15 February 2015

Inov-8 X-Talon 200 Review

The view from above my favourite trails in the Blue Mountains
at Wentworth Falls 
X-Talon 200

Upon the release of the X-Talon 200, I was interested, they seemed the perfect fit for my Skyrunning and trail running plans in 2015.

Grip like a X-Talon 190, light like a X-Talon 190, fit like a Trail-roc and offer the support of a X-Talon 212.  All the more reason to be interested, actually excited, excitement on that was on par with when my first ever pair of X-Talon 190 were in the mail.

For me I run in Inov-8 for one reason, they work for me.  They serve a purpose and I can choose a pair that’ll suit every run I do, on road and trail.  I love the trail range, the grip of the X-Talon and the comfort and durability of the Trail-roc.  I have a pair for every race and training session I do, but there was a bit of an issue when I ran my first Skyrun in 2014 down at the Buffalo Stampede.

My first and most recent pair of Inov-8's
I wore the X-Talon 212, they gave me grip, support and the trail feel needed.  I was very happy with them and I felt confident during the race but as I continued on the many long descents my toes were getting belted somewhat.  The fit is narrow compared to the X-Talon 190 and over time and distance this eventuated in my first ever black toe (obviously the fit of the 212 is not right for me). While only a minor problem and not as horrific as some stories I felt a bit worried the same was going to continue down in the Victorian Alps when I visited for racing and training.  Lucky for me at camps and in training the runs are shorter and I could rotate my shoes to reflect the particular trail if needed, so I was very happy to see the new model unveiled which solved this problem for me, the X-Talon range now offers a fit for everyone.

Testing these new shoes over the past week involved a range of trails, from my usual trails around Hassans Walls (single track, fire trail and downhill mountain bike track), to the Winburndale Range (rocky, steep and rough fire trail which is loose underfoot) and finally at Wentworth Falls in the Running Wild 16km Race today (a mix of all trail types including lots of wet areas and stairs).  Lucky for me they also experienced a range of weather from bone dry to sopping wet conditions, so I got a look at how they performed across the board.  All up I spent around 6.5hrs in them, running 45km with over 2500m of up/down.
Inov-8 X-Talon 200

Grip – the aggressive tread allows super grip on everything but wet boardwalks/wood (although I felt an increased sense of confidence on these surfaces than in previous X-Talons I have owned). On smooth firetrail they give good grip but get a bit nobbily underfoot, they aren’t really suited to easy fire trail, unless of course it is wet or sandy then they are pretty good as they lose the nobbily feel as they grip into the trail surface. On single track, rock, steep ups and steep downs they are in a league of their own, I have so much confidence in every step and was able to change direction easily and without slowing down or breaking stride.

Fit – the new wider fit of the X-Talon 200 is perfect, it is similar to that of a Trail-roc. My toes weren’t stuffed or smashed when descending the steep trails at Winburndale and they allowed my toes to spread on every step. They are a true size for me and I found the fit excellent.
Rarely do I pause in a race today I
did to take this view in.

Trail Feel – I had a good feel for the trail under foot and was always getting the feedback needed from my foot but at no point did I get discomfort or pain from a sharp rock. The weight allows good running form and the tread and foot bed gives the minimal feel I love from Inov-8.  All this along with a good amount of protection (including the new rubber toe guard) underneath gives more confidence on the trail.

New Features – the rubber toe box is awesome.  I hit my foot a few times, it didn’t hurt and the rubber material almost bounced away from the rock/tree (a bit like a dodge em’ car) allowing my foot to go over the trip hazard and not stumble or fall.  I was a little concerned that with the new toe box they wouldn’t drain as well but after several creek crossings and many puddles, they drain very well indeed.  This along with the combination of the best features from other shoes in the Inov-8 trail range gives this new shoe a position on the trails of it’s own.

While I wouldn’t go for the X-Talon 200 on runs with mainly fire trail (Trail-rocs are the perfect fire trail shoe) they will be my choice in any mountain race, Sky Races such as Buffalo, for the Glow Worm Marathon, Sydney Trail Series and anything that is wet or technical.  In both training and racing this will be my go to shoe, they are light, comfortable, durable, functional for my running and they look pretty good as well.

A big thanks to Inov-8 and Barefootinc for giving me the opportunity to test the new X-Talon 200 out, it just gets better and better…

Photo Credit

RunningWild NSW


  1. You've had these (inov8 x talon 200) for about 8 months now? How are they holding up? How many miles can I expect to get out of them? I do a lot of trail running and am trying to find a comfortable, minimalistic yet durable trail running shoe and am struggling with how other models like the Altra Superior 2.0's seem to fall apart a month or two after having them. Will these fall apart too or can I expect to get 500+ miles on them? Thanks for your review, I really appreciate and enjoyed it!

  2. Hi Shannon. I have them in rotation still.The upper is still solid and has no wearing or issues. The sole is worn down but still offers the grip. I have really given them a beating and expect they'll last some more. I think around 600 - 800km would be on the mark (mine have around 500km).

  3. I run sock-less in Altra's and Skora shoes. This season I'm starting Cross-Country and bought the Inov-8's for the wetter winter courses.

    Now I don't have the toughest skin by any means, but I've never had a blister or hot spot in any of my other shoes until now.

    I went for a 3 miles recovery run on grass/mud and within 1km my second toe on one foot was sore and a further km along the run my achilles tendon blistered on my right foot.

    I can tell these will be a great shoe with socks (disappointingly), and I now know these are meant for OCR, but I presume there must be running involved.

    Will they break-in and allow sockless running? and wow! the laces are far too long man.

    Great review and I know I'm going to love these shoes, but right now my feet aren't thanking me.

  4. Never gone for the sockless thing so can't say if they will ease or not sorry. As for running in them I think that you'll love the way they perform on the wet terrain. I also just quad tie the laces to keep them short and done up.

  5. Any issues with the toe box height? I found I couldn't deal with the XTalon 190 for longer than a 10k, due to the unflexible and low/short rubber coating above my big and 2nd toes. Black toenails galore, even with upsizing 0.5-1 for extra clearance. The toebox looks taller on the 200, do you find that's the case?

    1. I have been running in a pair of the 200s for about 2 months now. I have pretty wide feet and the 200s accommodate them with no discomfort. The toe box height is quite generous.

    2. I have been running in a pair of the 200s for about 2 months now. I have pretty wide feet and the 200s accommodate them with no discomfort. The toe box height is quite generous.

    3. Sorry for not replying sooner Merlyn. I found the toe box very generous and have had no issues with my toes in the 200. I'm two pair in and still love them just as much as my first run.

  6. Have you noticed that they are significantly heavier than 200g? I just bought a pair size 42.5 and putting them on my scale noted 261g! I see this as false marketing. I was expecting a light and nimble shoe similar to my previous inov8 f-lites so I am really disappointed by this. However, it seems like a really good trail shoe. It shouldn't be named x-talon 200 but rather x-talon 255 or something.

    1. I have found mine are close to the 200g weight. Not sure why yours are coming in at that weight. They are robust and reliable show, so I'm sure you'll enjoy them on the trails.