Taylor: Inov-8 just stuck a flag in the top of Mud Mountain and pegged this shoe as “the world’s toughest shoe for the world’s toughest muddy mountain runs and obstacle course races.” I gotta be honest, it’s hard to disagree.
It’s apparent that Inov-8 ain’t ashamed of getting down and dirty and with their extensive line of light, durable, and fast trail shoes. We’ve already reviewed the Terraultra G 260 (more cushioned) and the Trailroc G 280 (more technical), which are both excellent shoes for their intended uses. Our third and final review of the 2019 Fall lineup is the Mudclaw G 260, a shoe meant for sloppy muddin’ and slick surface grippin’.
The Mudclaw G 260 is a soft ground trail shoe that mirrors the persona of a soccer cleat. Performance-wise, the shoe is made for many of the same things: grip, durability, and speed.
It’s a very low-profile shoe with a not-so-low-profile outsole, featuring the insanely grippy Graphene compound and covered in 8 mm (!) chunks of lug meat.
A heavily fortified Kevlar aramid-fiber upper basically makes the Mudclaw a tank in terms of durability.
All that armor comes at a slight cost, coming in at 10.4 oz./260 g for a US M9.0.
Combined, the elements of this shoe bring buckets of confidence for terrain that most wouldn’t want to be in.
I have to preface this next section by saying that I wish I had a whole lot more mud to splash around in for these shoes. For the test, I gave it my best shot, but still feel that the Mudclaw G 260 waits longingly inside my front door for heavy mud and moisture like a hunting dog on the eve of a duck hunt.
Taylor: As Colorado in the Rocky Mountains typically goes, our seasonal calendar hopscotched fall and went straight into winter. Snow was my primary means of getting soft-ground testing in. For what it’s worth, the inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 has now been crowned as my winter trail shoe.
As with my last pair of inov-8’s, I’m going to kick this thing off by paying proper dues to the shoe’s outsole. The 8mm triangular lugs and Graphene Grip outsole have re-written the term “aggressive outsole.” The Graphene compound has about as much grip as a gecko on a fly trap.
I have yet to experience a surface that it cannot handle, besides glare ice (I mean, that’s a tall order). On snow, loose rock, etc., the lugs seem to compact the underfoot surfaces really nicely, creating a platform-like base. The outsole shed debris really nicely too, and water is funneled out through its dispersal channels.
I never felt that I was carrying around any extra weight underneath. Graphene Grip also deserves equally high praise in the durability department. There’s no doubt that this outsole will get you hundreds of miles worth of adventure. Vibram MegaGrip— you’re pretty nice, but Inov-8 really has an award winner here.
As with the outsole, inov-8 went the extra mile by creating a seemingly indestructible upper. The Kevlar material is stiffer than most other uppers out there, but come on, it’s made out of the same material as bulletproof vests!
I was surprised at two things with the upper: 1) The material was much more flexible than it feels and 2) my feet were securely fastened. I did not feel any slippage inside the shoe (which is typical of shoes with stiff uppers). The Kevlar aramid fibers shed small amounts of moisture easily.
An added bonus to this package is that inov-8 includes a pair of soft gaiters with purchase. The gaiters have three hooks that anchor straight onto the shoe. The gaiter certainly served its purpose of keeping out debris. I even forgot that I had them on while running. So, comfort isn’t an issue there.
Taylor: This comes as no surprise, but the inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 belongs in sloppy wet conditions, not the Rocky Mountains. There is not much purpose for a shoe as aggressive as this other than what it was designed for. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was definitely a note worth taking if you’re looking for something closer to a daily trainer or all-terrain trail shoe.
Inov-8 doesn’t hide this fact, but the Mudclaw G 260 midsole falls into the “slim-to-none” category in the cushion/support department. A thin plastic rock plate is present, but it wasn’t enough to mask protruding rocks, roots, and other underfoot invaders.
To make this more of an all-around comfortable shoe, a little bit of cushioning or protection would be much appreciated. There are a few other soft ground shoes that find popularity, in part, because of their ride, in addition to a noticeable amount of cushion. If you want more cushion, check out the Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG or the Topo Athletic Hydroventure 2.
Inov-8’s Kevlar upper was a little stiffer than other uppers. This generally wasn’t a problem aside from how the shoe folded just below the laces. The material folded oddly; it’s hard to describe. I think it was mostly due to the relatively inflexible material. My feet did not have any irritation because of it, but I just didn’t like the sensation.Shop inov-8 Mudclaw G 260
Taylor: I do not deny inov-8’s claim of the Mudclaw G 260 being the world’s toughest shoe for mud and OCR races. It’s not just meant for mud, it’s meant to tear through mud.
For further proof, this past weekend, the winning team at the OCR World Championship wore these things. Though I did not get to run through any bogs or fells with the Mudclaw, my test in wintery conditions and other experiences with the Graphene Grip outsole tell me all that I need to know.
The Mudclaw has almost no protective qualities underfoot, and that puts me off a little bit. However, if you mostly run trails (or off-trail) in an area that has true soft ground conditions where grip is needed, there may not be a better choice than the Mudclaw G 260.
A comparable shoe we’ve reviewed is the Salming OT Comp, which Robbe rocked through a deeply muddy 50K.
You can help support us by picking up the inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 at Running Warehouse, featuring free 2-day shipping and returns, but using the shop link below.Shop inov-8 Mudclaw G 260