Summary

We spent 7.5 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

5 reasons to buy

  • Several reviewers welcomed the sturdy yet lightweight nature of the Inov-8 X-Talon 230’s upper unit.
  • The water-repellent quality of the upper was lauded by testers, who stated that it efficiently staved off mild splashes.
  • The general durability of this running shoe received praise.
  • People were happy with the gripping capability of the outsole unit, stating that it prevented them from slipping on mud and other wet surfaces.
  • The underfoot platform was touted to be more comfortable than the previous iterations of the X-Talon series.

3 reasons not to buy

  • Several runners felt that the platform of this running shoe was too stiff.
  • The Precision Fit design, which has a slimmer fit construction, didn’t agree with some who had a medium or wide foot-dimension.
  • A reviewer wasn’t happy that the upper wasn’t as breathable as some options in the Inov-8 line.

Bottom line

Those who have tried the Inov-8 X-Talon 230 were happy with its performance. They welcomed the water-repellent capability of its upper unit, the comfortable underfoot cushioning system, and the guaranteed traction given by its trail-ready outsole. But some testers lamented its stiffness, the tight construction of the Precision Fit design, and the tightly woven upper.

Facts

Rankings

A top rated Trail running shoe
A popular pick

Expert Reviews

85 / 100 based on 9 expert reviews

  • 80 / 100 |

    Inov-8 X-Talon 230 review

    More photos

    The Inov-8 have put these trail shoes as a fit scale of 1. Inov-8 has a scale of 1 to 5: 1 is a narrow fit, and 5 is a wide toe fit. This means that since a scale fit is 1, there is a minimal internal movement, which is what you'd require running on trails.

     

     

    However, the downside is that since your feet spread when running longer distances, there is little room for your feet to spread. In essence, there was no wide toe box, and I suffered from rubbing on my little toe on my right foot.

    I would recommend not running more than a half marathon distance in these shoes unless you opt for one size larger.

    Specifications

    • Brand: Inov-8
    • Model: X-Talon 230
    • Fit: Standard Fit
    • Pronation: Neutral
    • Size: 8.5 (UK); 9.5 (US); 42.5 (EURO)
    • Colours: Black/Red; Grey/Blue
    • Weight: 230 grams

    Heel to toe drop

    The heel to toe drop is 6mm. The 6mm drop is calculated as the heel height outsole of 13mm minus the forefoot of 7mm.

    As I have a supinator gait (one where the outside of the heel strikes the ground first), I'm trying not to have a heel strike where the wear pattern is neutral. This would make the trainers last longer.

    This would increase running efficiency and speed and make you less prone to injuries, particularly in the knees and hips. I experienced a wear pattern on the outer side of the sole, but this was more to the fact that I have a supinator gait.

     

     

    Inov-8 claims that because the midsole has a 6mm drop, there is a 10 percent better shock absorption. I don't know whether I could agree with 10 percent, but there is certainly some absorption when jogging.

    The downside is that the absorption is at the heel and not at the forefoot. If your gait is a midfoot or forefoot, you can increase your cadence as you can push off once striking the ground.

    For me, I'm trying to have a forefoot or midfoot strike pattern to increase my cadence. There's probably some scientific reason why not, but I'd like to see more cushioning at the forefoot.

    Inov-8 also claims that because of the 6mm drop, there is a 15 percent better energy return. This is also due to the lightweight and flexible rock plate design. This supposedly gives underfoot protection.

    I'm not convinced as jogging long distances certainly felt the impact on my forefoot, particularly the metatarsals, especially when striking numerous stones.

    Grip

    The X-Talon 230 has hexagonal lugs with a lug depth of 8mm, one mm more than the Roclite 275.

     

     

    I didn't notice a better grip when comparing the X-Talon 230 to the grip on the Roclite 275. The former has the sticky grip compared to the Meta-Flex Graphene grip on the Roclite 275.

    The lugs are smaller in diameter when compared to the Roclite 275. On the Roclite 275, they are 20mm x 15mm at their longest length.

    In comparison, the lug diameter on the X-Talon is 12mm x 10mm. More grip surface area means more grip on wet, muddy trails.

    Hard-wearing upper

    They are certainly not waterproof (although they don't claim to be). I did experience wet feet dashing through puddles and the like at the forefoot but certainly not at the heel.

     

     

    The design does not have a wide toe box, so I did experience rubbing on my right small toe. The size was one size larger than I would normally accommodate, so I would have thought my feet had even more room to spread.

