adidas Terrex Two Boa Shoe Review

I have used adidas shoes for many years both in road and trail versions, Adizero Adios were a personal favourite and recently I enjoyed using the Skychaser based on the laces and the excellent Continental outsole.

The Terrex range which is basically the outdoor/ trail running line of adidas really has some excellent products, so, when I was sent a pair of TERREX TWO BOA to test I was intrigued and interested.

The BOA® system (more info HERE) has been around many years. I actually first used the Boa fastening system on cycling shoes and to this day, I still do; it is my preferred method for fastening. Trail running, I used a pair of The North Face shoes way back in 2008 and recent years I have seen the system used in running packs, inov8-8 and Raidlight have used the fastening system in many products.

So, the BOA system for the new adidas really had me interested.

THE SHOE

First off, the Terrex Two Boa is a great looking shoe, it comes in several colour options, but the black/white version I have on test is my favorite. The BOA system sticks out on the side of the shoe with the very obvious fastening dial, it is the USP of the shoe. If you are new to BOA, the system works by one lace threaded through the shoe. Press the BOA button and you engage the ‘lock’ system, turn the dial and the lace pulls tight. The more you turn, the tighter the laces become. To release, you pull the BOA button, and this works like a quick-release and the lace immediately becomes lose.

The shoe is 5mm drop and cushioned with 19.5mm at the front and 24.5mm at the rear of EVA. The drop is a great compromise and sits in a nice middle ground, however, I wonder why adidas chose 5mm instead of the more obvious 4mm?

The upper is seamless mesh with TPU overlays and is extremely comfortable. The heel box is plush, comfortable and holds securely. The toe box is very wide – very wide! So, if you need wide shoes, the Terrex Two Boa should be on your list to check out, it is one of the widest shoes I have used.

The outsole is by the German company Continental™(more info HERE) who are famous for making car and cycling tires. The outsole is one of the stars of the adidas Terrex range – it has incredible grip in the dry and wet. In my opinion, it is one of the best outsoles. The Terrex Two Boa has a classic ‘trail’ outsole that is designed for trails without too much mud.

IN USE

As I said, the Terrex Two Boa is a great looking shoe. Slipping the shoe on you immediately feel how comfortable the upper is and how cushioned the shoe is. They feel like slippers. You also notice how wide the toe box is. Engaging the BOA system, I tightened the lace by turning the dial and when I felt I had the appropriate tension on my instep I stopped.

I always use any run shoe in my apartment for one day to get a feel of the shoe. My immediate thoughts on the Terrex Two Boa was comfy, cushioned and excellent grip. However, with the wide toe box, I found that I wanted to add more and more tension to the lace to hold my foot secure. But once tightened, the BOA system never comes lose. A great plus.

On my first run which is on a classic 8-mile loop that includes a little of everything – mud, trail, dry single-track, stones, rocks, climbs, descents and also 2-miles of road, I was impressed with the shoe. They are really comfortable. The cushioning provides a nice bounce without losing a feel for the ground below. The Continental™ grip is really great – it grips everything and on rocks it is superb, be they wet or dry. It is a reassuring outsole.

Midway through the run I decided that I didn’t have my laces tight enough. There were two reasons for this:

  1. When the trail was technical, and I was changing direction, my foot was moving inside the shoe. This is not good!
  2. The toe box is wide, and I think maybe a little too wide for me. But to compensate for such a wide toe box, I needed to make the laces tighter. To hold my foot secure.

So, I turned the dial, the laces tightened, and they immediately felt better. On all runs that followed, I made sure I really tightened my laces to the maximum. It made my runs so much more pleasurable.

As a trail shoe, the Terrex Two Boa worked exceptionally well. It handled everything on my normal trail/ test loop and the mile of road at the beginning and the end was extremely comfortable. It would be a great ‘jack of all trades’ shoe.

PROS and CONS

The USP of the shoe is the BOA system and this may well put some people off immediately – does it over complicate something that doesn’t need to be complicated? One thing is for sure, break a lace when out running or racing and you are screwed… But the laces rarely break, however, the chance it can happen may be enough for some.

I often like to adjust my laces (I have a high instep) so that I can have good tension at the bottom and the top of the lacing section, but a little lose towards the top. With BOA there is no option for this. Turn the dial and it tightens as one.

I personally found the toe box so wide I wanted to really have the laces tight. However, once really tight I enjoyed the shoes. If trails were rocky and technical, I would prefer to use a shoe that had a precision fit. The Terrex Two Boa just had too much room for me. BUT for long-distance trail runs, the shoe is really comfortable. The toe box allows their toes to splay and the cushioning provides great comfort.

The Continental™ grip is a winner but if you are going in mud, you need a more aggressive outsole.

CONCLUSION

There is a great deal to like in the Terrex Two Boa. It is a great ‘all-rounder’ and as such I can see this really appealing to runners who are transitions from road to trail and need something that can handle a little of everything. If you have wide feet, check these out, they may well be the shoe you have been looking for. The looks of the shoe are great, and the outsole is excellent, the upper comfortable and has no hot spots. The BOA system works really well and only you can decide if the system is something that you can use and be happy with. I personally love the system, it works really well, once tightened it doesn’t come loose and when you have finished a run, you just pull the dial and you can slip the shoes off. The downsides are the lack of ability to adjust tension at different points – they are either tight or loose. The other aspect, although I had no issues or worries, if the lace breaks, you need to send the shoes away to be fixed.

FINAL THOUGHT

The Terrex Two Boa for me is a great shoe that I can use for pretty much any run, be that road or trail. It’s a perfect travel shoe when you may be compromised on space and just need a shoe that can handle a little of everything. For those runners who don’t want to spend a great deal of money on shoes and have a specific shoe for trail, road, mountain and say sand for example, then the Terrex Two Boa would be a great option as a one shoe does all. The price is good too at £109 rrp – BUT, they are wide and for many runners, they may well be too wide?

