inov-8 MUDCLAW G260 Review

The name says it all, MUDCLAW, if you are looking for a shoe to handle soft, deep and slippery mud, then look no further. The inov-8 MUDCLAW G260 is for you…

BUT, before we go into what makes the MUDCLAW great, let’s have some perspective. This shoe needs perspective.

I often like to compare choosing a run shoe to cars. Going on a long drive with many hours and miles, you will no doubt want something a little more plush, relaxed and comfortable – a family car. Going off-road with mixed terrain, then maybe a 4×4. If going for spin on a summer’s day, feeling the wind in your air and the need for some speed and feel; maybe a sports car? And if you are going to go as fast as possible, want to stick to the ground and comprise comfort for speed and grip, then a Formula 1 is for you.

The inov-8 MUDCLAW G260 is a Formula 1 of run shoes.

If you are looking for a jack of all trades – the Mudclaw is not for you!

If you are looking for comfort for hours and hours – the Mudclaw is not for you!

If you are looking for insane grip in sloppy mud with an almost barefoot feel for the ground – the Mudclaw is for you!

The Mudclaw is a stripped back Formula 1 shoe for trails, fells and OCR racing. Running in the shoe reminds me of the early inov-8 posters showing a shoe tread on a foot.

inov-8 advert that really echoes the feel of the Mudclaw

The 8mm Graphene lugs are akin to football boots and hark back to what elevated inov-8 to a world-stage many years ago. Grip, grip and more grip. There is currently no other shoe on the market that has soft-ground grip that compares with the Mudclaw G260. One shoe comes close, the iRock3 by VJ Sport, but even the 6mm Butyl of the VJ does not claw and grip like the G260.

The Graphene outsole (renowned sticky rubber infused with Graphene) is now reaching many of the shoes in the inov-8 line-up and the recent success of the Terraultra G270 (here) has really turned heads. The G260 takes that Graphene and adds it to crazy lugs. So, is the grip between the G270 and the G260 comparable? Yes and no. The G270 grips incredibly on dry and wet trail, on rocks (wet or dry) but is compromised in mud as the lugs are only 4mm. With the G260, the grip in mud is incredible but with less overall contact points, the grip on wet rock is not as secure as the G270.

Quite simply, the G260 is for mud and lots of it!

When running off-road, particularly in mud, feel for the ground is important and inov-8 know this, they have therefore reduced the cushioning in the G260 to a mere 4.5mm at the front and 8.5mm at the rear. It’s almost like running barefoot. The principal is, the mud and soft-ground provides the cushioning and any additional cushioning would only compromise feel and responsiveness.

The 4mm drop, 6mm footbed and minimal Meta-Plate is ideal and in-keeping for the Mudclaw’s intentions; low to the ground and increased feel for the ground.

The upper has been reworked and like the Terraultra G270, it has a super-strong materials give high levels of durability and breathability which is proving to be a real plus with considerably less wear and tear over previous inov-8 uppers. The upper is also extremely breathable and this has an added bonus for water drainage.

As the name suggests, the weight is 260g in a UK8, so, they are super-lightweight.

Like many inov-8 shoes, the rear of the shoe has gaiter attachment points on either side to help keep out or reduce debris entering the shoes.

The fit is ‘1’ on the inov-8 scale and that quite simply means precision – no surprise for a Formula 1 shoe.

IN USE

I keep referring to a Formula 1 car and this is really important when explaining how the shoe feels. To drive a F1, you would have it toed out of the pit lane and then you would drive on the circuit. The Mudclaw is no different, you really want to put this shoe on at the trail head and run immediately off-road and in mud.

It’s hard for me to go directly to trail unless I drive there, so, even for a ‘normal’ run I will have a minimum of 1-mile of road or path. You can really feel that the shoe has little to no cushioning. It’s bearable for short distances but you really do need to keep to a minimum.

When in mud, the shoe is wonderfully at home. It grips when other shoes would not, you have a feel for the ground without compromise and the foot-hold is excellent from the lacing configuration. 

The upper is robust for the conditions and gladly drains water quickly. The overlays add structure and help hold the foot in place.

The Mudclaw is a narrow shoe and particularly narrower at the heal. Back to the Formula 1 scenario; this is a race shoe and as such some comfort is compromised. Think of a Ballerina, they would not walk around in ballet shoes, but when they perform they need a very specific shoe. The Mudclaw is the same.

