Inov-8 X-Talon 190 Review

Over the past several years, I’ve had several models of Inov-8 trail shoes which were well-engineered, form-fitting, and lightweight, all with adequate protection for the trail. Yet, the cushioning of these models (Roclite 285 and F-lite 300) felt too firm for hard-packed or rocky trails and I would often end runs over 10 miles with sore feet. Understanding Inov-8s philosophy and fell-running background helped me acknowledge that maybe these weren’t the greatest platforms for my usual terrain. That was until I tried the Inov-8 X-Talon 190 ($120).

[If you’re looking for a bit more shoe, check out our Inov-8 X-Talon 212 review.]

Inov-8 X-Talon 190

The Inov-8 X-Talon 190.

First Impressions

When I first received the X-Talon 190s they appeared to be a very minimalist, highly flexible trail shoe with large lugs. The toe box seemed fairly narrow out of the box before trying them on and the low heel cup had me worried about slippage. I had concerns about durability and protection on the trail, as well as how the large lug height would effect me over varied and uneven terrain.

Upper

First, let me start by stating that the fit of the X-Talon 190 is not narrow or long in the toe like I’d experienced in the Roclite 285. The toe box is certainly not wide, but is accommodating enough due to the flexibility of the dual-density mesh which makes up most of the upper. The fit is snug throughout and definitely a shoe that warrants thin socks or no socks in my opinion. Welded overlays throughout the midfoot secure the foot well complimenting a simple, yet effective, oval lacing system. I was surprised by the durability of the mesh upper and after post-holing through snow and poking the upper on rocks and cacti it shows no signs of real wear and tear.

My initial thoughts about the low-profile heel cup of the X-Talon 190 were quickly allayed during my first run. The designed of the heel cup allows for full mobility of the ankle and a free unencumbered feeling. I didn’t experience any heel slippage and bare footers will enjoy the largely seam-free upper.

Inov-8 X-Talon 190 - lateral upper

The X-Talon 190's lateral upper.

Midsole

Inov-8 uses a lower durometer EVA foam throughout the midsole of the X-Talon 190 giving it an almost bouncy feel on the trail for such minimal material. The stack height is more reminiscent of a road racing flat and with a mere 3mm heel drop the X-Talon 190 certainly feels low to the ground. One could get very technical and discuss the differences in merit between zero, three, and four millimeter drops, but I honestly could not tell a big difference between the 3mm and 4mm drop.

Inov-8 employs their fascia band running throughout the entire length of the midsole, but it doesn’t seem to decrease flexibility in any way and is, by far, the most flexible fascia band that I have seen in their line of shoes.

Inov-8 X-Talon 190 - medial upper

The X-Talon 190's medial upper.

Outsole

The flexibility of the X-Talon 190 combined with very aggressive lug pattern makes it a beast on loose terrain. The 7mm square shaped lugs act like a waffle sole on steroids and they seem to stick well to wet rock, mud, and clay. Inov-8 reports that this rubber compound was developed from climbing shoe technology with the trade off that it wears down faster. I currently have about 80 miles of technical trail on them and I haven’t noticed any wear.

What I like best about the X-Talon 190 outsole is that the lug spacing seems to shed most of what it picks up and clay and mud don’t seem to pack on in giant clods increasing the weight of the shoe exponentially. What I like least is the lack of any sort of rock plate, which led to some painful pokes to my metatarsals on fast downhills.

Inov-8 X-Talon 190 - outsole

The X-Talon 190's outsole.

Overall Impressions

Who would have predicted three years ago that we would be inundated with minimal trail shoes to pick apart, arguing about heel drop, stack height, and protection vs. weight ratio. The beauty is that a particular shoe can be a specialist on certain terrain, and the X-Talon 190 is simply the best shoe for climbing I’ve ever worn. The sub-8 ounce weight (which feels much lighter) combined with a grippy and flexible sole make this the kind of shoe that I put on to challenge myself up my favorite extended climbs. This shoe excels on technical uphills requiring careful foot placement and mobility, and the sole sheds most anything that sticks to it.

The cushioning of the X-Talon 190 also gets a nod as the shoe feels more like a fast, responsive, flat on smoother trails. Forefoot strikers will appreciate the uniform cushioning underfoot offered by this shoe, which offers nothing in the way of pronation control for the true minimalist lover.