What adidas say:

“Feel the flow and discover your potential on any terrain in these trail running shoes. Built with a breathable mesh upper, the shoes have a thick midsole cushioning that delivers long-range comfort for off-road training and competition. They feature a Boa® Closure System that offers unmatched adjustability and security to meet the demands of rigorous trail use. A grippy Continental™ Rubber outsole holds the trail in all conditions, wet or dry.”

Terrex shoe range HERE and HERE (female)

Terrex clothing range HERE and HERE (female)

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Scott Kinabalu 2018 Review

The classic returns! The Scott Kinabalu was my first ever Scott running shoe and at the time, when I was seen wearing them, I always received the comment, “I didn’t know Scott made run shoes?’

That comment continued for some time, but now, Scott are well and truly established in the running world.

One could say that the introduction of the RC range in late 2016 and early 2017 took the brand to a new level. The distinctive black and yellow really stands out and the Supertrac RC not only looked great but had great reviews – HERE

 

The Scott Kinabalu 2018 edition is an all new shoe and it is fair to say that much of what appeared in the Supertrac RC has been carried over to this new incarnation of the Kinabalu.

It has a lower drop, new upper, new outsole and different look. It may have the Kinabalu name, but the 2018 version is something different altogether!

The Shoe

 Orange is obviously ‘the’ colour for the shoe industry with many brands using varying shades or tones for 2018 shoes. My Kinabalu is two-tone orange and grey (an all-black version is available too.)

Three things stand out immediately – the seamless upper, the cushioning and the outsole. As I said above, this Kinabalu is far removed from the original so drawing comparisons are almost pointless.

It is a cushioned shoe with 29mm at the rear and 21mm at the front. For comparison, the Supertrac RC and Kinabalu RC has 22.5 at the rear and 17.5 at the front.

The RC range have 5mm drop and are out-and-out racing shoes whereas the Kinabalu has 8mm drop. This is a good thing for those who run longer or want a more relaxed shoe. Certainly, with the crossover in looks and design, RC users will find switching and alternating with the 2018 Kinabalu seamless.

 The outsole has the ‘new’ Forward Traction technology, with a multi-layer lug design. It’s designed to grip, as all good outsoles should, on a plethora of different terrain, wet to dry.


eRide is standard on Scott shoes and one of the brands USP’s. It is a rocker outsole which is designed to increase running efficiency particularly if heal striking as it helps roll the foot forward.

Cushioning comes from Aero Foam + which increases comfort, durability and rebound in the propulsive phase.

The upper is seamless with a reinforced toe box, heel box and overlays in the mid foot section leading to the laces. The tongue is gusseted and provides a sock like fit. There are no seams so in theory, the shoe should not rub or cause blisters.

There are no additional eyelets at the top of the lacing section, so, lock lacing is not possible.

 The Kinabalu is marketed as a lightweight shoe but certainly comes in a little heavier than nearly all the shoes I would consider competition at this level. It’s of course marginal, but if you are obsessed about show weight, there are lighter shoes out there! For example, the Kinabalu weighs in at 320g for standard comparable size.

For comparison*:

inov-8 Parkclaw 275g here

Nike Wildhorse 4 300g here

TNF Ultra Endurance 310g here

inov-8 Trail Talon 290g here

* all above shoes are 8mm drop and cushioned shoes.

The Kinabalu is true to size and neutral fit.

First Impressions

For me, the jury is still out on seamless uppers. Or should I say, ‘some’ seamless uppers! I get the logic, understand the benefits but some just feel a little too stiff. I had this with the recent inov-8 X Talon (Here) and I have the same feeling for the Kinabalu. Most definitely, the Kinabalu needs breaking in. When I receive new shoes, I always use them as slippers in my home before running. That way I get a feel for the shoe and I soften them up a little. I also learn if there are potential hot spots and how I should adjust the laces, so the shoe is comfortable on my instep – always an issue for me as I have a high instep.

The Kinabalu was glove like when pulled on, the gusseted tongue giving great comfort and hold on the instep.

The heel box was plush, comfortable and held well.

The toe box is wide, but not super wide. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being wide) I would say the Kinabalu is a 3. When I walked around though the shoe felt stiff. Particularly noticeable when I bent the shoe at the front, just above the toes.

The stiff seamless upper seemed reluctant to bend and the fabric creased as if folding cardboard. I must clarify this got better and better as I wore the shoes but I can only stress that for me, you need to soften the Kinabalu up. Had I run in the shoe out of the box, I am pretty sure I would have had an issue above the toes.

Cushioning felt good – a little on the firm side but I could definitely feel the benefit of the 29/21mm combination.

The outsole stuck to my wooden floor making a nice sticky sound every time I lifted my foot.

In Use

I put 8 hours in the shoes in my home before running. Invaluable in my opinion! As with all my test runs, I do 1-mile of road at the beginning and the end of my runs, the middle section is 6-8 miles of varying terrain that has a little of everything – it’s a great test ground.

The Kinabalu bounces along on the road well with the cushioning providing great protection between my foot and the terrain. However, I didn’t particularly feel connected. The cushioning is definitely on the stiffer side and although this improved over time, the Kinabalu certainly is a stiffer ride. Very similar to the RC in my opinion. 

The outsole lugs are close together and whilst not designed for road running, the Kinabalu can handle the hard stuff with no problems.