Sizing leaves me with a question mark. I have been testing inov-8 for years and I am always a UK9.5. The Mudclaw feels a little too long for me in ‘my’ size but having said that, I have used them… Despite the narrow fit, I used a very thin Merino liner sock with a thicker Merino sock over the top to make some compensation. It has worked for me but I would recommend trying normal size and maybe a half-size smaller to be sure.

Back to the upper. The flex point (Meta-Flex with inov-8) in the propulsive phase is always a problem area in many shoes and in the Mudclaw the upper flexes differently, no doubt due to the material used.

At times it can feel as though there is a little too much fabric and this may cause a weakness at the bend point? With over 100km in the shoes, there is no wear showing. I will do a long-term update after 400km.

Heel box is minimal and it holds as one would expect but there is little cushioning comfort. Toe bumper is great and offers excellent protection.

The outsole is the hero of the shoe and the 8mm lugs are quite simply the best I have tried or used in mud. Give or take, there are 40 +/- lugs designed to claw into the ground and provide purchase on what normally would not be possible. This applies for soft-grass too. Despite the same Graphene as the G260, I found the hold on wet rock not quite as assured as the Terraultra G260. I put this down to less contact points. But then again, I need to clarify, this shoe is for mud!

IN SUMMARY

The Mudclaw is a shoe to be considered in addition to other shoes that you already own. It’s not a shoe that you can use for day-to-day running, it’s not even a shoe that you can use for trail runs. This shoe is for mud and mud alone. Yes, it can take a little hard-trail, yes it can take some rocks, wet or dry, and yes, you can run a little road to get to muddy trail but all times, you need to keep this to a minimum. It’s narrow, has a precision fit, offers a great feel for the ground and return gives you speed and grip.

If you want a shoe that does the above but has more comfort and has more flexibility then you need to look at X-Talon 260 which has a wider fit (4,) considerably more cushioning (6/16mm,) 8mm drop and still 8mm lugs.

It’s a shoe for mud…

Specs:

  • Fit 1
  • Drop 4mm
  • Footbed 6mm
  • Lug 8mm
  • 4.5mm front / 8.5mm rear
  • Graphene Grip
  • Meta-Plate Shank
  • RRP £140

To clarify, the shoes were provided to test, as are all the shoes that I review. But this is not a paid review.

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What is the best shoe for Road, Trail, Off-Road or Mountain?

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What is the best shoe for road, off-road, trail and mountain?

You won’t believe how many times I get asked this question. Of course I can’t answer it. Far too many variables come into play.

  • Drop
  • Cushioning
  • Grip
  • Upper type
  • Lacing
  • Outsole

Taking into consideration all of the above, certain elements are comparable and with 2015 drawing to a close I thought I would take a look back at some of the shoes I have tested and worn in the last 10-months and then put my neck on the line and say, which shoe (for me) is the best.

Shoes to look at:

  • Salomon S-Lab Sense – 4mm drop
  • Salomon S-Lab Sense SG (soft ground) – 4mm drop
  • Salomon Sense Mantra 3 – 6mm drop
  • The North Face Ultra MT – 8mm drop
  • The North Face Ultra Cardiac – 8mm drop
  • inov-8 Race Ultra (2-models) – 4mm and 8mm drop
  • inov-8 Terraclaw (2-models) – 4mm and 8mm drop
  • inov-8 Mudclaw 300 – 6mm drop
  • Scott Kinabalu 3 – 11mm drop
  • Scott Kinabalu Supertrac – 8mm drop
  • Scott Trail Rocket – 5mm drop

Notice that I have added the drop next to all the the shoes above. Drop has become a very important element when choosing a shoe. What drop you require as a runner is open to debate and to a certain extent; genetics. The book, ‘Born to Run’ inspired many runners to get low and minimal and what followed was carnage and very happy physiotherapists. Please read this post HERE to provide some perspective of my thoughts.

Drop and minimal are two separate issues.

1. Drop is the angle from the heel to the toes that the foot will sit at when parallel to the ground.

2. Cushioning is the amount of ‘soft stuff’ between you and the ground.

To clarify:

  • You can have low drop (typically 4mm) and LOADS of cushioning = Hoka One One
  • You can have low drop (zero) and no cushioning = Vibram
  • You can have a combination of varying drop and varying cushioning = Many of the above shoes.