The only avenue I feel the X-Talon 190 is sub-par is the lack of rock plate in the forefoot. Comparing it to other shoes in its weight range the X-Talon does not provide the same level of protection to bomb a rocky downhill and I found myself saving my feet from getting beat up on extended descents. While the outsole does offer full coverage keeping most trail detritus at bay, the occasional sharp rock left me shouting expletives and gingerly high-stepping for the next several minutes of running.

The X-Talon 190 is the type of shoe I would use to run a race with a great deal of climbing without a very technical descent. It performs great on turf with roots and mud, and in wet conditions of any kind. If I’m looking for a go-fast trail shoe for a sub-ultra distance race then this would be a perfect choice. Recently I have seen runners recently wearing the X-talon 190 on non-technical trail ultras as far as 50 miles and report that the cushioning holds up well. But, in my opinion, if you’re looking for a shoe to run a PR on your favorite mountain climb, the X-talon 190 was made for the ascent.

Call from Comments (from Bryon)

If you’ve worn the Inov-8 X-Talon 190, what did you think? What are the upsides and downsides? How does it compare to similar shoes from other manufacturers or other shoes in the Inov-8 line?

[Disclosure: Inov-8 provided the shoes for this review.]

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 68 comments

  1. Garth

    Thanks for the great review Tom. I have these shoes also, with maybe 150 miles on them and can add some thoughts from my experience.

    – They are by extraordinarily comfortable to wear. They really feel like a comfortable slipper. I have no other shoes that are as comfortable to put on.

    – Minimalism is a relative thing, but these are pretty minimal in the sense of being very flexible and lacking any support structures for the foot.

    – These are a completely different shoe from the X-talon 212 sharing only the outsole material. The are cut different and so have a completely different fit and are much more minimal.

    – I used them in a race with lots of water crossing (some well above the ankles) and they seemed to drain very quickly. No issues for me with water.

    – The lugs are part of the cushioning of the shoe. It certainly has a unique sort of feel, but I personally like it. If you take away the lugs, for example in the f-lite 195, you have IMHO a completely different shoe with a completely different feel. I think that is why some people like to use these even on trails where you don't need the grip and the lugs seem like overkill. They still feel nice to run in.

    – About protection. People have a different tolerance for this, so I can just give my take on it. I like to run in the New Balance MT10, but those shoes are just *below* my tolerance level for stepping on small rocks and roots. I can do it but it is rough on my feet and I have to be very careful trying to run fast in them or sometimes even slow. These shoes are just barely *above* my tolerance. As Tom said, you will still feel it if you step on a rock the wrong way, but there is enough protection that I can run fast on a rocky trail in these without much thought. But it is still less protection than say the MT110, and I guess some people would consider even those as being too minimal?

    – The worst thing about them is of course that pavement is not a good idea. I have done it some, but it doesn't feel good because of the lugs and also because it will destroy the shoes quickly.

  2. Andrew

    Hi,

    I like the look of these but I've had a couple of pairs of baregrip 200's and had loads of problems with the upper coming away from teh sole around the forefoot area with hardly any use (have also seen lots of other people mention this on fell running forums). The material of the upper of the 190's looks pretty simlar to the baregrips so for this reason, I was gonna go for the XTalon 212 as it has the rubber strip around the front.

    Has anyone had any durability issues with the 190? Do appreciate that it's a minimalist shoe and won't last as long as something more robust but I was getting less than 100 miles out of the bare grips!! Think it may have had something to do with the narrow toe box although I do not have particularly wide feet.

    Cheers

    Andrew

    1. Joel S.

      I have hundreds of miles on my pair of 195s (same shoe, less grippy/more durable outsole, and little in the way of durability problems. I've started to wear an area of the toe cap a bit thin, but so far the shoes are not compromised. I've also tossed them in the washing machine a few times with no ill effects.

    2. Chris P.

      Andrew,

      I run frequently in the X-Talon 190 and F-Lite 195 and I have experienced the problem you mention with both of these shoe models. Other people who run in these shoes seem to consistently have the shoes wear thin and eventually start fraying and separating the upper just above the midsole in the forefoot. Since the upper material is not reinforced in those areas like on the X-Talon 212 or Rocklite 285, it's simply more prone to wear out. I can usually get about 400 miles out of a pair of these shoes before the uppers start to have problems, but I've heard lots of people who can't get nearly this much mileage. My assumption is that the longevity is a factor of how nimble you are on your feet and whether or not you are constantly letting your feet brush against the rocks and roots you might be running through. My solution to getting more life out of the shoes is to use a good two part epoxy to patch the fraying areas in the upper. Not only does this patch any holes, but it acts as reinforcement so that the shoe will not come apart in that area again.

