Inov-8 X-Talon 212 Gear Review
I have been a longtime user of Inov8 shoes but thought I would test out the Inov8 X-Talon 212s on a longer event duration to see how well they held up. I have always found them excellent on shorter events (up to three hours) but over a longer distance foot comfort/weariness becomes more problematic. Being a minimalist shoe (although not in the extreme sense of other brands) there is always a concern as to whether more support and cushioning may be required. My partner for the event wore the Inov8 Roclite 285s (model discontinued and replaced with the Roclite 280 / Roclite 290).
The event to put them through their paces was the NSW Rogaining championships and total time on course was approximately twelve hours. The terrain was what may be known as Sydney sandstone: fairly rocky, lots of scrubby bush and undulating to steep in places. It was thankfully not raining which meant the rocks were not slippery. Most of the event was off track.
So did the shoes hold up? The answer to this is an emphatic yes. Both myself and my partner were more than happy with our Inov8s. Traction, as these shoes are renowned for, was excellent, comfort was very good and no problems at all with any water/creek crossings as the shoes always drain almost instantly.
Any downsides? A couple but nothing that would stop me wearing them again. About halfway through the event there was a small section of 4km along a road. Being a trail shoe with high lugs, it can make you feel as though you are pounding your soles and I elected to run on the verge which was softer. If I was intending to run in an event where road or park running was more common I would probably choose either the Roclites or Trailrocs (the Trailroc 245 I use for training runs and love them on either trail or any roads between trails). The only other downside is that in almost all Inov8 shoes you can feel the ground through these shoes. The huge advantage is this gives better real and perceived stability. Occasionally however, a sharp rock on the side will be felt but that downside is a small price to pay versus the risk of rolling an ankle from traditional shoes on trails with almost no give until your ankle happens to flex.
The bottom line: I have always known it was an awesome shoe for shorter trail, off trail and obstacle course events but this event has confirmed it is just as good on longer runs.