Inov-8 X-Talon 212

8.5
8.5 score
(GearWeAre.com) score (8.5)/10

Our GearWeAre.com score is based on 3 different factors: Editor's rating after in-depth testing. User ratings submitted on this page Overall score from the "reviewmeter" based on reviews across the web the weight of each factor is: 40% editor rating 15% user ratings 45% reviewmeter.
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Editor rating: 8.8 / 10
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Inov-8 X-Talon 212 Review Facts

When it comes to long-distance running, either on the trail or off, having a shoe that can handle a wide range of terrains and still keep your feet in good shape is a great thing indeed. Many runners who enjoy running on a rougher terrain chose a more minimal approach when it comes to their shoes, and one of the more popular on the market today is the X-Talon 212 running shoe from Inov-8. While it certainly takes the minimalist approach to new heights, the overall performance and responsiveness of the shoe certainly can’t be denied. If you’re looking for a shoe with a firm, yet supportive ride with nothing that will slow you down, the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 trail running shoe is certainly something to consider.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Extremely
  • Flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Very responsive
  • Minimalist style means that the essentials are the focus
  • Works well in a wide range of terrains
Cons
  • Durability could be improved overall
  • Not suitable for wider feet
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Reviews were analyzed here:
We read, analyze and sort reviews into positive & negative categories to give you the complete picture.
What are buyers saying?

We have spent 3.5 hours analyzing a total of 561 reviews.

These reviews are then categoried into "Positive" and "Negative" feedback.

Below you will read a summary of them:

Positive
  • I have had several pairs of these shoes over the years and I'm never disappointed. These are great shoes. They can't be beaten for the reliability and I use them for off-road running.
  • Besides the blister that I got on my toe at the 6 Mile mark for my first time, wearing these shoes are superb. They look great and they have amazing grip. I run on various terrains. Lightweight as well and I would definitely buy these again.
  • Compared to other runners and trainers on the market these shoes cannot be beaten for their grip. Perfect for off-road. They fit perfectly and they look good.
  • It's been 20 years since I've run and now I'm starting again. These shoes are priced well and very comfortable and they look good.
  • Overall I love these shoes but I do have a few complaints. They don't dry very well as the water stays at the bottom of the shoe when wet. They don't have a lot of arch support and they can be a bit narrow so buy a larger shoe size if you don't have narrow feet.
  • If I could rate these shoes higher than five stars I would. They fit perfectly. I was able to overcome all terrain. They clean up well also. I highly recommend these shoes.
  • So far these shoes have performed well on muddy and wet trails and large boulder mountains. Even on wet rocks the tread grips really well. I did find that they ran a little smaller but I was able to buy my normal size. I absolutely love these shoes.
  • I got these shoes to run a Spartan race and I was able to buy my normal size. They fit perfectly. These are lightweight and comfortable and they look good. Love, love, love these shoes.
  • I am training for my first Spartan race and I'm using these shoes. I love them. I think that putting an insert in these will help with longer wear and running.
  • I like these shoes because they don't hurt my feet as most other shoes do. As far as buying a larger size like many of the reviews suggest my size fits perfectly. I've decided to buy a second pair.
  • My wife loves these shoes! She used them for a Spartan race.
  • These shoes were definitely more comfortable than I was expecting and they fit perfectly. I didn't get any blisters and there was no rubbing. And the grip on these shoes is sick. I feel like I can tackle any terrain. I'm excited to see how they hold up in the mud. I highly recommend these shoes.
  • These shoes are lightweight and very comfortable. I love these shoes. The traction was perfect. I use these for Spartan races and running the trail. For me, they fit true to size.
  • These Inov-8 X Talon 212s are amazingly comfortable. When I wear these on the trails I don't experience any irritation or sore spots. Great shoes!
  • If you are running the Spartan race I highly recommend these shoes.
  • I love the traction on these shoes. I got these to run a Spartan race and to run on the trails.
  • These are my second pair of the Inov-8 X Talon 212s. I love these shoes.
  • I love my shoes to run the hills and in the mud. I got a half size larger and they fit perfectly.
  • Like other reviews have said, these run small and narrow so ordering up and wider worked for me. Great for obstacle course racing.
  • Needed a shoe with great grip these are those shoes Extremely comfortable too. They fit snug but are fine after a little while. Wish they were waterproof. Worth the money and highly recommend.
Negative
  • Runs small and narrow
  • Shrink when washed
Reviewmeter
The Reviewmeter shows you an overall score that you can easily refer to. The highest rating is 10 (100% positive feedback)
Of the 561 reviews we found in total, 17% were negative, and 83% were positive.
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Outsole

