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INOV-8 X-talon 212 Trail Running Shoe Review

Responsive.

Ground-hugging feel.

Surprisingly protective.

You want an elevator speech for the INOV-8 X-talon 212 trail running shoes. There it is!

INOV-8 X-talon-212 trail running shoe with a big smile!

For those that want to hear more…let’s go for a run.

I have been running in the X-talon 212s for six months now. Completed the Cross Timbers trail half marathon, Jemez 50 km, and countless training adventures in these sleek dirt lovin’ shoes. This review is long overdo…let’s get dirty!

Specs of Interest

The Basics

  • Weight: Spec’d at 7.5 oz (size 9, per Running Warehouse)
  • Ride height: 6 mm heel-to-forefoot difference (INOV-8 two arrow)
  • Neutral shoe (no significant amount of arch/medial foot support)
  • Special Underfoot protection (plates in midsole, etc): none

Weight

At 7.5 ounces (size 9), the X-talon 212 is a feathery light and extremely responsive trail shoe. Don’t let its narrow waistline agility fool ya, this shoe is all trail.

Ride Height

INOV-8 uses an arrow system that represents the amount of cushioning and heel-to-forefoot difference. Their shoes run from zero arrow (least cushioning, zero heel-to-forefoot difference), up to four arrow (most cushioning, 12 mm heel-to-forefoot difference).

The X-talon 212 is a 2-arrow shoe and has less cushioning than the INOV-8 Flyroc 310 (~2.5 arrow – my review) or Roclite 315 (3 arrow – my review) as well as the lower-profile 6 mm drop.

Support

Minimal – nuff said.

Protection

While there is no special material or plate included within the midsole to protect against trail objects such as misplaced rocks and roots that somehow find their way on our trails, this shoe provides a surprising amount of protection for a spunky trail shoe.

How is this possible?

The aggressively lugged outsole provides a significant amount of buffering protection. They simply absorb some of the contact force or create a slight amount of clearance from the main rubber outsole material.

One additional place of protection is for the little piggies at the front of the shoe. A small section of outsole rubber wraps up the front of the shoe. This rubber has a firm protective feel that can help protect or buffer many accidental rock or root kisses.

Some Piggy Protection.

Fit

The X-talon 212 is designed with their Performance Last style which means the shoe is more formfitting as compared to the Endurance Last (ex: flyroc 310 and roclite 315). Still a fair amount of toe wiggle room. I wear a size 12 in the X-talon which is the same size I wear for the flyroc 310 and roclite 315. I have noticed I need to synch up the laces a bit more with the flyroc 310 and roclite 315 as compared to the X-talon (Performance Last), in order to create the fit I prefer.

Bird’s eye view of roclite 315, flyroc 310, and x-talon 212.

The X-talon 212 also has a very comfortable glove-like feel and you can definitely notice less shoe when compared to the flyroc and roclite…as it should! The 212 has a less restrictive upper, lower profile (less midsole material and lower mm heel-to-forefoot drop), and weighs ~30% less.

Outsole – Tread

The 212’s outsole uses the INOV-8 Sticky Rubber Compound which offers a bit more grip as compared to their Endurance Compound, but does wear down quicker.

The most notable feature of the outsole are the aggressive lugs. They have been known to growl on occasion…just saying!

The undercarriage.

The Trail Experience

The X-talon is a shoe that thrives on the dirt!

The two races I wore them in this Spring include a trail half marathon and 50 km that included plenty of rocky technical running and I think I actually saw the darn shoes smiling.

Smilin’ on the trails in New Mexico.

The lighter weight provides a seriously fun spunky feel and a good amount of trail feedback. I was actually surprised at the amount of sharp-object protection/buffering these shoes provided…thanks to those snarlin’ lugs (I believe). Of course, if you step on some rock in just the right manner, you will receive a louder “hello!” as compared to a more protected, heavier, and built-up shoes…as you should. But for the weight, it dominates!

That extra rubber at the toe is a nice little feature when the feet get a little lazy and has come in handy a couple times. Thank you Mr. X-talon 212 Piggy Protector.

Also, without the extra plates and protection in the midsole, the shoe is also quite flexible which provides very little resistance to your foots natural movement when running.

So, what about those skinny laces?

Honestly, they made me cringe when first looking at them. What are these wimpy, spaghetti laces?!? In action, the darn things once tied, stay tied. In the 100s of miles I have put on these shoes I have never had to re-tie the shoe mid-run. I like my skinny, wimpy laces! 🙂

While the X-talon is great trail shoe, it is less than an ideal road shoe with those beefy lugs. So it’s not a great all-purpose shoe. I have ran on short segments of sidewalk and will run in them in the grass at parks but this shoe really lives, breathes, and belongs, in the dirt world.

On the trails, this shoe really over delivers for such a lightweight package. I’ve really enjoyed the miles!

