REVIEW: The inov-8 X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 Trail Running Shoes

REVIEW: The inov-8 X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 Trail Running Shoes

REVIEW: The inov-8 X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 Trail Running Shoes

Written By: SportsShoes

The inov-8 X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 is the perfect shoe for running long distances over soft and muddy terrain. Now boasting an improved fit and locked-in feel, this shoe is aided by a comfortable slimmed-down tongue. Super-strong ballistic nylon upper materials deliver excellent durability. With STICKYGRIP rubber and POWERFLOW MAX cushioning, plus room in the toe box, the X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 is ideal for runners seeking a grippy, fast-feel shoe with comfort to tackle tough trails and mountains.

Photo credit: inov-8

Our SportsShoes Ambassador, Ben Mounsey, has been busy putting the inov-8 X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 to the test;

Price:£124.99
Weight:260g
Drop:8mm (Heel: 16mm, Toe: 8mm)
Lug depth:8mm
Length:Slightly small
Width:Wide - 4/5 on the fit scale
RATINGS (out of 5)
Comfort:3.5/5
Cushioning:3/5
Support:4/5
Grip:5/5
Protection:4/5
Overall:4/5

Photo credit: inov-8

The inov-8 X-TALON (pronounced Cross Talon) has been my choice of racing shoe for as long as I can remember. In fact, I’m very proud to say that I have owned every single pair of X-TALON shoes since their original release way back in 2008, when the original X-TALON 212 model first hit the trails. I’m even thinking of converting my man cave into an X-TALON museum and should I ever go on Mastermind, then X-TALON’s will be my chosen subject. Naturally I have my favourites, but I can honestly say that this range of shoes has never let me down. I’m a die-hard X-TALON fan and my love affair isn’t about to end any time soon. Cue the arrival of the X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2, which like a fine wine, is a model that continues to improve with age.

Photo credit: inov-8

What’s new?

The main reason that the X-TALON has always been my choice of racing shoe is mainly based on two very significant factors - the fit and the grip. That’s not to say that other features aren’t important, but it’s certainly what I look for first in a fell shoe. I have thin feet which means the 190, 210, 212, 225, 230 and more recently the 235 have been my go-to models because they are precision fit shoes and fit me like a glove. When I’m descending at pace, I need a shoe that feels almost invisible to wear and like a natural extension of my feet. This ensures less movement inside the shoe, resulting in less chance of rubbing and chafing which ultimately causes blisters. I’m also lucky that I can wear the wider versions of the X-TALON for training - namely the 200, some of the past 212 models, 255 and the 260. Unfortunately, runners with wide feet are less fortunate than myself and have been limited to a much smaller choice of inov-8 models in the past. Which is basically a very long-winded way of me saying ‘Great news!’ to all those runners, because I’m pleased to announce that the X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 is a wide-fitting shoe (4 on the fit scale*) and will therefore appeal to a much wider audience.

*The inov-8 fit-scale runs from 1-5 (1 is precision fit for runners with thin feet and 5 is the widest fit). This fit scale is really helpful when choosing an inov-8 shoe as there is a wide range of products to choose from, many of which can be eliminated from your list straight away, so you can just focus on the shoes which match your foot width.

Photo credit: inov-8

Perfect for muddy terrain

Unlike many comparable models, inov-8 shoes are perfectly suited to our UK terrain, particularly for fell running where grip is considered the highest priority. Which brings me nicely to the next reason why I’m such a massive X-TALON fan - the all-important STICKYGRIP™ rubber, which has become the trademark feature of so many of my much-loved inov-8 models. Coupled with an 8mm aggressive lug pattern, this outsole is an absolute fell running weapon. Others may disagree, but in my opinion, it’s the best grip on the market for soft and muddy trails and one that gives me ultimate confidence on the most extreme trails. This model also has an improved shape and positioning of the lugs, which have been specifically designed to prevent mud clogging up the outsole.

