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.
Comfort 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.
Speed 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.
Agility 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.
Responsiveness 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.
Protection 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.
A competitive road cyclist in his younger years and lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Jacob discovered his love for long distance trail running as an adult. He lives in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe. Follow him at Google+.