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Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280: Quality Road-Trail Hybrid
By Chief Editor Matthew Klein

There has been an increasing interest in trail running over the last few years. More brands are releasing trail shoes in response as they are well aware of this trend. The challenge for many consumers in both urban and suburban settings is that there are often several miles of road between their starting point and the trail. With many trail shoes having designs that are far too aggressive or not optimal for running on road, the road-trail hybrid shoe has been an increasingly popular category. This group of shoes uniquely mesh the two categories, with enough traction on the outsole to handle mild to moderate terrain while not interfering with smooth roads, but enough cushion to handle some pavement. The Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 is a great example of this category, evolving on an already decent hybrid line with a new graphene midsole that is becoming a staple of Inov-8 footwear.

Price: $180 at Inov8
Weight: 9.87 oz, 280 g (men's size 9/women's size 10.5)
Stack Height: 29 mm / 21 mm (including outsole + footbed)
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Road-To-Trail Training Shoe


The Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 is a road-trail hybrid for those wanting a snug fit with a stable heel, highly flexible forefoot and a surprising amount of responsive cushioning in a moderate stack height training shoe. The full-length G-Fly graphene midsole combined with a TPU insole provides a cushioned but balanced ride underfoot. Combined with 98 cleats on the outsole, the G 280 transitions easily between road and trail, providing plenty of cushioning on-road and adequate grip on trail. A snug forefoot and upper provide moderate security while a more flexible midfoot creates the potential for more space. A solid road daily trainer or trail uptempo trainer, the Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 brings a lighter shoe to the trail and a sturdy shoe to the road.


The Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 fits me slightly short in my normal men's US size 10. This is due to a significant toe guard, which narrows the toebox. Those between sizes should consider a half size unless they are looking for a closer fit upfront. The actual forefoot is normal width outside of the toe guard tapering the toebox. The heel and midfoot fit normal to slightly snug, with the laces easily able to tighten down the fit more if necessary. The tongue is gusseted, secure, and on the thicker end. There is a mildly flexible heel counter that wraps fairly far forward on the medial and lateral sides. There is some heel collar cushioning that provides some protection from the counter, but the rearmost portion is still firm. Those with heel sensitivities or Haglund deformities should approach with some caution. The upper overall has a flexible mesh outside the counter and toe guard. This does allow for some stretch at the forefoot proximal to the toe guard but provides a little less security at the midfoot. Those looking for a snug fit in the forefoot in an upper that is flexible in the midfoot with a secure heel will enjoy the Parkclaw G 280.


Like the Trailfly Ultra G (REVIEW), the full-length G-Fly midsole of the Parkclaw G 280 provides a surprising amount of protection and bounce. The full-length graphene-infused foam provides a feeling between soft and firm with some additional bounce that becomes more noticeable on road. Some additional underfoot softness and bounce also come from a full-length TPU insole. The sub 10 oz weight (9.8 oz men's size 9) makes it feel nimble on trails as that is light for a trail shoe. The midsole feel lends itself to training to uptempo paces on the road and workouts on the trail. The 98 outsole cleats provide a solid grip on both trail and road, but grip especially well on smooth dirt. This combination of moderate responsiveness, lighter weight for a trail shoe and decent outsole grip make the Parkclaw G 280 an excellent choice for longer trail racing, especially if there are road crossings or varied terrain. The outsole grip and cushioning transition well between road and trail. The underfoot cushioning changes slightly between each (firmer on trail, softer on road), but are both comfortable. There is an 8 mm heel drop and it feels exactly like that. The heel is slightly beveled, but the outsole compression makes it feel larger. The forefoot only has a small amount of toe spring thanks to a moderate to high level of flexibility. This makes the shoe feels faster and more agile as the pace picks up, but does require appropriate foot and toe mobility for safe use. The largest surprise has come from how durable the outsole is. I have 40 miles on my pair with 25 of them on road and there is only a little wear on the rearfoot outsole cleats (this is extremely rare for me with trail shoes). The midsole continues to maintain its resiliency, which leads me to suspect that the Parkclaw G 280 will last beyond the normal durability of most training shoes.


The Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 is a neutral shoe with no traditional methods of stability. However, there are a few subtle methods. There are sidewalls in the anterior heel on both the medial and lateral sides. The medial side is more prominent and slightly offsets the midfoot narrowing. The heel has a bit of medial sole flare, which when combined with the sidewalls and heel counter make for a naturally stable rearfoot. The forefoot and midfoot have more flexibility, with two deep flex grooves. This creates extra movement options and adaptations for different trail terrain. However, this will require adequate control from some of the more distal intrinsic foot muscles and 1st MTP joint stabilization from the hallucis muscles and the fibular longus. Overall, this is a fairly neutral shoe with a stable heel.


Rock With It, Roll With It
The Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 is somewhat unique in today's running shoe design in that it has a high level of forefoot flexibility. Many shoes on both road and trail are featuring stiff midsoles, often with plates that require a high degree of toe spring. The Parkclaw G280 has none of this, instead featuring a deep flex groove in the forefoot (meta-flex) which needs almost no assistance to facilitate forward motion.

The majority of the sagittal plane flexibility in a running shoe should be at the forefoot right under the metatarsophalangeal joints (major toe joints). This is one of the few joints in the feet that actually move front to back. The joints in the midfoot and heel all move in completely different variations of diagonal directions, with none in the true planes we normally describe (sagittal, frontal and transverse). The talocrural joint is the only other place that will see front-to-back motion, which is the primary ankle joint (this is not a foot joint). Thus, the only place you really need deep frontal plane flex grooves are at the front of the shoe if you want to create a large amount of flexibility in a more cushioned shoe (minimal shoes are a completely different discussion). The metatarsophalangeal joints (toe joints) both extend (go up) and flex (go down).

Normal walking gait requires at least 60 degrees of extension (up) to be able to transition off the front of your foot during the second half of the stance phase of gait (when your foot is on the ground). During running, there has been some suggestion you need up to 90 degrees for normal motion, particularly with faster speeds. If you have this motion (with good strength), a shoe with a high level of forefoot flexibility may be something you can try or may even like. If you have limited motion at these joints, due to arthritis, gout, etc, then you are not going to want that much flexibility. Instead, a rockered shoe with toe spring may be more beneficial to roll you forward without the need for toe motion. One is not necessarily better than the other (highly flexible vs rigid toe spring) but simply depends on the needs of the individual looking for shoes.


My only major recommendation for this shoe would be to modify the toe guard. While I have many miles in this pair, I have not taken it past 10-mile runs due to concerns about blisters from the front. This is a little disappointing to me as Inov-8 is generally known for having a more anatomic fit. My other classic request is to widen the last at the midfoot for better stability there. This would be helpful for the inherent instability that is found on the trail, but this is a personal preference. Other than that, it has been a solid daily trainer that can handle road and trail!


The Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280 is for those wanting a road-trail hybrid with cushioning for the road and the ability to handle uptempo/workout efforts on trail. Thanks to the well-designed outsole, this shoe can easily handle road-to-trail/trail-to-road transitions with only small changes in its personality. Those wanting a stable neutral heel will find it thanks to the sidewalls and medial sole flare, but will find a far more neutral midfoot and forefoot. The forefoot has excellent flexibility, so those wanting a more naturally flexing front in a shoe will enjoy this. Those without adequate toe mobility however may not do as well. Those that want a narrow forefoot will enjoy this shoe and the additional protection the toe guard provides. The fit overall is normal to slightly snugger and some may need to consider going up a half size particularly if they are using it for longer efforts. The G-Fly cushioning and TPU insole provide excellent cushioning underfoot without being mushy, allowing for an adaptation to a variety of terrain. I am excited to see Inov-8 continuing to use this newer foam as it provides a unique underfoot feel. The trail world uses predominantly EVA-based midsoles, but that is going to change soon.


Fit: B (Solid security in heel and midfoot but toebox tapered due to thick toe guard, Fits slightly short, so may need to consider going up a half size if between sizes)
A-/B+ (Excellent bounce from G-Fly midsole and TPU insole for a training shoe. Transitions between road and trail easily. Feels faster on trail)
Stability: B/B+ [Neutral] (Stable heel that compensates somewhat for a narrow midfoot. Flexible forefoot transitions forward fairly easily)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Solid forefoot flexibility, but midfoot needs to be wider for better inherent stability on trail)
Personal: B+ (Solid option as a hybrid road/trail shoe. Just wish forefoot/toebox fit better)
Overall: B/B+ 


Price: $180 at Inov-8

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Inov-8 for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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