Having owned and been a massive fan of Inov-8’s original x-talon shoe, I knew that another pair of these innovative fell-running shoes would be on my shoe-shopping shortlist. I am, however, always somewhat cautious when purchasing a new version of a shoe I’ve loved, as the upgraded features are not always as advantageous as the manufacturers might lead one to believe, and sometimes they simply mean that the shoe no longer fits. However, in trying on a pair of the new x-talon 225s in a precision fit, I could tell straight away that Inov-8 had done a great job of improving an already top-rate shoe.
Purchased and worn straight out of the box, I’ve given the shoes a very thorough testing on a variety of terrains, and in all kinds of conditions too. They’ve been beasted up and down rough fellsides in the wet and dry, and put through their paces on wet, muddy, frozen and steep cross country courses, to name a few. Speedwork, hill sessions and even hill-running drills have all been carried out in my x-talons.
In a nutshell, Inov-8 have got this shoe right, very right. They advertise the x-talon as having “unbeatable grip” and this is, in my experience, spot on. Whether running on grass, rock, or mud, the traction is superb, allowing me to tackle even the steepest of slopes with total confidence. They simply do not slip, ever. Fellow competitors in cross country have been amazed to learn that my grip has been coming not from spikes but from the studs on the soles of my shoes. The configuration of these studs means that clogging up of the soles just does not happen – much appreciated when running on clay soils!
Despite having soles that provide such great traction, the soles of the x-talons are thin enough to give me a superb feel for the ground underfoot, enabling them to be very responsive indeed. There is still enough firmness in the sole to provide support underfoot, but with a degree of flexibility that allows for precise foot placement when running uphill.
The lightweight mesh upper to the shoes are hardwearing and allow good drainage of water, whilst the toebox offers great protection from rocks, stones, tree stumps and so on. The precision fit of the shoe, coupled with a simple lacing system, enables a really snug fit to be achieved. As a runner with narrowish feet, it’s a real treat to have a pair of running shoes that fits me so well and required no breaking in at all.
All in all, I have only positive things to say about this shoe; I even love the bright but practical colour. For both cross country and fell running, the x-talons provide a great combination of grip and comfort that are hard to beat, and are a very welcome addition to my outdoor wardrobe.