10 Best Inov-8 Running Shoes Reviewed & Fully Compared
Founded in 2003, Inov-8 quickly became a leading manufacturer of running shoes, and athletic equipment. Since their beginning in rugged British terrain, Inov-8 engineered their products to succeed in varied types of terrain. The company wants an athlete’s experience with the wilderness to be absolutely positive. With this mission constantly in mind, they design running shoes built to withstand the roughest terrain so athlete’s can perform at their best. Inov-8 shoes can hold up against roads, mud, trails, rocks, tree roots, and rain. With a minimalist design, athletes can get their run done with a simple and effective shoe.
We’ve researched and tested every Inov-8 running shoe. Then we narrowed them down to the ten best running shoes, and discussed them in this review. Since we’ve done all the hard work for you, it will make finding the best shoes for you that much easier.
- Inov-8 Road Claw 275
- Dynamic Fascia Band
- Inov-8 Terrafly
- Injected EVA midsole
- Inov-8 Men's Bare-XF 210 V2
- Close to the ground
11 Best Inov-8 Running Shoes
Inov-8 Road Claw 275
This is a comfortable and stable running shoe. It has some holes in the material to allow your feet to breathe more easily. It has a midsole underfoot protection that is designed to absorb shock when your foot hits the ground. This running shoe is built to withstand all road conditions.
Inov-8 was launched to be a counter rival to the Zoom Vomero from Nike and the Brooks Glycerine. This was a competition between the neutrally cushioned favorites. What runners want is extra cushion for those extra grueling miles on challenging runs. As we know, extra cushion often means more weight and this tests our levels of endurance.
This shoe feels light at 275g and it's 31g less heavy than its rival from Brooks and Nike. The Roadclaw has excellent shock absorption qualities, especially for those with a forefoot strike.
The outsole can cope with challenging surfaces, including loose wet pebbles. This was good when considering this is more of a road shoe.
This shoe is a step up in performance while keeping a lot of features from the previous Inov 8, which itself enjoyed many years of popularity.
This shoe has similar FIT features to the Race Ultra 290 but offers a more narrow forefoot and better hug at the heel.
Midfoot strikers will feel comfortable with the heel-to-forefoot drop of 8mm and the weight feels right at 275 grams.
Powerflow tech in the midsole provides a good shock absorption level much better than most standard midsoles. At the same time, we runners get a smooth comfortable ride. Spring factor is notable and helpful due to the Dynamic Fascia Band built into this shoes.
The roomy toe box is a much appreciated feature. Ample room in the length and width of the shoe, for short runs or longer challenging runs, the shoe is nice and light and performs very well.
Durability / Quality
This is a quality durable shoe. There have been no reviews of wear and tear. It allows you to have good grip on the road with its claw-cleat lug design gives you ultimate traction.
A durable outsole through the inclusion of TRI-C which provides solid grip/traction as we move through our gait cycles, as our body motions generate energy, this is transferred to the surface through this innovative outsole.
The materials used in the shoe construction are durable and I like the secure hold onto my foot provided by the thoughtfully designed weave of the fabric in the upper for the mid-foot area, this is durable quality providing a clear feeling of stability, especially while running down a slope. This feature in the shoes lets runners splay their toes for support.
The upper mesh is more open than the previous Roadclaw 275, so breathability is better and wicking performance in the materials appears really good. For secure fit, the wide lace system allows for a snug foot on all foot sizes.
These running shoes can be a bit more on the pricey side, but are worth the money spent.
- Shock absorbent
- Wide toe box
- Sizes may run small
- May feel heavy
This is a comfortable and stable running shoe. If you run on a lot of trails and need a running shoe that is designed for just that, this one will surely do the trick. It has a breathable mesh lining to allow your feet to breathe more easily.
As a light shoe, the brand offers a nice selection of colors from which to choose. The shoe weighs in at 8 ounces and a comfortable stabilizing 6mm drop.
The shoe feels compact in terms of FIT. While running, you get a nice feeling of the shoe being a functioning part of you rather than feeling as if it’s something acting between you and the surface.
For those that like minimalist shoes, these shoes perform very well. The heel-to-toe differentials feel very stable at 6mm.
