Inov8's newest addition to the Graphene Grip Series, the Mudclaw G 260, offers impressive mud traction and a surprisingly comfortable all-around fit
A couple of months back I reviewed a few different Inov8 models, most notably for trail runners and OCR athletes, the Parkclaw 275 and Roclite 290 which offered great fit, performance, and varying different levels of traction. Just 2 days before I received the 2019 Mudclaw G 260, I used both the Parkclaw 275 and Roclite 290 setting up and testing an obstacle course at FIT FARM outside of Nashville, TN. With over 3 inches of rain dumping on us for 2 days, the conditions were extremely wet and muddy – the Parkclaw did their best yet were overmatched for traction in the thick muck while the Roclite 290 fared rather well and provided me plenty of traction on the grounds and obstacles on event day. The muddy conditions in TN were pretty normal for late February, but nothing prepared me for the wild scene awaiting me in Arizona upon my return – record snowfall all over the state with spots in Flagstaff picking up over 3 feet of snow in 24 hours, and sections of Scottsdale amassing over a foot on the ground. While the occasional flurry happens from year to year when conditions are right, any accumulation is a spectacle and 12″ were nothing short of record-breaking on a historic scale. Luckily for me, not only were white saguaros waiting for me, but also a few packages from our friends at Inov8 containing some great gear and the new Graphene Grip Mudclaw G 260.
Immediately upon opening the box, I realized I'd inadvertently lied in my January post and actually had worn a pair of Inov8 shoes in the past – back in 2013 I tested a pair of the Baregrip 200 at Bonefrog up in Massachusetts where I filmed a series of OCR Warrior episodes. Those minimalist shoes featured an abundance of raw grip that wasn't properly realized due to the rubber composition of the sole – basically, they were huge lugs on a thin rubber sole that struggled to keep the treads from flexing all over the place. While they provided good traction in mud, they were all over the place on harder surfaces making 'em a bit difficult to run on varying terrain and over obstacles. These New Mudclaw G 260 have absolutely no problem reigning in all their grip due to the graphene material in the sole and the enhanced support pillars on all of the lugs nearest the edge of the sole.
Me, opening box: “Whoah, these are serious.”
Kristen: “Looks like a set of soccer cleats!”
Pulling the Mudclaw G 260 out (after putting aside the really nice integrative neopreneish/spandexy gaiters which I foolishly left at home for the tests) I admired the design of the upper, the light weigh of the shoe, and the massive lugs on the bottom that surely meant business. With all the fresh mud created from snowmelt, I threw them on and headed to the trails for some mud therapy. I put my Parkclaw's on to drive to the trails of my choosing deep into Scottsdale where the snow had accumulated days before as I was sure the Mudclaw's would be an annoyance while driving or walking around – I was completely wrong. After my wet & muddy trail run, I found myself late for my daughter's soccer game so hopped in the Jeep (rubber floor mats FTW) and sped over to her indoor match. While my socks were slightly soggy, I completely forgot the Mudclaw G 260's were on my feet and spectated, went to lunch, drove home, and even worked in the garage for a few hours on projects while wearing the shoes on concrete. Not only were the lugs not obtrusive, but they were also perfectly comfortable moving gear around the garage and climbing in, out, and under my Jeep while making some off-road mods. The fit and material of the upper is pliable, breathable, and comfortable to the point I honestly didn't realize I wasn't wearing my Parkclaw 275 which has become my current go-to shoe for all-around running, exercising, chores, and general stuff.
Get These Shoes Muddy!
Not to belabor the point that I was geeked to run in some mud as it's not an ordinary occurrence here in the desert, but I had a blast lacing these suckers up and racing through puddles and the results were not at all surprising – copious amounts of traction and instant mud ejection from the soles and a water-resistant upper that kept my feet from feeling squishy just a few steps after each plop in the streams and standing water on the trail. Ok, I was even running off-trail a bit to seek out the sloppiest stuff just to see how well they could ascend & descend on loose rocks coming out of a swollen wash. Got a guess to how they handled it? Yup, like a total champ.
What They Say
“The world’s toughest shoe for the world’s toughest muddy mountain runs and obstacle course races. Revolutionary graphene-enhanced rubber and fearsome 8mm studs deliver the world’s toughest grip over soft and wet ground.
Upper materials give high levels of durability and breathability to a shoe weighing just 260g. The MUDCLAW G 260 – Designed to make light work of all tough mud.”
What I Say
I love the traction and was quite surprised how comfortable the logs were for all-around wear. While I did not run long distances on pavement, I walked around for several hours on concrete and varying surfaces and actually forgot I was wearing an aggressive mud/trail/OCR shoe.
The upper features a reinforced toe and additional protection around the perimeter of the shoe to block water and prevent wear-induced failure on the lateral side. I found the width to be on par with the Roclite 290 – snug for my “average” foot width without feeling overly constricting at all. Even after wearing nearly all-dayI didn't feel the need to adjust my laces for hot spots or tight areas. Multiple hours of running & walking around with wet socks did not result in any discomfort or chafing.
While they look like aggressive mud-grapplers, the pliability and grip of the graphene soles and lugs refines the Mudclaw G 260 and gives them an extremely civilized ride for all conditions. I'm going to have a tough time deciding whether to pull my Roclite 290's or these Mudclaw G 260's off the shelf for a somewhat aggressive trail run on varying terrain. I know they'll be my go-to for the North American OCR Champs & OCR World Championships course-building & officiating as both events seem to get rain & mud every year!