You want an elevator speech for the INOV-8 X-talon 212 trail running shoes. There it is!
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
- 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
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.
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).
Minimal – nuff said.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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
Posted on 08 Jul 2011
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