For off-road running I've always been an Inov-8 fan, favouring the Roclite 315 for non-technical trails and the Mudclaw 330 for the truly filthy stuff.
What I'd been looking for though was a lightweight shoe for summer fell races and the X-Talon 212 ticks all the right boxes. Weighing in at 212g, it's like a ballet shoe with 4x4 capabilities. The aggressive tread pattern gives amazing grip on rock, grass and mud and inspires total confidence when descending.
Without any mid-sole to speak of, your foot hugs the ground minimising the risk of a turned ankle. This lack of cushioning does make the shoe totally unsuitable for the road or even longer runs on hard packed trails. For short sections on the road however, the studs do give a certain amount of spring. But, spend too much time on tarmac and you'll soon wear the soft rubber down.
The upper is super lightweight but as yet seems to be coping with the abuse I've thrown at it including a few brushes with local gritstone. Like a stripped down kit car, niceties such as waterproofing simply don't exist. Wear these in the wet and you're going to get soggy feet but they don't hold water and you'll be moving so fast anyway that you won't get cold.
I wouldn't pick these if long steady days on the trails are your goal but, if you're after an all-out racer for short, sharp and technical blasts, this is the shoe for you.
Inov8's X-Talon 212 are available from the planetFear online store.