Outsole

The place where the rubber meets the road is really the heart and soul of a good trail running shoe. Thankfully, the outsole area of the Inov-8 X-talon 212 doesn’t disappoint. The material is an extremely sticky rubberized material that is fairly soft, allowing the outsole to perform the double duty of both protection and cushioning as the runner moves through the paces. Since the shoe is designed to be lightweight and extremely flexible, Inov-8 has made the decision to forgot the rock plate in the shoe. And while this proved to be somewhat uncomfortable, especially on extremely rocky terrain, the deep lugs- nearly 1/4” in depth did a fairly nice job of keeping the debris at bay.
Midsole

Midsole

The mid-sole area of this shoe consists of injected EVA material with Dynamic Fascia Band Technology, which adds a bit more spring and bounce back in the step than would be normally seen. In addition, there is a significant heel drop of 6mm, which allows for the minimal cushioning to be felt where it is needed the most.

While most trail running shoes have a much lower heel to drop, the greater amount in this shoe actually serves to add a bit more comfort and stability overall. It allows the foot to flex and roll with a much more natural gait, even over rough terrain. While the cushioning may not be the best we’ve seen, there is no question that the mid-sole helps to distribute the weight evenly and smoothly over long distances.
Upper

Upper

When it comes to flexibility, fit, and breathability, the synthetic mesh upper material in these shoes are hard to match. In addition to allowing for great ventilation overall, the upper portions of these shoes also allow for a significant amount of drainage through the sides and bottom of the shoe when needed. While we certainly wouldn’t recommend wading through copious amounts of water any time soon, you can be assured that the occasional puddle or small stream won’t keep you bogged down for very long. In addition, the DWR coating provides some protection from water, but Inov-8 has found a nice overall balance between protection and ventilation.

Not surprisingly, one of the areas where the upper falls a bit short is in the protection area. The toe bumper is relatively thin, and the upper portion doesn’t offer much material between the runner and the environment overall.
Breathability

Breathability

It should come as no surprise that these shoes, with their lightweight construction and mesh uppers, provide phenomenal ventilation overall. Even the DWR coating, which would normally hinder the exchange of air between the inside and the outside of the shoe appears to be added with the lightest of touches.
Comfort

Comfort

Unfortunately, when you have a minimalist approach to the trail running shoe you create, some sacrifices need to be made. One of the areas where Inov-8 decided to cut back was in the overall cushioning and overall shape of the shoe. While both the 6mm heel to toe drop and the injected EVA mid-sole offer some cushioning and stability, they offer the minimal at best. And while this is fine for shorter runs overall, when it comes to longer distances, foot fatigue can certainly become a significant issue with these shoes.

In addition, quite a few users found these shoes to be a bit too narrow, especially in the midfoot and forefoot areas. The relatively small toe box also left some wondering if slightly more room up front would be a good addition for their cramped feet. Simply put, if you have feet that are slightly wider than normal, you might want to consider other options.
Style

Style

They say that variety is the spice of life, right? Well, when it comes to the Inov-8 X-Talon 212, you really don’t have a lot of added spice. There are three basic styles available on the market today, which vary mainly in the overall color schemes. There is a blue/green combination, a red/black, or a gray/black combination available. That is not to say that they don’t look nice. Their classic design and complementary color schemes work very well together. However, if you’re looking to make a fashion statement with your running shoes that are a little more avant-garde, these shoes probably won’t make the cut.
Durability

Durability

Given their lightweight construction and the minimal amount of material used, these shoes proved to be remarkably durable. The uppers hold up surprisingly well, even in inclement weather and rough terrain. Regular trail running doesn’t seem to phase the outsole rubber too much, but heavy use does seem to take its toll on the shoe overall. If you’re looking to do some serious trail running on a frequent basis, be prepared to either replace these shoes or re-sole them sooner than you’d like.
Protection

Protection

When it comes to protection overall, these running shoes from Inov-8 offer somewhat of a mixed performance. The DWR coating provides fantastic water repellent features for the upper portion, and the rubberized outsole helps to keep most moisture from seeping in through the bottom of the shoe. In addition, the snug fit overall and the significant heel-to-toe drop does offer a moderate amount of protection from ankle and foot instability.

