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Photo credit: Fiona Outdoors

inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 running shoe review

26-Feb-19

By Fiona Outdoors

The new inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 joins the “Graphene Grip” running shoe collection at inov-8. The launch of the shoe alongside the inov-8 Terraultra G 260 and the inov-8 F-Lite G 290 last summer was delayed to make further improvements to the upper.

During that time, inov-8 ambassador and international Great Britain mountain runner Ben Mounsey has clocked more than 1100 miles in a pair of Mudclaw G 260s. He said: “I’ve been blown away by these shoes. I’ve never got such good mileage out of a pair of running shoes. The grip when running over soft and muddy ground is the best I’ve ever known.”

The shoe is aimed at people who enjoy running on soft and muddy ground on trails, fells and hills. It is also likely to appeal to obstacle racers, orienteers and cross-country athletes. Basically, anywhere that there is soft mud, the Mudclaw G 260 is in its element.

What is graphene?

Graphene is the strongest material ever tested and is 200 times stronger than steel. British-born brand inov-8 has infused graphene into the rubber outsoles, making the studs stronger, more elastic and harder wearing.

Michael Price, inov-8’s product and marketing director, explained: “The rubber studs look more like claws or fangs. Through extensive testing, we have found that these newly shaped studs give the best possible traction when running or obstacle racing over muddy terrain and, unlike racing spikes, also provide underfoot comfort on harder ground.

“By adding wonder-material graphene to the rubber it makes the studs 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing – statistics scientifically proven by graphene experts at The University of Manchester, whom we have collaborated with on this project.”

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Features of inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 include:

  • Durable but lightweight uppers of breathable mesh
  • Soles: Graphene Grip to create was is claimed to be “the world’s toughest grip”
  • Underfoot Metaplate – a lightweight, flexible rock plate that aligns with the foot’s metatarsals
  • Exteroflow midsole that “absorbs, stores and then releases energy for extra propulsion”
  • Gaiters included with purchase
  • Gaiter attachment point
  • Drop: 4mm (8.5mm heel to 4.5mm forefoot)
  • Footbed: 6mm
  • Lug depth: 8mm
  • Weight: 260g/ 9.17oz
  • Price: £140
  • www.inov-8.com

Pros: What’s good about inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 shoe

The grip is very, very good. I have tested this shoe in snow, slush, icy mud, deep mud, on grass, on rocks and in bog (Scottish hills have a lot of bog) and they performed like no other off-road trainers I have owned.

I felt sure-footed and stable running uphill, on the flat and on steep descents.

The studs give excellent grip in soggy and wet mud, while the material of the sole seems to grip anything that comes in its way. Running in the Mudclaw G 260 shoe feels similar to riding a mountain bike over rocks and through mud. It’s a joy because traction is so good.

The sole feels fairly flexible, which I like on the hills. It’s similar to the Mudclaw of old, yet with more stickiness and more give or elasticity.

The shoe is lightweight, especially the upper mesh, yet they still look and feel durable.

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Inov-8 told me: “During rigorous testing of the Mudclaw G 260 over several months, we tried several different materials in the upper of the shoe. For the final production version we have used our most durable upper materials, including ballistic nylon.

“The materials were chosen because they are very robust, while at the same time allowing the shoe to retain excellent breathability and flexibility. There is some Kevlar used in the tongue.” (Kevlar is commonly used in bulletproof vests.)

The robust rand (layer of protection around the shoe) is great. It skirts the lower part of the upper of the shoe, next to the sole, rises up above the toe and covers the full back of the heel. This means that the shoe should be long lasting on rocky terrain.

Water does get into the shoe through the mesh upper but it drains fairly quickly, too. This is standard for inov-8 off-road shoes. I like this feature because even if you wear a shoe that has a Gore-Tex liner, therefore claiming to be waterproof, water usually gets in at the ankle so there is no point to the waterproofing. I prefer a shoe that lets water in and out quickly.

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An attachment point for ankle gaiters, which come with the shoes, is useful. I haven’t found a need for this over the winter because debris, such as loose stones and bits of heather, is more of an issue in the Scottish hills in the summer. However, the fit of the gaiter is good and this is an added bonus feature.

The laces are not too long, nor to short, and they fasten well and stay fastened. All too common these days are shoelaces that loosen as you run. I would say that inov-8 have found a lace that is long lasting and ties well.

There is a little bit of cushioning around the heel cup and in the shoe tongue, which I like. Some lightweight off-road shoes have become too minimalist in their design. I do like a little bit of comfort.

You’ll either love the bright green colour or not – I do! Some people have said the shoes look like football boots. I can see this but I wouldn’t let this put you off buying the shoe. The green soon dulls with the colour of the mud.

Cons: What’s not so good about inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 shoe

The fit is unisex. I think this is far more likely to suit the average male foot than the average female foot. Women tend to have slimmer feet and narrower heels and require less volume in the forefoot and a neater heel cup.

I found that the forefoot was too roomy and after a couple of outings, the forefoot upper fabric was creased around the top of my forefoot. I am yet to see if this leads to holes at the side of the mesh.

I think it would be great if inov-8 made a shoe more suitable for the female foot. Apart from this, the fit is okay around the heel. My foot felt pretty secure at the back end, although I think it could be more female-specific.

Of course, this is the average female foot and I do have a long and narrow foot. Many men and women may well find the standard unisex fit works for them.

The tongue is quite short and when first laced up it was a bit uncomfortable. Once I got running I forgot about this slight irritation.

The brand claims a couple of features: “Underfoot Metaplate – a lightweight, flexible rock plate that aligns with the foot’s metatarsals” and “Exteroflow midsole that absorbs, stores and then releases energy for extra propulsion”.

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I can’t say I noticed either of these features while running. I found the shoes did perform well so perhaps this is because of these extra details but, frankly, I have no idea. Sometimes I find these claims a bit over-enthusiastic.

The shoe is made for the hills and mud rather than hard-packed trails. There is little cushioning so you do feel the hard terrain under your foot. I also felt some stones when running on harder surfaces but, in all honesty, this is not the terrain for the inov-8 Mudclaw G 260. It is worth noting, however, that you will want to use this shoe mostly in the hills and fells for the greatest comfort levels.

Conclusion:

This past six weeks, the weather in Scotland has been a mix of snow, wet and sunshine. This has led to snowy hills, icy tracks, wet mud and bog. However, thanks to the inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 and their superb grip I have not had to miss a day of running. The traction of the studded graphene shoes is second to none.

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Score  
Design 10/10
Features 10/10
Performance 10/10
Value 9/10
Overall 9.75/10

 

Others to try

inov-8 Terraultra G 260
Vivobarefoot PRIMUS TRAIL SG
Brooks PureGrit 7

About the writer: Fiona is a keen runner, preferring off-road and hilly to flat and road. She lives in Scotland where the weather is fickle so needs to be prepared for all conditions.

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“The weather in Scotland has been a mix of snow, wet and sunshine. This has led to snowy hills, icy tracks, wet mud and bog. However, thanks to the inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 and their superb grip I have not had to miss a day of running”

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