Inov-8 Trail Talon 250 running shoes review

Last updated: 17-Aug-18

By James Eacott

The lightest version of the series, inov-8 state the Trail Talon 250 “has been designed for speed and delivering the best grip possible on hard-packed trails”.


  • Standard fit: a close fitting heel but a slightly wider toe box to allow toes to splay – crucial over longer distance racing.
  • Powerflow midsole technology keeps the ride smooth and cushioned.
  • Multi-directional 4mm studs ensure excellent grip on all kinds of trails, but also hold well on tarmac.
  • The new X-Static X2 footbed contains minute holes for water drainage.
  • Compatible with the Inov-8 Race Ultra Gaiter.
  • Dynamic Fascia Band “keeps energy flowing through the foot”.
  • The heel includes a TerraDaptor (I know, what?) system which controls the amount of flex available to the runner – this means it won’t collapse as form starts to deteriorate in longer runs.
  • Weight: 250g
  • Drop: 4mm heel to toe
  • RRP UK GBP100

I’ve never owned a pair of trail shoes designed for hard packed trail. I’ve always gone for a more hard-core shoe like the Speedcross 3’s. The British winter has always dictated that it’s either nice and sunny (rarely), in which case I’ll be in some racing flats on the hard stuff, or (more often) it’s raining and the trails are so churned that I need something that’ll hold well in the mud.

So, when I was asked to test the new inov-8 Trail Talon 250’s, I wasn’t really sure where they’d fit into my armoury, in which I also have Hokas, Salomons, Newtons and Brooks.

Still, I was excited to test inov-8’s lightest Trail Talon shoe and see what they’re made of. I was pleasantly surprised…

Pros: What’s good about the Inov-8 Trail Talon 250 shoes

First things first. Out of the box I immediately noticed their weight – they are very light. 250g for a UK Size 8. On the topic of weight, a recent study showed that for every 100g extra you carry in your shoes, you add 1% to your finishing time. That turns a 3:59 marathon into a 4:01 marathon. Or a 19:50 100-miler into a 20:02 100-miler. Small margins indeed, but these things matter!

The fit is great. They hold the heel well with no movement. I like to be able to wiggle my toes in trail shoes, both to increase feel on the trail and to aid balance on the technical stuff. The standard fit allows just that. The upper over the toe is thicker to protect from bruising.

With a range of shoes in my kit box, I’m used to some shoes just being more comfortable than others. My racing flats aren’t particularly comfortable, but they’re good for the job. The Trail Talons, however, felt like slippers the moment I donned them. My feet are size 10.5 and they fit perfectly. No need to go bigger or smaller to accommodate the difference between some brands – inov-8 have it spot on.

My first run in them – a seven-mile jaunt along compact trail towpath – was fantastic. I really noticed the weight compared to my other more aggressive, clunky trail shoes. The relatively minimal 4mm drop ensured I kept a good mid-foot strike and didn’t get lazy and revert back to a heel strike (which is easy to do in clumpy, cushioned shoes).

I’ve since tested them in some serious mud around the Bath skyline, and they do struggle compared to something like the inov-8 Mudclaw, but this isn’t their area of expertise so that’s to be expected.

The Dynamic Fascia Band is designed to keep energy flow through the impact and take-off. This bit of jargon can be translated to “they’re lush to run in”, indeed they bounce along very smoothly.

The light, breathable upper keeps the shoes lightweight while the comfy tongue is cushioned but not too thick. I’ve never had to empty the shoes of dirt and grit – it keeps out.

Although laces never draw much comment from me – laces are laces, right? – these are different. They are very good, simply because they do not loosen one jot, unlike most which slide free after a few hours.

While trail shoe designers seem to be in a competition to produce the most garish kicks around, these are quite understated, and I like that. The grey, blue and red looks slick and means you can wear them out and about without drawing stares from fashionistas.

Cons: What’s not so good about the Inov-8 Trail Talon 250 shoes

I’m going to struggle here. The only downside I suppose is that in the UK I’m not sure how much winter action they’ll see. They won’t cope with serious mud, but that’s not what they’re for. inov-8 have other shoes for that. If you were only going to own one pair of trail shoes, you may want something more aggressive – perhaps the Trail Talon 275’s or a Mudclaw – which would see you through most of the year.

However, I’d personally recommend you get these and keep them for what they’re made for: hard packed or slightly soft trails and get something else to compliment them if you want to go wading through mud! I’ve used them an awful lot this summer.


Lightweight with good cushioning, the Trail Talon 250’s are superb ultra shoes. They feel more on the minimal end of the scale, but that’s fine. I’d just recommend spending a couple of months in them before any huge ultras, building the distance gradually. For everything from trail half marathons to 100 milers (either hilly or flat) on hard packed terrain, they’re right up there with the best.

They are attractive, comfortable and fast. Although it’s hard to tell in the early days, they also feel like they’re going to last.

Update Sept ’17: I’ve now logged 200 miles in these shoes and check them out:

They are practically the same as out of the box. Brilliant. I like them more and more. They’ve lost no grip, feel as cushioned as when I first ran in them and continue to handle the trails well. Get some!

Design 8/10
Features 8/10
Performance 9/10
Value 9/10
Total 8.5/10

Other trainers you may want to consider:

Inov-8 Trail Talon 275 (same shoe with 8mm drop and a tad more cushion).
Salomon S-Lab Sense 5
Scott Trail Rocket 2.0
Brooks Puregrit 4

All images: James Eacott.

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"they’re lush to run in"

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