As is the case for almost every trail shoe suitable for soft and muddy ground, there isn’t a tremendous amount of cushioning in the midsole and for good reason. This kind of terrain is softer and has less impact with every footstrike - there is much more give in the ground compared to a really hard surface. The idea of a trail shoe like this is to allow you to have close ground feel, enhancing your connection with the terrain. That’s not to say that this shoe isn’t completely devoid of cushioning, in fact it has plenty for a shoe of its kind. You need some cushioning for all those times when you have to negotiate sections of road, hard-packed trails or rocky surfaces and particularly when running over greater distances. Hence the inclusion of POWERFLOW MAX cushioning which enables you to run for longer with confidence, striking the perfect balance of that close connection with the ground, whilst providing enough cushioning for when you really need it. It also delivers high levels of shock absorption and energy return. In short, it’s the most cushioned shoe of its type in the entire inov-8 range.

Photo credit: inov-8

Cushioned, durable and versatile

Weighing 260g, the X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 is well suited to both training and racing. It’s been named the ULTRA for a reason, hence the comfort element with the POWERFLOW MAX foam cushioning and wider fit. Recently, I noticed it on the feet of many runners competing in the Montane Spine race - a brutal 268-mile race over plenty of soft, muddy ground. Serious evidence indeed that it’s good enough for ultra distances.

You’ll be pleased to know that this shoe is also extremely versatile and very durable, as it’s light enough to compete in short and fast events, whilst offering plenty of protection against the trail and the elements. Lightweight trail shoes for racing are usually stripped back to the bare minimum to enhance speed, but often lack protection as a consequence. It certainly doesn’t feel like this is the case with this particular model. The upper material, made from ballistic nylon, is strong and robust with a thick layer of protective rand at the front, extending halfway down both sides of the shoe. This material does a great job at protecting feet from stones and sharp rocks, especially when descending at pace on loose and rocky ground.

Photo credit: inov-8

Any downsides?

There is plenty to celebrate with this latest inov-8 release and there isn’t much I would improve. But my reviews are always honest and honest I must be. And so, I must confess that I’m not a huge fan of the tongue design. Personally, I would prefer it to be more padded and much longer. It just doesn’t seem to sit right on my feet and I have to spend time before every run adjusting it to make it feel comfortable. I do, however, like the fact that the tongue is gusseted, which basically means that it’s connected to the upper (inside the shoe at either side) and therefore helps to repel debris and prevent small stones and mud from entering the shoe.

I would also say that this model is more of a winter warrior than a summer stallion. You could definitely wear it all year round in the right conditions, but in the warmer months I’ll personally switch to the X-TALON G 210 as it’s a lighter and more breathable shoe.

Pictured: The inov-8 X-TALON G 210 Photo credit: inov-8

Consider sizing up a little

In terms of length, I’ve found the last few releases of inov-8 shoes, including the hiking range, to feel a bit smaller. I’ve always worn a size UK10 in their models, yet recently I’ve switched to a UK 10.5. Again, not an issue, just something to be aware of if you are considering buying a pair and especially if you like wearing a thicker sock in winter.

Finally, I would prefer this shoe to be a precision fit to suit my feet more perfectly. A selfish request I know and probably not one shared by many people reading this review. Don’t get me wrong, I have been happily wearing it for many months and I do enjoy the roomier toe box for training, especially if I’m wearing thicker sock. But for racing I’m a 210 man - precision fit all the way for me and that’s just a personal choice, it’s certainly no fault in design.

The X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 in summary;

  • The perfect shoe for running long- ultra distances over soft and muddy terrain.
  • Ideal for fell running and extreme trails.
  • Outstanding grip with aggressive 8mm lugs and improved pattern.
  • A wide fit (4 on the fit scale), roomy toe box and slightly small in length.
  • Perfect for training and light enough for racing (260g).
  • More suited to winter weather and extreme conditions.
  • Comfortable, durable, protective and cushioned.

SHOP INOV-8 X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 TRAIL RUNNING SHOES HERE


You can follow Ben’s adventures on Instagram or via his website.

Find out more about off-road running by visiting our trail running hub and make sure you've got all the running kit you need for your next adventure.

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