The Parkclaw G 280 has been my preferred shoe for urban trail runs ranging from 7 to 12 miles. Inov-8’s G-FLY midsole and BOOMERANG footbed provide just enough cushioning for efforts of about that distance. The pairing between the two materials contributes to a firm ride, with dampening on impact and takeoff, though this effect is felt considerably less so on stretches of road more than a few miles long. The shoe’s 8 mm drop is conducive to running on harder surfaces, but the Graphene outsole frequently felt like it didn’t want to let go of the ground, and the G-FLY midsole isn’t soft enough for my preferences. As such, I’ve been conscious about breaking up sections of pavement with dirt while wearing the shoe, and I can sense the Parkclaw G 280’s relief when I hop onto softer surfaces.
Once off-road, these shoes jam. Their G-GRIP rubber eats up slick trails, and the shoe’s flexible outsole / midsole pairing allows for great ground feel on off-camber terrain. The Parkclaw G 280’s Graphene-enhanced outsole / midsole is also pretty hard, so I’d still consider the shoe fairly protective against small rocks and debris, even in the absence of a rock plate. This allowed me to be a little less precise with my foot placement at faster paces, and the shoe’s cushioned and accommodating upper helped me reach a precise fit for when I did need to be a bit more accurate. My midfoot and heel stayed locked down when climbing, my toes had plenty of real estate to splay, and I didn’t encounter any toe-smashing on descents. On trail, the Parkclaw G 280 reminded me of a slightly firmer version of the Hoka Torrent 2 and a wider fitting, more off-road-capable version of the On Cloudvista. In my experience, the Parkclaw G 280’s energy return isn’t as pronounced as either of these models, but that’s not of huge importance to me on my leisurely jaunts around Golden Gate Park.
One of Inov-8’s major claims with the Parkclaw G 280 is principled on the durability of its Graphene-enhanced components. My running style tends to be pretty violent toward midsole foams, and by excessively supinating, I burn through the lateral aspect of outsoles quickly. The Parkclaw G 280 looked a little flimsy out of the box, so I was a tad skeptical about whether or not I could push it past 200 miles, let alone the 400 to 500 it’s allegedly built for. But the shoe seems unfazed after 90 miles of use — the upper hasn’t frayed or deformed, the midsole hasn’t lost its subtle snap on each end of my foot strike, and all 98 lugs on the G-GRIP outsole are still in good shape.