    Pros

    • Lightweight
    • Comfort
    • Value for money
    • Cushioning and responsiveness

    Cons

    • Loud noise when running after high mileage
  • 82 / 100 | Mudstacle | Level 2 expert

    Kicking rocks [on] the bottom of streams isn't going to be an issue because it's got a big toe guard.

  • 90 / 100 | James Mackeddie | Level 3 expert

    All in all I was very pleased for my first 17 miles in inov-8’s new X-Talon 230, it had been worth the wait. The X-Talons were not put to the ultimate test or a trial by fire, but they stood up to everything that lay before them and left me wanting to take them to more extreme areas.

  • 86 / 100 | Fell Running Guide | | Level 2 expert

    They offer a little more protection and thus are a little heavier and a little stiffer so might not be the shoe for the runner seeking a very light, low and responsive fell racing shoe. If that is you then the stripped down, speedy little brother the new X-Talon 210 is probably for you.

  • 80 / 100 | Gear Institute | | Level 2 expert

    The Inov-8 X-Talon 230 is a rugged, go fast in the worst possible conditions kind of shoe. Hands down the best grip in this group thanks to its 8mm deep lugs. But also, one of the least comfortable. This is your shoe for mountain running, OCR, fell or snowshoeing. When grip and speed are at a premium, you can’t go wrong with the X-Talon 230.

Become an expert
  • The Inov-8 X-Talon 230 is a running shoe that’s designed to take on the trails. It features an aggressive outsole configuration to make it more efficient on both technical and squishy terrains. 8-millimeter gripping lugs dig into soft trails and clamp onto hard rocks. It’s a showcase from a company that specializes in outdoor activities.
  • Responsive cushioning is still one of the things that can improve and accommodate the performance of any trail runner. This running shoe makes use of a full-length foam that aims to absorb impact shock and give energy back to the foot and leg. Extra protection is provided by a rock plate wedged between the outsole and midsole.
  • A water-resistant upper graces the X-Talon 230. It allows the runner to be more confident when tackling wet or muddy ground. The tightly woven top is built to be lightweight and safe from dirt and debris. The medial and lateral sides also have gaiter pockets for those who want some extra attachments.

The Inov-8 X-Talon 230 is true to size. It makes use of standard measurements that follow the preferences of consumers. Inov-8’s Fit Scale ranks this as a Grade 1 creation, which means that the fit is narrower compared to the regular width determinants. It caters to those who have low or medium foot-dimensions.

The outsole unit of the Inov-8 X-Talon 230 makes use of a sticky rubber compound. The purpose of this material is to provide traction over the surfaces. It also serves as a shield against wear and tear. 

Gripping lugs pockmark the surface. They have a height of 8 millimeters. They act like hooks that hold onto various types of terrain, fundamentally amplifying traction.

The Meta-Flex is a single groove that runs horizontally across the area where the metatarsals initiate the bending motion. It encourages flexibility for a springy and enabled toe-off.

When it comes to performance and outsole quality, this shoe is as aggressive as the Brooks Cascadia 13 trail shoe.

The Inov-8 X-Talon 230 employs a 2-Arrow Shock Zone, which means that it offers a modest amount of cushioning. The drop from the heel to the toe is 6 millimeters.

The Powerflow+ is a cushioning unit that runs the entire length of this running shoe. The brand claims that it offers 25% more efficient energy return and shock attenuation that is 10% better than the regular foam materials on the market.

The Fascia Band is a discrete layer in the sole unit that acts as a foundation for the tendons and muscles of the underfoot. It bends along with the metatarsals and reverts back into shape during liftoff, causing the forward motion to be more energized.

The Meta-Plate is a flexible layer that is placed between the outsole and the midsole. Its purpose is to protect the foot from any sharp surfaces or abrasive debris.

Synthetic mesh composes most of the Inov-8 X-Talon 230’s upper unit. It has a close-weave construction that prevents debris from entering the foot-chamber.

The façade has been treated with the DWR or Durable Water Repellent coating. It staves off splashes and mild water infiltration without sacrificing breathability.

A synthetic web is fashioned on the mesh material. This Met-Cradle add-on secures the midfoot, keeping it in place and preventing accidental shoe-removals.

The rand of this running shoe features a layer that doesn’t absorb water. It protects the toes from getting bruised by the elements of the trails.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com