Inov-8 X-Talon 212 Review
By Sam Burridge
Image © Sam Burridge / Functional Running
For the last couple of years the Inov-8 X-Talon 190 has been my ol’ faithful trail running shoe. I have tried other trail shoes along the way but just kept going back to those trusty old 190’s. Suffice to say I came into this review already believing in the the X-Talon pedigree. Despite being fresh to the X-Talon 212′s I was fairly sure they’d be a top quality shoe that would absolutely rip up the trails.
190 v 212
The 212’s aren’t brand new to market. Many of you might have already made your minds up about this model, and you might also be well aware of the 190’s. The only reason I need to make this distinction is because I keep referring back to my experience in the 190’s, but there are some important differences and a direct comparison might not be fair. The X-Talon 212 is a 6mm drop off road shoe with a wide toe box for the broader forefoot. The 190’s are a 3mm drop minimalist shoe with a more precision fit and lighter build that is geared towards allowing some serious speed and neutral running.
Same tread, same underlying themes but a different running experience.
Fit and Feet
The first time I wore the X-Talon 212 I took a massive gamble and laced up for a local Canberra 10km race. Contrary to the glowing intro to this review, I was actually a disappointed with my first taste. My expectations were high, set up there by my love affair with the 190’s, and the fit of the 212’s didn’t satisfy.
Regardless of the stated wider forefoot, my problem was I found them tight wrong places towards the front of my foot and the high heel cup rubbed my Achilles heel badly enough to draw blood.
You really worry when a first run turns out this way because you can’t see your way through it. The shoe doesn’t fit, and when you’ve spent good money you start to get concerned. As it turns out things turned up and that initial poor fit remained the cost to me of slipping into a brand spanking new pair of shoes and entering a race.
Over my testing period I’ve grown to absolutely love the 212’s as much, if not more, than the 190’s.
Compared to the 190’s the X-Talon 212 has more cushioning underfoot and greater security of fit. This gives you confidence, fortunately without the extra weight that usually goes with it.
I wasn’t happy with my first run and it was a daunting thought that I would need to be testing a poor fitting pair of shoes for the next few weeks. As you’d understand, it was a relief that they wore in quickly. Asking around and apparently others go through this too. Is it so much of a turnoff that I wouldn’t pick the X-Talon 212’s again? Not at all. I’m the wiser for my amateur mistake and next time would run them in with a few shorter, easier runs, like you would normally expect to do.
Performance and Durability
You’re unlikely to skip a beat in the X-Talon 212s. A super light touch, immense grip and they seem to balance on a fine line by staying light yet not feeling flimsy. They are extremely responsive, perfect for technical trails and fast descents, and I think on nearly any terrain you will be able to put your faith in them.
So far I can’t fault the durability. I’ve worn and washed the 212’s a number of times and they still look brand new. In time they will certainly start to fall apart and I’m aware of an issue with the toe rubber starting to peel off after time, but my shows next to nothing of the running I’ve put them through.
Barefoot Inc makes the following tech claims about the X-Talon 212’s:
- Upper – The updated high performance upper made of a highly DWR (Durable Water Repellent) quick drying mesh offers superior durability.
- New Standard fit (wider) for those with larger feet or to allow a more relaxed fit.
- Footbed – Comfortable and interchangeable footbed contains micro holes to aid in releasing water in wet conditions.
- MidShoc – Molded cupped MidShoc™ midsole offers the best balance between comfort and underfoot sensitivity for both long and short runs.
- Sticky rubber – Grippy and sticky rubber outsole offers ideal traction in the baddest conditions.
- Meta-Flex™ insert delivers a controlled but natural forefoot flex, the shoe moves the way the foot wants to.
- Met-Cradle™ lacing cradles the forefoot behind the metatarsal heads to provide a secure foot hold while running up or down hill.
- Weight: 212gm (Average)
- Stack: Heel 13mm / 7mm
- Drop: 6mm
- Midsole: Injected EVA
- Footbed: 6mm
- Cleat Depth: 8mm
The X-Talon 212’s are actually awesome. Built tough, they are constantly itching to take things further and will have you hankering for muddy trails. Outside of that first disappointing run, I’ve been eager to lace the 212’s up and hit the trails each and every time.
I still feel the heel up near my Achilles but longer socks have solved this easy enough. I tend to wear very low cut socks to show of the full length of my beautiful man calves so my vanity (and the amateur decision to race straight out of the box) may be partly to blame here.
At around $169.00 for a pair the X-Talon 212’s are reasonably priced for a top quality trail shoe.
Fan or otherwise of the X-Talon 212’s? Let us know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Barefoot Inc provided the X-Talon 212 to Functional Running free of charge for review purposes. Functional Running was not paid, has not made any commercial exchanges nor has not been endorsed in return for this review.