Trail runner David Miller gives an in-depth review of Inov-8's latest offering
I was very excited to get my hands on a pair of the new Inov-8 X-TALON 230’s. Believe the hype and take notice, because Inov-8 are listening and innovating for the future!
The X-TALON range have been well received by many trail, mountain, and fell runners for a number of years now and are the go-to shoe dominating most fell races. Races have been won convincingly in these shoes and for Inov-8 to take such a crowd favourite back to the design board, make further improvements, and change what was already working is always going to raise some eyebrows and get people talking.
Inov-8 have now taken a big step in changing the way we all look at trail shoes by integrating the new "Sticky Grip" technology leaving rival brands in their shadows.
Should you buy into this hype? My No.1 rule while reviewing new products is to be true to myself and to everyone reading, so please don’t think this is another "influencer" marketing ploy.
Straight out of the box, I noticed some significant changes. The most obvious new feature is the new Sticky Grip technology, which delivers better traction than its predecessors over wet and dry underfoot conditions. It still utilises the classic 8mm lugs.
The second most noticeable change is the increased protection around the heel and toe box and second-generation meta-plate, which protects the underfoot from sharp rocks.
Finally, the unique Powerflow+ midsole technology is on show, delivering 10% better shock absorption and 25% better energy return than standard midsoles.
As I live by the coast, my local trails are notoriously boggy during the winter - perfect for testing the X-TALON 230s in the gnarliest of conditions.
My usual weapon of choice in these conditions would be the Inov-8 Mudclaw 300s, but they can seem a little heavy and overkill for smaller races or a local five-mile loop. They are perfect for longer distances, though.
As with most Inov-8 shoes, I normally wear half a size up and these X-TALON 230s proved no different. Being a precision fit, they felt slightly tighter around the toe box when compared to previous models, but after 100 miles there are no problems to report.
My initial thought is that these shoes are a lighter, faster, and more aggressive version of the Inov-8 Mudclaw - more of a racing shoe, if you like, and perfect for running up to half-marathon distance.
Out on the trails I was cutting through boggy puddles with ease! Wearing these shoes felt invigorating and they seemed to be injecting confidence with every step. It was like riding a legal high - no more stopping to walk around large muddy obstacles.
Not only have Inov-8 released the perfect trail, fell and mountain racing shoe, they have well and truly moved the goalposts and changed the game within the trail running community. If this is a sign of things to come from Inov-8 then I am very excited for the future of this brand, who continue to innovate and explore new boundaries.
As a consumer, would I buy this shoe? You bet your bottom dollar I would because they might just leave your rivals hanging.
If you would like to learn more about the X-Talon 230s then please go here for more information.
Note: There is a lighter version of this shoe available in form of the Inov-8 X-TALON 210, which comes in a very standout fluorescent orange colour.