Inov-8 X-Talon 190 Off-Road Running Shoes
Lightweight performance racing shoe
An excellent lightweight off-road shoe, perfect for shorter races where performance and grip are essential. Nick Cable tests.
Our pros and cons...
- Very grippy
- Stand out from the crowd
- Bright colour may not suit everyone
- Avoid scree running
Inov-8 is a leading, UK-born brand of minimalist running shoes that excel in grip and performance on all terrains. After arriving on the scene in 2003, they rapidly became a firm favourite amongst the fell-running fraternity. Originally producing high-quality off-road footwear, they now offer an extended choice of shoes for trail, road, leisure and the cross-fit industry. Now trading in more than 60 countries, inov-8 meets the needs of athletes who want to run naturally fast on all terrains.
Still looking good after their first test run
I have been a massive fan of Inov-8 shoes for the last 10 years. Once I discovered the Mudclaw with its unrivalled grippy sole, there was no looking back. Over the subsequent years, the range has expanded massivley offering an unrivalled choice of minimalist, high-performance shoes that suit the varied terrains of the UK: namely mud, bog, rivers, heather and rock.
Inov-8 have not only delivered performance footwear but have brought highly fashionable and striking apparel into a once dowdy sport
When the X-Talons came out of the box, it was love at first sight, even the bright orange colour, I knew they would get noticed despite the usual amount of mud that would be attached to them. As soon as you hold one up you notice how light they are, despite all the engineering design that went into them. A mere 190g for a UK size 8, hence the name of X-Talon 190. It's a trait of all inov-8 footwear that it impresses with its stripped-down weight credentials.
Putting them on for the first time, they were like slippers, but armed with serious grip. I was able to bend my foot easily - the mesh construction is very breathable and I had no issue with the width of my size 10 feet. They felt so comfortable I knew I would have no issue racing in these straight out of the box.
Their first outing was on a local race route called the Trunce
. A short but very tough cross country race
that combines steep hills, three river crossings, trails and a short tarmac stint. One of the most notorious sections is a steep descent in the woods, rife with tree roots and felled trees, known for its ankle turning history.
These shoes are so light and grippy you feel like you could even beat Spiderman up the hill, their low and minimal build means you can feel the trail, I felt fleet of foot and confident to tackle anything the trail could throw at me.
Even with the stripped down lugs of the sole, the grip going down slippery muddy slopes was always sure - in fact the wider spacing between the lugs means that mud and clay is shed easily, maintaing the grip and ditching the extra weight.
Through the rivers was a breeze - the mesh construction sheds the water instantly (note it does mean it will also let the water in just as quick), so they are as light as before and slosh-free, with the added bonus of them being back to their luminous orange best again. On the plus side, they dry really quickly when you wash them post run.
If you are going to venture into areas of sharp rock, like scree slopes or the slate quarries of Wales, then beware, the protective rand on these shoes is very minimal and such terrain would be better suited to the chunkier shoes of the Mudclaw family.
Where to buy
Although an established supplier of outdoor running footwear, you will only find these shoes in specialist running shops and in outdoor pursuits stores. Even then you probably will not find the complete range, but you can view the range on line at www.inov-8.com
and you will find their official supliers by clicking here
A very exciting shoe to wear, inspires you to run quicker and take on the slippery sections with added confidence. The lightweight design and grip are superb, a fine addition to your running kit for taking on those shorter off road courses.
I have been an off road runner for 30 years, from cross country racing in the RAF in my twenties, to assault courses such as Tough Guy, then moving on to the fells for the last 15 years. Greatest achievement to date is completing the Bob Graham Round in 2006, I am still competing in races and mountain marathons across the Peak and Lake District and really enjoy supporting contenders looking to complete the longer challenges such as the Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Ramsay Rounds.