THE RUNDOWN: Inov-8 MudClaw G 260 is a close-to-the-ground, aggressively-toothed trail shoe.

Surface: Trail      Pronation: Neutral     Stack Height: Minimal

Inov-8, a footwear brand based in the United Kingdom, decided to up its game by bolstering three new shoes to their trail running collection called the G-Series. Included in this series is the Mudclaw G 260, named for its 260 milligrams in weight, and which features graphene to provide some of the toughest grip around.

The brand’s new rubber composite, made in collaboration with the National Graphene Institute in England, boasts greater elasticity, abrasion and tear resistance and is said to be 50 percent better than similar compounds without graphene. Inov-8 also added Kevlar overlays to the uppers for greater durability.

The MudClaw G 260 is built for fell running, the type of runs that are done on soft ground that makes you feel like you are floating. That is, until you land and hear or feel a squishiness below your foot. That is why Northern English “trail runners” favor cleat-like shoes that are more rigid than they are cushioned. Fell runners rely on their footwear for traction and reliable stability, and this shoe meets those needs.

The Specs

Weight: 10.4 ounces (M); 8.4 ounces (W)

Offset: 5.5mm (M); 4.4mm (W)

Heel/Forefoot: 27.3mm/21.8mm (M); 25.9mm/21.4 mm(W)

Midsole: Exteroflow

Outsole: Graphene-enhanced rubber

Upper: Kevlar enforced overlays with mesh

Price: $150

Photo Credit: Adam Chase

100 Miles In: The Review

These slime green shoes with 8mm claw-like treads scream, “Conquer the muck with me!” And they do just that, especially if you favor neutral shoes that are about as firm as they come. They are made to deal with squishy conditions and hold up in wet and muddy terrain.

Touted as the “world’s toughest shoe for the world’s toughest muddy mountain runs and obstacle course races,” this shoe and its graphene-laced rubber and Kevlar uppers is all about durability. If you regularly confront sloppy trails, the MudClaw will help you to keep the rubber side down.

The novel quality of these kicks is the “G” for graphene, a Nobel Prize-winning material. Inov-8’s G-Series are the first sports shoes to use graphene, tested to be 50 percent harder than shoes with rubber outsoles. This relatively new material is thin, flexible, transparent and strong. It even conducts electricity and heat, and is derived from graphite.

Before graphene, hardness translated to durability, but at the cost of stickiness. With it, there isn’t that compromise and the MudClaw now offers both as accentuated with chevron-shaped lugs and multi-directional cleats for ascending and descending traction. Relatively light and flexible, especially given the push-through protection and a floating effect of the 8mm outsole lugs, they are not just for the fells of England, but fare well on muddy trails and obstacle courses anywhere.

These shoes have real appeal to those who want to get a lot of wear out of their kicks. And the combination of graphene rubber, Kevlar enforced uppers and a firm midsole that doesn’t really compress means that you won’t be needing to replace your MudClaws anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Adam Chase

There’s the Rub

The MudClaw G 260 is a rather uniquely-fitting shoe and best accommodates long, skinny, low-volume feet. It runs long in the toe and, given it has big talon-like treads, it is easy to catch the front end on trail obstacles and get tripped up. So going a size smaller would be tempting if the shoe wasn’t so narrow. Those with wider toes, higher volume feet or runners who want room for foot splay won’t like these shoes.

If, however, the shoe fits, trail runners should be forewarned that the MudClaw is not for the meek. It is a neutral shoe with a low profile, firm midsole, low heel-toe differential, minimal cushioning and aggressive outsole so it is more of a precision tool or advanced piece of equipment than a shoe to add to your athleisure kit. And even with graphene added to the rubber, the 8mm lugs wear down if you use the shoes on pavement.

TL;DR

Inov-8’s MudClaw G 260 is a lightweight, flexible-yet-firm trooper that will get you efficiently and effectively through the ugliest of trail conditions. For runners who don’t want or need cushioning, favoring underfoot protection and feel, these shoe will help you cut through almost any mucky surface with claw-like enhanced outsoles and Kevlar-overlay uppers that are all about durability and function. Inov-8 stepped it up with the MudClaw, and, for those who fit the profile as far as foot shape and running terrain, they are sure to adore this novel approach.