Inov8 Trail Talon 250
- Excellent stability
- Good handling
- Outstanding protection
- Firm/harsh ride
- Less breathable
The Inov8 Trail Talon 250 is a firm, low-profile shoe that excels during aggressive running on technical terrain. Although the ride can be somewhat firm at times, the shoe has enough protection and cushioning to be a legitimate racing shoe up to marathon or 50km distances.
The Inov8 Trail Talon 250 is a lightweight trail runner that excels at higher speeds on technical terrain. The low heel-to-toe drop and overall low profile make rapid foot placement about as quick and natural as it can get, and the midsole material is stiff enough to resist unnecessary rotation. The Trail Talon also has the protection necessary to absorb the bumps and bangs that inevitably happen when running hard through rocks and other trail hazards.
The overall firm feel of the Trail Talon 250 definitely makes it a less comfortable shoe than others in this weight class. While it is certainly not an uncomfortable shoe by any means, there’s simply not much cushioning there to begin with, and what is there is not intended to be soft. The shoe can therefore begin to feel harsh over longer distances, or anytime the runners legs are fatigued (e.g. during a recovery run).
The Trail Talon 250 would make an excellent marathon and 50km racing shoe for performance oriented runners. Recreational athletes will likely find the Trail Talon to be a bit too lightweight for these distances, but still an excellent choice for races up to the half marathon distance as well as trail-based speedwork. Like most lightweight trail shoes, runners who need significant support and/or cushioning would probably be best served by other choices.
The level of comfort in the Trail Talon is fairly typical for a shoe in this weight class: fairly minimal, and geared toward runners who are used to a firm ride. The upper is perhaps a bit more padded than one would expect in a sub-8oz shoe, although this also makes the shoe slightly less breathable.
The turnover of the Trail Talon is definitely hindered by the 4mm heel-to-toe drop and overall low profile. This is offset somewhat by the smoothness of the ride, which actually makes for a very nice heel-to-toe transition.
Security of Fit
Security of fit is generally solid. The upper material conforms to the foot snugly and mitigates the need for excess lace pressure. The foot bed also maintained its out-of-the-box feel, so that break-in time was minimized.
The agility of the Trail Talon is clearly its strong point and is the result of two design features. First, the firm midsole material resists unnecessary rotation and flex of the shoe during hard foot placement, which increases runner confidence. Second, the 4mm heel-to-toe drop combined with the overall low profile—the forefoot stack height is only 13mm—make the shoe very quick to pick up on technical terrain.
The midsole material is sufficiently responsive to provide some energy return on steep climbs. On flats and descents, the Trail Talon feels less snappy, but there is enough responsiveness to keep the shoe from feeling inefficient.
The upper material of the Trail Talon is a bit thicker and padded than most shoes in this weight class, which enhances protection. The full length outsole and firm midsole also provide excellent protection underfoot. Both of these characteristics help the runner feel more confident when navigating technical terrain at speed. Although a shoe in this weight class will never be the best choice for highly rugged outings, the Trail Talon has its place.
How We Tested It
To conduct our lightweight trail running shoe test, test director Jacob Waltz recruited multiple testers to use these shoes over a solid period of testing. All of the shoes were put through 50-100 miles of rigorous testing on technical single track, paved dirt roads, and some mixed pavement.
For more reviews beyond this 2016 test, check out our other lightweight trail running shoe tests, cushioned trail running shoe tests, road running shoe tests, as well as other related running gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Heel Drop: 4mm
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