You get a sense of comfortable protection due to the built-in abrasion-resistant patches designed into the heel of the shoe. These patches are tough and certainly serve up good protection.
The lugs can claw down into all types of surfaces. The stability given from this is phenomenal and allows you to maintain momentum on flat surfaces on most trail surfaces. A particular favorite feature among users is the power of the lugs when going down or up slopes.
There is one point to pay attention to regarding these high performing lugs: if you encounter soft clay with a lot of stickiness, this mud can hold between the lugs and clog up the performance of the sole.
Durability / Quality
This is a durable quality running shoe. There were no reviews that mentioned wear and tear issues. The outsole of the shoe is designed to provide a good grip and allow for traction.
The tread is impressive and durable. It gives you more surface contact than a standard trail shoe and more traction than usual for a road shoe and this durable performance is a result of the quality Inov-8 Endurance tread made from a durable compound.
Nice mesh material which allows ample room for foot movement when you touch down with the sole.
For grip, the impressive lug design and layout give you full control no matter what type of trail surface. It’s nice to note that the traction performance of a road surface is equally as good.
The toe box is roomy so you can splay or wriggle your toes. The upper material impressively wicks away moisture, but the trade-off is that you need to think about wearing a comfortable pair of socks for the purpose of blocking entry to fine sand or gritty small stones.
Having said that, you do get maximum breathability and the materials are durable in wet weather conditions. Choose a sound, strong pair of laces to stop any loosening while out on a run. I particularly liked the waterproof protection offered by the toe guards as they are very effective at stopping water from wet grass entering the front of the shoe.
These running shoes can tend to be a bit on the pricey side, but are worth the money spent.
- Lightly cushioned
- Shock absorbent
- Will run harder on pavement as the design is intended for trail runs
- Sizes may vary
Inov-8 Men's Bare-XF 210 V2
These may be one of the most comfortable shoes you ever put on your feet. They updated these shoes and now they are even more lightweight, and more breathable.
They give you more room for your toes, and a more natural feel. They are low to the ground to help you get a better grip.
It has a 3mm out-sole made up of Inov-8's patented sticky rubber compound. Designed to give you the maximum surface coverage, and providing minimal space between your foot and the surface you are running on.
These shoes are best used for shorter runs, and practice. They are also really helpful for Crossfit training.
Durability / Quality
The Inov-8 Bare-XF is a high quality shoe. The top of the shoe is made out of textile, and synthetic materials, and a rubber sole.
The new adapter web cradle lacing holds your foot firm and securely in the shoe. Which can prevent you from slipping out of the shoe, or the shoe rubbing against the back of your foot. This prevents blisters and added pain from running.
It has an updated 360 degree Rope-Tec which gives excellent traction, and durability in these shoes.
The Italian blown rubber toes bumper gives added protection.
The Bare-XF comes with two interchangeable footbeds one that is 3mm, and the other is 6mm so you can choose which one fits you better. It has a 0mm drop.
These shoes are perfect if you are looking for a minimal running shoe.
On the top of the shoe towards the toes is all mesh allowing air to flow through.
These shoes are a little bit on the higher side. Not your average shoe though so it is worth the price for a comfortable, flexible shoe.
Close to the ground
Comfortable it feels like you are barefoot.
Patented sticky rubber compound on the bottom of the shoes
Lightweight, and an all around natural fit
The Adapter Web Cradle lacing holds your feet in securely
Not made for longer runs like marathons
Better used for Crossfit training or small runs
Inov-8 Trailroc 255
The 255 works best on trails, including mud, but not as well in water alone. You'll like the lightweight feel it has. It does have a mesh fabric that allows air to flow through and allow your feet to breathe. It is cushioned well and great for long distance runs.
The midsole presents a softer EVA, different from earlier shoe models and gives good cushion protection for very long distances. A low stack height ensures a good amount of stabilizing support. This results from the inclusion of a wide platform.
The entire upper is backed up with a MetaShank Rock Plate which gives maximum protection. Sharp stones and other dangerous surface objects cannot penetrate and cause damage to you.
Durability / Quality
The durability and quality of this shoe is okay. There are some mixed reviews about the durability of this shoe. Some runners that have used it on wet surfaces state it did not hold up as well as other shoes.
