Sunday, March 10, 2024

Inov-8 Mudtalon Speed Review: 4 Comparisons

Article by Jeff Valliere

Inov-8 Mudtalon Speed ($150)


The Mudtalon Speed is Inov 8’s latest in a long line of specialized, lightweight, minimal, deep lugged running shoes specifically designed for trail and fell running. In 2024 INOV-8 launches new shoe lasting with the Speed available in Precision and Wide fits.

Combining features from both the X-Talon and Mudclaw lines, they feature a very minimal upper that is nearly see through, as to not hold water, a low to the ground platform for stability and an incredibly impressive outsole, featuring the most aggressive 8mm lugs that I have ever seen.  

Pros: Traction, lightweight, security, agility

Cons: Lack of versatility, not particularly comfortable, firm underfoot, tricky fit, heel rub


Approx. Weight: 8.75 oz / 248g US9

Sample: men’s 9.25oz /261g US10

Stack Height: men’s 26mm heel / 22mm forefoot ( 4mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 75mm heel / 55mm midfoot / 107mm forefoot

$150  Available now 

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

I am admittedly a sucker for an aggressively lugged outsole and that is what first drew me to the Mudtalon Speed, with its crazy 8mm lugs (more on that later).  

The upper is made from a thin, breathable, but durable ripstop material that is essentially see-through, flexible and is just enough for foothold and to keep debris out, but porous enough to let water drain out easily.  

While the upper is suitable for short runs in tough, wet, muddy conditions, make no mistake, it is all business and no frills.  Fit is close to true to size, but in my normal size 10, my toes are closer to the front of the shoe than normal.  This has not been an issue, but if you normally find yourself between sizes, I would recommend sizing up a half size.  

The Mudtalon Speed comes in two widths, Precision and Wide fit and for my narrow, low volume foot, combined with the short, fast, technical intent of this shoe, Precision fit was the right choice.  

I find the foothold to be very good with great security no matter my speed or how technical, steep, tricky or off camber the terrain.  While I would not label the shoe as uncomfortable, it is not overly comfortable either, offering just enough to get one through a few hours of running and after that, I am happy to take them off.  

Comfort is very much dependent on how tight I snug up the laces.  If I crank them down for maximum hold, I experience some discomfort and pressure points over the top of the foot, but if I am more careful about not over tightening, I find them much more comfortable (slightly less secure, but still very good).  It just took me a few runs to get lace tension figured out.  

I also find myself getting a good bit of heel rub on steep ascents and while I did not get any actual blisters, my heels were pretty hot after 1,000 vertical feet of 30% grade (though luckily the steepness of my route relented and I was OK after that).  

Since my testing has been in February/March, I am not keen to get my feet wet, but it is clear that this minimal upper will not hold much, if any water (except for the padded tongue and laces) and will drain quite well.  Styling is a bit retro despite the modern materials, I find they do not win any style points.

The toe cap is very beefy, protective and will ward off just about any stubs that may occur.

The ripstop material is breathable, minimal and will shed mud and water well.  

The heel counter is flexible and minimal, but well held.  Padding is minimal though and there is definitely blister potential on steep ascents, at least for me.

Padding around the heel collar is also minimal, but holds the heel in place well.  The tongue is nicely gusseted and well padded.

Midsole & Platform

The PowerFlow Pro midsole is adequate for the intended purpose of the Mudtalon Speed, as it is reasonably responsive, cushioned enough for comfort and protection for several hours with a flexible rock plate in the mix to help protect from rocks and roots underfoot.  This is definitely not a long distance shoe, but its cushioning is surprisingly good for such a minimal high performance technical shoe.  

The Mudtalon Speed also features a Boomerang footbed (TPU beads embedded) that combines well with the PowerFlow Pro midsole to enhance underfoot comfort and propulsion.


For me the highlight of the Mudtalon Speed is the outsole with the most aggressive, 8mm lugs that I have ever seen.  The rubber is Inov-8’s tried and true StickyGrip rubber, which has great traction on wet rock and slippery surfaces, while the 8mm lugs are sharp and biting, digging into mud, soft ground, loose dirt, off trail scruff, snow, etc….

Mud shedding depends on the type of mud.  I never had an issue in the more viscous mud, but no shoe I have ever tested has ever contended well with the thick clumpy clay mud I sometimes encounter.

The thick clay mud clumps, but the lugs are so deep, they often extend out of the mud and grip is still good.

In the more liquid mud, clumping is not a problem and traction here is the best I have experienced.

Traction in snow is also amazing, though the thin lightweight upper is not really conducive to winter use, but on warm days is reasonable.

The Mudtalon Speed also really excels in steep, loose, off trail terrain, where the lugs penetrate amazingly well into dirt, pine needles and duff.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

The Mudtalon Speed provides a great blend of response, ground feel, stability, flexibility and protection underfoot.  They are light at about 8.75 oz / 248g US9 given their outsole , agile and quick in technical terrain and are purposely built for pushing the limits in muddy, loose, soft terrain and difficult conditions. They are not a plushly cushioned shoe, as they are designed for short, fast race or PR efforts on softer ground, but have just enough cushioning and protection to feel confident on just about any terrain for several hours. That said I would not choose to run them on really rocky terrain for too long, as they can feel a bit minimal and the 8mm lugs on rock can get a bit noticeable and awkward.

Score: 9.1/10 

Ride: 9  Fit: 9 Value: 9 Style: 8 Traction: 10 Rock Protection: 8.5

4 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

Salomon Speedcross 6 (RTR Review)

The Speedcross is much heavier, lugs are similarly effective, but not quite so.  The Mudtalon is much more agile, fast and nimble, low to the ground and stable.  I never adapted to the Speedcross’s big blocky heel for running and always felt tippy in them when trying to run in anything even moderately technical.  Speedcross is more of a hiking shoe.

VJ XTRM 2 (RTR Review)

I find the XTRM 2 to have a more comfortable and friendly upper that I can secure a bit better because it is more comfortable, but it does not shed water as well as the Mudtalon.  The XTRM 2 was probably my 1st pick for a fast PR effort on loose tech terrain, but the Mudtalon is lighter, with superior traction and a little better cushion/protection so likely will edge the XTRM 2 out of that top spot.

VJ MAXx 2 (RTR Review)

Close in weight, the MAX  is better for just about all runs except for the most loose, muddy, steep junk, as it is much more comfortable, better cushioned, has a more friendly upper, is more protected and an all around more versatile shoe for going fast on a wide variety of terrain.

Saucony Peregrine 13 (RTR Review)

The Peregrine weighs more, but is much more protective and versatile, a great well cushioned, comfortable all terrain shoe for tech terrain or more general trail running, whereas the Mudtalon is a more specialized tool for faster, shorter runs in more loose, extreme conditions.

The Mudtalon is available at Inov-8



Use our code RTR235 for 5% off all products

Tester Profiles

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Jeff Valliere said...


Anonymous said...

Lack of versatility as a con? These are highly specialized mud shoes and they do great for what they're designed for.

Jeff Valliere said...

Anon, yeah, it just is what it is, as opposed to something like the Maxx 2. A specialized shoe that does its intended job very well, I hope that came across in my review?

Anonymous said...

What's the middle material? I.e. what kind of foam is Powerflow pro?

Anonymous said...

What about their new foot shape in the forefoot. Any comments? What would you compare it too?