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Inov8 Mudtalon Speed Review

An in-depth review of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed trail running shoes.

By on July 2, 2024 | Comments
Inov8 Mudtalon Speed - Wide

The Inov8 Mudtalon Speed in the Wide Fit version. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Trail running shoe outsole grip has gripped my mind over the last couple of years, and the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed ($150) hits the nail on the head with an aggressive outsole and deep lugs ready for any soft conditions. There are clearly influences from both the Inov8 Mudclaw and X-Talon lines in this design, and the outsole grip is what initially drew me to this shoe for spring adventures. Inov8, alongside companies like VJ and Salomon, has established itself as a leader in innovation of where rubber meets the earth. A solid and well-constructed outsole is gaining traction throughout the ultrarunning community beyond fell running, orienteering, and obstacle course racing (OCR).

The new Inov8 Mudtalon Speed boasts a well designed outsole sporting 8-millimeter lugs that is not only durable, but versatile. It shows up, ground up. The shoe feels connected to the ground with a 26-millimeter stack height in the heel and 22-millimeter in the toe for a 4-millimeter drop. It is available in Precision Fit and Wide Fit, so you can get either a snugger and more secure feel or extra comfort and volume, the latter of which is ideal for longer-distance hauls. I tested the second option for greater toe splay and a natural foot-shape fit. The new anatomical fit is designed to work for a variety of foot shapes.

The actual weight of the Precision Fit version is 8.5 ounces (241 grams) and 9.4 ounces (267 grams) for the Wide Fit in a U.S. men’s 9. It is recommended to go a half size up from your normal U.S. size for a better fit and feel. This shoe is priced at $150, but Inov8 honors price matches, which is a nice feature offered by the brand.

Shop the Women's Inov8 Mudtalon SpeedShop the Men's Inov8 Mudtalon Speed

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed Upper

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed - Wide - lateral view

A lateral view of the Wide Fit version of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed.

The upper of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed is designed from fundamental biological and physical structural principles. It is modeled after geodesic architecture and our body’s triangular anatomical design. The goal is to enhance efficiency and disperse the stress and tension of movement. The upper is light, strong, and fortified by a tough ripstop material, and it defends against rugged trail conditions. Triangular-shaped overlays support the semi-transparent material, which allows for very quick drainage and heightened breathability. In and out of puddles and streams is really a breeze in these kicks. Thicker and taller socks are advised if running in winter and early spring. My toes got very cold.

A substantial toe bumper and thicker TPU material from heel to toe provide decent medial and lateral heel support and protection. The semi-gusseted tongue is adequately cushioned and perhaps warranted since the laces are sub-par, given the totality of the shoe. They oft need to be tied extra tight if the mud is thick. There is a slight recoil in the thin and long laces, and considering the terrain conditions these shoes are designed for, another lacing system altogether may be worthwhile in future models. A tight tie-down is also important for a better heel lockdown. But once everything was tightened in place, it provided a smooth ride.

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed Midsole

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed - Wide - medial view

A medial view of the Wide Fit version of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed.

Despite my emphasis on the superior traction of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed, I want to stress that the whole construction of the shoe makes it worthy of consideration. The difference between the Mudtalon Speed and the Inov8 Mudtalon is the thickness of the midsole. The Mudtalon Speed is stripped down slightly to have a thinner midsole for more flow and expediency across the ruggedness. It is also better for shorter and faster endeavors. Three key variables make the midsole strong and responsive across demanding conditions. First, it is made of a smart combination of their Powerflow Pro super-lightweight foam with more TPU added into the proprietary mix. Then, a highly flexible rock plate adequately guards against the sharp and technical. Finally, a Boomerang insole adds extra cushion.