So, if you want zero drop and no cushioning OR you want lower drop and maximal cushioning; stop reading, this is not the review for you!

If however, you are looking for a shoe that can handle some road, off road or mountain paths then read on; which shoe is a jack of all trades?

Where do I start?

It’s quite daunting taking so many shoes and then saying which pair, in my opinion is the best. So, here is my criteria:

  • Ability to run on road
  • Ability to run on hard trails
  • Ability on dry and wet rocks
  • Grip in mud
  • Climbing
  • Descending
  • Time on feet
  • Fit
  • Lacing
  • Cushioning
  • Outsole
  • Wear and tear
  • Drop
  • Conclusion

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Salomon S-Lab Sense SG – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – For a shoe with an aggressive outsole, on road experience is good but as the name suggests, the SG is for Soft Ground.

Ability to run on hard trails – Good. Handles the trail well with comfort.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is very compromised and at times sketchy/ scary.

Grip in mud – For such an aggressive outsole, the grip is moderate. The SG sits somewhere in the middle.

Climbing – Shoes feel great. They are flexible, hold your foot snug and you have a feeling of precision. They also handle wet ground well providing it does not get very muddy. Wet rock is hit and miss.

Descending – As above but in mud, or on wet it can be a challenge.

Time on feet – 6mm drop, adequate cushioning and great fit make this shoe very popular. Excellent for 50k and after that it depends on the runner and the runners adaptation.

Fit – Excellent. Endofit and the speed lacing system is the best out there!

Lacing – The best but lacks an ability to tweak or adjust.

Cushioning – Cushioning is good and finds a nice mix that still allows feel and contact with the ground.

Outsole – It’s a soft ground outsole but for me it’s a great outsole for dry terrain with a variety of surfaces and not too much mud.

Toe box – Narrow, precision fit.

Wear and tear – Moderate – 500k – 600k

Drop – 4mm

Conclusion – Great fit, 4mm drop and soft ground outsole. For many this is the ultimate off road, trail and mountain shoe for longer days training or racing. It’s limited in the wet and mud though.

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Salomon S-Lab Sense 

Ability to run on road – Excellent. The outsole has a low profile.

Ability to run on hard trails – Excellent. The outsole has a low profile and therefore if the trail is dry, these shoes will fly along.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is compromised and at times sketchy. You lack 100% confidence and that makes you go slower.

Grip in mud – Hopeless.

Climbing – Shoes feel great. They are flexible, hold your foot snug and you have a feeling of precision. Not good in the wet or mud.

Descending – As above but in mud, or on wet rock forget it!

Time on feet – This depends on ones adaptation to a more minimal shoe. If you like being close to the ground with a low drop this shoe will be perfect. However, for me I prefer this shoe for shorter runs on dry trails.

Fit – Excellent. Endofit and the speed lacing system is the best out there!

Lacing – The best but lacks an ability to tweak or adjust.

Cushioning – This is a more minimal shoe but it does have cushioning.

Outsole – For dry trails

Toe box – Narrow, precision fit.

Wear and tear – Moderate – 500k.

Drop – 4mm

Conclusion – It’s a racing shoe for dry trails for mid to fore-foot runners. Fit is excellent if you like a precision feel.

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Salomon Sense Mantra 3 – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – Excellent. The outsole has a low profile.

Ability to run on hard trails – Excellent. The outsole has a low profile and therefore if the trail is dry, these shoes will fly along.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is compromised and at times sketchy. You lack 100% confidence and that makes you go slower.

Grip in mud – Hopeless.

Climbing – Shoes feel great. They are flexible, hold your foot snug and you have a feeling of precision. Not good in the wet or mud.

Descending – As above but in mud, or on wet rock forget it!

Time on feet – This depends on ones adaptation to a more minimal shoe. If you like being close to the ground with a low drop this shoe will be perfect. However, for me I prefer this shoe for shorter runs on dry trails.

Fit – Excellent. Endofit and the speed lacing system is the best out there!

Lacing – The best but lacks an ability to tweak or adjust.

Cushioning – This is a more minimal shoe but it does have cushioning.

Outsole – For dry trails

Toe box – Toe box is generous and for those looking for a Salomon with more room, this is the shoe for you!