Not a lightweight shoe, however there are those runners that want to finish a long tough enduring run with minimal negative damage to themselves. This requires a shoe which can endure - a shoe which gives both durability and quality. We all like shoes with minimalist features but how many of those shoe styles are up to tough endurance running?
Upper: a clever durable mix of breathable and flexible mesh further supported by a top class TPU lace system. Around the toe box and arch we find a durable reinforced band on each side of the shoe which provides exceptional protection from sharp objects. The upper is roomy so you can wear a good pair of thick comfortable socks.
Outsole: Built from a blend of Tri-C compounds and designed strategically into the sole to enhance durability and traction on the sole points where it is most wanted. The durable large lugs are positioned in sole areas that are more exposed to wear and smaller softer lugs are set onto the sole area of the arch for enhanced traction when encountering rocks.
The outsole design gives control and confidence on very challenging surfaces and the rounded edging on the soles allow your ankles to role enough to prevent ankle strains.
If you are looking for stability, durability, comfort and protection for when you take on tough challenging long runs this shoe is a must have.
These running shoes definitely run on the higher side of cost, but are worth paying for.
- Heel-to-toe drop
- Wide toe box
- Heel-to-toe drop is a preference
- Sizes may run small
- May not be best on wet conditions
The shoe gives a nice level of grip for racing due to the outsole being a sticky rubber feature and it's also good for use while running technical trails.
The shoe gives neutral arch support and a low drop and is light at 220 grams, breathability is good and the shoe upper has additional drainage capability, good breathability and solid support for the foot.
The shoe has a designed in a diagonal tongue which serves as protection against the entry of debris and small stones.
Available in standard sizings for ladies and men, with upgraded drainage capability for the upper this means your feet will feel more comfortable.
Designed with EVA injected foam which is efficient for absorbing shock while giving an impressive return of energy to aid stride, an impressive toe-off every time, functionality performance is delivered through the built-in dynamic-fascia-band which runs from the heel through to the forefoot.
The upper is a synthetic mesh which is light and affords nice breathability to ensure cool comfortable ventilation for the foot, a nice protective cap for the toe area and for stability RayWrap gives a seamless hold.
The shoes are durable enough for using competitively and for trail running but its best to avoid extreme trail surfaces which require a more heavy duty shoe. Durability for this shoe is very good when it is used in the right context which the designers intended. The materials are good quality and give fair durability.
Somewhat higher than similar other brands
EVA injected foam
Durable synthetic upper, good breathability
Impressive surface grip
Nice energy return
Limited choice of color options
Inov-8 X-Talon 212
The X-Talon 212 is a flexible and protective running shoe for athletes that love to run off-trail. The 6mm drop of the injected EVA midsole provide ample comfort on the roughest and most unstable terrain.
The rand wrapping around the upper creates a stable layer of protection from jagged terrain and wetness. The DWR coating contains a water repellent to keep feet drier and more comfortable.
Weighing only 212 grams, this shoe is extremely lightweight. This lack of weight allows runners to be faster and quicker in their movements. Contributing to this lightweightedness is the thinner sole. At 22mm in the heel and 16mm in the sole, runners can be close to the ground while still being protected by the 8mm lugs.
Durability / Quality
The renowned lugs create ample stability on the roughest terrains. These shoes hold up on trails, rocks, and even extreme obstacle courses. Even after getting caked in mud, these shoes wash clean for many more races.
While these shoes might cost over $100, the positive reviews seem to say they're worth the money.
- Lightweight - 212g
- Precision fit
- Traction - 8mm lugs
- Comfortable - injected EVA sole
- Small rise in heel - 6mm
- Sticky outsole
- More suited for persons with narrow feet
Inov-8 Road-X 238
These are a comfortable and stable introductory minimalist running shoe. It is surrounded with mesh fabric that allows your feet to breathe more easily. It has lace overlays to support your foot as you run. It has a 9mm heel-to-toe drop, and minimal cushioning.
Durability / Quality
This is a quality and durable running shoe. There have been no reports from reviewers of wear and tear. The fascia band supports the anatomy of the foot while you run, and the razor outsole helps you run in wet weather.
The cost of these running shoes can vary greatly from very cheap to quite expensive.
- Cradle web
- Female specific
- Heel-to-toe drop
- Toe box may run narrow
- Shoe size may run small
Inov-8 Race Ultra 270
This is a comfortable and stable running shoe. It's best for running on trails or long distances. They aren't waterproof but have been tested by reviewers in wet conditions and drain well. They have a mesh fabric on top of the show to allow air to flow more easily so your feet can breathe.
Think of the previous model (290). Do we get the feeling that a successful former model is now available with a lower drop, lighter weight and a very appealing color range?
Two colors for men and two for ladies.
An impressive light 270 grams and with a drop of 4mm the runner is much nearer to terra firma. With this comes a higher level of proprioception and the quality cushion factor is retained in the shoe.
No restrictions - you can run on rocks, light mud, hard trails and road surfaces. The grip factor is very good and consistent. You certainly get a racier feel.
The shoes are wide at the front so pay attention to FIT for your feet when you purchase a pair.
This shoe is designed for us runners looking for a light weight shoe which can allow for putting on the speed while maintaining stability, comfort, durability, protection all blended into a stylish looking running shoe.
Durability / Quality
This is a durable and quality running shoe. There have been no reports of wear and tear from reviewers. The forefoot of the shoe has rock protection, while the outsole has sticky-rubber tread to allow for traction.
The Race Ultra-Outsole features are a mix of hard and soft rubber. The outsole is flatter thus ensuring an even stable ride. For hard sole wear areas, we find more durable rubber and for less wear areas we find more flexible rubber, this gives a great grip factor for the runner.
The midsole is comprised from compressed EVA which gives you a nice firm run with noticeable comfortable cushion effect.
The upper shows two mesh layers blended together for stability, durability, protection, wick factor and comfort.
If you want to test how flexible the shoe is, simply fold the shoe in half.
Built into the shoe is the Gen111 Meta Shank which lines up with the metatarsals in the foot, this innovative system enables energy while continuing to maintain protection during foot impact on hard surfaces.
The shoes feature a gusset tongue which works very nicely with the secure lacing system
The cost of these running shoes is quite average for a good pair of running shoes.
- Long distance running
- Padded tongue & collar
- toe box may run narrow
Inov-8 F-Lite 195
This is a comfortable and stable running shoe. It is lightweight with a 3mm heel-to-toe drop. It is intended to be used for runners that are trying to develop a natural running style. It has reinforcements on the sides of the shoes that can protect your feet from terrain or ropes (if you're in an obstacle race). It comes with a mesh material to allow air to flow through more easily and let your feet breathe.
The F-lite 195s are very flexible and certainly lightweight - in fact ultra-light when we consider their running purpose. Yet these shoes can work for other sporting activities, work outs in the gym, even gymnastics.
The forefoot has great flexibility and movement. Foot movement is natural and functional due to the excellent Meta Flex tech built into the shoe.
For secure stability, which in performance terms is simply “incredible,” we can appreciate the innovative Meta Cradle Webbing. This is very sound forefoot tech providing top notch security.
Breathability is present for those of us that build up a sweat. The upper of the shoe is constructed from a durable mesh which dries out very quickly.
Durability / Quality
This is a durable and quality running shoe. There have been no reported issues with wear and tear by reviewers. You'll get a good grip and stability while you run. While not waterproof, these shoes will work well in wet weather and drain well when wet. The outsole is sticky providing for traction and stability while you run as well.
The sole gives exactly the right amount of grip for traction and lends you a very secure comfortable feeling of being in control.
The durable rubber sole sticks when wanted and releases smoothly when wanted. This sums up the right level of functionality we runners require from a shoe.
For durability provided through quality innovation, look no further than the (Ropetec) Reinforced Medial and Lateral Arches Tech.
Ropetec technology features an extra layer of highly flexible durable material for the purpose of retaining the structure of the shoe and preventing fraying.
In short, the shoe is built to be durable.
The cost of these running shoes can be quite pricey but worth every penny.