        1. Jim

          I second Chris P.'s solution- I'm an avid 190/195/230 wearer and I apply Seamgrip in a patch pattern to the upper along the midsole on the instep between the rubbery toecap and the footwrap. This adds a lot of life and can be reapplied. You can buy Seamgrip @ REI or most outdoor stores. It's runnier than Shoegoe, hence easy to apply and it's pretty flexible and won't crack like some epoxies-

  3. Neil Bryant

    I have a pair of these and for what they are designed for, they are incredible. You will not slip in wet mud with these on. I have done a 35 miler, a couple short fell races and a few other runs and sadly they are starting to pull awat from the sole. I know that they are not designed to be highly durable, but I want a shoe that lasts a little bit longer. Will next try the 212.

    Happy running,

    Neil.

  4. Brad Koenig

    Great write up! Unfortunately, I had to return them because of the lack of any rock plate in the forefoot (precisely as you noted). I train on terrain that is rocky and has a lot of pointy rocks. It was just not possible for me to go long in these shoes without really hurting my feet (because of the lack of any kind of rock plate/protection in the forefoot). Otherwise, I loved them. Great traction in heavy mud!

  5. Rob Youngren

    I like the idea of the X-Talon 190 but I fear it will have the same issues as the F-Lite series and the BareGrip 200 on rough trails. That issue is the upper tearing along the metatarsal flex point. This has happened to EVERY pair of trail shoes I've ever used that had an all mesh upper w/o reinforcement at the flex point. My pair of BareGrip 200s tore through with only 100 miles on them! Outrageous! Why did they build this shoe with the F-lite upper! The X-Talon 212 doesn't have this issue and I doubt anybody can notice the slight difference in weight. I've gotten 100s of miles out of the 212 and they are still holding up great. Go with the X-Talon 212 if you, like me, have issues with the upper tearing at the metatarsal flex point. Again, depends on what types of terrain you typically run in. However if you're running in rugged terrain that the X-Talon is designed for, odds are you'll have the same issues I have with the mesh tearing!

    1. Rob Youngren

      Another great shoe by Inov-8 that doesn't get a lot of press or reviews is the Oroc-280. They're basically an X-Talon 212 but with tungsten carbide tipped dobs in some of the lugs and a "fingered" rock-plate under where the dobs are. Visually they look a lot like the X-Talon 212 too. This was my shoe of choice for the Barkley Marathons over the past two years and they worked flawlessly. Having a bit stiffer midsole made climbing very, very steep terrain much easier (another reason for a rockplate!) and the metal dobs really work well on almost every type of slippery terrain even climbing over slick blowdowns, mud walls etc… these things don't ever give! While they can slide a bit on exposed rock they don't slip much. I haven't really worn them on "normal" trail runs so can't say how well they'd do in that aspect though I did enough running on Candy Ass trails at Barkley to know they do pretty good. Just another .02 for a shoe that's very much in the same vein as the X-Talon series that doesn't get much attention.

      1. Ben Nephew

        Hi Rob,

        The mesh upper makes this shoe an option for people who can't fit into the 212's. The mesh allows for wider feet and more custom fit even though it is still a relatively narrow racer. I have a feeling that the lack of durability is more likely to be an issue with those that have wider feet. The other obvious issue is with use in rough terrain, which the 212 is made for.

        Great perspective on the 280, that is quite the tough shoe. You can throw your feet in bad places over and over all day long and not have to worry. I've always been interested in trying to get runners to run a technical downhill in some of the lighter shoes vs. something with more protection, like 190 vs. 285 or 280.

  6. Julian

    I run in the 212 and really enjoy the flexibility and lightweight cushion. I see myself running in the 190's when the feet and baby cows start to develop.

    Off topic, I notice that there are many runners who return shoes for reasons other than manufacturing faults. For instance, the lack of a rock plate isn't something that Inov-8 hides. A shoe cannot work for every person and every condition so is it a reasonable argument to return them on the grounds that they didn't perform in a specific terrain? For example; Would you return a pair of racing flats if they slipped on muddy trail?

    1. Brian Todd

      I was struck by the comment above, too (also seen elsewhere). How does one justify returning a pair of used shoes because they don't suit your preferred terrain? What retailer accepts them in the absence of a defect?

      1. Brad Koenig

        Hi Brian,

        It is not a new concept. It's a retailer that wants my money. They advertise it that way (wear them and try them out and if not like it then send them back). A couple retailers do this (both online and big stores). Some of them even offer free shipping both ways (free return shipping). They just want my money, hoping that I end up keeping them (99% of the time, I do). Trust me, they make plenty of money off of me ;)

        I thought the shoes would work and I was pretty bummed to see they would not work out for me. I do not live in a community with a lot of local trails and online stores is my ONLY source of trail shoes.

        1. Brad Koenig

          Also, take a look at all the comments here stating that the lack of protection was not a problem for them. Sometimes there is only one way to find out.

          Happy trails!

          -Brad

          1. Brian Todd

            Fair enough. If it's part of the retailer's model, then have at it. It just strikes me as an odd and potentially wasteful model. Most running shoe (bricks & mortar) retailers encourage a run around the block or more in a shoe. Going on a lot of muddy trail miles, however, seems a bit much to accept a return. But I agree that there's no better way to discover whether a shoe works for you.

            At the other end of the spectrum, I recently visited a local Mountain Hardware store to try on a pair of rogue racers — they wouldn't even let me run around the block. Really? "No Sale"

            1. Brad Koenig

              I completely understand your point. However, it is not as bad as you think. For example, my local REI has a "garage sale" every other month and sells all the returns (shoes, tents, jackets, sleeping bags, etc) at a discount (but not always at cost, despite what the buyers think ;). 100s of people will line up for this "garage sale" many, many hours before opening, and will frequently camp out overnight to be the first in line. Seriously. I am not exaggerating. It is like a release of an iPhone.

              (unfortunately, I cannot buy trail shoes from them because REI has some sort of corporate policy to not sell half sizes over size 12 regardless of what the manufacturer produces)

              I always try to support local stores, but there is not enough of a market for trail shoes in my area and I am forced to buy online.

              By the way, I love the Rogue Racers for going the distance. Rogue Racers have enough protection (in many different ways) for me to go very far, on both flat roads and highly technical trails (including the Massanuttens, and Mt. Minsi & Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap, etc). I tried the Rogue Fly but my feet slipped to much on the steep descents. That is probably because I am a size 12.5 and had to go with a size 13 in the Fly (they don't make the Fly in half sizes over 12). The funny thing was that the size 13 Fly actually weighed more than my size 12.5 Rogue Racer.

              …and so I returned the Rogue Fly. LOL ;)

  7. A. Pace

    Worth mentioning that with those monster lugs these are great on packed snow trails in the winter as well. I ran through the winter in Denali gearing up for the Little Su 50K & never had any issues with these shoes. The uppers show no signs of detaching (though now that the ridges are open, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled).

  8. dogrunner

    LOVE the Xtalon 190! Thanks for the review – your experiences are very similar to my own. I confess that I only wear them on terrain where traction is a concern (wet grass, mud, soft dirt) and they are especially good on climbs. I also love the fact that they do not collect mud or iceballs the way the Roclite line does (or any shoe with closely spaced lugs or sculpting, which unfortunately is most trail shoes). I bought them when they first came out (last year?) and like the fit and drop better than the Xt212, which I had previously used for the same purpose. I do wish the toebox was a little wider, but these are tolerable (I sized up a half size to get enough width). Somewhat snug is good on unstable ground anyway. I'd have to go through the log book to figure out how many miles I have on them, but so far no durability issues (I've never worn them on pavement and I'm a lightweight).

    Mostly great shoe!

  9. Nick Lang

    So I'm on my second pair of 190's. I absolutely LOVE this shoe. I've raced 50k's 50mi in them no problem. My first pair had well over 500 miles on them when I decided to get a replacement, and that's only cause RunningWarehouse.com was having a sale on 190's. The mesh right behind the toe guard were starting to tear and I had holes on both sides of both shoes. I was still wearing them and still willing to put them through tough terrain. The only time I don't wear these shoes is when I'm running something that will have significant road sections. And even then I'll probably still wear em.

    By far the best shoe I've ever worn.

  10. Stefan

    I own a pair since they came out. For me a great shoe for mountain running on rocky trails. I also own a pair of 195s. Also great. I don't miss a rock plate.