However, because of the lightweight construction, there really isn’t much in the way of protection from abrasions and rocks or debris underfoot. And while the deep groove tread does offer some relief when it comes to gravel or sharp rocks, over time the individual rocks and debris do make themselves known, sometimes painfully so.
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Perhaps the one area where these shoes really outshine the competition is in how well they respond to the environment around them. Unlike shoes that provide more cushioning then flexibility, the X-Talon 212 allows the runner to truly feel and grip the ground beneath his feet and make on the fly adjustments when needed. A simple shifting of the weight or a slight turn of the foot allows your foot to re-grip and adapt quickly, allowing you to move in a new direction at a moment’s notice. Simply put, these shoes offer the ability to move, run, sprint, or walk to your heart’s content on a wide range of running surfaces.
Support

Support

Overall the support in these shoes can be considered adequate, but minimal. They have what can be considered neutral arch support, and the moderate heel to toe drop does provide a fair amount of stability overall. Finally, the combination of the EVA injected mid-sole and the softer rubberized outsole helps to provide some level of cushioning and weight distribution over long trail runs.
Terrain

Terrain

If you’re looking for a pair of running shoes that can handle nearly any type of terrain, these shoes from Inov-8 should certainly make your short list. The relatively durable outsole, extreme responsiveness, and flexibility make these shoes an ideal candidate for mountains, forested areas, fells, and even obstacle courses. They perform extremely well in areas of loose rock, a significant amount of mud, or pretty much anything in between. About the only two terrains that we can see having a slight amount of trouble is in the rapids of the class 4 river, or in the Arctic tundra.
Price

Price

Depending on where and when you buy these shoes, the price for them can vary quite a bit. The lowest price we found was $78 USD before taxes, and the highest we found was $130 USD. However, most of the prices fell somewhere around the $100 range, making these shoes somewhat affordable, especially for the budget minded runner.
Traction

Traction

Despite it’s lightweight and minimalist construction, the tread is one area where the manufacturers of these shoes certainly splurged on. The lugs are impressively thick, nearly 8mm in depth. This creates a number of grooves that help to keep the shoe nice and grippy, even on wet or slippery surfaces. The traction also doesn’t let up in mud, grass, dirt, or rocky terrain.
Flexibility

Flexibility

Have you ever watched a balloon animal being created? If you have, you’ll begin to understand the sheer amount of flexibility found in these shoes. And while that amount of flexibility does decrease the overall support and stability somewhat, it allows your foot and ankle to move in a much more natural, and comfortable manner. Traveling over rough terrain isn’t that hard at all, and you can easily and quickly adjust your movements as needed with these shoes.
Comparison to Other Brands

Comparison to Other Brands

As far as trail running shoes go, the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 falls squarely into the minimalist approach to the sport. There are plenty of other brands out there with much more padding and cushioning overall, such as the Salomon Speedcross 4 and the Prio shoe by Xero, but few match the Inov-8 when it comes to tread performance and versatility. Perhaps the only shoe that can beat it in a head to head is the Merrell Trail Glove 4, which is at the top of the game in most cases. The Inov-8 X-talon 212 is also one of the lighter shoes on the market, with each pair weighing in around 16 ounces total. While it certainly isn’t the most comfortable to wear and is probably not the best choice for ultra-long distance running, their lightweight construction and ground-hugging form does win these shoes quite a few fans.
Stability

Stability

Given the lack of material in these shoes, they have proven to be remarkably stable. Very few people reported problems with ankle or foot instability, and the shoe's foot-hugging nature makes overpronation somewhat less than expected. Still, if you’re needing a shoe that provides the maximum stability for you, there are quite a few other choices out there that may be a better fit. The Inov-8 X-talon 212 is clearly created for those who have strong ankles, legs, and feet overall.
The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

The Inov-8 X-Talon 212 definitely wins some major points when it comes to overall performance and versatility. The minimalist approach to the construction and the quality materials used means that these shoes feel right at home in nearly every running environment that you can imagine. Simply put, if you want to run through it, chances are these shoes will help you do it, and at a fraction of the weight of normal trail running shoes.

However, their lightweight and minimalist nature are not without some drawbacks. The overall support and stability in the shoes are somewhat lacking, especially over longer distances. Also, the shoes don’t stand up well to heavy and frequent use. And finally, for those with wide feet, they may be a bit too restrictive.

If you’re looking for a trail running shoe that can handle the swamps just as well as the rocky mountain foothills, and you don’t want a heavy mid-sole or outsole weighing you down, put the Inov-8 X-talon 212 on your list of prospects.