The midsole foam is stiff yet pliable. The Boomerang footbed enhances its responsiveness, and the brand claims it gives 40% greater energy rebound from the TPU-compressed-bead propulsive technology. This isn’t a plush or a highly cushioned shoe, and for good reason. Keen proprioception in these running environments gives the runner an edge when covering demanding grounds and doing it swiftly. It is surely a fun experience to have a versatile shoe that doesn’t back down. The rock plate is barely noticeable underfoot, but it works.

These shoes gave me many reasons to run on a variety of trails and across rocky, wet, muddy hillsides. My confidence was unwavering up and down. It also performs comfortably on pavement for short stints but shines on the soft and muddy grounds it was designed for, largely due to the outsole.

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed Outsole

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed - Wide - outsole

The outsole of the Wide Fit version of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed.

The outsole of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed uses the brand’s Stickygrip rubber and well-spaced 8-millimeter chevron-shaped lugs, which are perfect for grabbing soft substrates and quickly shedding dampened earth. These lugs are similarly spaced to those found on the Inov8 X-Talon and Mudclaw lines. Inov8’s outsoles and use of graphene in other running shoe models catapulted its footwear to the scene of extraordinary traction, and this outsole rises to the occasion comfortably and with versatility.

As a soccer player in another lifetime, wearing the Inov8 Mudtalon Speeds felt like home — like I wanted to do 10 x 120-yard sprints in the pouring rain. The deep 8-millimeter lugs reminded me of sporting cleats on the pitch, but they are notably softer and more forgiving on a variety of surfaces. But, the aggressiveness and ability to navigate soft ground and mud with propulsion are nonetheless similar. I tested the shoes on some of the darndest and toughest muddy clay soils around — an area many trail runners stay away from during the wet season. While still challenging, the outsoles shed the mud well, and after the run, there was nothing on the outsole.

The versatility of these shoes cannot be understated. Usually, a shoe with superior grip makes pavement and dirt road running unfavorable, but this wasn’t the case. There is a softness and ease of flexibility on these harder surfaces, and the shoe doesn’t skip a beat.

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed Overall Impressions

Inov8 Mudtalon Speed - Wide - upper

A top view of the Wide Fit version of the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed.

The Inov8 Mudtalon Speed is a great all-around package. I write this review as an avid VJ, Topo, and Altra trail shoe runner, and I believe these shoes synthesize all three of the aforementioned brands’ missions together for outstanding fit, feel, and performance. I even enjoy running in the shoes on dry days on granitic buttery trails, and I am eager to test them this summer when the trails get dried out and slick in a different way. I suspect they will show up with full traction.

When a running company develops a niche shoe they claim will tackle challenging terrain with exceptional grip, I am eager to test it to my fullest capacity. These shoes allowed me to confidently go off trail, find the worst mud around, and run through puddles and streams. I also discovered that the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed seamlessly goes well beyond its niche. These shoes make me think I am ready to try a fell race. I just need to get across the pond.

Shop the Women's Inov8 Mudtalon SpeedShop the Men's Inov8 Mudtalon Speed

Call for Comments

  • How much emphasis do you place on the outsole when choosing trail shoes?
  • Have you had a chance to run in the Inov8 Mudtalon Speed? What did you think?
Inov8 Mudtalon Speed - outsoles - Precision on top - Wide on bottom

The Inov8 Mudtalon Speed comes in a Precision Fit (top) and a Wide Fit (bottom).

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Molly Schmelzle

Molly Schmelzle is a gear reviewer for iRunFar. She is relatively new to the reviewing scene but is a veteran competitive athlete, ultrarunner, and writer. Molly has authored biology-based research papers and numerous grants for funding opportunities. She has been coaching runners of all abilities with a particular focus on strength and conditioning training over the last 7 years. Together with her partner, a sports chiropractor with a specialty in running and endurance athletes, they are in the beginning stages of building a mobility and strength program for runners. Molly is a dedicated biologist for the state of Oregon and is a strength coach on the side. She enjoys running ultras in remote mountainous areas and will occasionally hop into road half and full marathons.