    The snug fit is great. However, with both models my small toe made it's way through the upper. The outsole shows almost no wear despite many kms of running.

    I wish Inov-8 came up with an additional more cushioned version but keeping the low heel drop (I'm a "natural" forefoot striker and not a "convert" from all the barefoot talking now). Would be great for longer distances. And yes, I can tell the difference between 0, 3, 6, 9 mm of drop. Everything > 3 annoys me really.

  11. Josh Allfree

    I recently retired my x-talon 190s after almost 300 miles of use (GPS'd distance was 287.79). My observations:

    o more comfortable than the 212s in the forefoot. I liked the fact that my foot could splay more in the 190s. The 212s were snug in the forefoot, which helped in some off-camber situations, but weren't as comfy.

    o the 212s were MUCH more durable than the 190s. My 190s tore vertically right where my little was on each foot (not sure if that is the metatarsal flex point mentioned in one of the previous comments). The upper also separated from the sole on the left-hand side of the right shoe, just around the forefoot area. It was enough of an opening to let in a lot of debris that consequently abraded the crap out of my right foot. It was right after that that I decided they needed to go.

    o I didn't really feel a need for a rock plate with the 190s. I can't recall any serious bruising issues, which could be the monster-sized lugs or skillful (read "lucky") foot placement on my part.

    o not sure if I'll buy another pair. My 212s have almost 400 miles on them and the only wear they have that affects performance is that the lugs are beginning to disappear. I'm currently running most of my trails in Merrell Trail Gloves. I like the zero-drop and they feel really "barefoot" in comparison to other shoes, though you will notice the lack of a rockplate pretty quickly. I think $120 for a shoe that didn't quite survive to the 300-mile mark is a bit steep.

    As a last asisde, I have a pair of baregrips, but I wear them off-trail only. Lots of thick grass and mud and not a lot of roots, rocks, etc. They are wearing fine in the environment they were meant for.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Josh, my usage of the baregrips sounds very similar to yours (plugging over muddy fields and grass in the uk over the winter) and yet I had problems really quickly. I wonder if it's an issue with foot shape? Maybe the last they are using doesn't suit some people…… Andrew

          1. Andrew

            Oh and a slightly wider less pointy toe box would be amazing. They should take a look at he MT110 and vivobarefoot toe boxes

  12. Andrew

    I just don't know why they didn't fit a toe guard around the front of the 190s and the baregrips like the 212'sthat would solve the problem of durability for a very small increase in weight. They are so much money and I have a pair of NB MT110's that I have run a ton of miles in on proper technical rocky trails with minimal wear. They have a rock plate, wide toe box 4mm drop, simlar weight to he inov8s and they cost £34.00 in the uk, less than half the price of the inov8's. Only problem is in anything wetter than soft conditions the sole doesn't stand up

    If New Balance did the MT110 with an inov8 type sole that would be an epic shoe for European mountain conditions. I would seriously go out now and buy several pairs. Listen up NB and inov8!

    1. Ultrawolf

      Hi Andrew,

      Where in the UK do you buy the MT110´s, hope it´s an online shope ? I´m from Austria but order mine in the States so got to pay a hell for delivery & customs.

      Thanks !

      Wolfgang

  13. Chris

    This shoe is awesome.

    Pros:

    – Super comfortable, my feet love them

    – Really locked down, snug feeling, stable

    – Really light, minimal feeling but with stability and some cushion

    – They're a babe magnet. No seriously.

    – Super grippy

    Cons:

    – I don't wear them for longest runs as I prefer a bit more cushion then

    – Do need to use care with pointy rocks, because they are quite minimal

  14. Ben Nephew

    Thanks for all the comments. I know for a fact that they are being read by people that decide how the shoes are made. Although some are including it, details on exactly where and how you use your shoes is helpful.

    I got a laugh out of reading some of the comments from the runners at Zegama. Many were commenting how slick it was, and how many times they fell, but Lauren Jeska from the UK didn't think it was all that slippery. I thought it was a strange comment, but then noticed she was wearing 190's in the race video!

    1. Ultrawolf

      So if someone who decides how the shoes are made is reading this, I´d wish for X-mas the 195 with a tinny little bit more cushion so I/we could use the shoe for 100 milers.

    2. Anonymous

      Hi Ben,

      "I got a laugh out of reading some of the comments from the runners at Zegama.

      Those comments were made by UltraRunners not runners. ;-) JEJE.