On the trails, the Kinabalu felt good transitioning between different terrains. The lugs are not very deep, so, it is most definitely a trail shoe for firmer and drier terrain. When I ran through mud, the lugs failed for 2 reasons – they are too close together and lack length to purchase in the ground. Not a criticism, just a notable point so that you understand what terrain the Kinabalu excels on. On rocks, grip was excellent, even in the wet. Always a good thing!

I am a forefoot striker but have always found the eRide of Scott pleasurable – no difference with this new Kinabalu, it works well. I have already mentioned that the cushioning in my opinion is firmer and I noticed this in the propulsive phase. I was getting a good rebound and return but not as much as in some other trail shoes.

The upper really holds the foot well with reinforced layers in the lacing area providing good hold and security around the instep. Two loops are on the gusseted tongue which the laces pass through, this is a new one on me and they are there to help keep the tongue in place – they work! Scott have used a ‘lace-locker’ in the past, it’s a simple piece of elastic that sits lower on the laces and it allows one to tuck the excess away after being tied. They removed it on the Supertrac RC and it isn’t on the Kinabalu – I really don’t know why? It is such a simple and effective system and adds no weight. I would like to see it back! 

The heel area is very comfy, padded and held everything nice and tight. Even when climbing I had little to no movement at the rear.

The toe box is not narrow and not wide, so, in principal it should suit many runners. The reinforcement is just an overlay, it will add protection, but it is not a solid bumper that can be found on other trail shoes.

After 109 miles in the Kinabalu, the shoe is most definitely softening up and starting to hold to my foot and provide a softer more pleasurable run. This is primarily noticeable in the upper – with a little rain, mud and use it has softened up. The cushioning has certainly bedded in too allowing more feel for the ground.

The 8mm drop for me is perfect as it sits in that ideal middle ground of not too high and not too low. The Kinabalu is a great stand-alone trail shoe for any run but I also think that RC users will enjoy the additional cushioning and more relaxed drop for training and/ or longer races. The 2 shoes sit well together. So, if you like the RC, you will like the Kinabalu.

In Conclusion

The Scott Kinabalu is a rock-solid trail running shoe that will appeal to many runners. The combination of cushioning, 8mm drop and good grip makes it an ideal shoe for any trail runner – the only exception coming if one plans to run in a great deal of mud or soft ground.

The upper is pretty much bullet proof and this brings with it some pluses and minuses. The plus is that the upper will last and last. I don’t envisage the upper wearing out or tearing, of course, it is too early to tell so I will feedback on this. But that stiff upper needs loosening up and softening to get the best of the shoe, so, wear the shoes casually and expect your first few runs to feel a little stiff. 

Similarly, the cushioning is a little like the upper. It’s a little stiff to start but over time beds in nicely.

If you don’t like spending money on run shoes, or, if you like your shoes to last once purchased, the Kinabalu may well be a great shoe for you – I can see these going for many months and many miles.

SCOTT RUNNING website HERE

inov-8 – The New #ROCLITE Trail Shoes 290, 305 and 325 First Impressions

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I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked about the ROCLITE by inov-8. Every time I do a shoe review, I always get at least one email from someone asking, ‘Any news on Roclite’s from inov-8?’

Well for all those that have asked, you are now blessed with three new ROCLITE models:

The 290 with 4mm drop

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The 305 with 8mm drop

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The 325 with 8mm drop.

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It’s a ROCLITE party!

The ROCLITE has been around for 10-years and was, is a firm favourite for the hardcore inov-8 fans, so, the inclusion of three new models for 2017 is certainly going to make many people happy. The ROCLITE was first launched in 2006 and has had many variations and adaptations over the years.

In recent years, inov-8 have certainly started to look at their shoes in a different way and I can certainly see RACE ULTRA, TRAIL TALON and X-CLAW influences coming into the new line-up of ROCLITE.

For most people reading a review like this, they will be drawn to the 290 or 305 as they are conventional run shoes. The 325 is a boot and therefore will appeal to a very different client, or should I say, a very different use.

The 290 is 4mm drop and the 305 8mm drop. I had expected to be able to say that the characteristics of both shoes are the same, the only difference coming in drop/ cushioning. However, that is not the case!

The ROCLITE 305 and 325 initial review

Lets start with the 305 8mm drop shoe first as this for me is a great all around shoe and will appeal to many users. The characteristics of the 305 actually transfer directly to the 325 boot and the comments below are relevant for both.

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The 305 is a slightly heavier shoe with a little more cushioning than the 290 (if you didn’t know, the number in inov-8 shoe names refers to weight in like-for-like sizes, usually a UK8.5). It has an integrated gusseted tongue that is actually sewn into the shoe and therefore almost makes the shoe feel slipper like. The same applies for the 325 boot. This is a real winner in terms of holding the foot secure, firm and importantly it’s going to keep debris out!

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On the rear of the shoe on the outside is a huge ‘X’ in plastic that is sewn onto the upper – this adds support and theory will provide a more secure foot placement and reduce the ability to roll an ankle.

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The lacing is firm and secure and pulls in on web loops called ADAPTERWEB. In conjunction with the sewn in tongue if really does provide a secure and firm fit and hold of the foot.

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The words ‘POWERFLOW’ on the rear refer to the cushioning and shock absorption.

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The ROCLITE has a META-SHANK and rock plate which is a great addition for keeping the rugged, sharp and gnarly stuff from penetrating through the sole and providing discomfort or bruising while running.

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The front of the shoe has a toe cap that has been rubberised that will protect with any collisions of debris on the trail.

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The outsole is made from three different sticky rubber densities and has a 6mm lug that is designed to excel on trail that is rocky and technical in either the wet or dry. The outsole will handle some mud but other inov-8 shoes would do a better job of handling the wet, sloppy and slippery stuff. However, as is often the case these days, we are looking for a one stop shop when it comes to a running shoe and the ROCLITE may well set in the place nicely?

