Inov-8 X-Talon 212, $120
Category: Lightweight Dirt Dancers
Weights: 7.5 oz. (men’s), 6.3 oz. (women’s)
Heights: 11mm (heel), 5mm (forefoot)
Fit: The X-Talon 212 runs narrow and snug from heel to toe. Testers suggested sizing up for the best fit.
Feel: Low slung and close to the ground, these feel fast, firm and ready to tackle the trail. There’s not much between your foot and the ground — and that was just fine with the testers, given that they’re designed to be light and fast — but the knobby outsole offers a bit of protection in the absence of a rock plate.
Ride: Testers equated these to grippy trail cleats that allow you to run rocks, roots, gravel and dirt with the non-slip ease of a mountain goat. The quick-and-nimble race-ready ride, paired with a durable upper, made them the shoe of choice for our mountain-based wear-testers. The lack of cushion and aggressive lugs made the ride rough on roads and hard-packed dirt trails, but the 212 will tackle just about anything else with confidence.