- Heel-to-toe 3mm drop
- Reinforced sides
- Footbed may lack cushioning as it aims for a more minimalist approach
Inov-8 Mudclaw 265
This is a comfortable and stable running shoe. These were made to run in the mud so if you like to run trails on a really rain day or obstacles that have mud pits, these would do great. It has a minimalist type design so unless you're used to running in this type of shoe it may take time for you to build the muscles you need to get a good run with them. It is shock absorbent and designed to lessen the amount of impact on your feet.
This shoe has serious intentions. It belongs off road and it wants to perform.
If you’re going for a ride on slippery, yielding, soft muddy surfaces, put on these shoes. At 9.3 ounces the shoe is solid and ready for the task; protective, well-cushioned and allowing for flexibility when needed.
The performance from the Inov-8 Meta Flex groove tech continues to be a key tool in this shoe's arsenal. If you need flexibility you will get it. For protection you can feel safe and securely defended by the EVA midsole. Sharp objects on the trail are kept away from harming your foot.
We find that the protection in the shoe is not overly bulky, the design is refined and subtle, the heel cuff has good protective shoe tech. The toe box is defended by an overlay which also protects the midfoot from scrapes.
For drainage, the shoe is rather impressive. If you step in a stream the shoe design will literally pump out the water in conjunction with your foot motions.
This shoe model is neither heavy or light. It’s middle range and capable of taking on challenging surfaces - certainly a worthwhile addition to your running kit.
Durability / Quality
This is a durable and quality shoe. There have been no complaints by reviewers of wear and tear. Keep in mind that these do not seem to fair well on wet slippery surfaces such as rubber or metal. The outsole has a mudclaw grooves for traction made for just what is sounds like, running in mud.
As is the case with this brand they always go for durability and this can be seen in the durable lugs. They bite down securely in a similar way to the popular Trailroc 245 shoe, though we need to keep in mind that this shoe is more specialized than the Trailroc.
Built to tackle all types of surfaces, the grip factor even holds at times when you need to step on a wet slippery tree root which might be spanning your trail.
A great durable upper constructed from ripstop, this fabric has more sturdy qualities than the standard upper mesh designs, high durable quality material for the outer and a nice soft interior lining for comfort.
If you have high standards regarding durability and quality, look no further, think about this shoe, it's a good bet.
The cost of these running shoes can vary from average to quite expensive.
- Snug fit
- Padded collar
- Shock absorbent
- More difficult to grip slippery rubber surfaces (on obstacles)
Inov-8 Race Ultra 290
Users praised the wider toe box fit for nearly any set of toes. There is plenty of room to splay and stretch.
The underfoot cushioning gives a high level of responsiveness. The Generation III Meta-Shenk is the main contributor for the outsole stability. The tread is tough enough to grab onto any terrain and carry you up the steepest hills.
The Integrated Gaiter System protects the sides of the feet from debris and sharp edges. In addition, the Met-Cradle moves and stretches with the top of the foot for natural movement and flexibility. Lastly, the protective toe cap prevents those minor - yet ever so irritating - toe injuries from stumbling over rocks and logs.
Overall, this shoe is a go-to, all-round shoe for the daily runner's grind.
Durability / Quality
Reviews say it all for durability: "This shoe is a workhorse. It does it all and just keeps working," one user wrote. Users claim to run hundreds of miles in this model and still have life left in them.
At just under $100, these shoes are highly affordable for the quality you are receiving.
- Flexible outsole
- Comfortable upper
- Durable build
- Traction for rough terrain
- Breathable upper
- Rock protection
- Less traction than other Inov-8 models
- Outsole can be stiff for first few runs
- Slightly heavier than other models
It’s amazing what they can do with running shoes now. These Inov-8 running shoes are durable and offer stability on your run. Whether you are in search of a minimalist running style shoe, a zero drop running shoe, or one that provides you with the right amount of traction it’s a sure bet you can’t go wrong with Inov-8.
Our Criteria for Picking the Best Inov 8- Running shoes
Comfort – Stability – Durability – Quality
We want you to have a choice of running shoes which far exceed the choices back in those very ancient pre-historic times when going for a run meant wrapping some buffalo skin around your foot.
Comfort & Stability
We looked at comfort & Stability and this criterion is broad, we wanted to know the following:
- Does the sole provide any shockproof qualities, comfort and stabilizing assertive tech and if so we wanted to know, how?
