reason, they aren’t going to work for everyone but I think that runners who ‘get’ shoes like this will not be disappointed with the Terraclaw.

Durability

For one reason and another it’s taken me a lot longer than usual to post this and a plus side of this is that I’ve put a lot more miles on the Terraclaw than I usually would before writing a review (certainly more than 100) and this has enabled me to give them quite a pasting. The upper is showing minimal signs of wear so far and no indication at all that are going to prematurely develop tears around the flex points or elsewhere. I’d still prefer to see a rand around the front (the semi rigid one from the X-Talon 200 would work beautifully) but I was pleasantly surprised by how well they have stood up so far.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Conclusion

The Terraclaw 220 could almost have been designed specifically to suit my taste for a trail shoes and aside from adding a toe rand, there is nothing at all I would change about them, they really are excellent. That being said whilst I think they are going to be very popular among people who like Inov-8 style shoes, they are quite uncompromising in their execution of the companies’ minimal design ethos and this might limit their mass market appeal. I personally applaud them for sticking to their niche and I hope that they continue to do so for a long time to come.

This product was provided as a test sample by the manufacturer, please refer to my gear review and advertising policy for more information.

Where to Find Them

The Terraclaws are available from Amazon, Wiggle, and Millet Sports.

I make every effort to ensure these reviews are as objective and honest as possible to help you decide if a product is right for you. This takes me a lot of time and effort and if you are interested in a product I have reviewed, you can help me keep the site going by placing purchases through the links and adverts at no extra cost to yourself. Thanks for your support.

Get Involved!

Got any thoughts to share about the Terraclaw 220? Have a question? I’m especially interested to hear your experiences on the durability? Please leave your thoughts below!

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Digg

24 comments

  1. Noa says:

    Thank you for your great review of these shoes. I’m very much considering purchasing these shoes as they would most likely fit my needs quite well.
    I live in Crete Greece, and the mixed conditions I encounter here would suite these shoes nicely. My main dilemma would be durability as the terrain can sometimes be harsh, rocky and sharp, requiring the protection of a rand.
    This makes me consider the XTalon 212 for the stronger build (but less suitable outsold for my conditions), or the Salomon sense which sounds great from your review, although much pricier than Inov 8.
    Having said that, whatever lasts longer pays for itself in the end.
    Would love to hear your opinion on durability issues.
    Thank you very much. All the best…

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Noa! Thanks so much for getting in touch! I think you are probably right about the lack of rand being a bit risky for your purposes. Maybe check out the Terraclaw 250 if you can cope with the extra drop as they have a pretty decent looking rand?

      From what little I know about Crete (mostly hot / dry?), I would also imagine that the Salomon’s would be a good fit for your needst. SG version copes better for soft / loose ground and is overall more versatile. V3 and V4 can both be found at some very good prices now as the V5 is about to come out (watch this space for a review)

  2. Noa says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you very much for getting back to me.

    Crete is indeed dry and hot (mild in winter), quite rocky and often technical terrain.

    I have literally spent the day reading shoe reviews ! And as tempting as this new Terraclaw might be, I think it will not last the way I would wish it to.
    Apparently the lugs wear out quite quickly also. So although cheaper than my other choice (Salomon sense 4 ultra), I believe the Salomons will last longer while offering impressive performance.
    Plus I have found my size of Sense 4 discounted at one of your affiliates (Castleberg).
    Thank you for your great reviews and help in guiding my choice.
    All the best…

  3. Peter says:

    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?

  4. Brock says:

    Thanks very much for your review. I am a long time Trailroc user (the 245’s), and was pretty much devastated to learn they were discontinued. I was leaning toward buying the Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra (not sure if I’d go SG or not)as a replacement, but maybe the Terraclaw 220’s would work. I am concerned about the lack of a rock plate though, I run on pretty rocky trails typically, has it bothered you with that missing?

