Whereas most running shoes start off talking about running, this is quite the opposite. Running is involved, but I wasn’t doing any. Inov-8 sent me a pair of Trail Talon’s before I flew out to Chamonix, covering their athletes at UTMB and I intended to wear these for all my time on the trails.
The Trail Talon is the replacement to the Race Ultra, a shoe that moved away from Inov-8’s barefoot/fell running offerings and combined cushioning to their reputation for grip. In doing so they created a trail monster, a shoe which would protect the wearers foot for the longest of ultras, while offering exceptional traction. As you can imagine, when the Ultra was pulled from the line there was uproar in Inov8’s community, I mean how could they? Could the Trail Talon be a worthy replacement? After a few short runs prior to flying out, I landed with a 15kg camera bag on my back and a suitcase in tow. Outside of a party (which required formal wear…), the Trail Talons were inseparable from my feet for 4 days. Chamonix was on fire, thankfully not literally, at 30°C+ and 1000m of elevation at the base of the valley it would be a hot one. Rushing around Chamonix from press event, meetings and filming Damian Hall pre race the Talons were comfortable under load and on pavements and the reliable grip aided meandering around tourists, runners and locals.
My job was to capture the elite race and in particular Nicky Spinks, Damian Hall and Jasmin Paris, who was taking in her first 100 mile race. I was on the official press bus and would follow the race for the full duration with the front pack, being driven around the course, before hiking into locations.
Over the next 24 hours, I would hike the Grand Col Ferret 2490m, among other climbs – if only I’d strava’d it all – while carrying 15kg+ of camera gear and kit, around the clock to get photos. For this period I never took the Trail Talons off and ran half way down the Col on loose rock with the pack. Outside of one tumble when the packs weight and momentum outwitted me on a tight corner descent, I had no issues staying on foot.
6AM | Silence on the Grand Col Ferret | UTMB ______________________________________________ After hiking through the cloud inversion, starting down in the valley at 4AM, we were met with silence and the spectacle of being the privaledged few to witness the sunrise. It wasn't long before Zach Miller would tear up the ascent, leading the race and after 20 or so runners, we would be running down past countless others as we made our way back to our viechles, moving onto the next location. Even in the madness, you can grab a moment of solitude to reflect, admire & exist. ______________________________ #utmb #utmb2016 #trailrunning #running #run #morning #mountains #sunrise #inversion #italy #360 #gopro #selfie #berghaus #inov8 #nature #findyourpeak #gnarcissistic #stuffyouprobablywant #outdoortech #mysummit @gopro @berghausofficial @peakdesign @inov_8 @kendalmountainfestival @lifesystemsuk
Although we were advised to wear walking boots, I was glad to the Trail Talon 275 on. The grip was phenomenal, the ride was far more comfortable, they breathed well and they were light. Lugging kilo plus boots up and down mountains on a tight schedule….. lets leave that for winter (or the new Roclite 325 GTX boot). To top things off it helped when I decided to chase Zach Miller, Julian Chorier and others down the Col for footage multiple times.
So more about the Trail Talon 275.
4mm lugs provide grip without slowing you down on the trail. Given the terrain the Talon’s are aimed at, they grip like an iron to a magnet. The lug compound grips to all manner of obstacles, from rock to roots, allowing you to anticipate your foot holding in mixed conditions. The exterior lugs provide reliable grip on switch backs and when you hit a corner hard. Multiple times I was ushered by mountain guides at UTMB to get off the hill and stop taking photos, to make sure we got to the next location in time and I had to put my faith in the fact the shoe would bite in the ground on steep exposed terrain.For a shoe with cushion, they have a great degree of flex and the Meta-flex™ provides flexibility without lack of control. Whether ascending or descending, this allowed for proper traction and the lugs to do their job.
Now I reviewed the ROADCLAW last year and commented on their cushioning. The Trail Talon takes the two piece POWERFLOW midsole and positions it on the trail. Inov-8 claims the midsole composition absorbs 10% more shock and delivers 15% better energy returns than their standard midsoles. Having used Mudclaw, X-Talon and Terraclaw, which contain the standard midsole I can say the absorption and return are noticeably better on trails. Of course, if these were on fell, the results would be much harder to tell. Having lived in the Trail Talon for a 24 hour period, the midsole has longevity as it doesn’t break down, give or fail over long durations of use. For many this will be music to their ears, given a 50 or 100 mile race will take much longer the elites.
For long runs, the heel to toe drop is 8mm providing enough support without likeliness of your foot growing tired prematurely. Having hiked, run and lived for a day in the Trail Talon, I feel it’s hit the sweet spot and needn’t be any greater or smaller.The new ADAPTERFIT met-cradle wraps around the midfoot, with its exoskeleton and adds a firm grip where its required. The construction allows for adaptability when in motion, rather than being a rigid web of plastic restricting your foot. This was great in the heat of the day, when my feet roasted. The upper is durable and breathable, but I live 50% of the year in flip flops even in England! Inov-8 have developed in the meantime a pair with a more breathable upper, it’s almost like they read my mind, if you have industrial heaters between your toes TRAILTALON 275 Chill.
Now I wont lie, when I first laid eyes on the ADAPTERFIT met-cradle, I wasn’t sold. I thought it looked like an after thought and it would be rigid. Aesthetically, the Trail Talon 250 was more to my taste. However, I’ve come round and like the looks. I still prefer the 250, but no longer think the cradle looks like a dinosaur. Like most relationships, they flourish with time and patience.Up top, the gusseted tongue works well to keep debris out and although the laces may look a little old fashioned, in an age where speed lace systems or even BOA is becoming more common place, they’re quick, reliable and can be changed on the move if you snap them and remember a backup in the bottom of your pack. The heel lock is snug, with a soft cushion which works wonders on long outings. To aid keeping crud and debris out, the Trail Talon 275 is fitted with two hooks which work in unison with the Race Ultra Gaitor, forming a seal around your ankle for runs you know sand and small debris will be filling up around your ankle.
As you may have guessed by now, they weigh in at 275 grams and the reality is for a shoe that has so much grip, cushioning and durability, it’s light. For those looking for a pair for faster outings, the TRAILTALON 250 has a 4mm drop a shaves 25 grams per shoe .
Fit wise I went up half a size to a UK 10, which is my preference with most Inov-8 products. The Talon only comes in a Standard Fit and had this been aimed at the fells, I would have preferred a Precision as prefer the security. But this being trails, I had no issues and with my hot feet (one day I’ll shut up about them) the extra space was welcome. For longer races, the extra room really is of benefit. The toe box is also roomy enough to splay your toes and won’t pose any risk of rubbing outer toes.
All in all the Trail Talon 275 has been a pleasure to use on the trails, from running to lugging camera kit around alpine Cols. They were flawless following Nicky, Jasmin and Damian at UTMB and took them all onto phenomenal results – see Jasmin and Nicky’s interview I shot the day after.
At £130 at retail, they are pushing the upper price tag of trail shoes, however given they can perform the distance and offer good durability, it’s a price that can be justified. If you are looking for a shoe for man made trails, require a refined cushioned ride and like a good deal of grip, you certainly wouldn’t go wrong with Inov’8s Trail Talon 275. They’ve grown on me over the past 6 months, taken me to incredible places and are a shoe I’ve worn day to day given their comfort and grip. Well done Inov-8.