Inov-8 TrailTalon 290v2 Review

This week it’s one of Inov-8’s latest trail running shoes, the Trail Talon 290 v2 that’s up for review. When running on the trails you must ask yourself a question; do you want to feel what’s under your feet? This decision is key in deciding which trail running shoe is best for you.

Recently there is a trend towards highly and softly cushioned running shoes. Thick, soft midsoles take away your awareness of what’s under your feet and therefore your feet don’t know what you are standing on. This reduces your foot function and makes you less nimble. The theory behind the trail shoes with a thick, soft midsole is that the midsole acts like a mountain bike tyre. Absorbing the lumps and bumps on the trails so that you don’t have to worry about negotiating them. The trail shoes with thinner more responsive, flexible midsoles allow your feet to feel the ground and react accordingly so you can be more nimble. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t cushioned or that you are going to get soar feet as there is plenty of under foot protection.

The Inov-8 Trail Talon 290 v2 fits into the ‘more feel’ category of trail shoe like most of Inov-8’s shoes. They are designed as a bit of an all-rounder. The cushioning is good enough for hard packed trails. They aren’t too stiff to cope with more broken ground and the lugs still offer some traction in light mud.

The midsole is a 2 piece ‘Powerflow’ midsole. 19mm thick at the heel and 11m in the forefoot giving a drop of 8mm. Within the midsole is Inov-8’s Dynamic Fascia Band. This is a thin piece of plastic that mimics the function of the planta fascia and gives the shoes a bit of a spring. The 6mm footbed inside the shoes gives the shoes an initially soft feel.

The outsole is made of Inov-8’s endurance rubber which gives good traction in the wet but is also durable. The lugs are 4mm thick and well spaced. They are designed for use on harder packed tracks but the traction is still good on all but deep mud.

The difference between the v2 version of the Trailtalon 290 and the original one is the upper. Which is now made of a more breathable and lighter material. Which still offers the same level of durability. We also found the upper felt softer and more pliable which allowed the upper to pull in around the foot a bit better than on the original version. This helped the foot stay secure in the shoes even while running on a camber.

The upper is strengthened by a good toe bumper and TPU overlays. The tongue is gusseted to reduce the chance of debris getting into the shoes. The Trailtalon also has Inov-8’s built in gaiter fittings. So, you can attach the Inov-8 gaiters without needing any elastic under the foot. Wearing a gaiter will reduce the chance of getting anything in the shoe further. The laces thread through plastic loops that are attached to the base of the shoe. These pull the upper into the foot to give a firm fit.

The Trailtalon 290 is made on Inv-8’s standard last. This is their wider last and has a fit scale of 4 on Inov-8’s 5-point scale. As the Trailtalon is designed for longer runs the shoes are designed to have the space to allow for some foot expansion. They also fit a wider foot being a similar width to a 2E in other brands.

We found the cushioning to be a lot softer than expected and this softness was maintained on longer (3 hour plus) runs. The cushioning also wasn’t too bad on tarmac. Which was also surprising. As Inov-8 shoes tend to be hard on tarmac. This doesn’t make the Trail Talon 290 a good choice as a road to trail shoe but for the odd short road section of half mile to your trail they are likely to offer a comfortable ride.

In summary the Inov-8 Trailtalon 290 v2 is a well cushioned versatile trail shoe with a good level of trail feel and a surprisingly soft ride.

Other Considerations

La Sportiva Akasha 2: A similar grippy shoe with a firm responsive cushioning. The Akasha is a little bit stiffer in feel:

New Balance Hierro v7: A slightly softer ride. More of a conventional road shoe feel on the tarmac would make these a better road to trail shoe but they still offer a good grip and feel off road.

Brooks Cascadia 16: These have less feel for the floor and a much softer ride. Here is our review:

Scarpa Ribelle Run: A rocker makes these a faster feeling shoe. A narrower more pointed toe box. Here is our review:

Hoka Speedgoat: Softer ride with a rocker gives these a very different feel to the Trailtalon 290. Here is our review:

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