Inov-8 X-Claw 275 ReviewSeptember 29, 2016
- Quick turnover
- Aggressive grip
- Wide forefoot
- Overkill for smooth trails
- Narrow laces
- Shallow heel cups
- Reduced breathability
The Inov-8 X-Claw 275 makes smart compromises in a lightweight, nimble package that can handle challenging trails as well as multi-hour runs. Our wear-testers had some concerns about the model’s fit and its performance on gentler terrain, but praised its responsiveness and low weight.
Although technically an update to the discontinued X-Talon, the new Inov-8 X-Claw 275 strikes a balance between two models in the company’s line – the very aggressive Mudclaw which is designed for off-trail running, and the Race Ultra which is designed for day-long ultramarathons. The X-Claw 275 combines the Mudclaw’s aggressive tread with the Race Ultra’s comfortable, responsive midsole. The result is a trail shoe that can handle gnarly conditions and tough trails, but doesn’t leave you feeling beat up at the end of a long day. It’s also the only shoe in this round of wear-testing to weigh in under 10oz (for men’s size 9). Our wear-testers praised the X-Claw 275’s responsiveness, low weight, comfort, quick turnover, and stability, but had some concerns about the fit. In particular, the narrow laces made it hard to lock down the uppers comfortably and a shallow heel cup allowed some runners’ feel to lift out on steep climbs. Overall, our wear-testers thought the X-Claw 275 was a strong choice for rough trails and challenging conditions, but like the Salomon Speedcross 4, a bit of overkill for smoother terrain. One wear-tester described it as a “mountain machine that offers a lot of protection in the upper, flexibility in the midsole, and incredible traction from the outsole.” However, fans of Inov-8 who want a true all-around shoe should also look at the new Terraclaw and Trailtalon models.
The X-Claw 275 has a relatively wide base from heel to toe, which has benefits and drawbacks. The roomy forefoot and toebox accommodate natural toe splay and inevitable swelling, but the wider midfoot and heel introduce a bit of sloppiness. One wear-tester found the toebox too large, however, noting that, “it has a little too much volume in the forefoot, causing folds around the first and last toe.” The materials of the upper are firm and supportive without any abrasion or irritation. The heel cup and tongue have a moderate amount of cushion – enough to be comfortable, but not so much that they feel pillowy or overstuffed.
Shoes with this much protection underfoot typically carry a weight penalty, but the X-Claw 275 is the lightest shoe in this round of wear-testing and the only model to weigh in under 10oz (for men’s size 9). As a result, it feels agile and quick on the trail. Our wear-testers praised the X-Claw 275’s easy turnover and nimble, quick trail feel.
Security of Fit
For the X-Claw 275, Inov-8 uses welded supports on most of the upper, with thicker stitched sections for the toe guard, lateral support, and heel wrap. Our wear-testers unanimously criticized the thin laces Inov-8 includes with this model though, with one noting that he had a hard time getting a precise, secure fit without feeling like he was cutting off circulation to his feet. Another complained that he had to stop to re-tie the laces several times. Wider laces, either flat or sausage-casing, would be a welcome improvement to the next version of the X-Claw.
The full-contact rubber outsole and 6mm lugs are made from Inov-8’s proprietary Dual C compound, which is both sticky and durable. The X-Claw 275 has terrific ground feel with great control in muddy, soft conditions and over trail obstacles. On the flipside, however, our wear-testers reported that the aggressive sole was overkill for gravel and smooth singletrack, which makes the X-Claw 275 slightly less versatile than some more all-around trail runners.
Inov-8 claims their proprietary PowerFlow midsole foam delivers 10-15% better efficiency and energy return than other EVA sole materials (although it’s unclear how that might compare to other new midsole technologies like Adidas’ Boost and Saucony’s Everun). Our wear-testers described the X-Claw’s responsiveness with terms like “exceptional” and “phenomenal”.
The X-Claw 275’s outsole is well-designed for wet, soft, technical terrain. As one wear-tester noted, “the lugs are softer than other Inov-8 shoes I’ve run in and provided a more forgiving connection with the ground that not only allows for a softer strike, but also allows the lugs to wrap around rocks and roots on the trail.” Another wear-tester praised the dense, durable nylon upper as a feature that, “prevents dirt and debris from slowing you down and offers protection from water, mud, snow or anything else trying to ruin your run; the downside is less breathability for hot days.”
Jason is a trail runner and ultra-marathoner who lives with his wife and children in the frozen tundra of northeastern Wisconsin.