Inov-8 launched their very first X-TALON running shoe back in 2008 and in so doing created a lightweight, flexible and grippy off road performer that has become a firm favourite for fell and trail runners all over the globe.
Ten years on and the iconic X-TALON range has been expanded and strengthened yet further with the launch of the X-TALON 210 and 230 - two new shoes for 2018 featuring Inov-8's new STICKYGRIP technology.
Of the two, the X-TALON 230 with 6mm drop is the ideal choice for off road runners looking for decent cushioning with maximum grip and protection when travelling in soft and muddy terrain. Weighing in at 460g per pair, the X-TALON 230 is slightly heavier than the more race-oriented 210, but still very much a fast and light fell/mountain running shoe built to withstand the reality and demands of relentless off road running.
Shock absorption, comfort and protection are all prioritized in the X-TALON 230 with the addition of a flexible rock plate and the POWERFLOW+ midsole that claims to deliver 25% more energy return than standard midsoles. Whilst we didn't feel the X-TALON 230's were overtly 'springy' per se, they did offer a lightweight, cushioned and super responsive ride. The fact that the gusseted tongue of the shoe doesn't absorb water means you won't be weighed down at any point on the trail, making the X-TALON 230s ideal for soggy adventures and swim run events.
One of the features that impressed us the most was the protective wrap-around rand of the X-TALON 230 designed to protect you from scuffs and withstand wear and tear. If you're fed up of buying expensive, fast and light mountain running shoes that start to break down after a few months use then the durable upper of the X-TALON 230 will appeal.
All good so far but what about the all-new, much-lauded STICKYGRIP sole, the X-TALON 230's raison d'etre? As gear freaks, we tend to be a bit skeptical when it comes to all singing and dancing new technologies, this one is well worth all the hype. This shoe is all about the traction across the board. From squishy mud to soft slippery grass, from wet slab to hard, steep rocks, the X-TALON 230 grips like a total boss. The 8mm deep lugs stick to everything with almost crampon-like penetration, remaining firm and inspiring confidence in a variety of challenging terrain.
The only potential limiting factor with the X-TALON 230's is the narrow, precision oriented fit that may prove too restrictive to those wide of foot, and the upper material is quite stiff around the top of the shoe so needs some wearing in.
At £115, the X-TALON 230 is a great value shoe designed to facilitate speed and inspire confidence in soft and challenging terrain. If you're looking for a durable shoe with maximum grip for fell running events, Tough Mudders, Swimrun and the like, then the X-TALON 230 is a very good option indeed.