Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 Review: Built For The Worst Conditions
TAYLOR: With every trip around the sun, I realize there is more and more than I don’t know. No matter what my brother says, I do not think it is because I’m stupid. There’s just so much to make sense of in life!
One thing that I genuinely do not understand, though, is how a company like Inov-8 is not more well known! They are a UK-born trail-centric company that is nothing less than innovative — I mean, it’s in the name! 2020’s BIG Trail shoe of the year was their Terra Ultra G 270, which melded state-of-art outsole, up-to-date foams, a secure fit, and their classic durability. This accolade was even agreed upon industry-wide.
Since then, we’ve had a few Inov-8 shoes that were solid in their own right, but we now have the Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 on our feet. It’s easy to see where the name comes from when you look at it from the underside. Grip alone doesn’t make a good shoe, though. So, this update comes along with an updated upper and midsole swap that is the same foam that we saw in the Terra Ultra G 270. This is a sweet update on paper, but performance is always on our minds here at Believe in the Run.
TAYLOR: Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Yes, those are 8mm lugs. Yes, they are sticky as all get out. If you’re not careful, you might rip a chunk from your leg in these things and become an easy meal for the wild things out there. You name it, and this STICKYGRIP outsole can dig into nearly any surface. There was only a particular type of soft/dry powdery snow and glare ice that the 8mm lugs didn’t grip into — which is completely expected from any shoe that doesn’t have carbide spikes. The shoe itself is meant for soft ground; however, the lug depth and pattern made the outsole grippy enough and runnable to approach any terrain, even short road sections.
Moving up to the second floor, where POWERFLOW MAX foam takes over. It’s the same foam found in the heavily awarded Terra Ultra G 270. It felt that there was a little more density in it which did two things: 1) Added a little more protection underfoot and 2) took away some of the responsiveness. In this situation, since it is a soft ground shoe, I was okay with both of those. The total stack ends up being 22m to 14mm (midsole and footbed included) with an 8mm drop. With the mix of the cushioned footbed and Powerflow Max midsole, there was a decent amount of ground feel, just enough protection to go a reasonable distance in soft ground situations, was durable, and had a touch of responsiveness to boot.
Besides grip, Inov-8 is known for its durable, secure-fitting uppers. That’s no different in the Inov-8 X-Talon Ultra 260 V2. An extremely tough mesh creates the base for foot protection and a secure fit. The particular mesh is stiffer than many others, but it didn’t bother my feet in any way. It just held form, much like the Merrell MTL Skyfire (which had a softer airy mesh), and kept my foot securely fastened in all areas. I think some of the heat adhered overlays are to thank for that too. When reviewing, foot security is one of my laser focus areas, and I couldn’t find anything to knock on besides a teensy weensy heel slip coming out of the box. One may need to use the alternate lacing loops provided.
Inov-8 also subtly adds more trail features like gaiter attachments and a robust toe bumper. At 10.3 ounces, it makes for a well-fortified shoe that is light, nimble, and technically sound enough for the most technical of terrains.Shop X-Talon Ultra 260 v2 – Men Shop X-Talon Ultra 260 v2- Women
TAYLOR: I feel somewhat like a broken record in this section for Inov-8 shoes. So many of the shoes are meant for soft ground, and being that I live high in the rocky mountains, I do not have a ton of that terrain available. With that being said, I was pleased with the X-Talon Ultra’s performance anyways!
Support is very minimal in this shoe. It is meant for soft ground, which would give a runner some natural support as the lugs dig into the earth. It’s not the same story over hard ground. I do not need extra arch supports, but I could really feel the lack of them when running on more packed trails or dirt roads. If you need arch support, it would probably be in your best interest to either add an insole or look elsewhere.
Inov-8 keeps getting more minimal in the tongue department. This tongue resembles a racing shoe. It is shortened, gusseted, and pancake thin. I found that the lack of tongue caused the collar to rub on the forward lateral sides of my ankle. Before even slipping the shoe on, I had flashbacks to how the Traifly made me bleed because of a similar issue. Thankfully, that wasn’t what happened here because the collar is more padded and softer, but there was some definite rubbing.
The X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 boasts Inov-8’s second widest forefoot (width 4 of 5), but don’t be fooled. This still means a very average width in the forefoot. It’s not wide by any means. My average foot (with bunion) fit comfortably inside, but I didn’t have much room to wiggle around in. That was fine with me. Marketing makes it seem like it should be wider. For what it’s worth, it felt like a very similar width to the Terra Ultra, even though it technically has a wider last.Shop X-Talon Ultra 260 v2 – Men Shop X-Talon Ultra 260 v2- Women
TAYLOR: Invo-8’s X-Talon Ultra G 260 V2 is a long(ish) distance shoe that has the goods to go anywhere you ask it. The whole package makes for an absolute trail ripper that’s ready for nearly any trail, off-trail, through the valley, and over the hills. Be warned that this is a shoe meant for soft ground. So, there could be some issues with support and underfoot protection if you do not typically run this type of terrain.
With that being said, the X-Talon Ultra will take a muddy beatdown before anything happens to it. I appreciate how durability, a secure fit, and extreme grip come together in a pretty darn fast and comfortable package — which is saying something because Inov-8 has previously been known to feel a little harsh in the comfort department.
Find the nicely updated X-Talon Ultra 260 V2 on Inov-8’s site for $160.Shop X-Talon Ultra 260 v2 – Men Shop X-Talon Ultra 260 v2- Women
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