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Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 review

Ultra trail running shoes from Inov-8 that are specifically primed for extreme mud

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£125
Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260 shoe review

Inov-8 has been a popular and trusted presence in the off-road run market for years, with shoes primed to tackle a variety of terrain from mountains and fells, to parks and trails.

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The second version of the X-Talon Ultra 260 builds upon the original’s core concept of becoming ‘the perfect shoe for running long distances over soft and muddy terrain’, with claimed improvements on fit and stability.

Inov-8 says the X-Talon performs best on muddy trails, but is also capable of covering rocky, icy and tarmacked terrain.

Unlike other trail shoes we’ve tested, we’re still able to run comfortably on road, but off-piste is where they really shine.

Most striking on this black and gold number are the aggressive 8mm lugs made from Stickygrip rubber, which provide incredibly secure traction on the supremely wet winter trails and water-logged fields during testing.

The lugs are said to be ‘specifically positioned to prevent mud clogging up the outsole’ to maintain their grip and keep weight down when in motion. As the ‘ultra’ moniker suggests, the X-Talon is made for long distances.

The Powerflow Max midsole cushioning is said to absorb shock from running impact and enable high energy return.

In testing, we found these comfortable up to 25km before missing a touch more cushioning around the metatarsals.

An improvement on the previous model sees a larger toe-box, providing plenty of room for our feet to swell during longer sessions, which is essential for a shoe claiming to go the distance.

Inov-8 says that the Ultra 260 is less ‘baggy’ than its predecessor. We’re not sure what baggy looks like in a pair of shoes, but our feet were secure and agile in these 240g (per shoe, UK5.5) runners, the heel fitting snugly and the slimmed-down tongue reducing bulk.

The upper is made from stiff, ballistic nylon, with reinforcement along the sides up to the lace cage and cushioning around the heel collar.

Though Inov-8 doesn’t claim any waterproofing, our feet remained dry even when ploughing through puddles and thick mud.

Our older Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max 300 (£170) trail shoes have a thicker boomerang sole than the Ultra 260s, and do a better job of absorbing impact and propulsion. But there’s more traction on wet trails here thanks to lugs that are twice as long as the Trailfly’s 4mm.

With all runners having different feet, pronation and arches, further independent research is always advised. That being said, the X-Talon’s decent level of cushioning, roomy toe box and versatility would make them practical off-roading companions for many triathletes.

Verdict: The best off-road runners we’ve come across to tackle wet, muddy terrain

Score: 90%

Also consider…

Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 V2 

Inov-8 Mudclaw
Credit: Amazon

Calling itself ‘the world’s toughest shoe’, the popular Mudclaw from Inov-8 is also made for muddy trail runs, as well as obstacle courses and hilly off-roading.

Like the X-Talon, it’s got hefty 8mm lugs made from Graphene-Grip rubber which should provide extreme traction and stability on the trails.

It’s in the name, but the 260g shoe is as light-weight as the X-Talon, made with graphene-infused rubber which aims to be ultra-durable while remaining agile.

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The upper has water-dispersion channels running along it which aim to developing avoid soggy and heavy feet.