FOR AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT: I use a fair bit of Inov-8 kit. It’s simple, it fits, and it works well in the UK hills. I have neither been paid for this review, nor been given the shoes by either Inov-8 or Accelerate.
Okay, so what am I reviewing here? The shiny new Inov-8 X-Talon G235 fell shoe. And no, I bought them to replace a tired pair of X-Talon 212, not because of that shiny promo video.
First impressions then. The Inov-8 X-Talon G235 feels well put together, a big confidence boost in a fell shoe. No gaping glue or stitching edges in sight. The modern seamless, non-absorbent upper with printed wear patches above the sole feels super neat and light. There’s a bellows tongue too, should be standard on all fell shoes really. The Inov-8 gaiter hook is here moulded in a polymer: neat, tough and effective. That much touted graphene rubber feels near climbing shoe sticky. The familiar and effective 8mm deep lugged X-Talon tread pattern is there too. A 6mm drop (13/7mm midsole stack in Powerflow+) offers a reasonable blend of comfort, helped by a Meta-Plate rock plate, and ground feel. The stated shoe weight is 235g for a UK8, I get 255g for my UK10.5: that is really light. Oh, I even like the colour; gaiters to match please Inov-8.
All that is pretty fine in the shop, but how about in forest and on fell? From a couple of weeks running in both terrains; I’m very impressed. Note, this is a a Dark Peak biased review; it’s where I’m based. For reference, the X-Talon G235 have been worn over a lightly cushioned synthetic sock(Hilly Skyline Anklet) and I’m 1m89 tall, weigh around 90kg.
So, first off, grip. As you’d expect, traction on mud from the 8mm studs is excellent. The only slip I’ve had being on a birch root under leaf litter; nothing grips on that[okay, xc spikes might; they might nail you to the root: hush]. Mud shedding is good too, the only area to clog at all being the instep. Not a great problem, and not unusual either. On rock, the rough bitey dark peak gritstone, these shoes are a revelation. The rubber on my old X-Talon 212 was good. This GrapheneGrip is astonishing. The hold comes close to some climbing shoe rubbers, brilliant whether rock hopping or wandering up easy climbs. I have to put this in here, if you’re not a competent climber don’t go soloing rock climbs on your run, please.
Now to fit. Inov-8 describe it as precision. Narrow, low volume sums it up. For me, with my long skinny feet, this is great. There’s plenty of wriggle room in the toebox, but not much room if your toes are prone to swelling. Those who’s feet resemble a duck may struggle. That precise fit also comes with a great deal of flexibility through the entire sole. You’re going to need strong feet. The heel cup is very simple, nice and low and narrow. Nothing to dig into achilles or ankle bones here. A simple flat lace does a very good job of keeping the shoe securely adjusted on your foot.
So how are the X-Talon G235 in use? Interesting. Inov-8’s description of the fit as “precision” is apt. That flexible snugness means the shoe feels part of your foot. There’s been no movement around my foot whether ascending, descending or contouring some silly steep slopes. The flexibility coupled with the thin footbed and midsole lets you adapt to the ground, and find the grip. I know shoes aren’t fast, but some feel fast, the G235 is one of them.
A note on getting wet feet. You will. That simple, non-absorbent upper, well it won’t keep your feet dry. It will let water drain fast though, and won’t gain masses of weight with every drenching. Personally I much prefer this to waterproof fell shoes. After a truly soggy day on Kinder my feet were dry enough not to matter by the time my train (couple of minutes wait, thirty minute journey) got to Sheffield.
That light and fast feel though may put a limitation on these shoes. After a 20km/1000m day on Kinder I knew I’d been on my feet. No damage just whingeing, tired soles; I could have easily done another 10km. The X-Talon G235 though are probably not the shoe for a big (40km+) day out. For that I’ll go buy an Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260, stiffer, a bigger toebox and more cushioning. For normal days out in the fells though, the new X-Talon G235 is superb.
In summary? The Inov-8 X-Talon G235 is a superb, lightweight modern fell shoe. It’s ideally suited to soft terrain, but with superb grip on bare rock. If they fit your foot I’d unhesitatingly recommend them. They’re now my first choice shoe for everyday fell running.
So where can you get a pair of these splendid shoes?
Of course I’m going to say find a local independent specialist; get fitted and buy from them. And yes, if you’re near Sheffield I’m going to say visit my friends Deb and Stu at Accelerate. The kettle will be on.