Wear and tear – Good 700K

Drop – 6mm

Conclusion – I think the Mantra is a shoe that more people should look at. They often go for the S-Lab Sense because of the S-Lab tag but for me, this is a better all around shoe and far more suited for most runners. It has 6mm drop, wider toe box and more cushioning. If you run long on dry trails this is a great shoe.

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The North Face Ultra MT – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – Good considering the outsole but keep it to a minimum.

Ability to run on hard trails – It handles hard and dry trails well but the shoe lacks flexibility and is a little firm.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is better than the Salomon due the Vibram sole. Felt far more confident in this shoe.

Climbing – Good but they are not as supple and flexible as others in the test. Grip is goo.

Descending – As above.

Time on feet – The Ultra MT is a relatively firm shoe that excels on softer, muddier and forgiving ground. If you stick to that terrain they are excellent.

Fit – Pretty good, you may need to replace the laces (not great) and tweak how they are laced to get the best fit.

Lacing – Provided laces are average.

Cushioning – It’s a firm shoe and although cushioning is present, it’s not a cushioned shoe.

Outsole – Is Vibram and aggressive. It’s good!

Toe box – Has loads of protection and although not over wide it will work for most people.

Wear and tear – Good 600k but less if you go on the road a great deal.

Drop – 8mm

Conclusion – I was disappointed with the Ultra MT at first. I wanted it to be something else I think! But after several runs I found that they excelled off road when the terrain was forgiving (cushioned) and muddy, wet or slick. It’s a good mountain shoe that protects the foot.

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The North Face Ultra Cardiac – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – Excellent. The outsole has a relatively low profile.

Ability to run on hard trails – Excellent. The outsole has a low profile and therefore if the trail is dry, these shoes will fly along.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – Good. Confidence in both scenarios.

Grip in mud – Moderate. It’s a great middle ground shoe so does not handle the real muddy terrain well.

Climbing – Shoes feel great. They are flexible, hold your foot snug and you have a feeling of precision. Not good in the wet or mud.

Descending – As above but in mud it’s compromised.

Time on feet – Great. The combination of 8mm drop and good cushioning make this a great long distance trail. mountain or off road shoe for primarily dry conditions. I’d recommend these for 100-miles and multi-day racing.

Fit – Good with a well padded tongue.

Lacing – Standard lacing that you may wish to tweak for the best fit.

Cushioning – Great cushioning but not maximal. Ideal for longer days.

Outsole – Great compromise outsole that can handle road and trail. Okay for mud but not too much!

Toe box – Is average width so if you need a wide toe box you may want to try them.

Wear and tear – The upper lacks durability which is the only downside of the shoe – 500k?

Drop – 8mm

Conclusion – One of the best ‘all-rounders’ in this test that can handle multiple terrains with an 8mm drop that will allow you to run long.

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inov-8 Race Ultra 270 (4mm drop) and 290 (8mm drop) – Read full reviews HERE (270) and HERE (290)

Ability to run on road – Good, the outsole has minimal tread and they work well on road.

Ability to run on hard trails – As above, good outsole for hard and dry trails.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – Average grip and terrible when wet.

Grip in mud – Hopeless.

Climbing – If you have really wide feet they will feel ok, if not they feel sloppy, over stiff and lack any true feeling with the ground beneath.

Descending – Toe box is too wide and therefore foot moves around inside the shoe causing friction, toe impact and a lack of control.

Time on feet – A real plus of inov-8 shoes is that they provide you with 2 drops, 4mm and 8mm so that you can get the correct shoe for you. I personally prefer the 8mm drop shoe and the cushioning that goes with it for longer runs.

Fit – If you have wide feet one of these shoes may well be for you. They are roomy! Too roomy for me.

Lacing – Standard lacing and I used a ‘lock-lacing’ method to make both shoes feel more secure on my feet.

Cushioning – In both models is good but lacks feel for me and suppleness.

Outsole – For dry trails only.

Toe box – Wide, very wide.

Wear and tear – Very good 7/800k

Drop – 4mm and 8mm

Conclusion – The Race Ultra shoes look great and have been extremely popular. I personally don’t get along with either model. I can run in them for sure but I wouldn’t if I can choose any other shoe in this list. For me they lack feel for the ground, they are sloppy and stiff.

