The Inov-8 X-Claw is a distance running shoe designed to be able to tear through the toughest terrain you could encounter. The long lugs on the outsole are covered with a sticky rubber material that is specially designed for activities like fell running in the mountains of Europe (it’s like regular mountain running, except they don’t use trails like most sissies). The midsole is designed to provide the perfect balance of protection, comfort, and trail feedback. The package is completed with a water resistant upper that wraps snugly around your foot to avoid hot spots while running.
|A Quick Overview|
|Heavy duty lugs that that give you the traction of a mountain goat.|
A midsole that provides a great balance of comfort and responsiveness.
Durability that doesn’t ever seem to quit.
Dynamic fascia band and new Powersole midsole give you an extra kick of energy return that keeps you running longer.
|While the shoe is quite water resistant, if it does become water logged it becomes quite heavy.|
Foot Protection: 8/10
Inov-8 has equipped the X-Claw with its Powerflo insole, which is great for shock absorption while still giving you a good feel for the trail. Initially, I was nervous with the amount of feedback I was getting from the trails. I thought that with how much feeling I was getting for the terrain, my feet were going to get beat up after a few miles. So I was pleasantly surprised when I could do 15 miles on rocky terrain and had no sore spots on my feet. The upper is made of a durable canvas material that protects from debris, and it also has a toe bumper to give some protection from things you may catch your foot on.
The reason I deducted 2 points in this category was because there have been one or two occasions where I had a rock go between the lugs that hit the point of being uncomfortable; and because the toe bumper is lightweight enough that if you really kick something you’re going to feel it. And also because I need to take points away somewhere, so I have to judge rather harshly.
The traction you get in these shoes is borderline ridiculous. With the large lugs, I had assumed they would have decent traction. So with this in mind, I hit my favorite state park and started with some medium difficulty trails. What ensued over the next few weeks became a battle of will power between myself and the shoes: me determined to prove they could lose their traction on some surface, any surface. The shoes determined to prove that they could not.
I hit rocky trails, grassy trails, wet sand, dry sand. The shoes wouldn’t budge. Finally, in a desperate attempt after being driven half mad by the shoes adamant refusal to ever slip on something, I hit the hardest trail of the hardest park in the region when it was still dark out after a major storm. (I don’t recommend anyone else try what follows; it’s stupid regardless of the shoes you’re wearing) The battle climaxed with me running full speed down a wet rocky drop, and jumping onto the trunk of a downed tree and running down the length of it. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. The shoes still didn’t lose their grip. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.
According to the website, this is because, “New X-CLAW outsole features DUAL-C compound (a mix of medium and hard sticky rubbers) for improved durability and stability.” I don’t know what kind of rubber they found that turns humans into mountain goats, but bravo. I am defeated.
And even after 90 miles or so of the toughest trails I could find, the tread looks practically new. Durability is definitely not an issue for this beast!
The X-Claw is designed to fit closer in the heel and midfoot, and have a wider forefoot to allow for toe splay. This is a great design for a technical trail shoe, because it keeps your foot from slipping, but gives you the added stability of being able to spread your toes wide on slick descents. The upper wraps that foot snugly but comfortably, so you don’t slide around in the shoe.
Uphill, downhill, and through high speed turns on wet technical terrain, and I never lost my footing.
This is a category that is highly subjective, so I’m trying to rate based on how I feel the mass audience would feel. The wide forefoot is great for avoiding hot spots that tend to wear on the toes or the sides of the forefoot. The snugger fit of the heel and midfoot prevents slipping around in the shoes, which can lead to blistering. The only reason I’m taking off a point in this category is that I feel some people who are used to a very high cushioned shoe may want more in the cushioning department.
Personally, I think it has the perfect amount for a trail shoe. If I’m running on the road, I don’t mind feeling like my feet are wrapped in a cloud. But if I’m running on trails, I want some feedback. I think it’s important to be able to adjust your weight based on your footing, plus I just feel it adds to the trail running experience. I also want to have enough cushion that I can put high mileage on them without getting sore feet. This shoe accomplishes both of those goals flawlessly. However, if you’re used to running in a Hoka trail shoe or something in that category, this will not feel nearly as cushiony.
For being a cushioned trail shoe with heavy duty lugs, these shoes are surprisingly light. Weighing in at 9.7oz, they are some of the lighter shoes for this category. In addition to this, they are equipped with dynamic fascia band technology, meant to mimic the “windlass effect”. This is all basically just a fancy way of saying you get a little kick of extra energy return that you don’t get in most shoes. While this doesn’t directly affect the weight of the shoe, I mostly noticed it as the shoe feeling lighter when running longer distances.
The reason I took two points off in this category is because if the shoe gets waterlogged, they feel like bricks. They are covered with an effective water repellant coating, so this isn’t usually a problem. But if you’re going to be going through a bunch of puddles, I’d recommend going with their X-Talons instead, are lighter weight and will not hold water as much. However, you will be giving up some cushioning if you do this.
The X-Claw 275 is available on Amazon for $120.00
This is a pretty average price for a shoe that far surpasses the average. However, if you’re looking for a good deal on the X-Claws or any other Inov-8 product (and have military experience), check out www.promotive.com . Inov-8 offers up to a 50% discount on their products to military personnel through that site.
In all honesty, the hardest part of writing this review was trying to find areas to downgrade the shoe so I didn’t seem biased in any way. Bottom line, this is the best overall trail running shoe I’ve ever tried. I’ve logged about 100 miles in them, and am currently using them as my primary trainer for an ultramarathon that I will be racing in soon. I am also planning on using them on race day. These shoes are rugged, durable, comfortable, and absolutely refuse to lose their grip on any terrain. Inov-8 has managed to put together a dynamic trail shoe that, in my humble opinion, has very little room for improvement.