Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260
260g (men's UK 9) £135
Inov-8 uses the phrase 'Industry-leading sticky grip' when it comes to the outsole and while we can’t vouch precisely for that claim, we can confirm they’ll hold you in place in the muddiest, nastiest conditions you treat them to. Only something very special would be better in this department. For runners who like a bit of depth, consider this: the lugs are a mighty 8mm and positioned in such a way they ensure mud is released quickly from the outsole, so there's no clogging and maximum grip is retained. All good off-road, but you do need to keep them away from anything concrete otherwise they'll wear rapidly.
Verdict: Bring on the mud! These are built for the nastiest weather.
260g (Men’s UK 8)
Given these are the first running shoes to feature graphene in the soles, Inov-8 promise durability without compromising grip. They have a lot to live up to as manufacturers say one pair’s soles lasted 1000 miles in testing. They’re so new we haven’t had chance to take them that far, but both the soles and the Kevlar-enhanced uppers seem to be standing up quite well after 200 miles. We found they coped well with the hard trails they were designed for and are very comfortable despite not much cushioning, with a wide forefoot. Precision is great, especially with the zero-drop heel-toe ratio.
Verdict: Comfort from the first mile with good grip on hard trails.
If you’re after a shoe for serious racing or a fast fun in the fells, this is for you. Light and responsive, the superb X-Talon 212 is perfect for those wanting to speed their way over rough terrain. Its foot-hugging fit is comfortable as well as brilliant for fast running on technical trails. The 8mm sticky rubber studs are super-grippy, allowing for high-speed cornering and contouring even on the muddiest of hills. It also sheds mud and water well and offers excellent foot protection. Surprisingly for a shoe that’s so obviously designed for the fells, it’s even comfortable and grippy on the road. 6mm drop.
VERDICT: Superb grip, highly responsive and great comfort. A top fell shoe.
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