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In the first 1/3 of the outsole is META-FLEX – this allows the shoe to bend in just the right place allowing for an excellent propulsive phase when running. Sounds like jargon but it does work!

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Slipping the shoe on feels really smooth and although this is not a seamless upper, it feels like it. It’s one of the most comfy shoes I have used in a long time. However, the shoe does maybe feel a little small? I use UK9.5 in all my shoes, without exception and I always use UK9.5 in inov-8. All three of the ROCLITES (less so with the 290) but certainly the 305 and 325 make ne think I may require a 1/2 size larger. This may well be from the sewn in tongue and plush fit? I need to head out on the trails a little more to provide a definitive answer on this. Please remember this is a first impression article.

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The toe box has room but certainly feels more of a ‘precision’ fit than say the TRAIL TALON or X-CLAW. Again, as mentioned above I may need a 1/2 size larger and that would certainly impact on how the toe box feels. However, the ROCLITE range certainly feels as though hey re designed to provide a detailed, responsive and controlled ride on the trail with a mire secure and precious hold so that fast moving on more technical trail has precision.

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The heel box is plush, secure and holds the foot firm. In the 325 boot I have noticed a little additional pressure/ tension on my right achilles with the way the back of the boot drops down and is cut away. I will feed back on this more with additional testing. Again, I also refer back to the point that the 305 and 325 may well be a 1/2 size too small and this would impact greatly on this fell/ comfort.

Initial Summary

I think the 305 is going to please so many runners who have been looking for a shoe that can handle a multitude of terrain in a plush, secure and comfortable shoe. This shoe is slipper like! Initial thoughts is that the ROCLITE is sizing a 1/2 size too small, so, if purchasing online keep this in mind. The toe box is not as wide as the Trail Talon or X-Claw so if you need or prefer a shoe that allows the toes to splay, you may want to try the ROCLITE on to see if they will work for you. The 325 boot is certainly a great addition for me and will suit those people who want to spend big days on the trail say fast packing or hiking but don’t want the weight or lack of feel from a heavy walking boot. The 325 feels just like the 305 shoe and even has an 8mm drop, the only difference comes with support around the ankle. I will feedback on this article after full testing for the 305 and 325.

The ROCLITE 290 initial review

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The 290 has 4mm drop and less cushioning than the 305 and therefore will suit a more efficient runner who runs with a mid to forefoot strike. It would also work hand-in-hand with the 305 as a shoe for faster or shorter session. I for example will quite happily run in the 290 for up to 90-minutes and if I know I will run longer I will use the 305. This is all down to personal taste and how much or how little you want to feel the ground.

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I had expected the 290 to have all the same characteristics as the 305 but no, it has a conventional tongue – why? I don’t get this… I am completely biased with gusseted and sewn in tongues as it just makes sense. I have tested countless shoes and one thing is guaranteed, a gusseted tongue offers better feel, more comfort, a secure hold of the foot and in addition debris is kept out. So why would inov-8 add such a great feature to the 305 and the 325 boot and not to the 290? Having said all this, the 290 is comfortable and the padded tongue causes no issues but they are not as plush as the 305!

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The upper, the lacing and the toe box carries over all the characteristics from the 8mm drop 305 and 325. The only difference coming with the ‘X-LOCK’ support at the rear of the shoe. In the 305 and 325 it’s a definite ‘X’ for the 290 it’s erm… well, it’s erm… a line! Apparently it’s ‘Y-LOCK. Because the 290 is 4mm drop and with less cushioning, the runner who uses this shoe will be more efficient and therefore the need for the ‘X’ is not required but the ‘Y’ still adds some support.

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The outsole is the same as the 305 and 325 just different colours and is made of three different compounds all with a 6mm lug and yes the META-FLEX is present to allow an excellent propulsive phase and a META-SHANK rock plate is present.

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In Summary

The 290 has many of the characteristics of the 305 and 325 and quite simply is a shoe that is lighter, more flexible and less cushioned for faster/ shorter runs for an efficient runner. The outsole is the same, the upper is almost the same but incorporates the ‘Y’ Lock instead of the ‘X’ lock and all these elements make sense to me. If you look at the inov-8 shoe range, these characteristics are reflected across the board. However, I am at a loss as to why the 290 does not have the gusseted tongue sewn in? Don’t get me wrong, the 290 is still comfortable but give me the 305 any day… I am a little biased too as 8mm drop will always be my ‘go-to!’

FINAL CONCLUSION

The three ROCLITES are going to appeal to many, many people as a great all round shoe for trail running and I can see many owners having two pairs. For the runners it may well be a pair of 290’s for fast training and short racing and the 305 for long days out either racing or training. By contrast (I fit into this scenario) the 305 and 325 make a great double. The 305 for long runs or races and the 325 for days out walking, hiking and/ or fast-packing. All the shoes are neutral and be careful on sizing, you may well need a 1/2 size larger?

A full in-depth review will follow after each shoe has been tested for over at least 100-miles.

inov-8 X-TALON 212 Review

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If Wolverine™ were going to go running on the trails, he would pair up his incredible hands (and blades) with a pair of X-Talon 212’s.

Irrespective of what type of running you do; road, trail, mountain, fell or even treadmill, the X-Talon 212 has that distinctive look that not only sets it apart from the competition but also makes one take a second look and ask the question, “is that a run shoe or a football boot?”

It’s a winning shoe that combines minimal weight, low drop, stability and awesome grip for when conditions are muddy, boggy, slippery or basically just downright awful.

I doubt that inov-8 needs an introduction but let’s have a recap just in case.

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The company is just 11-years old and the creation of South African, Wayne Edy. You can sum up inov-8’s growth in just one quote from Wayne, “I’m not a follower, I never will be. I like to carve a new way. I thrive to innovate.”

inov-8 shoes are all about being at one with the terrain and in the UK they have become the ‘go to’ shoe when you need grip.

inov-8 say, “We believe in natural running. Natural running involves taking running back to its most innate form, letting nothing alter the natural biomechanics of the foot and body. Natural running relies on the strength of the runner’s feet and legs rather than the cushioning or support of a shoe. The foot controls the shoe, not the other way around.”

inov-8 were very much at the forefront of minimalist running and right from the off the offered a very structured and methodical approach to getting ‘lower’ to the ground.

This system was a series of arrows (on the rear of the shoe) that signified the shoes drop in 3mm increments: 3 arrows = 9mm, 2 arrows = 6mm and so on. This arrow system informed runners immediately of what drop a shoe was and importantly allowed runners to make an informed and structured progression to get lower (if required). The shoe naming was also quite innovative. You had the model of shoe, for example: Trailroc, Roclite or X-Talon and then a number afterwards, so, in this scenario X-Talon 212. The ‘212’ refers to the weight of the shoe in grams.

Lightweight, minimal and functional, inov-8 have pioneered running shoes for trail, rock, fell or mountain and in simple terms have endeavoured to keep runners low to the ground (with grip) via a plethora of shoe models providing a selection of drops, cushioning and grip. The recent addition of the Race Ultra 290 (Review HERE) is a prime example of how the company are looking at the growing ultra market and the need for a more cushioned shoe but still with a low drop (6mm) and a flatter outsole for extended hours running.

2015 will see many new additions to the already expansive range. (*see below)

X-TALON 212

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Firstly, big news! The X-Talon is now available in a standard fit in addition to the normal precision fit. This is important news for many a runner who would have loved to use the 212 but found the tight and narrow fit of the precision just too tight for their Hobbit like feet.

As mentioned previously, the 212 may well be one of the flagship shoes in the inov-8 range and you can expect to see the shoe in Trail, Mountain, Fell, Orienteering, Cross Country, Obstacle and Skyrunning races all over the world.

The 212 is an out and out off road shoe and as the name suggests, the grip is Talon like.

The Shoe 

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I used the standard fit in my normal shoe size UK9.5 so it would be fair to say that the 212 is true to size. However, even though this shoe is standard fit it still fits super close in the toe box, you almost certainly would want to try this shoe on before purchasing. Please remember that the 212 are an out-and-out off road and soft ground shoe, so it is important that your foot has minimal movement within the shoe. This is why the shoe was originally designed in precision fit only. A close fitting shoe is ideal when climbing, descending or contouring when on soft or uneven ground. The lacing system allows you to pull the shoe tight to your foot and cradle it offering more support. Spend a little time tweaking the lacing and you will be rewarded with a wonderful close and natural contact to the ground.

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First off, the shoe is super flexible. You can bend it anyway, fold it in half and the shoe does not resist. The shoe upper is tough and quite thick and I have heard criticism saying the upper is too thick! Of course this all comes down to personal preference but if you are bombing up and down wet and muddy terrain everyday, you need an upper that can withstand that sort of abuse… I have had my 212’s for 6-months (probably 3-runs a week) and I have well and truly abused them without failure. That’s a plus in my book.

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The shoe has Meta-Flex™ and Meta-Cradle ™, which provide a flex groove and upper webbing support at the metatarsal heads. In all honesty I am not fully sure what that means but if that means good flex and support then I agree.

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The sole of the 212 looks like a football boot with a series of spaced out rubber nodules that are made of soft ‘sticky’ compound rubber as one would see on some climbing shoes. What makes this shoe work so well off road is the fact that the grip is spaced out and this therefore stops soft ground filling and clogging up the grip of the shoe. The soft rubber works really well on rocks, gravel and other dry surfaces and should the rocks become wet, grip is still highly impressive allowing you to run with confidence. One downside of the soft rubber is that if you go on the road it will wear down. This is not a criticism of the shoe. It’s basically just a heads up to warn against excessive road use. I should point out that my everyday run requires at least a couple of miles on road or pavement to get to the trail and yes, my sole has started to show wear and tear but that is after 6-months of regular use.

©iancorless.com_inov8_212-7314

Cushioning is minimal and the drop (2 arrows) is 6mm; this provides a great contact for the trail beneath your feet. Ironically, the shoe feels very comfortable on hard trail and even road. I would say it feels surprisingly cushioned despite its minimal looks. inov-8 do not use a rock plate to protect your foot against small and/ or sharp objects and therefore you can sometimes feel these objects when running.

Th front of the shoe has a rubber bumper but toe protection is minimal. The rear of the shoe holds the foot well and if you have the right size shoe and the laces adjusted correctly, you have have little or no movement when running.

IN USE

Pros

The 212 are all about gaining grip on soft and boggy ground. If you use the shoe in these conditions you will be over the moon by the grip, feel and security offered. The upper is durable and the lacing perfect. The addition of a standard fit in addition to the long established precision fit now ensures that you can have comfort despite your shoe size or width. The combination of these elements makes the 212 my ‘go to’ shoe for anything that resembles fell running or soft ground running (including snow.) I have used the shoe for 6-months, accumulated 100’s of hilly miles and the shoes have performed perfectly. They have also been my preferred shoes when running Vertical Kilometres™ particularly when the terrain has been grassy and steep. The low drop allows great feel for the terrain below and although relatively minimalist from a cushioning perspective, they do offer great comfort for runs of 2 to 3-hours. This comfort is extended if the ground remains soft and boggy.

Cons

It’s a very specific shoe for a very specific use and therefore this would be an ‘addition’ to your shoe collection. It’s almost unfair to say this is a con but for some, they want a wonder shoe that does ‘all things,’ the 212 is NOT that shoe.

