There are a lot of trail shoes out there and I haven’t tried them all. But of the trail shoes that I have tried, I have loved the Innov8 Xtalon 212 the most for my obstacle course racing and trail running. Here are a few reasons why:
The 212 comes with a light breathable mesh. When my shoe gets submerged in races or trail running, they quickly dry out and carry almost no extra weight. I’ve run with Salomon XA Pro’s and found them to be heavy and to retain too much water. 5 minutes after I submerge my foot in water I want to have forgotten I ever stepped in water.
The 212 comes with a 6mm drop, which is great for mid-foot strikers (of which I believe everyone should learn to be) and the structure of the shoe is flexible enough that I can bend it backwards or in any direction without effort, unlike many popular trail shoes that offer too much support. I want my foot to move the way it wants to move, not be restrained by shoe technology. Ideally I like to feel some of the ground so I know if I’m stepping on a rock, but not enough that it hurts to land on said rock. I also don’t like to strike on my heel and a lot of trail shoes have a heel drop in the 12mm range almost encourages heel striking.
The grip on these shoes are awesome. Compared to the Salomon I have fantastic traction control and rarely feel myself slip. In an OCR race this is practically mandatory, although a lot of people run in regular shoes. Not that I want to discourage people from running in regular shoes, it certainly helps me pass them by without effort. Imagine running on ice in regular shoes compared to spiked shoes – it’s night and day.
All that said, keep in mind that I don’t wear those shoes on the road. They are less than ideal for road running and not at all designed for it. So if you plan to budget for these shoes to have awesome trail runs, don’t think you should take them on the road. They won’t be comfortable to run in.
It seems to be a tough shoe to find at local retailers. Amazon.ca is the easiest place to buy them but you won’t find a great deal (at least not in the months I’ve had them and kept my eye on them). Some local stores claim to carry them but I haven’t seen them when I’ve gone in.
One thing to keep in mind is that these shoes are narrow for most people. So purchase a shoe at least .5 to a full size larger than you would normally wear. They won’t be comfortable in your current shoe size.