Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX: Lightweight, Responsive, Wide Toebox, and Completely Waterproof. Yes, please.

Article by Mac Jeffries

Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX ($150)
I have been looking for a waterproof shoe for some time now, more to combat the dew of early morning XC meets I coach at than for running in super-wet conditions. Here in the Deep South, if you are running for any distance, your feet will sweat enough that they will be equally wet: rain or shine, GTX or not. That being said, I DO want that waterproof shoe to be a running shoe and not a boot, because, one I will be doing at least SOME running in it, and two. boots and shorts aren't my thing. The Parkclaw 275 GTX was promising because of its weight and wide last, and the promise of a nearly complete barrier to water. How'd they do? Better than expected, actually.
Note: there is a non Gore Tex version as well that is slightly lighter and less expensive

From Inov-8: The PARKCLAW 275 GTX men's running shoe will keep your feet dry and comfortable in the foulest of road-to-trail running conditions. This versatile shoe is perfect for runners wanting to run on paths and trails, or those looking to make a transition from road running to trail running. It performs superbly on both terrains, and features an aggressive outsole for increased grip. With all-new GORE® Invisible Fit you can enjoy all the benefits of protective footwear technology with the fit and feel of regular running shoes. The GORE-TEX® membrane is engineered to bond directly to the shoe upper in the most discreet manner yet, creating protective footwear that keeps feet dry and comfortable in the harshest of running conditions.

Pros: Lightweight (for a fully waterproof trail shoe), plenty of room in toebox, good mix of ground feel and protection

Cons: Width, Upper can fold into top of foot (at least at first)

Tester Profile
Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.

Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX ($150)
Weight: 9.625 oz (size 9)
Stack Height: 20mm (Heel), 12mm (Forefoot)
Available Now

First Impressions and Fit
Out of the box, this is a cool-looking shoe. The mostly black is pretty muted, but the electric blue accents really pop, so that it doesn't necessarily LOOK like a "black shoe". They felt surprisingly light, given that many Gore Tex kicks are well over 11oz, so that was an immediate win. The laces are a little thick, allowing/forcing you to really yank on them to get the fit dialed in. On the Inov-8 1-5 Fit Scale, these are a 5, signifying the widest last, and that fit is obvious as soon as you put these on. They aren't Altra-sloppy, but there is definitely plenty of room in the toebox, and borderline too loose in the midfoot (cinching down the laces adequately addresses that sensation). I would recommend ordering a half size smaller; if it were an option, I would have opted for the 13.5 instead of the 14. 
TLDR: the fit is roomy, which could be a pro or con, depending on your needs. If you will be racing in this, or technical terrain or sharply changing direction a lot you may be happier going down a half size. 

A few important takeaways on the upper: 
  • This is as waterproof as you are gonna get. I stood in a puddle that came up over the "I" in "Inov-8", and my foot stayed bone dry. The only way water is getting in to this shoe is through the top. Full stop
  • That waterproofing comes with a price: the upper is a little stiff and crunchy; when walking around the house, the upper somewhat dug into the base of my toes across the top of my foot... HOWEVER, I am happy to report that I did NOT notice that sensation on any of my runs.
  • The upper, being somewhat stiff, doesn't quite mold to your foot the way some more comfortable uppers do. It isn't that this upper is UNcomfortable; it just doesn't compete with other uppers designed to be airy.
...and that's about it. The upper does exactly what it is supposed to do - keep water out - and in doing so, it makes acceptable sacrifices in the areas of fit and comfort.

Midsole and Ride

Dynamic Fascia Band running from the heel to the forefoot acts as a rigid lever arm, releasing energy with each step and propelling the runner forward (

PowerFlow+ improves on Inov-8's PowerFlow technology to deliver a smooth ride while improving shock absorption and energy return. (

For a shoe that I didn't necessarily intend to do a ton of running in, I have been very pleasantly surprised by the ride of these. These give you a great mix of ground feel and protection. I personally don't like a ton of stack in a trail shoe; it leads to instability, and having your foot slide off the top of your midsole isn't the most reassuring sensation mid-run. The trick is to have just enough protection from rocks without having too much stack as to cause a Jenga effect in your shoe. These nail that balance. In addition, the midsole really has some snap; I get the feeling that there is a rubber band under my foot that is being stretched and snapped back into place with each footstrike. It is an encouraging sensation, even if it isn't quite as lively or protective as Skechers Hyperburst.


Tri-C Compound combines three different outsole rubbers for excellent grip and decreased wear.  (

The outsole was more than adequate for the mostly hard-packed dirt, light mud, rocks and roots of my nearby trails. I don't expect the 4mm lugs to be enough for the real slop out there, but this outsole is very versatile: adequate for Road to Trail as well as 80% of the trails out there.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Most devoted trail runners will have a full quiver of shoes to choose from for a variety of different surfaces and conditions, but if you are only going to own a single pair, these should be on your short list.

Score: 7.6/10

The ride is great for a trail shoe, although somewhat harsh if running on the roads or to the trails. Fit is roomy at true-to-size; I would like to see a little better lockdown, although these are expressly designed to fit wide feet. The high Value score is due to the GTX upper; a good pair of waterproof shoes will serve you well in a variety of functions, and there are several shoes out there that charge more for less effective "waterproofing".

Nike Terra Kiger 4 (RTR Review)
The NTK series is one of the best sets of trail shoes on the market. It has a little more protection than the P275GTX, but suffers from a little stack-height instability and, of course, isn't waterproof. Let the conditions and your needs dictate which shoe you choose: Long Hauls - NTK4; Short/Wet/Agile - P275GTX.

New Balance Gobi 3 (RTR Review)
The NBG3 - in the wide version I tried - has some of the same fit issues the P275GTX has: it can be a challenge to get a great lockdown in either shoe. The Gobi doesn't try to be waterproof, and is marginally lighter and less expensive.

These were a personal purchase by the reviewer. All views expressed are solely those of the reviewer. 
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