The lack of a rock plate does mean that you can feel small and sharp objects occasionally.

The shoe is very flexible with minimal cushioning and therefore one would need to be attentive to how long one runs in them. Of course this is very personal to the user… one person may find 60-mins enough, another 3-hours. Certainly, the more you use them, the more time you will be able to spend in them.

Specs

  • Weight 212g
  • Upper Synthetic, TPU
  • Lining Mesh
  • Drop 6mm (2 arrows)
  • Sole X-Talon (Sticky)
  • Midsole Injected eva
  • Fit Precision and now Standard

Conclusion

The X-Talon 212 really is a top quality shoe with a very specific use. If you are looking for a shoe to do several types of running (road and trail), the 212 is not for you. However, if you are looking for grip on off road terrain then you would be hard pressed to find a shoe that does the job better than the 212. The addition of a standard fit to the long established precision fit should mean that if you have tried the 212 in the past and found them too narrow, they may very well fit you now! Both models are unisex.

Note

X-Talon-190-side-1_13

If you prefer a more minimalist shoe with lower drop, inov-8 make the X-Talon 190, which has 3mm drop, a stripped back upper and the same talon like grip.

*New for 2015

X-talon-200-Blk-Red-Yel-1-15-1024x490

inov-8 are strengthening the  X_TALON off-road running shoe range (212 & 190) with the addition of the new X-TALON 200. Available in early 2015, the shoe looks set to be a huge hit with off-trail runners and obstacle racers.

Scott T2 Kinabalu Review – Ladies Shoe

Scott T2 Kinabalu Ladies ©scottrunning

Scott T2 Kinabalu Ladies ©scottrunning

Review by Niandi Carmont

When Scott asked me to test the Women’s T2 Kinabalu, I was very excited to try out a brand of shoe that is not as well known to UK and French trail runners… ‘Scott make bikes don’t they?’ was a typical comment!

Love at first sight… Like most female trail runners, I like a run shoe to look good and admittedly on the outside it’s a sexy shoe – bright green, sporty and light-weight.

But what about the technical and practical specs which are equally important? Well, after having tested the shoe on 200km of intense rocky mountainous terrain in France over one week, I can definitely confirm it is:

•      Durable

•      Comfortable

•      Lightweight

•      Energy efficient

•      Stable

The above qualities were exactly what I was looking for and all my expectations were met.

Durability, stability and eRide™ Technology

Scott eRide

Usually after intense weeks on hard trail terrain like that, my trail shoes “have done their time” but I was surprised to find that the soles were hardly worn.  I have an atypical and asymmetrical running gait, which means I heel strike heavily on one foot and the wear shows after only a few runs on my trail shoes. Not the Scotts though. But then the Scott shoe is built using the patented and scientifically-researched SCOTT’s eRide™ Technology – that unique rocker shape creating a very stable midstance which heel strikers like me strive for. Initially it took a few runs to get used to but I quickly felt the benefit of the rocking motion provided by the shoe and it meant I was heel-striking less and running more efficiently.

Scott T2 Kinabalu Sole

The shoe has an 11mm drop; in this current climate of ‘low drop is best’ it may mean the T2 will be snubbed by many! Don’t be too hasty. In use, this shoe feels like a much lower drop shoe, primarily due to the eRide™ (rocker). It keeps you on your forefoot with good technique. They are a pleasure to run in.

After the week on rock French trail my soles had hardly worn.  My podiatrist who is an avid cyclist took one look at them and said “this is true Scott quality, great grip, rolling resistance, durability and ride quality”.

photo 4

Shortly after that I departed on a 10-day multi-stage event to Northern India, Rajasthan and as I had luggage restrictions, was faced with the dilemma of taking only one pair of run shoes.  I knew I would be doing a mix of trail, desert, tarmac and dirt road. No hesitation, my multi-purpose, train-adaptable Scotts were in my luggage. Although a winter shoe, they were perfect on all types of terrain. I had no issues transitioning from the Thar Desert to the tarmac road leading to the Taj Mahal. Conditions were hot and humid and as much as the shoes kept my feet dry and warm on muddy, wet British towpath and boggy fells, the breathable mesh upper equally kept my feet cool in Rajasthan. And although I didn’t use gaiters as the desert/dune stages were not too long, I had very little sand in my shoes.

Lightweight

Scott Aerofoam

The shoe features an Aerofoam midsole for reduced weight and it’s definitely lightweight at 265g (UK8) a bonus for me, especially over long ultra-distances or long training sessions. More importantly – it is lightweight but not at the expense of durability or stability. After several runs the midsole ‘bedded’ in and started to mould to my foot providing additional comfort. The sock liner is perforated and the midsole has ‘drainage’ ports to allow water to escape; great for water crossings or wet weather running.

Comfort and adaptability to varied terrain.

Comfort with a capital “C”. This is an important criterion for me whatever the shoe ….but even more so if I’m going to be running long distances on arduous, rocky terrain. Not a blister or hot spot and no chafing. I ran in mud, on dry dusty rocks, shingle, slippery descents – the shoe adapted to all the changes in terrain and weather.  Not surprising as the shoe features wet traction rubber and a water-drainage system. The grip in muddy terrain is great and much appreciated by runners like me who prefer a drier terrain. I felt as in control tackling muddy, British bog as I did on dusty and slippery rocky mountainous French trail or even running down shingly, stony descents.

I also liked the bungee lacing system (elastic on the front of the shoe to stow laces) – extra security for a runner like myself who doesn’t want to be tripping over loose laces on a tricky, technical descent.

photo 2

All in all, this is definitely a great winter shoe with great protection and traction at minimal weight.

