So, its in that spirit I write an out of the box review of a friend's recent acquisition - the Inov8 Talon 212:
Full Disclosure: I have not put any miles on these shoes, however, I have worn them, so all of my thoughts will be through that lens.
Right off the bat, the first thing noticeable is the weight of the shoe (or lack thereof) and the aggressive lugs on the outsole of the shoe. There aren't a ton of the lugs versus something like the Brooks PureGrit 2, but they are serious. The shoe weighs in at a nimble 7.5oz (or 212g - thus the name Talon 212) and on the foot feel great. Given Inov8's approach to minimal shoe design, I expected a little more room in the toebox than one actually gets. The fit was more like a track spike or a X-Country spike than minimal, splay-friendly shoe.
Clearly, Inov8 expects wearers to do some serious mudding in these babies. The Talon looks like just that, claws you put on your feet. If you look at the picture above, you'll see right above the midsole, a black wrap around moving into a lighter gray material. These are two different types of material. The black is a bit more hefty and protective and the gray a bit more breathable. I would guess that this keeps the foot dry when trekking through shallow water, but also allows the foot to dry if it does get wet along the trail.
The yellow overlays really grab the foot nicely. The single biggest thing in a shoe for me is it feeling like part of my foot and subsequently an extension of my leg. This was absolutely the case here. On the trail I suspect that it will be a very capable and nimble shoe.
Midsole-wise, there's a 4mm heel/toe differential bringing you pretty close to the ground. And there is a midsole there offering some protection, but it is worth noting that there is no motion control to this shoe at all. No medial post (no help in the arch of the foot), so this may not be the best choice for runners needing that kind of support. I also didn't see anything that functions as a rock plate for tough terrain although I felt the shoe's outsole was a bit on the firm side.
I look forward to putting some miles on the Inov8 Talon 212, as I have a big trail race coming in May 2013 and could be persuaded to race in them - have thoughts? Share them here: