Inov-8 Mudclaw 265
As a slightly sad fell and trail shoe geek, I’ve been very excited about the Mudclaw 265’s and I was like a little kid at Christmas when they finally dropped through my door a couple of weeks ago.
The main reason for my excitement is that I figured, if prerelease information was correct, that they could be near on a perfect do-it-all shoe for me.
Most of my winter miles have been logged in the 265’s beefier big brothers, the Mudclaw 300’s and, with well over 600 km on the clock now and still going strong, they’ve served me brilliantly through the mud, snow and long slogs of winter training. However, although far from cumbersome, for faster paced training sessions and races, the 2-arrow midsole and 6 mm heel to toe drop is just a bit too detached feeling from the terrain and doesn’t quite give me enough flex when running hard.
At the other end of the spectrum, for all but the longest races, I love the X-talon 190’s. Their just not robust enough though for daily Dark Peak training, the grip doesn’t quite bite on really boggy bits of trail and, for longer steadier training sessions and races, they do leave my feet feeling a little beaten up.
Could the 265’s deliver a perfect middle ground or would they just be a nondescript compromise?
Out of the box, things looked promising. There was none of the weird asymmetric lacing of some of their predecessors and, from a durability perspective, the rand around the toe-box appeared to be similar to the 300’s. With my 300’s not succumbing to the splitting around this area that has plagued previous Mudclaws, seeing this on the 265’s was reassuring. The laces did feel a little insubstantial but, if the rest of the shoe holds out for a decent amount of mileage, I don’t see having to replace them as a problem.
Onto my scales and the UK 10.5’s I had, weighed in almost bang on the 300 g mark. The fit felt perfect and comparable to the 300’s.
With a few runs done in them, I’m very impressed. They were noticeably more responsive than the 300’s, offered better trail feedback, flexed more when up on your toes climbing and, being lower slung, inspired far more confidence on technical terrain, especially when contouring. Unsurprisingly, with the sticky compound sole, grip was superb and I’m yet to find a stud pattern and rubber compound that can touch it in the mud.
So, will I be having a clear out and becoming a single pair of shoes runner? They could certainly perform the distance duties of the 300’s in all but the foulest and coldest conditions where the extra rubber under your feet does make a difference to cold toes. Based on that alone, I won’t be binning my trusty 300’s and, with the 265’s barely broken in, they still have to prove their staying power.
For racing, they’re going to see a plenty of action and, if this summer is anything like last, muddy wet blasts won’t be in short supply. Having just killed a pair of 190’s, I’m not going to replace them just yet. The 265’s have impressed me enough in training to convince me they could be racers and, unless conditions get really dry and dusty, when I’d don flats anyway, I’ll be toeing start lines in them.
Based on early impressions, I’m going to give the 265’s four stars. £90 is a fair amount for fell shoes but, if they last anywhere near as well as the 300’s, they’ll justify that price and they’ll receive a 5-star upgrade.
I keep you posted how they get on and report back in 500 km or so.
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