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INOV8 X-Talon 212

rated 5 of 5 stars
photo: INOV8 X-Talon 212 trail running shoe

The toughest darn shoe I have ever owned, with a tread that bites well on both mud and rock, but the narrow, low toe is not optimal for me.


  • Uppers seem to be indestructible
  • Knobby tread great in mud and holds on rock too
  • 6mm drop and good trail feel


  • Narrow forefoot
  • Low in front, can rub on toes

These are by far the toughest shoes I have ever owned. I have now logged over 1,000 running km on them (via GPS/Strava) and probably forgot to record a few more. The tread on the toes and backs of the heels is worn smooth and there's not much left under the ball of the foot, but the uppers have no holes or cracks and even the toe caps have held up well. (Due to my natural clumsiness, I often see toe caps start to peel within the first few runs.)

There is no exposed stitching in the toe area, and the stitching on the heel has held up for all those special Ks. They are little warmer and more water repellent than most other shoes in my stable, and also don't let as much dirt and dust in.

The 6mm drop is good enough for the minimalist, and the sole isn't too thick or spongy so I can feel the terrain underfoot, which is the way I like it. The 8mm lugs are great in mud and give pretty good grip on rock. The fit is snug, and the EU 45.5 works well for me, I wouldn't want to go down a size.

They are narrow in the forefoot with pointy toes and feel a bit tight on the small toes for me. The biggest problem for me is that I have mallet toes, and these shoes rub on them a bit more than most others, causing painful calluses. I can control this with Compeed (in effect upping the price) but I'd love to have a pair with more room in the toes. That's my reason for not gving them full marks, but I may try another pair just because they hold up so darn well.

I should retire them once and for all, but I still like to take them out for a spin in the dry, sandy wash that I run in once or twice a week. Not dead yet!


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: NOK 1300 = about $160 (welcome to Norway)

Great off-road running shoes, lightweight, good fit, really nice to run in. Not so good if your runs involve longer sections on tarmac.


  • Comfort
  • Lightweight
  • Grippy
  • Nice fit


  • Not great on tarmac or hard surfaces

The fit is really nice. I did as suggested and steamed them before I first put them on so they'd fit my foot shape better. Very comfortable to run in on the right surfaces.

They seem to be really well made, and use good materials. They're usually pretty muddy, but I'm sure they'd be like new if I cleaned them.

They're not designed to be water resistant, but water runs freely out of them and they dry quickly. Great if you're running through streams or boggy ground.

Grip is excellent both in mud and on wet rocks.

They're minimal and lightweight and you feel like you're in full contact with whatever surface you're running on.

I generally run between 8-25k on a range of surfaces, grass, trails, rocky paths and sections on tarmac. I've also run a few trail races in the Lakes which are usually about 15K. And I probably do up to about 120k a month.

The only fault with these (and it might just be down to my foot shape) is that because they are fairly minimal shoes without much cushioning and have very knobbly soles, they can become painful when running on harder ground. There's one stud on the sole in particular which I land on right in the centre on the ball of my foot behind my second toe, if the ground is hard then this really becomes uncomfortable after about 8k.

As I say it might just be my foot shape. Having said that the stud seems to be wearing down and the shoes are becoming more comfortable.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £95

My favorite trail running shoes. Also moonlight as my favorite grass volleyball shoes! Lightweight, great balance between proper foot bottom protection and feel, amazing traction.
To top it off, they look good and are built to last.


  • Traction
  • Lightweight
  • Well built


  • Can get hot

Inov-8 makes the best trail running shoes. Also make great fitness shoes, but this review is on the X-Talon 212.

Always a great combination of feel and protection. Basically, enough so that you have a good tactile feel of what you're running on so that you can stay balanced, but enough protection where you're aren't "barefoot". There're too many brands that tried to milk the "barefoot" category, but 99% of people running in them aren't conditioned for it and do more damage than good.

The X-Talon 212 comes in a variety of great color choices so style is always there.

The sole and knubs provide great traction on trails, even when muddy. 

Hence they also double as my grass volleyball or ultimate shoes, like wearing cleats but with the comfort and ease of sneakers.

Would definitely recommend the shoe and the brand to those who haven't heard.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $80

The new Inov-8 X-Talon 212 is an excellent shoe for certain conditions. I’ve used it over a grassy, fairly hard cross-country course and found it comfortable and very, very light. I’m looking forward to trying it in other conditions as the weather changes and (hopefully) brings more rain.

The shoe runs true to size, and fits a little snugger than a training shoe. I found that the fit helped prevent my foot from sliding inside the shoe when running along a cambered slope and provided a high degree of control. I was surprised that the heavier 6 mm foot bed was used versus the 3 mm, but I was able to feel the surface I was running on quite well and the additional thickness added a bit of padding. The feel was close to that found running barefoot but without the risk of stone-bruising or losing one’s grip on the ground due to slippery conditions.

The light weight, aggressive outsole, and snug fit of this shoe make it well suited to short-distance cross country racing or in sloppy conditions and the uppers breathed well. I haven’t tried them in a water-crossing yet, so I don’t know how well they drain, but I think they’ll perform well there also.

The X-Talon 212 wouldn’t be my shoe of choice for long races, but for 5 km or 10 km distances in specific terrain conditions, they are ideal. I’m glad to have another great inov-8 shoe in my arsenal.

Materials: Nylon upper, sticky rubber sole
Use: Short-distance Cross Country Racing, Mud
Break-in Period: None
Weight: 212 grams (7.5 ounces)
Price Paid: 0.00 (won in a contest)

I took these out for a 25 km canyon run. Terrain was very uneven, lots of rocks, uneven ground, scree. Ran along the canyon rim where plant and hold followed by a quick, effortless release was essential.

Performed great. No problem with grip or traction - so I felt very confident throughout the run.

Shoe extremely light but still offers protection from stone bruising. Breathes very well. Binds the foot tight so there is no slippage of the foot in the boot, but the shoe is so flexible that the foot can move naturally without feeling restricted or limited.

Very low heel-forefoot elevation profile makes this great for midfoot strike.

Price Paid: US$90

Perfect fit, soft enough too feel the ground, stable for even technical terrain and light for long runs.


  • Stable, soft, and light
  • It both repels most water, and drains what gets inside. True!


  • A bit too narrow on the toes

I use them for both short and long runs, but only terrain and trail.

I use them in spring/autumn, and never slip!

Remember to clean them regularly. I use only water.

Inov-8 delivers excellence!

Source: bought it used

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