Back in April, long-time ATRA member inov-8 launched the PARKCLAW G 280, its first road-to-trail running shoe featuring graphene, the world’s strongest material. Inov-8, founded in 2003 in the U.K’s Lake District, has been pushing limits in shoe technology and earned a reputation in the shoe industry for incorporating some of the high performing and longest lasting grips for “fell” and mountain running.
In this article, I share my shoe review of the PARKCLAW G 280, its unique features, how best to use it, how it compares to previous editions of the PARKCLAW, and where it might fit in your trail running shoe quiver.
Weight: 280g or 9.8oz
Heel-To-Toe Drop: 8mm
Midsole Stack: 10mm, 18mm
Lug Depth: 4mm
Expected Shoe Life: High. 500+ Miles
Suggested Retail Price: $180
Notable Shoe Technology
Graphene: Discovered in 2004 by scientists from The University of Manchester who later won the Nobel Prize in Physics, graphene is the toughest (yet also the thinnest) material in the world. Although graphene is not yet a common ingredient in shoe design, inov-8 has been working with The University of Manchester since 2018 and incorporating graphene in their shoes to enhance grip and energy return. The PARKCLAW G 280 features G-GRIP, a graphene enhanced rubber outsole and G-FLY, a graphene enhanced foam.
“The new ParkClaw G 280 is not going to be your plush, max cushioned shoe. Instead, it is a performance-based, ground-feeling training shoe with just enough cushion to feel the terrain you are on, coupled with highly grippy Graphene traction grip. The 98 individual lugs mimic the legs of a caterpillar or a centipede, each one doing the work of grabbing onto and holding anything they come in contact with. It feels like we are finally getting back to nature and Escaping the Grey!” – Peter Maksimow (sponsored inov-8 athlete)
How’s The Fit?
Inov-8 shoes tend to fit on the narrow side of the running shoe spectrum. Their fit would be most comparable to Nike Trail or Adidas Terrex. As compared to brands that advertise wide toe-boxes, such as Altra, Topo or Xero shoes, inov-8 shoes will feel more narrow and there is much less room for the foot in the toe-box. Runners with wide feet may consider going a half size up in inov-8 if they experience pinching in the front of the shoe. In comparison to other inov-8 shoe models, the PARKCLAW G 280 is slightly wider and has a comfortable fit even during longer runs when feet tend to swell.
The shoe’s new knitted mesh design is sturdy, while also remaining breathable and comfortable. I noticed no odd rubbing sensations, hot spots or pinching from the shoe’s materials while running. Overall, the PARKCLAW G 280 conforms well to the foot and on both roads and trails, and there is little movement of the foot inside the shoe on uphill, downhill or flat terrain. The 4mm graphene-enhanced lugs (98 lugs per shoe!) provide sufficient grip for easy to moderate trails, and also don’t feel “clunky” or uncomfortable on roads.
How Does It Compare to Previous Verions of PARKCLAW?
If you are familiar with inov-8’s previous PARKCLAW models, you should be aware that this edition feels like a completely different shoe. The additions of graphene to the grip and cushion, as well as an increased sturdiness in mesh material give it a different feel than previous models.
In terms of grip, the graphene in the new model provides better traction on a wide variety of terrain. I feel much more comfortable on slippery, wet terrain or snow in the PARKCLAW G 280 compared to any other PARKCLAW models. The new shoe mesh and upper design also gives the shoe a more solid, sturdy feel at ground impact, which contrasts the flexibility and “underfoot feel” that I would associate with other PARKCLAWs. Overall, the new edition seems to be the first PARKCLAW that is suited for intermediate and not just beginner trails, while still retaining key features of a road-to-trail crossover shoe.
Where To Use This Shoe?
The PARKCLAW G 280 certainly lives up to its reputation as an effective road-to-trail shoe. Use this shoe on runs where you will be encountering both road and trail. I enjoy using these shoes on runs where I begin from my house on neighborhood streets and run approximately one mile on pavement before I hit a mix of dirt roads and rocky singletrack. In comparison to other road-to-trail crossover shoes on the market, the PARKCLAW G 280 is one of the best performing in terms of grip on trails. If you are someone who likes to leave on adventures from your house on paved neighborhood streets, but you also encounter challenging terrain when you do hit the trails, this shoe is a must have for you.
This shoe is also more of a “training shoe” than a “racing shoe.” Although the shoe would perform well in a trail race with mixed terrain, there are certainly lighter and more responsive racing specific shoes on the market. This shoe’s best use is for training on varied terrain. Its high-quality and long-lasting materials provide this shoe with the durability to excel as a great training shoe for many months. It has just the right amount of cushioning to be used in shorter as well as longer runs on any surface.
Overall, if you are searching for a grippy, durable road-to-trail training shoe, the PARKCLAW G 280 should definitely be on your radar.
[Editor’s Note] Are you looking for even more inov-8 shoe reviews? Check out these recent articles from the non-profit American Trail Running Association:
- inov-8 X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 (Feb 2022)
- inov-8 TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX (May 2021)
- inov-8 TERRA ULTRA G 270 (July 2020)