Hi there fellow trail runners
I recently volunteered to try out a pair of Inov8's X-Talon 212 trail shoes, and have been pleasantly surprised.
According to Inov8, the X- Talon 212 has more World Championship wins than any other shoe in off road running combining stability, minimal weight and durability. Optimally placed studs avoid clogging and deliver excellent grip in soft and loose conditions. These shoes have a 6mm drop from heel to forefoot.
Not to bag Icebug, but after trying on a few different models in Icebug's range and not finding anything that didn't squash my feet, I tried on the X-Talon 212's and was instantly happy.
I've done a few runs of about 21k on my local trails in Lysterfield and the Dandenong ranges, where I ran on a mix of different surfaces to put these guys through their paces, and here is what I found:
Let's start with the Likes -
I like the looks, I love the colors. Inov8 makes some good looking shoes, and these are no different.
They are flexible.
Grip. The grip on these babies is awesome. It's like running with valcro under your feet, on the other half of what valcro sticks to. You could probably walk straight up a glass building with these things. What's the opposite of Teflon? X-Talon 212 grip.
I tried these shoes on muddy tracks, dryers gravel tracks and even over large slippery rocks, and it's like you're running on rails, so a big thumbs up for grip.
Construction is a tough one and I'm not sure whether to put this in the likes or dislikes. Let me explain. They are very well made, with good materials, and they look like they'll last forever, but Inov8 might just have used too much material on the upper construction, which makes it a shoe that might overheat on your summer runs. Let's keep construction in the "likes" section, and wait for summer for an update on the heat issue.
They have a rather tight fit, but that comes down to personal preference and might not be great for people with fat feet. I would go at least a half size up though from your regular running shoes. Apart from that, these are some of the most comfortable trail runners I have ever run in so I'mkeeping comfort in the "likes" section.
I like the weight. At 212grams (7.5 Oz) they are light, like a good trail racer should be, and that's what I'd use them for - as a racing shoe for shorter races of up to 20k on technical terrain, which brings me to a few dislikes.
While these shoes are light, grippy and durable, on my first 2 runs they started irritating my big toe on my right foot after about 20k, which I'll admit, included a lot of technical downhill running, so maybe I was being a bit of a princess about it. On subsequent runs I didn't experience any discomfort, so i'm limiting the dislike to the first few runs, after which they are pretty amazing. I'm yet to attempt a longer run with these shoes, sowatch this space for an update.
They could get hot in summer, but I already mentioned that didn't I.
Drainage could be quite bad. Because of their rather solid construction and the materials used, I think you'd have wet feet for ages if you had to do a water crossing in these. I am yet to run through water with the X-Talon's, so at this stage it's just speculation and might not even be justified in the dislikes section.
These shoes are quite specifically designed for softer ground running I suspect and running on harder packed gravel roads or sealed surfaces is a bit uncomfortable after a while, so as long as you are aware of this, and don't plan on running on too many roads with them, you'll be fine.
Lets give these shoes some points:
Comfort: 8/10, but limit to shorter runs for now
Weight: 9/10, good light racing shoe
Durability: 9/10 very good construction for a light weight shoe
Quality: 8/10 good materials have been used to make these shoes
Price: 8/10 at AUD $129, they're not bad value, coming in a lot cheaper than Salomon's speedcross and similar.
Looks: 9/10 I quite like the bright colors
This shoe has a very specific place in my shoe rack and won't get used all the time, but for short fast trail runs on technical or muddy terrain I don't think you can go wrong with these.