Summary

The INOV-8 X-talon 212 is a lightweight, ground-hugging trail shoe that has a feathery feel yet is not afraid to mix it up on the technical terrain. The comfortable glove-like fit seamlessly integrates the foot and shoe for miles of off-road smiles.

The trail runner that would most dig the X-talon 212:

  • Desires a lightweight, lower-profile trail shoe, with good ground feedback that includes some object protection.
  • Is fine with a more fitted fit from heel to midfoot. Those with really wide feet may have trouble with this shoe.
  • Doesn’t desire large amounts of cushioning.
  • Desires minimal support.
  • Plans to use it as an off-road shoe and not an all purpose running shoe.

Who else has worn the INOV-8 X-talon 212? What are your thoughts on the shoe?


You can purchase the X-talon trail shoe at Running Warehouse (Shoes, Packs, Clothes, Lights, and more…plus 2-day free shipping!).


Be active – Feel the buzz!

David – EnduranceBuzz.com

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

8 Responses to “INOV-8 X-talon 212 Trail Running Shoe Review”

  1. on 20 Jun 2012 at 7:30 pm Kyle

    How do these perform when wet or submerged. Looking to purchase these for Adventure Racing. I currently own Altra’s Lone Peaks.

  2. on 20 Jun 2012 at 8:49 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Kyle – The 212s perform great when submerged and drain very well. Much, much less fabric as compared to the Lone Peaks. I also have a friend that uses the 212s for mud runs.

    I would say the 212s are quite a bit less shoe as compared to the Lone Peaks and will feel much spunkier. This also means there will be less cushioning/protection.

    Let me know if you have any more specific questions.

  3. on 18 Jul 2012 at 7:36 pm J.

    I just want to clarify about the laces. I have had some trouble even double lacing these shoes and the laces have come undone. Perhaps others have had mor luck than I, but that is just my expereience.

  4. on 06 Aug 2012 at 1:23 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey J. – Thanks for sharing. I was a bit concerned initially, but to my surprise, these laces worked really well. Seems even more odd when you double-lace as well. I guess you could swap out the laces if you really like the rest of the shoe??

  5. on 21 Sep 2012 at 9:12 am Michael Westbrooks

    Dave,

    Just been shoe shopping. Thanks for the buzzd discount. So I ordered the talon 212 and the 245 in the trailrock series…just to give both a feel. both feel fine in my den and in my yard. I’m curious how you felt about the seemingly super aggressive lugs on hardpack dirt (like perhaps at Jemez). I saw comment above and saw the someone just uses them for mud. It seems that is where they would thrive. just curious about the hard pack?

    Michael Westbrooks

  6. on 21 Sep 2012 at 11:33 am David Hanenburg

    Hey Michael – Concerning the lugs and Jemez. I have worn the 212’s (50k) and the Roclite 315s (50 mile) at Jemez (and on a variety of local trails within the region). Both have meaty lugs. Both performed exceptionally well and would wear them again. Most trails are rarely 100% hard-packed (sidewalk-like) dirt so if there is any loose/technical stuff, the lugs can be nice. Necessary – no. Running with the 212s on a sidewalk you may sense a slight float…a little give as the lugs compress slightly and soak up the energy. I have never felt the “float” on any trail. (Of course, I wouldn’t recommend the 212s as a road shoe anyways because the lugs will wear down quicker on the hardtop…and the shoe would be angry for takin’ it away from the dirt 😉 ).

    The 245s appear to have less lug depth. How would you compare them versus the 212? Are you able to notice a difference?

    The 245s could be a great shoe for the firmer trail and the 212s for the looser, more technical stuff?? (assuming the lower lug depth)

    I don’t really have THE answer for you other than I have worn the 212s on plenty of firm trails.

    What shoe do you currently wear?

  7. on 21 Sep 2012 at 3:56 pm Michael Westbrooks

    good words. I am wearing some old Sportivas and Brooks Cascadia 7. Feel like I’m ready to go lighter (less bulk). I’ve been looking for a balance between lighter and more nimble but in this over minimilization world…just feel like some many of them are glorified water slippers.
    I for sure am not running on any pavement if I can help it!!

    Your word “float” was the right description that I was wondering about. The 245s for sure have less lug depth and really feel in touch with the ground. In the 212s I sorta feel like I’m wearing soccer cleats. I do wish that they would put the toe of the 212 on the toe of the 245. Oh well, I will probably wind up keeping both of them and giving them a go this weekend.

    Have a great weekend.
    Michael

  8. on 22 Sep 2012 at 9:03 am David Hanenburg

    Also be aware of the lower heal to forefoot drop from your current shoe to these new ones. You are going from a steeper shoe. Some can transition quickly, some take longer. Listen to calf/Achilles/body. There will likely be some micro adjustments going on. Good luck!