Blister Brand Guide: Inov-8 Running Shoe Lineup, 2022

Inov-8 got their start as a fell-running brand in the UK. If you’re not familiar with fell running, or “hill running,” it basically entails off-road (and often off-trail) running straight up and down mountains, usually with a healthy dose of mud, loose rock, and slippery terrain. Inov-8’s original shoes were designed to tackle this gnarly terrain with narrow / precise fits, aggressive outsoles, and minimal designs.

The brand now offers a much wider variety of shoes, from road shoes to cushioned trail shoes to its original mud shoes. Most of these models still show evidence of the brand’s minimal, fell-running history, with lower stack heights, lower heel-to-toe drops, and firmer cushioning than more mainstream US brands such as Hoka and Altra. Inov-8 is one of the few brands that still offers numerous trail shoes with very low stack heights and drops, so if you’re a fan of minimal shoes, Inov-8 may be the brand for you.

Inov-8’s shoe naming system is different from most brands, and can actually be quite informative once you know what to look for. Rather than giving each shoe a random, unique name, Inov-8 shoes are named based on their outsole and weight. For example, the Trailtalon 235 V3 uses the brand’s Trailtalon outsole, which has a specific lug depth, tread pattern, and rubber compound, and weighs a claimed 235 g per shoe for a US Men’s size 9. The Trailtalon 290 V2 has the same outsole pattern but weighs 290 g per shoe; the X-Talon G 235 uses an X-Talon outsole and weighs 235 g, and so on. Additionally, all stated weights are based on a US Men’s Size 9 and a US Women’s Size 10.5. If all those similar names and numbers seem a bit confusing now, don’t worry — they’ll make more sense as you go through our brand guide (we hope).

It’s also worth noting that Inov-8 reports midsole thickness and lug depth separately on their website, while many brands combine midsole thickness and lug depth in their “stack height” measurement. With that in mind, we’re just using the midsole thickness for each shoe’s stack height in this brand guide — many of Inov-8’s trail shoes have extremely deep lugs, so reporting a combination of midsole thickness and lug depth would make many of their shoes seem much more cushioned than they actually are. For example, if we reported the midsole thickness + lug depth for a shoe like the X-Talon 255 V2, its stack height would be 16 mm (heel) / 11 mm (forefoot) — when in reality it only has 8 mm of actual cushioning in the heel and 5 mm in the forefoot. We’ll stick with midsole thickness to provide a more direct comparison of how much cushion each shoe in Inov-8’s lineup actually provides.

Inov-8 is still primarily a trail running brand, but they do offer several road shoes. In this brand guide, we’ll separately spell out the features and intended purpose of each shoe in Inov-8’s road and trail lineups. As always, shoes are organized from highest to lowest stack height.