With 8mm lugs from heel to toe, these inov-8 Mudtalon Speed trail shoes are design to help you go faster when other shoes would be floundering…

The inov-8 Mudtalon Speed are lightweight, fast-feeling and grippy trail and fell running shoes. These are some of the best running shoes you can buy, combining the highlights of the X-Talon and Mudclaw range to provide grip, comfort and performance when you need it most.

Men’s Fitness verdict

If you want to compete in cross-country races without spikes, these Mudtalons would be at the top of our list. They offer good support and traction for logging off-road training miles too.
Pros
  • Lightweight and fast
  • Grippy 8mm lugs
  • Fast-draining Ripstop uppers
Cons
  • High heel counter
  • Limited cushioning in midsole

How we test the best running shoes

Our testers put each shoe through their paces over a mixture of distances and paces to see where they excel, and clocked up significant distances in each one to examine how they wear over time. Each reviewer focused on speed, stability and comfort during test runs, while also assessing the effectiveness of any high-tech features on offer. Their detailed reviews are sure to help you choose the right running shoe for you.

When I first took the inov-8 Mudtalon Speed shoes out of the box, I was particularly impressed with the colour combination. You just can’t beat yellow and black in a pair of trail shoes. But that’s just cosmetics of course. Turn the shoes over and you’ll see the sticky rubber sole covered from end to end in 8mm lugs. Like a boy with a new toy, I just had to go out and play…

Testing the inov-8 Mudtalon Speed

Knowing that these shoes are designed for wet and slippery conditions I took them to my favourite boggy hill, with a mile-and-a-half warm-up jog over roads, paths and fields. On the roads I found the shoe perfectly comfortable, though obviously they’re not designed for tarmac and don’t have the cushioning you’d find on road shoes. However, on the trail, going over rocks and hard ground, you don’t suffer the bumps. The shoe has a decent medium thickness in the sole, and a rock-plate in the midsole for added protection.

I’m training for the Boston marathon and had a hill sprints session on my plan which I missed the day before. So I put the Mudtalon Speed through 10 reps of hill sprints up a relatively steep footpath with some very boggy sections. The shoes coped well in the soft, shallow mud and the deep, boggy mud, offering plenty of traction.

With a cross-country race coming in two days, I was torn between using my normal trail racing shoes, currently Asics Fujispeed, or these inov-8 Mudtalons. So I gave the inov-8 Mudtalons another go on a five miler, nearly all through fields and along a river footpath. I was trying not to go too fast, to rest my legs for the race. But these shoes are so lightweight, they just encourage you to pick up your pace. I did, however, find that the high heel counter left my right Achilles feeling a little uncomfortable after the run. I’d run more than ten miles in new shoes in one afternoon, but if there were one thing I could change, it would be to lower the heel counter height.

inov-8 Mudtalon Speed performance

I knew after just two runs that these Mudtalons would be faster than my other cross-country shoes. The race took place on the wind-swept northeast Kent coast, at Allhallows. Two laps covering just over five miles, incorporating everything you could possibly want to test out these shoes. At the start we raced down a field to stretch out the runners before going down a narrow path onto a sandy beach. That quickly turned into a boggy track, before leading on to a pebbly beach.

Then the route took us back inland over muddy tracks and broken ground to farm fields and a 20-30-metre section of deep boggy grass, where the shoes completely filled with water. Looking at the other runners, some had big bulky trail shoes, some had light-weight shoes. I’d say most has 4-5mm tread, rather than the 8mm I had. Some runners even wore cross-country spikes, which must have hurt over the long pebbly beach section.

Racing in inov-8 Mudtalon Speed shoes you can feel a close connection to the ground while still being protected from the stones. Of course you still sink into the wet bits, but I found it was when the course was most challenging that I was able to overtake more people. Running through the deeper water, my shoes immediately filled up. But each time, after coming out of that section, the water drained out within five to ten seconds.

I finished second in my age group, which is the best I’ve placed all season, and these shoes certainly played their part. I did, however, do my warm-up and warm-down in last season’s racing shoes, my Hoka Speedgoats, as they’re my most comfortable trail shoes.

A second opinion on the Inov-8 Mudtalon Speed

James Ridger: Having used spikes for most of my XC running career, trail shoes are something I hadn’t used until a couple of years ago. It was only when I needed some more support and cushioning for calf issues, I turned to them. I’d previously been using a Nike trail shoe, but the inov-8 Mudtalon Speed provides far greater traction. I first used them in an extremely wet and muddy cross-country race in late February.

The shoe provided outstanding grip and comfort in the race and I will definitely use them again. Through the muddy sections or running along slippery, cambered paths I was able to put my foot down knowing I would get the traction I needed. They also provided real comfort and allowed me to run quickly on a one-mile stony section of path. Bring on the next XC!

Testers: Steve Wright, James Ridger