Inov-8 Mudclaw 300
The Mudclaw 333 was a great long distance, rough terrain, winter workhorse. I eked a solid 300 Dark Peak miles out of my last pair but, even from 100 miles in, they showed signs of splitting around the rand and their final 50 miles or so were a death march prolonged by liberal applications of Black Witch neoprene glue. I’d also worn completely through the inners at the heels and, on my first outing in them, they’d rubbed really badly in this area. I solved this problem by kettling them and have several friends who had the same issue. The outsole had survived well and, even when the uppers had reached a state of terminal decay, still had a decent amount of grip. This was largely down to the harder endurance compound which, although tough and lasting, did compromise their gripping performance, especially on rock.
With the Mudclaw 300, Inov-8 claim to have performed the magic trick of a lighter construction whilst improving durability. Having had my pair for a while now and logged 100 peaty miles in them, I pleased to say that it’s looking like Inov-8 have pulled it off.
Out of the box, the first thing that hits you is quite how yellow they are. With the black detailing, you can’t help but think of bananas but it’s nothing a few muddy trots can’t solve. The fit is quite generous allowing room for wider feet or chunky winter socks. The inners are far more plush than the 333 though and I had no early run heel blistering issues and no cause to steam them over my kettle. Plush seems to equal tough too as, as you can see in the picture below, there’s not a hint of wear.
On the trails and fells, as you’d expect, the grip is superb. The sloppier it gets, the more they bite. They shed water well and dry quickly after a dunking. With Inov-8’s 2-arrow midsole they’re not exactly minimalist but are definitely more flexible and responsive than their predecessors. They offer enough protection from rough ground underfoot but you still retain a sense of connection to the trail. With 6 mm of drop you do feel a little “on high heels” if you’re used to a flatter shoe and this feeling is magnified on hard ground. However I’ve had no stability issues, no turned ankles and they contour brilliantly without any rolling. The return to the sticky sole compound is a big plus in my book and once again I can rock hop on Kinder with confidence. Wear to the studs hasn’t been bad and although probably 90% of my running in them has been off-road, they’ve logged some miles on tarmac.
On the uppers, Inov-8 have dispensed with the rubber rand that was so prone to cracking and splitting and replaced it with Synthetic TPU, a form of artificial leather. It’s softer, more pliant and, at this 100-mile point, shows no sign of cracking, splitting or separating from the midsole below or mesh above. I’m not kind to my shoes and rarely, if ever, rinse them after their daily dunkings in acidic peat bogs so, I’m certainly impressed by their resilience so far.
100 miles is hopefully still fairly early in their lifespan but, compared to the 333 at this stage, they’re fairing better despite feeling a lighter and faster shoe. They won’t be getting any respite through the winter so watch this space for their 300-mile report.
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