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Brock, I actually like that it isn’t there as it makes them a bit more flexible and propreoceptive. That being said, it does mean that your feet take a bit of a pasting on longer runs so I guess it depends on how you want to use them. I have the Terraclaw and the Sense 5 SG and would use the Salomons on longer, rocky runs.

  5. Erik says:

    Great review

    I am hoping you can help me decide on a size to order. There are no dealers around me to try them on.

    I have pretty much every shoe you compared them to in the pictures so I figure you are the perfect guy to ask.

    Here are my sizes (all in US)
    Salomon Sense Ultra 5’s (size 12 but a bit snug, still my go to shoe)
    Altra superior 2.0’s (Size 12.5)
    New Balance MT110 (size 12, my favorite all time trail shoe, a tad to tight though)
    Merrell trail glove or bare access ultra (size 12)

    I am thinking I would either need a 12.5 or 13 since I heard they run a bit small.

    • Andrew says:

      Crazy late (and probably useless reply now). Sorry I can’t really help with this question as the sizing conversions from US-UK are variable for each brand and I couldn’t be sure what to recommend

  6. mmmiddy says:

    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.

    • Andrew says:

      I haven’t had the baggy issue around the collar but aside from that I agree with everything you’ve said. They won’t live with x-twins etc in proper mud and the rubber is deliberately less sticky to make them more durable on hard ground but for uk summer conditions where things are generally dry but you might get a bit of mud they are perfect in my view

  7. Hi there, in really interested to read your review. I just bought some online without trying them on and although they fit, there is a huge empty space above my toes and lower foot, just huge! Is this normal, or are these maybe just not the shoes for me? I’d be grateful for your opinion – do they fit you this way too?

    • Andrew says:

      Sorry this is so late, I’d say they are quite roomy above the toes but your perception of that is going to be influenced by whatever you’ve been running in before switching to the 220’s

  8. AndyT says:

    These seem a good all year, all round, jack-of-all-trades shoe. I bought them to replace the Roclite 243 (my ‘winter trail / summer fell’ shoe), and also for summer use after being disappointed by the performance of the Altra Superior 2.0, and found them to be ideal. It seems to me that the dual density sole is not quite as grippy as that of the roclite on wet rock, but they’re pretty similar elsewhere – they seem to clear mud a bit quicker, but I didn’t do a side-by-side comparison. Fit is pretty much perfect, and the odd-looking lacing system works well. It’ll be interesting to see how well they wear with the minimal rand.

  9. Thanks for the great review! I’m searching for a new trail running shoes and the terra claw 220 is high on my list. I run in Switzerland where i can face anything from hardpack trails to technical rocks and roots to mud. I’ve previously been using the New Balance minimus trail, which I found fit well and want to try out the inov8’s as I feel they’ll cope better than the Minimus. I notice in the photo comparison with other shoes there is a pair of New Balance shoes in there. Would you say the Inov8’s will fit my feet coming from a New Balance Minimus Trail? Thanks!

  10. James B says:

    Hi Andrew – how long did these last? I bought some x talon 200’s and after 2 months and 230 miles-ish I’ve nearly ripped the whole toe box off which is annoying as the sole is in perfect order. These seem like the perfect shoe for me atm but not keen on shelling out another 50 quid for something thats going to break straight away!! Cheers

  11. Felix Davis says:

    Thanks for the review. How do you think going from Salomon Speedcross (several pairs over the last few years) to these shoes would be? I’m in the Alps – very dry, dusty terrain in the summer and my usual runs are between 6-12km. Too lightweight? Cheers

    • Andrew says:

      Hey felix, sorry for the late reply. The shoes have proven to be pretty durable and I think they will cope well. Just be aware that they have less cushion adn drop than the speedcross (which you might find that you like but it’s a very personal thing). The Terraclaw 250 would be closer to the speedcross and you might find it easier to adapt.

Leave a Reply to James B Cancel reply