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inov-8 Terraclaw 220 (4mm drop) and 250 (8mm drop) – Read full reviews HERE (220) and HERE (250)

Ability to run on road – Both shoes run well on the road with good feedback but be warned, the outsole will wear dowm.

Ability to run on hard trails – Excellent. Plenty of feeling in both shoes and the grip works well.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is compromised and at times sketchy. You lack 100% confidence and that makes you go slower.

Grip in mud – If it’s not too muddy they work well. This shoe is trying to be the perfect trail shoe doing all things well. Of course, compromises are made at the extremes: all road or all mud.

Climbing – Shoes feel great. They are flexible, hold your foot snug if laced correctly but the wide toe box lacks precision and makes them feel too sloppy for me.

Descending – As above but in mud grip is compromised and on wet rock you slow down.

Time on feet – This depends on ones adaptation and preference. Two shoes and two options, for me the 250 with 8mm drop is the shoe for longer days but if you are efficient and like low drop, the 220 works great,

Fit – Slipper like feel as the shoe has very little seams. You get a great barefoot feel from the wide toe box and if you lace the shoe as per your needs, they are very comfortable.

Lacing – The 250 laces conventionally and the 220 laces at an angle. I used lock lacing in both models to get a more firm hold of my foot which added security.

Cushioning – Cushioning is good in both but the 250 is for longer runs with more cushioning.

Outsole – Has good grip made from 2 compounds. The sole is aggressive but not too aggressive. You can run on the road in comfort and on the trails. Comprises would be made when the trail gets muddy, you start to loose grip. I also wouldn’t recommend for just road runs.

Toe box – Very wide.

Wear and tear – Good but not great, 6-700k

Drop – 4mm and 8 mm

Conclusion – The Terraclaw is everything the Race Ultra should be. They are comfortable, have great feel for the ground and the grip is great for all around use.

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inov-8 Mudclaw 300 – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – Surprisingly good considering the outsole but keep it to a minimum.

Ability to run on hard trails – Okay but this shoe is for the soft and muddy stuff as the name implies.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is excellent for such an aggressive outsole. I would say the best in this group.

Grip in mud – Excellent. They will take loads of mud, soft grass and give you more security than any other shoe here.

Climbing – Shoes feel great. They are flexible, hold your foot snug and you have a feeling of precision. Although precision fit the toe box has room.

Descending – Excellent. Shoes give you great confidence.

Time on feet – If you are running in mud all day, the 300 has cushioning to go with the grip and I’d say they are one of the better long distance off road/ fell shoes. If you are on hard or dry trails you’ll start to feel it.

Fit – Precision fit shoe designed to hold your foot so that you can run with confidence. Toe box was roomier than expected and I had to lace with a locking method as they have a low heel to reduce problems with the achilles tendon.

Lacing – Standard lacing and I used a lock lacing method to add a more secure feel.

Cushioning – This is a more cushioned fell shoe and therefore it’s great for longer soft ground running.

Outsole – Aggressive for the soft and muddy stuff.

Toe box – Narrow, precision fit.

Wear and tear – On soft ground they will last but add hard trail, gravel and road and they will wear because of the soft rubber outsole.

Drop – 6mm

Conclusion – Brilliant off road shoe with great cushioning and 6mm drop for long days on soft, mountain and boggy terrain. A comprise comes with shoe longevity if you run on road and gravel but then again, the shoes name tells you where you should be using it! Grip is excellent even on rocks when dry and wet.

Scott T2 Kinabalu 2015

Scott T2 Kinabalu 2015

Scott T2 Kinabalu 3 – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – Excellent. It’s not a road shoe but it runs great on the hard stuff.

Ability to run on hard trails – Excellent. The outsole has a low profile and therefore if the trail is dry, these shoes will fly along.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is compromised.

Grip in mud – Moderate, they can handle a little soft stuff but not too much.

Climbing – Pretty good. The shoes are a little more substantial than others in the test and therefore they are a little heavier and a little more rigid.

Descending – Good feel and cushioning but grip is compromised on wet and muddy trail/ rocks.

Time on feet – Great shoe for longer running and a very durable upper with great protection. The shoe has an 11mm drop which is almost unheard of these days. 8mm has become the norm. But Scott use a ‘rocker’ and this does keep you mid to fore-foot and they don’t feel like 11mm drop when running.

