Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX Review | We Review All The Best Off-Road Running Shoes
Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX – Finally One Shoe For Everything?
Lot’s of customers who come to Northern Runner are looking for one running shoe that will cover all their running needs. It isn’t possible to have one shoe that will be well cushioned for your road running and also be grippy and nimble enough to get you round the National Cross Country. However, it is possible to have an off-road shoe versatile enough to run trails, that still offers enough cushioning to comfortably take you from your house to the trails on the pavement (or even survive a short road race).
“They have a firmer, more responsive feel to them so your foot ‘knows’ it has touched the ground and spreads out to absorb shock, then spring you forward.”
The Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX is such a shoe. Essentially the Parkclaw is the well received Roadclaw 275 with more aggressive grip, from larger studs on the outsole. It has the same Powerflow+ midsole (Inov-8’s most cushioned midsole) and provides 10% better shock absorption and 25% more energy return than standard midsoles. However, Inov-8 shoes are not soft and ‘spongy’ like a lot of shoes on the market. They have a firmer, more responsive feel to them so your foot ‘knows’ it has touched the ground; spreading out to absorb shock and immediately springing you forwards.
This means that the Parkclaw 275 GTX is a good shoe to run fast in as well as slower recovery runs.
When off road this also means that the shoe is more responsive when you are changing direction or working hard up a steep hill. We found this when completing our testing around Lobley Hill in Gateshead, which is made up of a mix of firm gritty tracks, muddy single tracks through the woods and open grass fields. The Parkclaw 275 GTX was versatile enough to feel good on all these surfaces. It also had enough cushion to do a mile on the road to Lobley Hill. The Tri-C outsole is a combination of three rubbers that range from a very grippy sticky rubber to a more endurance type durable rubber. The grip is very noticeable on wet rock or tarmac and makes you feel very secure when running in the shoes.
As winter has arrived and the fields and paths are muddier, the extra grip that the Parkclaw 275 offers is coming into its own. The lugs are slightly longer and a more spread out to reduce mud clogging up the outsole.
The upper of the Parkclaw 275 GTX is one of the first trail shoes to use Gore Tex invisible fit. In these shoes the Gore Tex is bonded straight to the upper, so unlike traditional Goretex products there isn’t an inner sock and the upper isn’t thick and stiff in comparison to a mesh upper shoe. This construction significantly reduces water pick up and dries 50% faster than a standard Goretex model. As the upper is lighter and more flexible, it will prevent pressure points and potential blistering from creasing. Goretex uppers, like all waterproof uppers have been traditionally very warm to run in. Previously I have found some shoes so hot that I stopped running in them due to the sweating and subsequent discomfort. I have been very surprised by Gore’s Invisible Fit Technology. Although it isn’t the height of summer and the warmest temperature I have been running in is about 14 degrees, the Parkclaw 275 GTX has been no warmer than any of my other running shoes with a mesh upper.
The upper is much more flexible and softer than any other waterproof upper I have come across.
As well as dry feet, when it is cold the wind doesn’t blow through your shoes and make things extremely chilly! Gore Tex uppers would be at a disadvantage if you regularly submerge your feet fully when crossing streams and splashing through bogs, as moisture cannot easily escape. In which case, you might be better off with a traditional mesh upper and a pair of merino wool socks.
The heel to forefoot drop is 8mm so these are predominantly made for those that heel strike.. although it isn’t too high for most mid foot strikers to enjoy running in. The Parkclaw 275 GTX is made on Inov-8’s Standard Fit last which is their widest fit. This is to allow the feet more room to spread and expand as they get warm.
Ideal for those that often run on the road to an off-road location. Grab a pair if you enjoy tracks and trails (not deep mud) and are confident like us, that at some point you’ll be thankfull you’ve got the new Gore Tex waterproofing!
Chris @ Northern Runner Newcastle
Other trail shoes that are waterproof:
Brooks Cascadia 12 GTX
The Brooks Cascadia 12 GTX is much more of a heel strikers shoe than the Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX. Although it is only 2mm higher at the heel (10mm heel to forefoot) it is a much stiffer shoe. The cushioning is softer which gives it more of a road shoe feel. The feel for the ground is less so the Cascadia is less nimble and therefore is better for firmer tracks. The grip is good although the outsole isn’t as sticky. The fit is snugger and narrower in the forefoot. Which gives a very secure fit although this doesn’t allow for the foot to function inside the shoe quite as much.
Brooks Ghost 10 GTX
The Brooks Ghost 10 is a waterproof road shoe not a trail shoe. So, if you are looking for a waterproof road shoe for your winter training then consider the Ghost 10 GTX as well as being waterproof the upper will also keep out the wind and the cold. Coupled with a good pair of merino wool socks these shoes will keep your feet snug on the coldest winter days.