Friday, November 07, 2008

Inov-8 X-Talon 212's - 300 Mile Test (Shoe Review)

So I've hit 300 miles in my first pair of Inov-8 X-Talon 212's, the new lightweight trail running shoe, and I'm a big fan! They are my new go-to shoe for training runs. I thought I would blog a bit about them in case you're looking for superlight trail shoes.

Of course, you do have to take my feedback into perspective since I've been an Inov-8 fan for years (and run for their team). But I also have Montrails, New Balance, Teva, Brooks, North Face, Avia, etc., and tend to try out a lot of shoes as I log the miles in different climates and terrain. In general I look for soft, lightweight shoes for short course and training runs, but run a sturdier shoe for the rocky terrain, loose rocks, or anything 50 miles or beyond.

The X-Talon 212's are easily the lightest trail running shoe I have ever tried (for those who don't know, the numbering of Inov-8 shoes is their weight in grams, so 212 is 212 grams). They are slim, low to the ground, and wrap your feet like racing flats. I have a narrow foot, so the Inov-8 line fits me pretty well (if you don't have a narrow foot, I usually suggest the RocLite 295's). What was surprising to me is that the soles are actually quite soft and flexible. I'm not sure why I thought they would be the "hard as pavement" feel of a road racing flat, but it's not the case. The feel of the sole is similar to the popular RocLite 295's, just a lower profile and stiffer upper construction to hold your foot in place. The flexibility allows your foot to feel a lot of the trail with every step, but you can still pound the downhills. The trademark sticky Inov-8 lugs are there, so you can go nuts in the dirt and grass.

Does it have enough to go 50k? Given the right runner and trail, I think it does. I know they are designed for mountain/fell running, but the soft feel gives it more distance power than say, the MudRoc 290. If the 50k race is fireroads, nice single track, and you're the kind of runner that like that barefoot feeling, there is ample padding for a fast and comfortable run. I've done a marathon in the x212's on the single track around my house and they felt great. But if the trail was more technical, jumping from rock to rock, I would probably want a stiffer sole to offer more support. You will probably see me in the RocLite 315's and RocLite 320's for those.

If you've tried the x212's, let me know what you think! The sizing seems right on - I am a size 11, and the 11 fits perfectly. Available at ZombieRunner.

- SD

26 comments:

  1. I've been very excited to try Inov-8 shoes for years, but never have been able to find their lighter shoes in smaller women's sizes (and by that, I mean anything smaller than men's 7/women's 8.5). They claim to make down to a UK 4 (US women's 6), but I have yet to find any shoes of this size. Heck, the smallest zombierunner stocks of the lighter shoes is a women's 9. Sucks.

    I do hope you continue to enjoy your slick new shoes. I'm going to go use my smaller feet to get closer to the stove and then plunk out some babies while barefoot.

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  2. Thanks for the info Scott. I'm a fan of Inov-8s too, ever since my first Flyrocs (thanks again!)

    Compactmanifold, You should try them on at least. I usually wear 7-7.5 in US sizes, but the RocLite 295 sizes 8.5 and 9 work well for me (actually just found that size 9saves my toenails! Yea!!)

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  3. Thanks for the review, I'll have to check these out. I just tend to stick with my trusty addidas supernova trails, but I'm always looking for something better.

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  4. I had a pair of 305s and they were okay. My favorite trail shoe on earth is the New Balance 790s. How would these compare to the barefoot minimalist feeling I get from them?

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  5. I'm totally new to this sport, and these shoes seem great but I can't help but wonder if they're a bit more than what I need as a novice. Any suggestions for a beginner?

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  6. Evan - I haven't tried the latest New Balance 790's, but I liked the ones I used to have. They are definitely in the same weight class. I think the X-Talons are a bit softer ride.

    Swagger - Get yourself into a shoe store! There are lots of flavors of trail shoes, and they all fit a bit differently depending on your foot. I started out in the Montrail Hardrocks, which offer lots of cushion and a solid sole for jumping on rocks. Over time I got more and more "minimalist", switching to Vasque, then Inov-8. I think it's good to start with a fairly sturdy shoe.

    SD

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  8. The X-talon has been getting great reviews so far and it fits my foot the best out of our performance lasted shoes as I have a wider foot. It fits like a glove.

    In response to the post about our women's sizing at Zombie Runner: The women's Terroc 308 starts at size 7, the women's Roclite 282 starts at size 6, the F-lite 230 starts at 6.5, X-talon 212 also 6.5, and the Roclite 315 starts at 5.5. I can not confirm availabilty on all these models but there looks to be many choices for the ladies. Thanks for the great review Scott!

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  9. I picked up a pair of X-Talons right before the Vermont 50K. I logged a mere 25 miles into the prior to the race and must say, they felt great during the race other than some bruising on the end of my middle toes. I think I should have gone up one half size. And yes, I am one of those people who love running barefoot or in VFFs.