Fit – Great fitting shoe that feels comfortable and holds the foot.

Lacing – Standard lacing with ‘lace-locker’ to hold excess lacing after they are tied.

Cushioning – Very good.

Outsole – It’s a road to trail shoe that offers grip similar to the TNF Ultra Cardiac but they have more grip than the Race Ultra, S-Lab Sense and Sense Mantra 3.

Toe box – Standard with good protection

Wear and tear – Very good 800k.

Drop – 11mm

Conclusion – The Kinabalu in it’s 3rd incarnation is a really good shoe, if it was 8mm drop it would be excellent. It’s a great shoe for those who want one shoe to do all things.

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Scott Kinabalu Supertrac – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – Surprisingly good for an aggressive sole and you can run comfortable for longer periods of time.

Ability to run on hard trails – Excellent. As above.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is compromised at times but you have confidence in the shoes.

Climbing – They are heavier shoes with less flex but the combination of grip and firm foothold make them very pleasing to wear.

Descending – Good cushioning and a robust (bomb proof) upper make you feel confident to tackle most terrain.

Time on feet – 8mm drop, good cushioning and a bomb proof upper make these great for long days. The only downside comes with the weight of the shoe. They are a fair bit heavier (340g) than other shoes in this test.

Fit – Great fitting shoes, maybe a little stiff when new but they soften. Toe box has room but not too much room and protection is excellent.

Lacing – Standard with ‘Lace-Locker.’

Cushioning – Excellent

Outsole – Aggressive that works on a multitude of surfaces.

Toe box – Standard with good protection.

Wear and tear – Excellent 800k

Drop – 8mm

Conclusion – This shoe is a real winner that mixes up different surfaces really well in a shoe that gives great cushioning all with an 8mm drop. The downside is the weight.

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Scott Trail Rocket – Read full review HERE

Ability to run on road – Excellent.

Ability to run on hard trails – Excellent.

Ability on dry and wet rocks – On dry rocks, grip is very good. On wet rocks the grip is compromised.

Climbing – Shoes feel great. They are flexible, hold your foot snug and you have a feeling of precision. Not good in the wet or mud.

Descending – Okay if it is dry.

Time on feet – This depends on ones adaptation to a more minimal shoe. This is a shoe for faster running on dry/ mixed trail.

Fit – Good snug fit with precision feel.

Lacing – Standard.

Cushioning – This is a more minimal shoe for faster running but they are well cushioned.

Outsole – For dry trails

Toe box – Narrow, precision fit.

Wear and tear – Moderate – 5/600k.

Drop – 5mm

Conclusion – Great fitting shoe and the race rocker works well for keeping you mid to forefoot. This shoe compares to the Salomon S-Lab Sene, Mantra 3 or the Race Ultras. It has a specific use.

And the winner is?

Before I say my winner, lets look at my thought process. By ‘best’ shoe I am taking into consideration many things such as: comfort, drop, cushioning, longevity, fit and so on. I am not looking at the colour or the price of the shoe. It may sound flippant but all shoes are around the same price these days and to be honest, if the shoe is what I want and I know it works then I will pay the bucks.

You may well say, ‘But you can’t compare 4mm drop shoes to 8mm drop shoes and shoes with hardly any grip to shoes with loads of grip!’

Yes, I know.

But in some respects, this review or this comparison is all about purchasing one pair of shoes that can do all things well. If I wanted to just run in the mud I would get the Mudclaw 300. If I was just going to run fast hard trail I may well go for the Salomon Sense Mantra 3.

So, here you go:

Scott Kinabalu Supertrac

Surprised?

I am! When I started this process I didn’t think the Scott would come out on top but you know what, it has been a relatively easy decision.

I know it’s a heavy shoe and that is a big down side, especially when you compare it to say the Salomon which are almost 100g lighter; that is huge! But if I could only have one pair of shoes that had to take me along roads, along dry trails, up mud, down mud and along rocks in the wet and dry then the Supertrac would be the ones for me! The combination of 8mm drop, excellent cushioning, bullet proof upper, ‘rocker’ design and the aggressive outsole make them a winner; for me!

On a final note, shoes often have very specific uses and all the shoes above (in most cases) do one thing well! So, if you have the funds and the desire to own multiple pairs of shoes this almost certainly is the best way to go.