  15. Tim

    Hey Tom thanks for the great review. I have 2 pairs of shoes 190 talon and f-lite 195. They are awesome and the only thing that dictacts the use is the amount of mud, slop and loose terrain. I go through about 2 pairs a year and as people mention the sides seem to wear out soon enough but that is never a problem until your toes are sticking out. I wore the 195 at Leadvillle may take both pairs to HR and look at the conditions before I make any decisions.

    For comfort no other shoe I have worn comes close. Even the 212 was v narrow and too stiff.

    I don't agree about the rock guard. It comes down to the amount of impact you are putting through your feet, light and easy should prevent the soresness and looking where you put your feet too ;)

    T

    1. dogrunner

      +1 on no need for rock guard in either of these shoes. No need for extra cushion either – that would make it heavier and a different shoe. What they both need, however, is **more width*** in the toebox (but keep the heel the way it is)!

  16. Bob

    What is the crossfit crowd going to think about us wearing their beloved shoes for running? ha!

    I though Inov8 dumped their running team and now only sponsors a bunch of gym rats now.

    1. Ben Nephew

      That hurts Bob, that really hurts, but it may also be helpful. I'm going to take this opportunity to publicly congratulate Sabrina Moran, my inov-8 teammate on running 147 miles in 24 hours. It's unfortunate that it hasn't been celebrated on the US blog, which is currently down. I think they are transfering some of the blog activity to the main site.

  17. chris

    Ultrawolf, one thing you can consider for having a tiny bit more cushion is, egad dont shoot the messenger, placing a plain 3 mm spenco pad in there. I've done that for especially rocky runs in the 195s and it doesnt detract much from the original feel.

  18. Mikko Siltanen

    I also have a pair of these and really like them. Over a year of use no issues with durability and here in Finland we have really, really rocky trails that puts lot of pressure under feet and also for a shoe. In standard, it has 3mm footbed. Inov-8 also has very high quality 6mm footbed sold separately. I thought extra 3mm doesn't make any difference but after putting 6mm footbed in I can say that the shoes has now a rockplate. If possible, the 6mm footbed makes these even more comfortable, especially for running in rockky terrain. With 6mm insole you may need to put on a little thinner sock or so.

    1. Ben Nephew

      This is a good point, and also helps if you have very low volume feet. Depending on the shoe, footbeds from other shoes can work when placed beneath the inov-8 one. It does make a noticeable difference with protection, not really a rock plate, but your feet are a bit further than anything sharp you step on.

  19. rich

    If I could justify buying a pair of shoes just to save for racing, I would have a pair of the x-talon 190 and the f-lite 195. But the material for the uppers is even lighter than the f-lite 230, which I have had 3 pairs of. As commented a few times above, the material for many wearers gives out before the soles do – I get only about 500 km for 230s before the material gives way where the bend at the forefoot. I love the f-lite 230 – great on hard trails and asphalt, great for long runs, but don't last long enough and I have gone over to NB MT10 for runs on mixed surfaces (the bulk of my running). Seeing how thin the material is on the 190/195s, I actually sent back a pair after buying them last year.

    On the other hand, a pair of roclite 285s are on their third and final season as strictly trail shoes (asphalt is not kind to sticky rubber), and I just finished a 2nd winter season with the oroc 280s, which have the same upper as the x-talon 212. We have long winters where I live and the orocs have probably seen about 3000 km of winter running (snow/ice and no asphalt). The roclites are a tight fit, which is good for racing and great on rocky or boggy terrain, but in wet conditions they hold a lot of water and are then heavy. The oroc 280/x-talon 212 uppers don't hold much water. So x-talon 212s are my new trail shoe.

    1. Andrew

      Rich, Your post illustrates one of the really cool things about inov8 that they do better than anyone else in my opinion: they have a range of products to suit basically all conditions you will come across with varioous levels of protection (and indeed durability) so you can choose the right shoe for the right scenario. I think that most of the durability issues people have are due to the fact that some of the lighter shoes aren't meant of using every day. On the other hand, I think that some of the problems are due to flaws that could be tweaked without compromising the performance. Will be good to see what they do in the future…..

      1. Ben Nephew

        While the optimal solution would be to have the 190's be able to be both a daily trainer and racer, this is the description right off the inov-8 site:

        The lightest shoe in the Off Trail range, the 190 is designed for maximum competitive performance. Minimal amounts of cushioning ensure pure speed and efficiency as well as a natural running feel and style.

    1. dogrunner

      Ben,

      Is there any info on what/when new models will be released beyond the vague references to later this year?

      Also, on whether Inov-8 is ever going to do anything for the wide-footed folks among us :)

      I really want a wider, proper-fitting (without having to size up) Xtalon and F-lite, without weight gain. For a while Inov-8 was leading the market in lightweight trail shoes, but seems to be going backwards with the later 200+ g offerings. With the latest Merrells and New Balances (and even a Salomon of all things) coming in under close to 7 oz or less, these 8+ oz shoes are really starting to feel clunky.

      My main "road" shoe is the Miz Universe which is so light it has ruined me for most other shoes, but I's still like my real "trail" shoes to be as light as possible without being fragile. Have we reached that limit? The F-lite 195 and Xtalon 190 have been plenty durable for me!

      1. Ben Nephew

        No date that I know of, but I think the plan is this fall. They should be going out to running mags right about now, so hopefully they be on sale soon.

        I have regular tempo loops that I run regularly with shoes ranging from 190 to 318g, and I'm alwasy surprised at how fast some of the heavier shoes are. I can tell you there is active interest and development in very light trail shoes at inov-8, but I wouldn't get hung up on sub 200g shoes. One of my teammates just did a 47 mile run in the mountains with 17k of climb with 212's. The guy he was running with had lighter NB's on, and was having major traction issues and ended up taking some serious falls and getting injured. I'm sure it wasn't just the shoes, but the guy with NB's was quite impressed by the traction from the 212's. From my experience, this isn't an isolated example.

    2. dogrunner

      I forgot to mention that Merrell and NB especially (but still not Salomon) are offering decent shoes with a wide toebox. Come on Inov8!

      1. Ben Nephew

        See trailroc above. I'll had the 1 and 2 arrow versions for quite awhile, and they are much wider in the forefoot than the current 1-2 arrow trail shoes. All of the newer models are wider in the toe box, the terraflys, road x, and trailrocs.

        For those that are looking for something wider in the forefoot for the trails, you should try the terrafly 303. It's definitley feels lighter than the name implies, and I've found beign wieght obsessive doesn't always work out for the best. The terraflys are very comfortable and flexible, great all around traction with the exception of very loose substrate, and similar protection to the X-talon 212's.

      2. Bryon Powell

        While not enormous, the toebox for Salomon's new Sense is reasonably wide. I can nicely splay my toes in it.

        (Disclosure: Yes, I'm selling the Sense, but I choose to run in them 2-4 days a week… which is more than any other shoe at the moment.)

        1. dogrunner

          Thanks Ben and Bryon for the replies. I'll take a look at the new trailrocs when they arrive.

          I had high hopes for the Sense, but I could barely get my feet in them, much less run in them. My forefoot did not want to go past mid-shoe, but I crammed it in and found the toebox quite tight. Not snug, tight. I imagine they will be great for some people, but I returned mine. FWIW I tried them on in the same size as my Xtalon 190s, which I find snug but wearable.

    3. Chris

      Ben,

      One thing that I've found confusing about Inov-8, and I really love their shoes, is that it seems the philosophy is always that they reduce cushion proportionately to heel toe drop, whereas this is not necessarily what is desirable. For example the upcoming Trailroc series, I'd like to see the zero drop version, but with the same cushioning as the 4mm version. Are there plans to separate the cushioning question from the drop?

      -Chris

      1. Stefan

        Chris, exactly my opinion. I've been a long time Inov-8 fan myself, but with that many alternatives I'm slowly moving away from the brand. If they just offered some zero drop shoes with different degrees of cushioning.

        1. Ben Nephew

          I'll see if I can an answer on that. My guess is that the current strategy is to provide transitional option from traditional running shoes. I think there is a decent number of individuals with issues out there to support that practice, but it may be time to transition the transition.

  20. Scott

    I found these shoes to fit far to narrow at the toe box, and the interior seams felt rough , almost unfinished. Needless to say they didn't leave the store with me.

  21. Matthew

    Great review. Love my 190's. On my fourth pair and have never ripped through the uppers. Running in Western Washington on roots, rock, snow and mud these shoes handle evertyhting. I retired my first pair after 600 miles.