- Does the midsole have tech which promotes comfort and assists stability?
- Is there any tech designed into the shoe to provide comfort and stability for the foot arch?
- In terms of providing stability and comfort, how flexible ( or rigid) is the sole and the overall shoe structure?
- Does the shoe toe-box allow toe flexing for stability and comfort and the overall shoe design allow for foot swelling?
- Which tech is engineered into the shoe for comfortable stable good cushion effect?
- Is the shoe designed with materials which enable comfort through air breathability and wick-ability?
- Is the shoe height and the heel system conducive towards stability & comfort?
- Are the materials in the shoe durable?
- can they withstand and last through the challenges met while running tough often rugged terrains in all types of weather condition?
was interesting to look at, there are some manufacturers that can make a product look very good but in reality, they choose low-quality materials in the construction, low quality for trail running shoes can result in injury and at the very least, disappointment. The shoes don’t live up to the challenge and fall apart, you invest only to find that within a very short time you have to go out and spend money again.
For quality, our overriding indicator in the review was to look for the use of quality materials which provide longevity, protection and serve towards the factors of stability, durability, and comfort. We can conclusively say that we found all these factors present when we reviewed Inov 8 running shoes.
See How Footwear Has Evolved Throughout Time
Shoes are incredibly interesting, without the invention of shoes you would not be reading this article right now and you would not be enjoying the physical and psychological benefits which we get from regular running.
Let’s take a very quick look at the history of shoes, when did we first start wearing them and how did they evolve into the shoes which we wear today?
First humans, BAREFOOT, and mobile.
Pre-civilization – Animal skin was wrapped around the foot to protect it from biting insects, sharp stones, and stinging plants.
Footwear in early civilizations, basic handmade sandals.
16,000 BC Mesopotamia – soft shoes made by the mountain people, made from wraparound leather.
Right up to 1850 all shoes, no difference between the left and the right shoe.
Wearing shoes creates changes in toes. A shoe with toe morphology found in an ancient cave in Fangshan, China, dated to around 40,000 years ago.
27, 000 ago – Grotte de Fontanet located in La Belle, France, fossilized footprint, a moccasin
27,500 – Skeleton, Sunghir very ancient Upper Paleolithic cave site, Russia. wore foot protection.
9000 – Paleoindian proof for foot protection, American southwest.
8,300 – Chevelon Canyon early sandal.
8,600 – Sandal, Daisy Cave, California.
Let’s jump forward thousands of years……………………..
Shoes were made by hand and could not be mass produced for the greater population, things had to change.
1858. Lyman Blake invented the machine for sewing seams. This meant shoe seams could be sewn quickly.
A few years later. Jan Matzeliar, automatic shoe production.
1800, Soles made from rubber, the plimsoll.
1917, canvas-top sneakers
1989, Rubber heel invented, American Mr. O’Sullivan.
Fast forward 2017
You think of a shoe style and purpose and it exists somewhere in the world, we produce shoes for every purpose, even walking on the bottom of oceans or the surface of the moon. We have come very far from the days where we sat in a cold cave and wrapped the animal skin around our feet. Think about this next time you slip on a quality pair of running shoes and hit a wilderness trail.
Q: Which is the best season for trail running?
Like the song says, some like it hot, some like it cold and some like it in the middle. The seasons come in variations, it depends on what you want, dry dusty trials, firm surfaces or wet mud, snow etc. Read a review about trail running.
Q: Which size lugs are best for trail running?
Durable lugs are designed for different surfaces and come in different shapes and sizes. You need to consider which surface and then read runner click reviews.
This really depends on what individualistic runners are looking for, there isn’t a set answer.
Q: Is barefoot trail running popular or even possible?
The answer to this is very broad. Read HERE to fully understand.
Q: Is mountain trail running very different from other types of trail running?
Yes very different and incredibly exciting. Read this review it’s very interesting.
Check out a few of our sources:
- The fascinating history of footwear, Informational website, ,
- On-Road To Off-Road: Road Running For Trail Runners, Running site, ,
- Trail running is so hot right now: Why runners are ditching the pavement and heading for the trails, Trail running information, ,