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Tried and tested: Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260 V2

The latest iteration of the iconic X-Talon range is a versatile shoe built to withstand long miles in tough conditions

  • Weight: 260g
    • Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm
      • Type: trail
        • Price: £125

          Buy now – Men's

          Buy now – Women's

          Inov-8’s X-Talon has gone through more line-up changes than Sugababes. Since launching in 2008, the majority of X-Talon models have been both extremely lightweight and extremely grippy, making them a favourite among top fell and mountain runners. The latest iteration, the Ultra 260 v2, is a little different. Weighing in at 260g, it’s the heaviest of the X-Talon range and has a thicker midsole, making it ideal for longer runs and races. RW has been putting it through its paces over the past month. Here’s what we reckon.

          Same amazing grip

          As you might expect from a shoe named after a pair of claws, the X-Talon range prides itself on its vice-like grip. The Ultra 260 v2 is no different. It feels grippy even in thick mud, wet grass and gravel. Like other inov-8 models that are made for off-road running, it holds up surprisingly well on concrete, making these a viable multi-terrain option if you’re looking for something that can handle road and trail. Unlike the Inov-8 Mudclaw, another excellent shoe, the Ultra 260 v2 doesn’t have graphene studs. Graphene is an extremely durable material that Inov-8 is now using on some of its shoes. The fact that the Ultra 260 v2 doesn’t have these means it may wear out slightly quicker – but it also means it’s £15 cheaper than the Mudclaw and other Graphene-enhanced models.

          Roomy toebox

          Early iterations of the X-Talon were best suited to runners with narrower feet. Not so the Ultra 260 v2. The toebox is graded 4 on Inov-8’s width scale, 5 being the widest. This roomy feel not only allows toes to splay naturally on impact, but provides a little extra room when your feet naturally swell during longer runs. RW experienced absolutely no hotspots or blisters while running in these and ranks them up there with Inov-8’s best-fitting shoes. The upper of the shoe also feels extremely robust, making ripping – a problem with early X-Talon models – seem extremely unlikely.

          Understated looks

          Inov-8’s fashion sense in recent years has trended towards the gaudy. Many of its top models seem to be available almost exclusively in lime green, so it’s wonderful to see the brand launch a shoe that you that looks a little more understated. The black-and-orange colourway is, to our eyes, rather stylish and allows the shoes to be worn in occasions other than the local mud run. More of this, please!

          Impressive versatility

          Although the Ultra 260 v2 is branded as an ultramarathon shoe, for many people, it’s going to be more applicable as a 10k-to-marathon option. It’s weight – 260g – is, in fact, still at the lighter end of the scale. And while there’s a little more cushioning than normal, the overall feel is one of a shoe that’s still low to the ground and built for speed as well as endurance.

          Conclusion

          Versatile, durable, good looking and, by today’s standards, reasonably priced, the Ultra 260 v2 is a worthy inclusion to the X-Talon range. Of Inov-8’s existing models, it’s probably closest to the Mudclaw in terms of it being a grippy, hard-wearing shoe that you could turn to in all weathers, the chief difference being the Ultra 260 v2’s extra bit of cushioning. If you’re in the market for one trail shoe that does everything well, while also looking the part, then there’s plenty to recommend here.

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