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Inov-8 X-Talon 230 review

by 1
Friday 16th February 2018
Tags  inov-8   |   inov-8 X-Talon   |   Rob Neal
By Rob Neal
First Impressions
Normally I would agree that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but as soon as you take these shoes out of the box you can tell that they mean business. The inov-8 X-Talon 230 is a brand new shoe, but it's undeniably still part of the X-Talon family. They have the same aggressive grip as the X-Talon 212s (which is still very much available, by the way) but the big change visually is with the upper. The material makes them look more like a mountaineering boot, until you pick them up and feel how little they weigh! One previous criticism of the 212s is that the uppers didn’t always stand up so well to the abuse of running in rocky terrain. This new shoe has a thick rubber toe bumper around the front half of the shoe and the material above is more like a plastic mesh which seems a lot tougher than the fabric used on previous X-Talons. 


The X-Talon 230 offers a new option in the classic inov-8 X-Talon range, in which the X-Talon 212 has long been one of the favourite choices of shoe for fell runners, obstacle course racers, orienteers and anyone who needs grip they can rely on in deep mud. I have a pair that I’ve used for several years and they are still my first choice for a race or training session when I know the terrain is going to be tough.
So what’s different about this shoe?
The X-Talon 230 definitely isn’t just a superficial addition to a popular range of shoes, there are two main headline changes, the grip and the upper material of the shoe.
The 230s now use inov-8’s Sticky Grip rubber which they say offers industry leading traction. While it is difficult to get a fair comparison of grip when out running I can certainly say that I have been very impressed with the 230s. I’ve tested them on grass, mud, rock, snow, ice and even some tarmac! While all shoes will struggle to some extent on wet rock the 230s did feel grippy enough to give me confidence in almost all conditions. Even when running downhill on wet and icy rock they gripped consistently.


The new more robust upper did initially feel a bit stiff and it took a few runs to properly soften up, which I’ve not experienced before with inov-8 shoes, but this seems to me like a price worth paying for what seems like a much more resilient material. The weave on the material of the upper is also tighter than other inov-8 shoes, which means that it will keep a lot of water out and it won’t absorb it. They’re certainly not waterproof, but they’ll keep your feet much drier than many similar shoes. 
Two of the less obvious innovations with the 230s are the introduction of the Powerflow midsole, which gives a bit more cushioning than previous models, and also a rock plate, which gives more protection underfoot. These features combine to make the 230s a bit more comfortable and forgiving over longer distances and at only a slight increase in weight and a slight loss in flexibility. As with all inov-8 shoes the number refers to the weight in grams so the 230s are slightly heavier than the 212s but they still feel like a very light shoe.
What X-Talon aspects have stayed the same?
Fans of the 212s will be glad to hear that many features are similar in the 230s. The tread pattern and 8mm stud depth is the same as the X-Talon 212s. The drop is the same at 6mm. The X-Talon 230s have a fit of 1 under the new inov-8 scale which equates on their former scale to the precision fit. I have always favoured the standard fit as I have wider feet and although the 230s did initially feel a bit narrow a precision fit is generally considered more suitable in rough terrain to stop the shoe moving around on your foot. These shoes have been comfortable on runs up to 2 hours for me but for anything longer I would probably go for something with a wider fit but this is clearly personal preference depending on your foot shape. 


If you are a fan of the X-Talon 212 but want slightly more protection underfoot and a more resilient upper, then the X-Talon 230 is certainly the shoe for you. Inov-8 have succeeded in improving both the grip and comfort when adding another option to this shoe range. The only compromises that I could tell were a very slight increase in weight and a slight reduction in flexibility, although this improved with use. As I have only been testing these shoes for 4 weeks so far I can’t yet give any real assessment on the long term resilience of the upper but so far they are showing very little sign of wear. The X-Talon 212 is still very much available for those wanting a more lightweight shoe, when lots of cushioning isn't needed.

Here's a video about the X-Talon 230s:

Find out more about the shoes at the inov-8 website

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Do x-talon 230s drain?

by Will H
02:33, Friday 2nd March 2018
But do these drain well? I am concered that any shoe that resists water also keeps water in. The old TrailRoc 245s were like a sieve (that's a good thing). Thoughts?

Also, for sizing, I am a US13, and those TrailRocs were great for that. I have heard some say that these stretch after a bit for wider feet, but I'm not sure if they would enough for me... or if going 13 to 14 would do enough, since it's a forefoot width thing, not length. Thoughts on that?

Basically I couldn't do the lighter x-talons because I needed more long-distance comfort, and these seemed to have potential, but still have the above concerns.
TereréJordan Blood