    The only draw back, the highly breathable uppers will suck in dust on dry dusty trails. Normally not a problem on the west side of the Cascades but on the east side a totally different experience. After six hours of running the entrapment of dust can make your feet unhappy…

    As for other Inov-8 trail shoes, I will never run in another pair of 212, 235 or 295's. All over kill with two to three arrows. None of these shoes hug your feet or feel like slippers.

    For road minimalism the XLite 150 and 155 rock. Highly flexible and unlike any other shoe. Just like the 190's they feel like a slipper.

    Everyone's different and I know a couple of people who have ripped out the uppers in the 190s. These shoes may best suit someone with a narrow low to medium volume foot.

  22. Iain Walker

    Thanks for the review, really good. Thought I would add my experience in the Xtalon 190's also. Bought them three months ago and have worn them for training and racing in, including a Mountain Marathon.

    I love the feel and lightess of these shoes but the uppers are now in tatters around the meta-tarsals. There is a sizeable tear on the outside just behind the protective rand on each shoe and abrasion / stretching to the mesh an inch further behind the tear on the outside and the inside. My foot is wide around the meta tarsals and I can see this is the problem with the upper stretching / tearing however the tear has been caused where the material creases when bending the foot severely i.e. when climbing a steep slope. No issues with the toe box.

    I have worn Mudclaws until now and decided to try these as they are low and I pronate slightly which has caused the Mudclaw to distort and fall in quite badly at the heel, causing the stitching to burst. The X-Talon 190 has not had any problems at all in this area, I believe because it is lower and the heel counter slightly wider.

    I have tried the bare grip on for size but my foot overspills the sole causing the lug under the Meta Tarsal on the inside to dig in to the side of my foot. Just bought a pair of X-Talon 212's and while tight around the forefoot with not as much give as the 190's they seem to have stretched a little and now feel more comfortable than they did in the shop.

    Ideally I would like to wear the 190 / bear grip but would need the shoe in a slightly wider version and tougher uppers.

  23. Tim Adams

    Firstly can I reiterate I LOVE the 195 and the 190 and whilst not only recommending them to anyone and everyone I speak to, I currenlty have 5 pairs all at different stages of use) they are so ridiculously comforatable and of my close friends I can think of 10

    Ben I think that the point that Bob is making actually quite fair, in that it feels like Inov8 are missing their main market for these shoes i.e. runners. I don't see any marketing or even any other runners wearing them and condsider myself fortunate to have seen someone wearing them in the street last year and thought I would try them out. These are the most incredibale range of shoes. I am planning on runnign HR100 wearing them this year and hope to raise their profile. Please feel free to discuss if you want any photos to demonstrate their versitility. ([email protected]) Tim

  24. Bobby

    I wish I would have got this review about two weeks ago. I opted for the Roclite 285's instead of the Talon 190's because of the claim that they are better shoes for hard surfaces with a mixture of loose terrain. (I'm currently deployed to Afghanistan and primarily run on a mixture of hard packed dirt and loose sand). The Roclite sole seems is supposdly a harder rubber so it should last longer. I was also skeptical of the Talons lugs and how they would hold up in the conditions over here. I need a shoe that will last since I can't just go down to the local running store and pick up a new pair of shoes every 3-4 months. Now that I have read a review from someone with clout in the Talons it cements my thoughts that when I return late this summer that these will be my shoes I look at first!

    I believe the Roclite was just redesigned this past year. Maybe it would be appropriate for another Roclite review

  25. johnnyb

    You can make the 190's more resistant to blowing out and tearing by extending the wrap at the front with shoe-goo or black-witch up to the plastic stripes. This really increases the abrasion resistance in that area.

    The only downside is that they no longer stretch in that area so if you have a pair that are tight you will feel it. Also you need to reapply occasionally but it is better than replacing your shoes

    Otherwise I love these shoes, they are perfect for fell, rock and even some trail, are super comfortable and feel just like running in a racing flat

  26. Tristan

    I just completed a 250 km (160 miles) race in the Gobi which has very similar terrain to Afghanistan in Roclite 309's. The show very little sign of wear, surprisingly. I also have a pair of 190's. The 309's are superb on loose scree as well as sandy patches. They are very comfy and extremely well cushioned, maybe too much so unless you are doing seriously long distances. I love both shoes and have never seen the lack of a rock plate an issue in the 190's, which I use for muddy and technical races up to 25 km. Longer than that, I turn to my 309's. But I am not an experienced minimalist runner. I am 6"2' (189 cm) and 195 lbs (87 kg's).

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