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  10. Hi, what is the durability in these shoes like, as i have had problems with the 270 uppers before. Cheers, Will

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  11. Will -

    On pair #1, the uppers held up just fine. I replaced them at 300 miles because I could feel less support under the balls of my feet (this is usually where I break down shoes, thanks to being slightly duck footed). The uppers held up just fine. Pair #2 is about 200 miles in and still holding up.

    SD

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  12. Right thanks a lot Scott, that has definitley given me the confidence to go and buy some. 300 miles is an impressive count out of fell shoes. Cheers!

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  13. Scott, just piggy-backing off what everyone else has said...thank you again for posting your experience with the x-talons. Because these shoes are fairly new on the market, I have found very little information about them and am pleased to have found your blog. By the way, I have a 10K race coming up that is mostly hilly trails, but has a short 50 yard swim around mile 5. How do you think they will hold up to these elements? Will this race likely be the last time the x-talons can be used due to any water damage?

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  14. Even I don't like shopping. But still I like every thing, like you.
    I only purchase online now-a-days.
    I just ordered "football shoes" football shoes from shoedeals4u.com and waiting for its arrival.

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  15. Would you recomend these as a training shoe? I also run a few marathon distance races on really gnarly trails. Are they good for that kind of distance?

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  16. I train in them all the time - pretty much my default shoe. I like how the flexible sole works more of my foot and lower leg. I think it has helped build up some muscles there that were pampered by more protective shoes.

    The x-talon could absolutely be a good trail marathon shoe, and I plan on using it. I would probably advise a shoe with more structure if the trail was really gnarly (rock hopping, scree, etc.).

    Best! SD

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  17. Thanks for the information and blog, I ll check them out. I tend to follow my path confidence with Adidas supernova or some good trainers shoes, and aside I always look for something better.

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  18. I ran the Angeles Crest 100 in these this year, and they worked great. No foot issues at the finish. For me, my most successful trail shoe yet. A good balance between minimal and cushioned. I was able to transition from a mid-foot strike for the "flat" areas, to a short-stride heel-strike for the down hills. Will wear them for my next trail 100. Note: I train in minimal shoes, so I have fairly good foot strength.

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  19. Hi Scott,
    I bought a pair of 212 last october and already did 250k on them. They are great!! The best trail running / orienteering shoe I ever had and I had plenty: silva, jalas, walsh, la sportiva, new balance AND Inov8 Mudclaw. All these shoes gave me blisters after about 30 minutes, so I always needed preventive taping.
    The X-Talon 212 have given me only 1 small blister and now I can run for 2,5 hours with no problems at all!
    I want to order a new pair (to be certain to have another), but I see the new 190 as a new competetor...
    What's your opinion/advice?
    Thanks, Jody

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  20. That's great, Jody.

    The 190's are a very fast and flexible trail shoe similar to the 212's. More breathable, a bit more narrow, and tighter tread. They are a bit too light for me for daily training and I like the sparse lug placement of the 212's. But it's definitely worth checking out a pair if you can. Yassine Diboun, a fellow Team Inov-8 member, loves them and he's SUPER fast.

    SD

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  21. Hi Scott;
    I found the 212's toe box very narrow, and I don't have particularly wide feet. I guess I won't be using the 190's. Thanks for the heads up.

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  22. I have a 26k trail run coming up this summer. Am thinking of buying the 212s or the 190s. I run all my crossfit wods in VFF up to 5k. I have read that I should buy a 1/2 size larger than my normal shoe size for trail running shoes. Is this correct?

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  23. It's generally a good idea to add a little toe room for trail shoes. I go 1/2 size bigger, particularly for the minimalist shoes that will flex a lot in the toe.

    Best of luck in the 26k!

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  24. Scott, I know that was the old post, but... I've just tried X-talon 212 and loved them (I am rather light slow runner) -- I had just ~3hours run...

    The point is I would like to run CCC (98km version of UTMB) and thought using them... Could you please add a word if you think that's not the best idea which alternative is close enough but will suit better?

    Thanks,
    Tatiana

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  25. what are the softest footbed Inov8's on the market for trail running?
    Margareth

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  26. Great blog. I have salamon xmax, which are road-to-trail. i have wider/flat feet, but am a natural foot. I am UK size 10 shoe, but have a size 11 trails. I find the salamons a bit 'carpet slipper' but good enought to get me through my first lake coniston mountain marathon without any blisters. I have been looking to upgrade to something a little quicker, give me more confidence downhill but still good for training in. I was looking at either the salamon speedcross or inov-8 315's. My concern is that during my trail training runs, I do have a 2 mile road section that might rub the tread away. Any thoughts on the better shoe and relevant sizing.

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