Female-specific

Needless to say Scott thinks about us ladies too, not only as far as the colour is concerned but also the female-specific fit. By the way, I opted for the bright green colour but the shoe comes in a trendy girly pink too!

Scott T2 Kinabalu Pink

Conclusion

Love them! And I get noticed to:

“Are you wearing Scotts? Didn’t know they made trail shoes!” I get asked.

“Well you bet! And pretty damn good ones at that!” I quickly reply.

Specs

  • Weight 260g for UK8
  • Drop 11mm
  • eRideComposite push-through plate
  • AeroFoamWet traction rubber
  • Lace bungy
  • Upper: Mesh/Synthetic Overlays
  • Lower: EVA/rubber

Scott T2 Kinabalu Men’s Review HERE

About the reviewer – Niandi Carmont

Niandi

Niandi is South African born, a former resident of Paris, she now lives in the UK. A runner for over 20-years; Niandi has completed Comrades Marathon 13-times, Washie 100 2-times and has finished well over 100 marathons and ultras  all over the world. Currently residing in the UK, Niandi splits her work life between the UK and France.

The North Face Ultra Guide Review

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

Let’s face it, as a runner we all love a new pair of run shoes. However, a new pair of TNF (The North Face) shoes has not always been greeted with joy. To be honest, as a brand, TNF have struggled to get a foothold (excuse the pun) in the running shoe market. The dominance of Salomon, inov-8 and other similar brands have always meant that TNF would need to come up with a product so darn good that runners would move away from a well known and established brand to speculate on a ‘newbie’ to the market place. In addition to being a newbie, unfortunately, TNF shoes have always lacked that little extra to tempt many to spend hard earned money on one of the options available particularly when they already have a favourite shoe. Previous shoe incarnations have showed moments have greatness but have been let down with one or two aspects.

The original ‘Single Track‘ shoe, remember, the red/white/black one was a stunning shoe to look at and it was also a shoe with many merits but it ultimately was a little heavy and didn’t quite have enough grip. The ‘Hayasa‘ addressed the weight issue but not the grip.

Roll on 2012/2013 and TNF launch two new shoes; Hyper Track Guide (reviewed HERE) and then most recently, the Ultra Guide.

The Hyper Track Guide moved the TNF shoe brand on a level but for me it still lacked that extra ooompf. The sure fitted well, was extremely breathable BUT and this was the big but, it had no real grip to handle muddy/technical trail and it lacked ‘life’. The shoe felt a little flat unless one run fast and on the toes!

I am pleased to say that with the Ultra Guide, TNF have come up with a winner! The shoe is a revelation.

I have worn, tested and reviewed many shoes by many brands in the last few years and rarely do I put a shoe on and go wow! I did this with the Scott T2 Kinabalu, I also did it with the Salomon Sense Ultra… I can now add The North Face Ultra Guide to that list.

The shoe

I have a UK9.5 which fits true to size (US10.5 and EU44) and it weighs 10.5 oz/ 304g that is approximately 30g heavier than the T2 Kinabalu by Scott and approximately 60g heavier than the Salomon Sense Ultra. However, don’t despair, weight is not everything.

What you have with the Ultra Guide is a cushioned shoe that not only provides superior comfort but also great grip. The sole is made from Tenacious™ Grip sticky rubber outsole with spaced out nodules that not only shed mud but provide great grip on all surfaces, be that muddy trail or wet rock. Of course, mud grip is limited and certainly if you are planning a run in deep thick mud then another shoe would be preferable, however, the Ultra Guide is the perfect all round trail shoe. It transitions from to road to trail seamlessly and the cushioning actually makes road sections enjoyable instead of ‘bearable’. My local 10-12 mile test loop for shoes includes 2-miles of road; at the start and at the end. The last mile of my run always feels as good as the first mile in these shoes. A real sign, for me anyway, that this shoe performs exceptionally well. My trail loop includes hard (off road) bridleway, rutted farm fields, wet mud, three climbs and descents and then technical, twisty and rocky trail. Along with the T2 Kinabalu, the Ultra Guide are currently my favourite shoes.

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

Another key element is the shoe ‘drop’. At 8mm, for me it fulfils the sweet spot in the trail/ultra market. By comparison, the Sense Ultra is 4mm and the T2 Kinabalu is 11mm (with a rocker sole). It’s all very well talking about toe/forefoot running but as the miles accumulate and time extends, run technique becomes tired and lazy. The 8mm drop in the Ultra Guide allows a relaxed foot strike which was sustainable over longer periods. For sure, if you are looking to progress from a 12mm drop shoe then this would be an ideal starting point. Equally, if you are a runner who naturally runs fore to mid foot but would like a shoe with more cushioning/grip for longer runs, this is also for you!

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

I have mentioned the cushioning and these boys really do provide a plush, comfortable and relaxed ride. The 8mm drop (8mm cushioning at the front/ 16mm at the rear) keeps you low to the ground, provides no rolling and makes you feel 100% confident with each foot strike. In addition, the Snake Plate™ provides protection but in a way that differs to other shoe brands. Instead of adding a plate that runs the length of the shoe, TNF have added the plate that weaves within the foot plate. The added benefit of this is that it allows the foot to move with a natural range of movement. It works really well and protection to hard, sharp or gnarly terrain is excellent.

The patent-pending Snake Plate™ consists of a forefoot plate that winds back and forth between the medial and lateral sides of the foot. Because it is not one solid element, it is not as uncompromisingly rigid from side to side and front to back. The result is a forefoot plate that allows the foot to do what it is physiologically designed to do: flex, bend, and contort to changing terrain. At the same time, the Snake Plate™ delivers rigidity where and when it is still needed. The thickness, composition and size of the Snake Plate™ vary from style to style as appropriate. For example, a thicker, more rigid Snake Plate™ addresses the technical, ever-changing demands of a mountain run. A thinner, more flexible Snake Plate™ reconciles flexibility with a decreased demand for protection while on smoother dirt paths. Taken from the TNF website ©thenorthface

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

Sitting within the shoe ones foot is held tight and secure, in particular the heel box is reassuringly snug but by contrast, the toe box is wide and roomy.