Three key shoe choices:

  • Road/ dry trails
  • Trail shoes for mixed conditions
  • Mud/ off-road shoes

The other key choice is drop and cushioning – you know your needs!

What are your thoughts and what shoes have I not tried here that would provide some competition?

inov-8 MUDCLAW 300 Shoe Review

 

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C’mon, get a grip! If you run in mud, you will no doubt be familiar with inov-8. For years, inov-8 has provided the ‘go-to’ shoes for running when the ground gets wet, slippery, muddy, gnarly and so on!

The Mudclaw 300 is not a new shoe in the massive inov-8 line up. The 2015 incarnation though does have a wicked and eye grabbing colour way and having used many versions on inov-8 (fave the 212 here) I was keen to put the Mudclaw 300 through its paces. Believe it or not, I am (was) a 300 virgin!

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Red, blue and a white logo. Have to say, inov-8 does a great job of getting shoes to jump off the shelf. I love this colour way and yes, it makes me want to wear the shoe. If you have the previous version of the ‘300’ in yellow and black, don’t be fooled into thinking this is the same shoe. It’s not.

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The sole and heel have had a revamp. The previous model really flared up at the rear, the new incarnation (red and blue) sits much closer to the ground, does not flare up and the heel box sits lower so as to cause no problems with the Achilles.

It’s still a 2-arrow shoe, so, 6mm drop.

Drop is a personal thing but I am a firm believer that 6mm/ 8mm drop shoes provide a great middle ground and if you are running longer, a slightly higher drop is kinder on the calf and legs. Of course, this is all down to personal preference. If you don’t know what the drop of the shoes you run in is, it’s worth finding out. Going too low too soon could cause injury.

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The sole has 8mm lugs. If Wolverine™ wore run shoes he would most likely go for the Mudclaw. Yes, they are grippy buggers. The rubber compound is soft and grippy but be warned, the shoe is called Mudclaw for a reason, you want to keep hard ground and abrasive surfaces to a minimum in these shoes as the sole WILL wear down. My test run includes 1-mile of road before and after the trails and I have to say, this shoe feels wonderfully comfortable on the hard stuff despite its ‘off-road’ pedigree. You can actually hear the sole grip. Sounds weird I know, but it’s very clear and you can feel it. At the front of the shoe, just behind where the toes would sit is a clearing in the sole with a META-FLEX™ this allows the shoe to bend without restriction when running. Works great when climbing!

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As the name suggests, the weight of the shoe is 300g. inov-8 always name the shoes based on the weight of a UK8.5 in case you didn’t know. It’s a pretty cool system actually as you can see at a glance, based on weight, if a shoe may or may not be suitable for you.

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The upper is treated with DWR coating and has a ‘Precision’ fit. Let’s be clear here, inov-8 now makes many shoes in a ‘standard’ and ‘precision’ fit. If you have a wide foot, this is good news because you may now well be able to wear a shoe that you were not able to wear in the past. But for me, the Mudclaw and shoes like it are all about control and precision. A shoe for really muddy and technical conditions should hold your foot and allow no movement. You need that controlled feel. Control gives precision and precision means faster running and less mistakes. Of course I am giving a very personal opinion here but I hope you see the logic? What I am saying is, be careful when choosing a shoe. Precision for my relatively wide foot is great when I need it but I wouldn’t want to be running all day with my toes cramped into a shoe. For me, the Mudclaw although precision in fit still had a relatively roomy toe box and this was great on the technical muddy stuff.

The tongue is held in place by elastic to stop it slipping. It’s a great move. However, the Mudclaw  doesn’t fit as tightly or as snug as say the Salomon S-Lab Sense SG (the perfect fitting shoe for me!) but if laced correctly (try this), pulled tight and double knotted your foot should feel super secure; my feet were!

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Getting lacing right is particularly important as the heel box has been tweaked so that it sits lower on the Achilles Tendon to avoid tension and potential injury problems. On my first run I felt as though my heel was slipping and I was unsure if this was a good move. Once re-laced, tightened appropriately, I can confirm that the lower heel is a good idea.

The rand around the lower part of the upper is now stitched and should in principal last longer and be more durable. Toe protection is relatively minimal.

The sides of the shoe are reinforced with a series of zig-zag support (webbing upper support) to hold the foot in place and these extend to the back of the shoe. They do the job, I had no issues with feeling that I had any lack of support.

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Cushioning for me is one of the key factors of this shoe. I have long been a fan of the 212 (here) but when running longer I found it just a little too minimal. Not so with the 300. The EVA foam, 6mm drop and Meta-Shank all work together to make this a great shoe for longer days out. The stack height is 28mm and therefore considered low but obviously not as low as some. It has average stiffness that works exceptionally well on varied terrain. It has no rock plate but does have a performance last and Met-Cradle.

The shoe is as you would expect in an out-and-out off road/ mud shoe fits NEUTRAL.

In Use

My first run in the shoe was mixed. I found my foot moved around a little and I felt insecure with the lower heel. When I got home I looked at the shoe, re-laced it and then the following day went out and ran the same 8-mile loop. It was a completely different experience.

First and foremost, these shoes grip and really grip. If it’s wet and muddy these are now my go to shoe. I recently ran an uphill and downhill trail in Ireland that was on the Mourne Skyline MTR race route and the trail incorporates many elements – forest path, tree routes, gravel, stone steps, mud, road and it had rained heavily before the run and drizzled whilst running. At no point did I have any question on grip! For a shoe that is designed to keep you secure on muddy trail, I was amazed at the security on wet and slick rock. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. You need that 100% reassurance so that you can relax, the the Mudclaw 300 gave me this.

Although a precision fit shoe, I found the toe box roomier than my inov-8 212. No bad thing and it certainly caused me no issues. The added cushioning was superb when running longer or when getting off soft ground and on to harder trails. Certainly a shoe I would choose when training or racing longer.

6mm drop for me is perfect and the stack height of the shoe made me feel 100% confident; no rolling! Depending on your experience, preferred distance and ability, the Mudclaw 300 is a perfect training shoe that will keep you happy for many a run. I personally would be more than happy racing in it over any distance. For the more experienced, they may well prefer a slightly lighter shoe? The Mudcaw 265 for example is 35g lighter, has the same outsole and 3mm drop.

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Summary

The Mudclaw 300 is a shoe for when you need grip. It’s comfortable, secure, provides excellent traction and if laced correctly will hold your foot firm. It’s not a shoe for running on the road even though it’s remarkably comfortable. Just keep in mind, the more you run on the hard stuff, the quicker the sole will wear out. My daily training run has 1-mile of road out and back and I have been using the Mudclaw 300 on a regular basis. I currently can see minimal wear after 80-miles. The shoe is true to size. I wear a UK9.5 and the inov-8 fit perfectly in the same size.

Specs:

  • Weight: 300G / 10.5OZ
  • Fit: PRECISION
  • Upper: SYNTHETIC, TPU
  • Lining: MESH
  • Footbed: 6MM
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Shank: META-SHANK™ 1
  • Drop: 6MM
  • Sole: MUDCLAW™
  • Compound: STICKY
  • Gender: UNISEX

What inov-8 say:

The legendary all-terrain animal has undergone a makeover for SS15. Now boasting the same flatter heel unit as the mudclaw™ 265, but still maintaining its 6mm drop, the mudclaw™ 300 also has an improved, more flexible upper. A fully gusseted tongue helps keep any debris out. Its hero-status outsole remains as aggressive as ever, guaranteeing the ultimate grip for mountain, obstacle and adventure racers on the muddiest, steepest terrains. Website HERE

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An incredible and inspiring weekend in the heart of the English Lakes with a committed team of athletes and employees of inov-8. It’s been a real pleasure to spend quality time discussing the brand, apparel and shoes. Watch out in 2015, inov-8 have some seriously quality products coming your way!

Here are just a small selection of images as a teaser….

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Check out inov-8 at http://www.inov-8.com

Alex Nichols – Zegama pre race interview

Alex Nichols Inov-8 copyright Ian Corless

Alex Nichols Inov-8 copyright Ian Corless

Alex Nichols has had a long journey to Zegama. However, he has had some time to relax and recover and without doubt he is looking forward to the challenge that will unfold on Sunday.

Without doubt he is excited to be racing Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Michel Lanne, Marco de Gasperi and more… he is new to racing in Europe and he appreciates the racing and trails are very different to the US. But he is here to race, his form is good and he plans to push at the front of the race!

YouTube HERE

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