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

The Ultra Guide has a Northotic footbed and a matartasal fit system which sounds very high-tec and fancy but in real terms it means comfort and security. Support comes from Cradle Guide™ (hence the shoes name) which is a TNF first. It works by providing a natural movement of the foot, stride-by-stride. This is a difficult one to pin point when offering an analysis. All I can say is that shoe performs exceptionally well. I have a neutral gait and therefore arguably the shoe has less work to do. However, should you need some additional support or guidance then this may be a great shoe to try. TNF describe the Cradle Guide working in the following way:

The North Face Cradle Guide™ technology offers full Phase Impact Control, a system that guides the foot through all 3 stances of the gait cycle, impact, mid foot and Toe-off. This system is engineered to provide the perfect combination of cushioning, stability and protection for any foot on any terrain, letting the hiker or runner move swiftly and lightly over backcountry trails. Taken from TNF website ©the north face

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

The lacing system offers excellent adjustment options and it is therefore very easy to tighten or loosen as appropriate. The tongue scree collar also adds a nice touch and adds to the overall snug feel of the shoe. Unlike other shoes on the market, TNF have not provided a ‘storage’ option for loose laces. It’s a minor omission but on tough, technical and gnarly trail it’s nice to get loose laces out of the way of hazards.

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

The upper of the shoe is durable and a tight weave mesh which offers excellent breathability and drainage should you run through wet or boggy terrain. After a month of use, the upper has held up exceptionally well and shows no signs of damage. The toe box area has a large black protection area which is extremely welcome on rocky terrain. It really does protect from impact but maybe not to the extent of some of the competition, this however has caused me no problem. Flexibility was excellent.

The North Face Ultra Guide ©iancorless.com

The North Face describe the shoe as follows, ‘A neutral design construction that allows a natural stride turnover, Unleashed Performance™ category footwear is geared toward the more mechanically sound runner.’

I wouldn’t disagree with them! For sure, the 8mm drop suits an efficient mid to forefoot runner but as mentioned previously, if you are looking to reduce drop in a gradual way but not loose cushioning, this is without doubt a shoe to consider.

The Ultra Guide has provided me with many a pleasurable run and now, along with the T2 Knabalu is my current shoe of choice when hitting the trails.

Specs from TNF: ©thenorthface

  • Tongue scree collar
  • Abrasion-resistant, tight-weave mesh
  • TPU-welded midfoot support
  • C-Delta metatarsal fit system
  • Perforated EVA Northotic™ footbed BOTTOM
  • Dual-injection, EVA CRADLE GUIDE™ midsole platform
  • 16 mm rear cushion
  • 8 mm front cushion
  • TPU Snake Plate™ forefoot protection
  • Tenacious™ Grip sticky rubber outsole

NorthFit™

The mission of NorthFit™ is to achieve the best, most precise fit between the human foot and footwear or the form on which a shoe is constructed. To achieve this we’ve partnered with English shoemakers with great experience, collaborated with The North Face® athletes and consulted with labs and think tanks to ensure that the most reliable, quantifiable data and recent studies are taken into account. Mountains of data go into each NorthFit™ implementation. For example, based on research, our shoemakers have adjusted for a larger toe box in our endurance running shoes to accommodate swelling. A study of almost 900 men and women revealed significant differences in ball and heel width, instep height, and width. As a result, The North Face® women’s footwear has a proportionately unique build from that for men. In this way, the outdoor athlete can trust that the most up-to-date scientific data and experience have been factored into the comfort and performance they can enjoy with NorthFit™.

Snake Plate™

The patent-pending Snake Plate™ consists of a forefoot plate that winds back and forth between the medial and lateral sides of the foot. Because it is not one solid element, it is not as uncompromisingly rigid from side to side and front to back. The result is a forefoot plate that allows the foot to do what it is physiologically designed to do: flex, bend, and contort to changing terrain. At the same time, the Snake Plate™ delivers rigidity where and when it is still needed. The thickness, composition and size of the Snake Plate™ vary from style to style as appropriate. For example, a thicker, more rigid Snake Plate™ addresses the technical, ever-changing demands of a mountain run. A thinner, more flexible Snake Plate™ reconciles flexibility with a decreased demand for protection while on smoother dirt paths.

UltraTAC™ Rubber Outsole Compound

UltrATAC™ is an all terrain, all condition rubber outsole for excellent wet/dry traction for running on roads, scrambling over scree, or for everyday use.

Unleashed Performance™

A neutral design construction that allows a natural stride turnover, Unleashed Performance™ category footwear is geared toward the more mechanically sound runner.

Cradle™ Guide

The North Face Cradle Guide™ technology offers full Phase Impact Control, a system that guides the foot through all 3 stances of the gait cycle, impact, mid foot and Toe-off. This system is engineered to provide the perfect combination of cushioning, stability and protection for any foot on any terrain, letting the hiker or runner move swiftly and lightly over backcountry trails.

Current colour options are TNF Red/Black and Nautical Blue

Shoes available HERE

Disclosure: I have tested and reviewed multiple product for The North Face. I have also attended certain events such as TNFUTMB at the invite of TNF. However, this pair of Ultra Guide were not provided as test samples. They were purchased by myself to test and compare against the Hyper Track Guide and also to offer an alternative review against a current favourite, the T2 Kinabalu by Scott.